How would you introduce yourself?
If I have my dog with me I let him handle introductions. He is very good at it. Otherwise, well actually I have this really bad habit of treating everyone as if I have already met them. I think it is because I often forget that I have met someone so to be on the safe side I tend not to introduce myself but to continue on the basis that I might already know them. It’s lame, but at least it isn’t rude.
When did you realise you wanted to be a designer/illustrator?
Quite late on, probably when I was around 29-30 and first working at Airside. I was a failed/disillusioned artist at that point and saw design-related work mostly as just a way of earning a living (I was mainly doing web stuff at the time) Then while at Airside I had an epiphany and kind of found my calling. Realised what I was good at. Realised that I liked doing it. It saved my life.
Who have you looked to as inspiration throughout your career – how has this influenced your work?
This is a hard question! I look at all sorts of stuff all the time. it is complex and only semi conscious. One area where I can give a concrete answer is colour. I used to be rubbish at colour, back when I was trying to be a fine artist every image I made was just black and white. When I started using colour in my work I didn’t really know what I was doing and would borrow colour-schemes from the real world. I can remember the first one, It was a pub in Mile End and they had just had it decorated. black cream and turquoise. I liked it so I just wrote “Black, Cream, Turquoise” In my notebook and later that day I used it in a drawing and it looked great. I still do this, it’s how I have learnt colours. Last week I borrowed some colours from the sail of a 1978 Sunfish Sailboat.
Tell us the concept and inspiration behind your designs for Strut and Fibre? Your hero or inspiration.
Ha ha. So when Dean from Strut & Fibre met me to tell me about this project he happened to mention Vaughn Oliver was possibly doing it and I told him about how Vaughn was one of my heroes growing up. I used to buy these tubes of 4AD posters that I think were intended for record shops to put in their windows or whatever, but my local shop Nervous Records, Hinckley, would sell them on to me and I would cover my bedroom wall in them, even the ones for bands I didn’t like (Sorry Cocteau Twins.) Over the years I have enjoyed loads of his work, I am a big Mountain Goats fan and I love the stuff he did for them. So I told Dean this and then later when he told me that the brief for this project was to choose a design hero I said, shit, I better do Mr Oliver then. And it feels weird and embarrassing and he is pretty much going to hate what I have done but, fuck it, I think it is healthy to put yourself out of your comfort zone like that. Working on it made me realise how different and incompatible my sensibility of an artist is from his. I think I am very uptight and methodical in the way I make images and he is an experimenter and has a very free playful approach that fascinates me but feels like it will always be out of my grasp because my brain is wired differently. I think the piece I have done has ended up as a kind of awkward but interesting exploration of those differences. And, it’s tough making an image that is a tribute to someone you admire, especially when you know they are going to see it! I tried to make an honest straightforwards thing, I guess ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
What do you see as the power of print?
The power of print, for me is just that it makes me smile every time I see something I designed come back from the printer and suddenly it is more real. It Makes me chuffed every time. Like, it was just in my head, in a sketchbook and then on a screen but now it is real.
Describe your typical working day?
I am pretty 9 to 5. I get up, eat cereal, Walk the dog, work all day and then go to the pub or something. I work from home. I listen to the usual mix of dance music and podcasts. I try not to work too late in the evening. Sorry this is a boring answer but yeah, its just a guy at a desk looking at a computer. I recently got a new office chair actually. Sorry, next question.
What advice would you offer an aspiring creative?
Don’t worry about ‘making it’ straight out of college or whatever. It’s ok to spend a few years fucking about doing shit jobs, being in bands and so on. I meet loads of young people who are stressing out about whether Nobrow or It’s Nice That are going to come to their degree show. Bless them. Or like Second Years who are worried that they are halfway through their degree and ‘Haven’t found their style yet’ I’m 43 and haven’t found my style yet. Ha ha.
What’s been your favourite project you’ve worked on recently?
Weirdly, I did this project, a load of illustrations for a booklet all about living with Hepatitis-C. Really unglamorous! But fascinating and working with lovely people and feeling like you are actually making yourself useful, which is always something.
Why should you own a good business card?
For the same reason you should wear a watch or send postcards when you are on holiday.
Bread Collective, Ambassador Collection Interview8th September 2016
The power of print is the tactile, the feeling of something physical that you can touch.Read More
Two Times Elliott, Ambassador Collection Interview8th September 2016
Masters such as Muller Brockmann and Otl Aicher have always been a great source of inspiration.Read More