Insight

My latest interview with Estilla Magazine (published Sept 2019):

When did you realise you have passion for art? (describe briefly your journey so far?)

My passion for creativity started at a young age but the first real profound experience i had with art was when i travelled to the Musée D'art Moderne in Paris at the age of 18 to see the Mark Rothko exhibition as part of my A-Level art critical study, you weren’t allowed to talk inside the gallery, i just remember feeling engulfed standing in front of the huge awe-inspiring paintings in complete silence - that was the first time i had a true connection with art and realised it would always be a part of my life. At college I was obsessed with the abstract expressionist movement and i spent a lot of time painting works inspired by Rothko, De Kooning & Pollack, a lot of these pieces still hang on the walls of my parents house, as bad as i think they are now they paved the way for me as an artist.

Moving on from school i ended up at Plymouth college of Art & Design where i studied Graphic Design - the course introduced me to Photoshop and from that moment i was hooked, the process of taking photographic elements, textures and anything else that could be scanned into a computer and then merged together to make something new and exciting totally inspired me.

In the early years whilst at college i did a lot of flyers and posters for club nights in Plymouth, mostly drum and bass nights - i remember being particularly chuffed with a flyer i did for a night with DJ Marky headlining - a pinnacle in the very early days of my career, haha.

From Plymouth i moved to east London where i worked as a designer & illustrator for various creative agencies and brands eventually going full time freelance around 2008 - at this time i started to work with some of the top illustration agencies in the UK and had work regularly featured in magazines such as Advanced Photoshop, Computer Arts & Photoshop Creative.

Whilst working as a freelancer i was always making my own art on the side, it was an outlet for me, so many of the freelance jobs i did were creatively suppressed by delusional clients - sometimes it was very frustrating. The thought of working as an artist and not answering to clients was the dream, although at this period in my life i wasn’t quite sure that dream would ever manifest itself as reality.

After almost 7 years in London my first son was born and we decided it was time to move back to the coast - Plymouth for a couple of years and then eventually to Newquay in Cornwall - at this point i was still working as a freelancer but very much focused on my own art and how i could develop that further. I had sold a few prints over the years but had never self published any works so in January 2018 i released my first limited edition print - Wilderness - the response to this was great with it selling out in just 3 weeks. From then i began releasing prints regularly and the sales momentum picked up very rapidly - in summer 2018 i met another established artist from Newquay, Ben Allen, Ben exhibits and sells worldwide and is known for his graffiti pop style artwork - he had a purpose built studio in town and after a few visits he mentioned he was looking for someone to move in with him, I of course jumped at the chance. Within a month of moving into the studio i had transitioned to full time artist, feeding off each other and having Ben show me the way in terms of printmaking and finishing really pushed my art to the next level and since then i’ve not looked back. Fast forward to 2019 and i’m working with a bunch of galleries across the UK and have just had my first big solo exhibition in London.

Your style and approach to your work is very unique. How would you describe it and what’s the process?

Each piece is its own entity, there’s always an initial spark of inspiration that will kick off a new one but i usually don’t know how it will end up looking when I start - that’s the exciting part for me, experimenting with different elements & compositions until something ‘clicks’ - that process can take a few hours or a few weeks, it’s not unusual for me to have 5 different versions of something going at the same time, eventually amalgamating them into a final piece.

The fundamentals of the way i work have never really changed, I take various different photographic elements as well as marks and textures that i create by hand and then edit & bring them all together digitally. Once a piece of art is complete I move onto the ‘making’ process, which depending on whether it’s an original or print will consist of various techniques including; digital print, screen print, stencilling & hand finishing.

Have you got any mentors or other artists that you look up to or have been inspired by in your own career?

There’s been a lot of influences over the years but here’s a few that currently inspire me:

  • Tristan Eaton
  • Kathryn Mac
  • Thierry Duval
  • Hush
  • Zaria Forman
  • Findac
  • Dan Hillier
  • Gabriel Moreno

What did you find most challenging in the early days of your career?

In the early days working as a designer & illustrator the goal was always to become fully freelance - it took me 6 years to get to that point spending a lot of those years working 9 to 5 then coming home and working on freelance jobs until the early hours, it was a juggle but worth it in the end.

What was the best advice you received and what would you say to any emerging artist coming into the industry?

I was always given the same advice as a young creative:

‘concentrate on a style that you enjoy and make a really strong portfolio of work’

There is obviously truth in this but it only really scratches the surface in terms of becoming successful, it’s taken me 16 years to become a full time artist and my career has had a lot of highs and lows, at points i almost completely stopped making any kind of art and just concentrated on ‘work’ but the inspiration never died and always brought me back to making my own artwork that was free from client restraints. Having a good portfolio is great but there also has to be that desire and drive to succeed and most importantly to push you through those times when the dream doesn’t seem worth chasing.