1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
I am from a small village in Suffolk called Lakenheath, but currently reside in Norwich, a slightly larger city in the neighbouring county of Norfolk. The city has a liberal minded and creative community, nice cafe’s and even a castle! And that’s pretty much all I think anyone needs.
I planned to pursue a career in Graphic Design at University, but quickly realised the amount of rules and boundaries left me feeling very restricted and I transferred, sort of by default, into Illustration.
I was soon delighted to find out that 90% of what I thought was graphic design, was actually graphic image making and fell under the bracket of illustration – A happy accident! I spent 3 years of education primarily in a state of toil/crippling self doubt whilst I waited for my technical ability to catch up with my idea’s, and then I worked retail jobs whilst working evenings and weekends on trying to build something that resembles a career within the arts!
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
I like to think it sits somewhere (uncomfortably) between Mid Century advertorial work and Pop Art. I try to use bold shapes, often simplified or exaggerated, to boil down the message I’m trying to convey whilst using colour to lure the viewer in.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
My favourite medium is screen printing. I like the structure and controlled chaos of it all. I also just enjoy seeing the process of cause and effect, the manual labour of it. There is a physical action and what is revealed is the reaction. Screen printing provides all the satisfying bits you miss when designing on a computer (the mess, the physical movement, the experimentation, the opportunity for mistakes to make masterpieces) but also functions in a pattern not too dissimilar to how I learned create work on the computer, building shapes and components and moving them around the screen to create a satisfying composition.
4. What is your artistic process like?
With the above in mind, I don’t get too much time to print anymore, as the deadlines for projects are often quite tight. But over the years I have built up a catalogue of textures which I have scanned in to use within my digital work. I tend to sketch out series of compositional thumbnails and then one slightly more worked up drawing which I trace over on the computer. The ability to turn these hand drawn marks into keyboard actions allows me to hopefully create work which is still ‘human’, but with the option and convenience of simply ‘undoing’ anything that doesn’t sit quite right. Perfect for someone like myself who, technically is a bit shit at drawing.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
I really love visual juxtaposition. Where I grew up in Lakenheath, the village was surrounded by farmland and agricultural businesses…as well as a two HUGE U.S military airbases. Spending the weekend as a child cycling along farm tracks and building forts in the woods, only for the quiet and birdsong to be ripped in two by a squadron of high tech F-15 fighter jets performing combat manoeuvres above me. Riding a bus to the next town over as it creeps along a country road behind a tractor to see an American muscle car roar past in the opposite direction always struck a chord with me. How two or more things that so starkly contrast one another can coexist successfully. Sometimes harmoniously or sometimes challenging the others perception of “normal”. I think I’ve carried that interest in juxtapositions with me since and what inspires me most is that fragile middle ground. You see it everywhere, in nature, people, architecture and even pop culture.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
Subconsciously I think it plays a huge role. This sounds so pseudo-whatever, so I apologise in advance, but having some understanding of art and design really does change the way you see the world. I feel like it gives you sort of X-ray vision, as a human, interacting with your environment on a day to day basis. You think about everything’s place a bit more, which can be maddening at times, and I think often people assume a critical eye is a negative eye but I believe creative people generally view the world with the goal of making things better, or are constantly looking for ways to better understand the world they live in. That mindset can’t help but seep into your personal life so I think as a person I try to be as patient and committed as I can be to other people and seeing things through.
7. Where did you study?
I studied at Norwich University of the Arts, on a really strong illustration course with some fantastic tutors, facilities and peers. To give you a super stupid comparison – I feel like if Norwich was in the U.S, some magazine would describe it as ‘The New Portland’ . The city has a history of marching to its own drum and that atmosphere still exists today. I think the majority of the people in Norwich are devoid of the London-Centric mindset that often see’s other cities living in the capitals shadow and for that reason, whatever Norwich is doing it’s always a little off kilter from the norm.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years? Working in an agency?
This is a tough one! If you’d asked me the same question when I graduated I would have said “I’ll be an illustrator, I’ll have illustrated for XYZ, I’ll have a nice dog that wears a bandana, a fixed gear bicycle, a print studio, a passport full of stamps from far away countries and a taste for sushi and high quality furniture”. But now, pretty much five years since graduating, I’m just happy to say I make a living drawing pictures for other adults who want pictures. How mad is that? It feels like the greatest con-job in history. Grownups pay another grownup to do what he loves and draw pictures.
So with that in mind, in five years time I hope to be doing a similar thing, but perhaps on a larger scale. I think the point I’m trying to make is that five years feels like an eternity, but in the grand scheme of things I’ve invested five years of a now 60+ average year working life to hopefully ensure the next 55 years is as good as it gets.
9. What about in ten?
Ten years is a little longer, so I’m willing to gamble and throw some idea’s out there – haha! I would absolutely love to be an Art Director for one of my favourite publications or brands, because I love jobs where the client has a rich history that you can play with. Also, imagine having access to things like Coca-Cola’s brand guidelines, or knowing the hex code for ‘Coca Cola red’!
Either that, or I’d like to be an Illustration tutor. I absolutely love talking to people about their work and if I knew I’d helped someone find direction within their practise, on however small a scale, I’d consider that a great achievement.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
The biggest thing I hope for my work is that it helps make intimidating or complex ideas accessible or more attractive. I’m speaking generally within the confines of editorial work, but that goes for any future work too, in any realm.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
My favourite food is Pizza. I just feel like you can dress a pizza up for any occasion.
12. Favourite book?
My favourite books are ‘Design as Art’ by Bruno Munari, or if we’re talking fiction I really enjoy Jonathan Lethem.
13. Favourite genre of music?
Sad suburban indie – haha!
14. What are your hobbies?
Honestly, and this is so sad, especially to read back to myself, I don’t have many. Up until recently between working normal jobs and illustration, I haven’t had much time for hobbies outside of wedging some Netflix in between deadlines. Netflix isn’t a hobby is it?
That aside, now I have more time to myself I’m starting to really enjoy cooking. I’m also really into wandering/exploring without purpose haha!
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
I’m honestly not sure, I don’t think I’d like to be stuck in an office all day. I think I’d either like to be a teacher or working a job by the coast.