How do you approach your work?
I don’t really have a specific process as such. When I started out I always thought it would be a good idea to have a routine, like when you watch that that programme ‘what do artists do all day?’ They always describe their day as ‘you know I wake up at 4:30am and I paint until 3pm’ but if I did that I’d just get depressed! I tried the routine thing and it didn’t work, so I don’t really have a system.
How do you create your work is it purely digital or do you work from drawings first?
Pretty much all digital and then maybe someone turns it into something physical. Although I’ve been doing some paintings recently and that’s been really nice but that’s not something I show publicly. I suppose I have an issue with these paintings not really being ‘my style’ as such, that’s sort of the problem with being an illustrator… because clients start going ‘I’m not sure’. I guess I’ll just have to sneak the paintings in, start to lose that line I have through my work so I can get away with them!
Are you still printmaking?
Not as much as I used to, I’m hopefully going to do a project with Peckham Print Studio soon. I did a fellowship at Kingston, where I was printing every day as the print technician there. I turned into a mad snob about printing and paper but when I didn’t have those facilities any more, I went digital – ipegs cost nothing!
But it looks like you have fun doing your commission jobs?
Yeah definitely – it is such a fun job. I keep having to tell myself that, for example when a client comes back with too much feedback. But as a day job all they’ve really asked you to do is to draw it at another angle.. you know, it’s pretty good, I can’t complain.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on quite a few different projects: a few editorial projects for some different magazines and books. One of the books is for a graphic design studio, it’s a more conceptual vibe. The project is called a 100 for 10, so they’re going to produce 100 different books but different artists – you’ve got 100 pages and it costs 10€. They just said do what you want so I’ve decided to do every page number is the number of lines I can use and then I’ll just create different images for each page and if you combine all the lines it’ll be 5050 lines. Another book cover I’m working on is a big monograph on postmodernism so that’s pretty fitting for me, pretty perfect really. And another is actually for boiler parts, which I thought was going to be a bit boring but I was so wrong – boiler parts are really beautiful!
And that’s almost like the imagery you seem to be interested in drawing, like say printmaking machinery, industrial environments (or boiler parts!)
Yeah exactly it’s almost like when you screen print and you’re registering images together, the thick black line is great, you can always hide behind it! That is why I started drawing with black lines. I realised I wasn’t good enough to a flat colour palette, because when you try to edition work like that you get say 4 good prints, but with the black line you can always make it work. I suppose that’s why I’ve carried it on in my work. I also loved that one off painting directly onto the mesh style of screen printing, but technicians always hated you doing that cause you just waste so much ink. You finish pulling the ink and it’s just brown at the end.
So aside from when I was printmaking, I kind of just have my formula and just choose a subject to work from. The way I work digitally is that everything is on a grid, usually just the default grid on illustrator. I tried the standard isometric but you have to build your own and snapping it and cleaning it is a lot of effort. But the default is just so much better. For example with my Legs project, that was just a table top again and again so yeah it has that easily multipliable thing.
What are your influences?
I’m obviously really into Paolozzi. I’m also interested in colour theory, people like Albers. I saw some of his work recently that was just all those yellow paintings, the yellow squares. I guess when you’ve only ever seen reproductions of the work when people are dealing with colour, you’d assume they’d be really flat – but his were so messy. I was thinking ‘what’s going on here?!’
I was also influenced by a recent trip to Cuba, I don’t usually take loads of photos but it felt a bit wrong to go to a place where there’s no wifi and just take photos on your iPhone. So that was a bit of fun. That place is amazing – if you ever get the chance go, it’s just the most insanely beautiful place. All the buildings are falling apart but they’re painted like bright pink and turquoise. There’s just so much 16th century Spanish over the top embellishment then you look through the door of these buildings and it’s just 6 people on a sofa watching baseball in their living room. All the cars are like how they look in movies, everyone’s got old Chevrolets – and it’s not just for tourists like they really use them – live music everywhere. Everyone tells you they’re in Buena Vista Social Club. It’s mad. Real amazing.
If time or money weren’t an object what would you make?
I’d like to have a full workshop and a printmaking studio, I’d just do that all day and fuck the clients off – sorry! But I think that would lead into like industrial design and stuff like that, I’d love to do that. If money weren’t an issue I’d do 3D, definitely – and a lot more painting.