London Art Spot: Lucy McDonald

Lucy

It takes guts to quit the 9-5 world and follow your creative passions, especially in a city like London, but Lucy dove in and took the opportunity when it arose. So exists The Story House. She illustrates wedding invitations, creates fabulously personalised cards and paper crafts from vintage paper, sheet music and maps. It’s called The Story House because all of the work tells the story of the person or people who will receive it or share it. Lucy gets to know her clients and how they met or what quirky activities they may have enjoyed that brought them together. Each order she fulfils is different. 

Read on to find out the biggest challenges Lucy faced when deciding to make a go of it on her own, her earliest memories of this city and a few of her favourite London discoveries like swimming in ponds and Indian sweets.

LLO: Where are you from originally, how long have you been in London and what brought you here?
LM: 
Originally I’m from the sticks, or the shire – whatever you want to call it – the most rural county in England.

I used to visit London quite regularly with my parents who lived there when they were younger, and got to love it then. I knew I wanted to live here, so I came to Queen Mary University in East London, and loved it. Apart from a year in Mexico, I haven’t lived anywhere else since – although I have defected to West London!

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LLO: Tell us about your first experience of London? Did you like it?
LM: 
I visited regularly with my parents, and I remember loving the tube, with all its random cold and warm winds, and the fact they could just walk around or pop on a bus knowing where things were – that was a bit mind boggling. I couldn’t work out how they knew (they had lived here). I remember being really chuffed when someone on a bus asked me where it was going. Obviously I had no idea, but the fact they asked meant I looked like I lived here!

We used to see as much as possible over a weekend – multiple films, multiple exhibitions and amazing tasty Indian and Asian food we couldn’t get out in the sticks.

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LLO: Tell us a bit about your own small business, The Story House.
LM: 
I have been running a creative business in London for a couple of years, but it only became ‘The Story House’ in October. ‘The Story House’ specialises in bespoke illustration for wedding stationery, any other event stationery and single page illustrations as gifts for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, christenings, or any other reason – even just for you! I also sell paper roses as bouquets, buttonholes and corsages. They are all handmade to order. I use map, sheet music, and literature for my roses, and some brides or gift-givers love to choose their own paper. I currently have a sheet of wedding photographs and first dance lyrics waiting to be made into a wedding anniversary gift.

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LLO: What so far has been your favourite project to complete and why?
LM: 
This is a really difficult question! I’m often working on many different things at one time. I think recently I’ve most enjoyed working on my single page bespoke illustrations for gifts. I have completed them for wedding gifts, anniversary gifts, and I know one is being given at a Christening this weekend! I like these because I know they’re a surprise. I work with someone who knows and loves the couple/the person/the family who will receive it to produce something really special. I like to imagine the illustration becoming one of those familiar pictures of the wall for the family – something that will move with them to every new house.

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LLO: What are you working on now?
LM: 
I have just launched some personalised wedding stationery ranges, where you can pick your design, and have all your practical details hand-written into the design. They look bespoke, but are more a more affordable and quicker choice.

I am really happy with the way the designs have turned out – my favourite changes on a daily basis.

I want to add another two or three ranges to the personalised ranges, and I’m currently developing some illustrated greetings cards to sell locally. Plus, I have my regular work of bespoke illustration commissions and roses to work on. It sounds like a lot when you set it all out!

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LLO: What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced setting up your own business in London? Any advice for others who wish to do the same?
LM:
 I think the main difficulty is making the decision to do it – which I happily bypassed by doing creative things on the side until they actively took over. I also bypassed the difficulties of this decision by not earning huge amounts before I started (i.e. not coping with a massive pay cut), and living with someone, which eased the financial pressure of doing it. However, after the first decision to do it, there are many and frequent decisions to carry on and to adapt. The one decision business is a myth!

Beyond that, it’s challenging to price yourself and your services what they are worth. You need to take into account all your costs, including overheads, taxes and a salary, and remind yourself of your own capabilities and the service that you are offering. Make sure you are charging enough for this.

Finally, if you cannot afford a studio workspace, or you live in West London where they are few and far between, do not underestimate the challenge of working alone. It’s difficult – both in terms of the number of hours I spend working from home without any human contact (Twitter anyone?), and without a team around you to take responsibility for different aspects of the business. You don’t get to tick something off the ‘to-do’ list until it’s in the clients’ hands.

