The Graphic Designer & Illustrator
How did you get started as an illustrator?
I did art and design at school, then sixth form college, then just stopped until the age of 27 when for some reason I really got back into art and started painting again. Over the years illustration became a bigger part of my practice. But I was always drawing from a young age onward, I loved it.
How did you find your style & has it changed since you started?
I think as soon as I discovered people like Andy Warhol and various Pop artists I wanted to do something in that style but even when I was pre-teen I used to do cartoon strip style drawings all the time, influenced by the Beano comic. So at first my style was like a crude copy of this. It's changed since I started again in later life and it's become slightly slicker, and I've incorporated a lot more illustration and digital techniques into my art and print making. But the bright 'graphic' style I always wanted to come across still remains.
How is your personality reflected in your work?
I guess my work is all very lighthearted and not really angsty at all, which I hope reflects what I'm like. Unlike an average 35 year-old I don't actually have too many crushing adult responsibilities, so just the fact that I have time to create these colourful and slightly silly creations is a reflection of where I'm at in life, and how I see things.
What's your design process?
90% of my work, whether it ends up as a print, bag, badge, anything, starts as a painting or illustration, oddly enough. It's quite an old fashioned way to work but I create a painting that usually involves a lot of illustration pen-work too, then I photograph it and digitise the images using Photoshop. From there I create all of the products that my art is printed onto, but I also always put the original painting on sale too. This is different from a lot of illustrators and designers who start and finish everything digitally. I learned how to paint first though and only discovered the joys of Photoshop and digital imaging software a bit later in life!
How do you select the materials you're going to use?
I don't use particularly expensive materials in keeping with a pop aesthetic. I just go for whatever looks good but is still affordable. Also I always wanted to try Posca pens as they sounded amazing - it's acrylic paint that you can illustrate with like a pen! They're amazing and ever since I bought some on holiday in Japan I've used them in everything I've done.
What’s the ultimate message in your illustations? What message do you put in your work?
There’s no particular message to my art, I just want people to be struck by a bold and colourful work that they might want to hang on their wall. With the ‘pop art food’ series I want people to look at everyday foodstuffs in a different way, to appreciate purely how they look from an aesthetic standpoint rather than a nutritional one. This is why I often paint unhealthy ‘processed’ food. I’m not commenting on the nature of food consumption but instead choose them for their colourful aesthetic qualities. A pizza is colourful and so is a completely natural watermelon, and something like the Fab Lolly is a great design in itself.
What inspires you?
I love the original pop artists from the 60s (Warhol, Lichtenstein), retro computer game graphics, modern animation like The Simpsons, and I have a long and deep love of alternative music and the poster and album artwork that goes along with it. Loads of modern graphic designers too, and obviously the artwork and lettering on food packaging is a huge direct influence.
Who is your greatest influence?
Food, and food packaging. It's mad to think that graphic artists design packaging for so much processed food and that's the main thing that makes it so appealing. That's why I appropriate so much of it in my work. Artist and technique wise it's probably Roy Lichtenstein.
If you had the chance to live during a different artistic movement other than now, which one would you choose?
It's less a movement but I'd love the visit Andy Warhol's factory in the mid 60s, when the Velvet Underground were involved. They'd probably eat me for breakfast though!
What advise would you give to someone just starting out?
Just keep drawing/painting/illustrating until you find a voice, try to have a bit of an original angle, and get out there and show your work! Getting feedback from people can be scary but it's so necessary. Think about every opportunity you get given as sometimes saying 'no' is just as valuable as saying 'yes'. And just keep working.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received from someone within the industry?
I'd love to say some cheesy inspiring words but all of the best advice I've received is quite dull but incredibly practical stuff. Like 'make prints of your paintings, and don't sell the original too cheaply'. Fairly mundane stuff really! I did a few craft / art fairs early on and the other people there gave me so much practical information on how to better present my work at those kinds of things, but it's way too much to list here!
Do you have any projects your working on that we should look out for?
Yes, I'm really excited to be preparing an exhibition of A3 prints at one of my favourite east London pubs, the People's Park Tavern. It's organised by one of my favourite shops, Lik & Neon in Shoreditch. So I'll have prints on display in the cocktail bar part of the pub, and also have some on sale in the shop. That opens on Friday the 23rd of September. I'm also working on a gift box with my wife who also makes stuff, but that will be a surprise.
Now onto some fun questions! Give us 3 constants in your life…
The Simpsons, pizza, painting.
Where’s your favourite place to eat in London?
I'd love to say a rare fancy restaurant but I actually love Wahaca! Every time I go I'm so happy and the branches in London are usually decorated by some cool artists like the Pure Evil one in Stratford.
Where's your favourite place to visit in the world?
Outside of London the place I've travelled to the most is Paris so I'll say that, but I'm also really happy in my little corner of Bow. I've been to Mexico City once and would love to go back.
What’s your favourite type of pen to draw with? If not a pen, fave medium?
Posca pen, see above! I'm obsessed with them, they're amazing if you're a graphic artist AND painter. Closely followed by a medium thick black sharpie.
If your illustrations were edible, what would they taste like?
Ha! This one is easy as 90% of my illustrations depict food. I'd love it if I could make edible prints of my art. Maybe I should copyright that idea.
Finally, a question we ask everyone we interview... What is your favourite thing about humanity?
Without getting too cheesy I love the fact that people do so many creative things, whether they're making money from it or not. It's great when you reveal you're a creative then the other person shyly reveals that they've been writing a book, or making music, or something like that, in their spare time. As far as I'm aware animals don't do this, but they're ace too.