BIOGRAPHY AND ARTIST STATEMENT
I was born right at the start of the 1960s.
My introduction to Art began at about the age of 7 or 8 years old reading comic books. The Beano, The Dandy, Sparky, Whizzer and Chips etc. That sort of thing. The family worked in the print trade and back then in the 1960s Watford was a big print town. Grandad used to bring home loads of comics that were printed where he worked. As I got older, at around the age of 11 or 12, Marvel began reprinting their classic Fantastic Four, Huk and Spiderman strips in Black and White in a comic called The Mighty World of Marvel. This was the early 1970s. I loved the drawings and used to try and copy them at home. At some point over the years I was reading these comics I formed the idea in my mind that drawing and art would be something I would like to do when I grew up and left school.
Before I knew it I was leaving school and the vibrant glam rock years of the 1970’s were grinding to a halt. Kids only slightly older than me had invented Punk Rock.
It was all very exciting. Watford School of Art would be where I would spend the early part of the dark, dreary and dreadful 1980s.
One of our teachers at Watford School of Art was the talented artist ( sadly no longer with us ) Paul Peter Piech. It didn’t strike us as odd at the time, but looking back now it does seem strange that a man having international exhibitions in all the major galleries around the world was coming in twice a week to an Art School in Watford to teach a bunch of ingrates like us. Peter Schmidt was another respected artist knocking about the place. I remember one day he leaned over as I was sketching an old lady struggling up the road with her bags of shopping. He took my pencil and with a few strokes on the page in a matter of seconds had captured what I had been struggling to draw for hours. We were lucky to be rubbing shoulders with such talented people.
Slowly we were being taught to properly draw and paint and I was learning some valuable art techniques and skills. I also discovered the much wider world of Art and I took a keener interest in it. Apparently, so we learned, only a few years previously while I was reading comics these people called “Pop Artists” were painting them on canvas and putting them in Art Galleries. That struck a chord with me. Anyway, we were being prepared for the world of Graphic Design and Advertising which seemed like vibrant places to work. Creative people ( that was us ) were highly valued and rumour had it you could also earn well from it.
Little did we know that a lot of what we were learning would soon become redundant in the digital decade to follow, but in the 1980s an Apple was still only something that an Art Director would eat for lunch.
The dream of drawing comic books had somehow morphed into working in the creative industries. I started out as a humble Paste-Up artist, preparing the Designers finished Designs for print. I had a talent though for the Magic Marker pens. This was spotted and I soon found myself as a Visualiser. From there it was a small step to becoming a Graphic Designer who was able to do his own Visuals. Truth be told I wasn’t a very good Graphic Designer. I was working with people who had far more talent and flare for Graphic Design than I had. Plus they understood the 80s Yuppie culture and were better able to represent that image to our clients. I could draw though and became an Illustrator instead. I used to draw my own cartoon strips and finally the early dream of drawing comics came true. I was published in Viz and some other dreadful knock off copies of it.
Through Illustration I found myself doing lots of Story Boards for AV presentations, which eventually led to me becoming an Art Director. Those computers though that had slowly come to dominate the studio were doing most of the hard work now. Plus the industry was very feast or famine. There was either so much money washing around the place that it was hard knowing what to waste it all on next, or everyone was made redundant because the cash cow had died.
As the 90’s ended I had had enough. I found the work that I had ended up doing was creatively unrewarding. Looking back on 20 odd years I realised everything I had ever done was crap. I either had to learn how to do more crap on a Mac or start afresh. I ducked out of the industry completely and took the option of steady reasonably well paid office work. I was by now a Husband and a Father so I had to be a provider and keep up the mortgage repayments.
During the 90s though I had picked up the paint brushes and tried my hand at painting. I was pleasantly surprised by how well I had remembered the techniques taught at Art School all those decades previously.
More recently we moved home and once again I picked up the brushes to make a piece of artwork to decorate our new home with. This time though I began to paint in earnest. This was my chance to do something more creatively rewarding and I indulged myself. I took inspiration from the visual world around me: film posters, magazine covers, advertisements in a newspapers or panels in a comic book. I had an appreciation for graphic design and could see some beauty in the mundane and I set out to recreate these for myself. This isn't a million miles away from what those Pop Artists were doing in the 1960s that we had learned about back in college.
I built the confidence in myself and my work and moved away from doing straight reproductions. I'm now doing my own original colour saturated artwork which I have recently come to understand is called “Post Pop Art”.
It heavily references my other artistic influences:
Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Synthetic Cubism, Comic Books, Graphic Design, Commercial Illustration, Advertising etc etc.
2018 was the start of a new chapter for me where everything was finally brought together. The idea I had as a child while reading those comic books that I would like to do art when I grew up is finally happening.