Artists that inspire us – David Shrigley

Continuing our series on artists that inspire the Bookblock team, Designer Nicola shares her love of David Shrigley.

It’s hard to talk about who inspires me as I find it hard to be inspired without feeling some sort of ‘artistic guilt’ if it influences my own thinking too much, but of course it naturally happens, and when I am truly inspired (which is rare) it is usually because it has sparked a new idea or encouraged me to be more confident in my own thinking. Or in this case, my style of drawing – which is what David Shrigley has done for me. I started as an artist with two drawing styles, one that can take me days to complete and is structured, neat and often trying to represent reality in its true physical form. My other style exists similarly to Shrigley’s, bringing personality and humour to the work through confident lines and conviction in what my hand naturally wants to do. To some this style could be thought to be the opposite to what is classically considered beautiful or skilful, but to me Shrigley’s work is relatable, characterful and charming. I often remind myself ‘If you want to see an accurate portrayal of something then take a photo.’

I first fell under his charm back in 2012 during my foundation year at MMU, when he exhibited ‘How are you feeling?’ at the former Cornerhouse. Described as ‘art-therapy to help you cope with “an increasingly crazy and poorly signposted world”, the exhibition poster has followed me from home to home, doing exactly that. Reminding me that art needn’t take itself so seriously, and indeed neither should I.

His work seems to curiously pop up in many places, as though it seems to follow me around, with every occasional familiar glimpse of his black on white drawings appearing like a friendly face in a crowd. Once in the form of a recent collaboration with Tiger on a range of stationery, another as a piece of ‘Art on the Underground’, and most recently in the form of a large thumbs up on the 4th plinth.

It would be hard to pick a favourite piece of work by Shrigley, as there are just so many to choose from. But I could probably pick my top 5, though if you were to ask me again tomorrow it would likely be a completely different 5. I like to think that though Shrigley and I originate from, according to Wikipedia, the same ‘small market town’ of Macclesfield, or perhaps more notably the Times 2004 most uncultured town in Britain, something managed to slip through the cold grey cracks.