Known for his happy-go-lucky style featuring black outlined drawings mixed with vibrant colors and a child-like naivete, he’s collaborated with brands like Walt Disney, Graham & Brown and Fracture Skateboards. Even Monster Energy Drinks hired him to produce a large-scale mural for them. Most likely for his ability to reach large audiences with his appeal to all ages, but definitely because his work has the uncanny ability to make the viewer think and smile at the same time. Go ahead. See for yourself. Check out his work and the interview below! And don’t forget to stop by and take a look at his “Stand Together” exhibition on view at Solent’s Showcase Gallery in Southhampton, England until April 14.
1.) Hailing from Hampshire, England, give us some insight as to how you got your start as an artist.
I first got interested in art as a teenager through a combination of street art, skateboard graphics and graphic illustration. I did a foundation in fine art and degree in graphic design and spent a lot of years developing my style through doodling and making mistakes. My first exhibition was in a pub where I was working whilst at university. I kept going from there, really. Hanging my work in more pubs, doing art markets and selling them on Ebay so I could afford to make more. After “uni,” I worked in my local supermarket whilst continuing to paint as much as I could. At the time, I was fortunate enough to be making a decent living through selling paintings and prints to go full time on it at 23 years old. Now at 31, I’m still mostly influenced by the same things and still learning through making mistakes!
2.) Many artists in the industry follow the traditional method of going through an agent to sell and show their work. Tell us a bit about why you’ve chosen to break free from that norm and chosen to represent yourself, acting as both agent and artist, instead?
Initially it was more out of necessity than anything else. In the last couple of years I have been approached by art publishers interested in exclusively representing me, but I like that I get to know the people who buy my art and I think they like dealing direct with the artist, too. I do work with a few galleries now, though, particularly in mainland Europe where there’s quite a big market for my art and it’s not as easy for me to sell it myself. One day, I might go down that route. But right now, I’m quite happy doing it myself. Although, I’d never say never.
3.) You’ve said that your goal as an artist is to “show [your] work to as many sets of eyes as possible.” With that being said, what are you trying to say through your work? How do you make your artwork relatable to as many people as possible?
The main things I try to put across in my art are: positivity, unity and happiness. More than anything, though, I just like to make things that people enjoy looking at. For the most part, I try not to reference specific events or themes so that it’s open to as wide of an audience as possible.
4.) Creating artwork that is both inspirational and prismatic, where do you turn to for inspiration?
Most of my subject matter is inspired by every day life and whatever’s on my mind. I take a lot of photos and do a lot of doodling to develop initial sparks and try to have a brain full of ideas before I step up to a canvas. In terms of artists that inspire me, some of my favorites include: Barry McGee, Andy Howell, Keith Haring, Jean Dubuffet, Madge Gill and Geoff McFetridge. I also like a lot of aboriginal, tribal and folk art. I try to look at as much art as possible.
5.) Building upon the previous question, tell us a bit about your creative process. Then, please give us three (3) words to describe your creative style.
I almost always work intuitively, starting with one small icon, character and/or object and build it up from there. I try to get into a creative flow and let my hands and the images guide me rather than the other way around. I use loose, flowing compositions, but it’s important to me that each line is executed cleanly. I then go over them all several times to build up my bold outlined style. For me, every detail is as important as the next one. Someday, I would love it if someone who’s familiar with my work could identify my style from just a few signature marks.
In three words, I would describe my creative style as: bold, vibrant and energetic.
6.) In 2016, The Telegraph listed you as one of five British artists to invest in right now. Did you ever imagine that your work would become such a phenomenon with the public? How does that make you feel?
The Telegraph article was huge for me and has really helped to open some doors. But, I do try to remember that it is just one persons opinion. I’m always amazed when people know of my work. So it’s a great feeling getting to meet fans and collectors at my exhibitions. For me, though, the real pleasure comes in making the art. But at the same time, it’s great that it’s getting to reach so many people.
7.) You’ve created artwork for Walt Disney, Graham & Brown, Fracture Skateboards and even Monster Energy. What’s been you most memorable collaboration to date? Why?
My favorite collaboration was probably creating the wallpaper with Graham & Brown. They have a huge worldwide distribution so it got out to a really big audience and I know that a lot of people who like my art now discovered me through it. It really was a nice one. As with all my stuff, though, I want it to reach a wide range of people and they definitely ticked that box. I mean, lots of kids had it up in their bedrooms, but I also saw photos of it being used in bars, restaurants, hospital waiting rooms and all sorts of places. Seeing it being marketed in lots of different languages was really a novel experience. It also got a feature from one of my favorite blogs Design Milk, which was a bit of a goal of mine.
8.) You’ve been regularly creating art, exhibiting and live painting at events all over the world for over a decade now. With work featured at The Southbank Centre, Selfridges and Summers Place Sculpture Gardens and in publications like The Independent, The Evening Standard, and Elle Decor, what would be your ideal show place (outdoor public space or gallery) and/or publication to have feature your work?
Right now, I’m interested in pushing my art in some less commercial galleries and it’s something I’m doing with my current exhibition at Solent Showcase in Southampton, where I’m the artist in residence for three months creating an evolving, participatory show. You know, challenging myself to try out new mediums and techniques with less of a focus on creating art to sell. Eventually, It’d be great to get to do more shows abroad, too. Hopefully, introducing it to new people along the way.
9.) If you could choose one tool to create a piece of art, what would it be? Why?
One black marker pen with an invincible nib and unlimited ink! The outlines are the basic structure of everything I do. I guess you could say, that, everything other than that is just decoration.
10.) Finally, what’s next for you as a artist? Who would like to collaborate with?
Like with my artwork, I try not to plan it too much and take it as it comes. More public art projects and outdoor pieces would be great. I’d also love to do some more collaborations with clothing brands as well.