T-Shirts as a Medium – Local Artist Explains it All
What’s the story behind the picture of you and Jade Johnson? A few years back I was commissioned to paint a portrait of former British athlete and star of Strictly Come Dancing Jade Johnson by a good mutual friend of ours. The painting featured Jade competing in the Athens Olympics 2004. It was such a thrill to present it to her at her birthday party in London, in front of other stars of sport, music and T.V., and will always be a real highlight of my career as a portrait artist. Jade is really into her art as well and we still have regular chats. She has always been very supportive and encouraging to me over the years.
Have you lived in Brighton for long? I was born in Brighton, and apart from the two years when I studied illustration in Bournemouth, have lived here all my life.
What would be a typical day for you? I try to split my day up as much as possible, so I am not doing one thing for too long at a time, and I get some variety through the day. So I work a little when I get up, maybe answer emails etc.. then walk my two dogs (who are also a big part of my life). I will work again after lunch until dinner, and will also try to fit in one or two shorter dog walks, which also help to clear my head after working for a few hours.
I usually prefer working in the evening, but this does tend to keep me up till 1-2am most nights. I also try to keep all my social media pages up to date most days, which I really wish I could spend less time on, but it is always helpful to hear feedback on what you are doing from friends and followers.
Have you done any exhibitions? Or are you about to do any? I have not exhibited my work in galleries much so far, preferring to share my work online. But I have shown in some local Brighton venues, as well as taking part in the Open House Festival in the past, which I enjoyed, and would like to do again in the future. Finding some supportive and reputable galleries to exhibit my work is one of my goals for next year, I have lots of ideas for new paintings which I am currently working on.
Where do you sell your T-shirts? Over the years as an artist/illustrator I have produced a few t-shirt and apparel designs for some new up and coming clothing brands. I really enjoyed the experience and realised it was a good way to get your artwork seen by the public. So I created a couple of my own designs last year and got them printed locally. Currently they are only available through my social media pages. However, I am in the process of creating new Etsy and Bigcartel shops in which to sell my designs, as well as originals and prints of my work. I am hoping both sites will be running before the end of 2015. My focus right now is on producing fine art pieces, but can see my work really lending itself to t-shirt designs and maybe other products. I will definitely be exploring these avenues more in the future. If you are interested in my work I do currently have some products available on www.redbubble.com/people/cgarts and www.Society6.com/CGIdesigns.
What’s your favourite thing to do in Brighton? I love just being outside, either in parks or on the beach, as close to nature as possible really. I like to explore the city, to take in the unique sights and situations that I think only Brighton can provide. When free I like to go drawing, often outside or at the Booth Museum of Natural History. I am also really into live music, so am often going to gigs at venues like The Dome and Concorde II in my spare time.
What’s your favourite café? I am not very loyal to one café or shop I am afraid. Anywhere I can take my dogs is good, so probably Hove park, Preston Park or The Meeting Point café on the beach.
What inspires you to paint? I am still not certain why I draw or paint what I do. I don’t try to overthink it anymore, just go with my gut feeling. In general I have always been drawn to portraiture, animals and other natural forms, as opposed to man-made objects, like buildings, cars etc. I am also inspired by the music, films and programmes I might be watching at the time.
I started out being very interested in realism and trying to capture subjects perfectly. But now I am more interested in creating unusual shapes, marks and patterns, using different colour combinations, utilising the contrast between light and dark, and trying to mix realism and abstract techniques together to make a kind of hyper-reality. I am also now using more digital processes, which is taking my work in new directions and allowing me to work much quicker.
Are you managing to make your art your day job? I have been working full time as an artist and illustrator and since the start of 2011. I have been very lucky to have been supported by very loyal friends, family and clients during that time. I am currently considering going into teaching art, either evening classes and/or maybe in schools. It is something I have been thinking about for quite a while.