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LLO: What’s your favourite London discovery from your time in East London?
LM: 
So I spent the first 5-6 years in East London and my discoveries there are:

  • The East London Thrift Store. Ignore Brick Lane vintage shops and head here for a huge range. If you can go during one of their jumble sales, where they charge per bag of clothes, even better.
  • Indian Sweets. There are lots of different shops in the East End, including several stores of ‘Rajmahal Sweets’. It’s definitely worth trying something. Excuse me if I get the names wrong, but there are amazing sweet blocks that are like a combination of cheesecake and fudge called Barfi, and syrup soaked little doughnuts, like mini steamed puddings, called Gulab Jamun. Yum!
  • Columbia Road Flower Market. Hardly a discovery, and I’m not claiming it, but honestly, one Sunday start at Brick Lane, grab some bagels, and walk up to Columbia Road, get a pint and watch the band outside the pub, and grab armfuls of amazing tulips for under a fiver.

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LLO: What are your favourite recent London discoveries?
LM:
Here’s a few:

  • Canal Café Theatre. A theatre in a room above a pub – jovial, friendly, it feels like a community and shows extremely funny sketch satire with the News Revue and has touching storytelling with Spark.
  • Hampstead Heath Ponds – My absolute favourite thing to do in London is swim in the ponds. It’s cold and murky, and sometimes you’re joined by ducks or geese, but it’s so good! If you’re hot and uncomfortable on a sunny day, jumping into cold water is the best feeling in the world. And again, like all my favourites, the atmosphere is always jovial and friendly. Unless you’re an adult trying to bring in a baby or child to swim, when the lifeguards give amusingly short shrift. For those concerned about health – despite being murky, the water is regularly tested, and, despite appearances, it is actually flowing. In winter, sledge instead. When you’ve done that, go and eat homemade cake at the Buttery café at Burgh House.

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LLO: Where are your favourite places to buy art and craft materials in London?
LM: 
Having a creative business does give you license to buy lots of good things. I haven’t found a replacement for Atlantis Art, Hanbury Street, off Brick Lane. It has an amazing range of materials and very knowledgeable staff. There is a beautiful shop of art supplies near the British Museum, which is like going back in time. Cass Art offers great value for money.

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LLO: How do you find out what’s going on in London? (apart from the Little London Observationist of course!)
LM:
 Twitter is great – @secret_london is great to follow and ask for recommendations. I follow my favourite venues and businesses in my area who promote their events. If you’re using Time Out, get the magazine as the website is a bit of a nightmare – overly reliant on big commercial things, rather than little interesting events. Ian Visits is my favourite listings site though. It’s brilliant.

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Thanks Lucy!

For more from Lucy, check out her website: story-house.co.uk

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London Art Spot: David Walker

Most people’s first job involved burgers and fries. David walker’s first job was creating t-shirt designs for The Prodigy. After that, he started designing record sleeves and party art before running his own street wear label called “Subsurface” for five years. It was only three years ago that he started painting. (Pretty impressive he’s accomplished all of that considering he’s broken his hand over 10 times!)

Once a fan of only black and white (with a little bit of pink thrown in for good measure), David now paints with in explosions of colour following his discovery of a little treasure box of spraypaint tucked away in a studio. His portraits are realistically surreal – the sort of images that make you stare for ages.

For this week’s London Art Spot, David explains who the women are that he loves to paint, tells us about his current show on Kings Road and lets us in on where he’ll be hiding out this summer with possible big plans for 2011.

LLO: Which aspects of London life most influence your creativity and how?
DW: I like the randomness of cities and the anticipation that anything can happen (good or bad) and that in turn you can make things happen. I have lived in small towns where there is just not the same sense of possibility, so this is very inspirational for me. I feel privileged to be making art full time and the speed in which this city can move pushes me forward.

LLO: Faces are the main subject of your work. Who are the people you paint? Do you know them?
DW: I don’t know them at all. I like that they’ve never met me and they don’t know they’re being painted. I use found photography, old magazines, the web, snapshots, anything that’s not staged by me. The fact that the subjects are unknown also allows people to make up there own narrative to the portraits.

LLO: Do you have a muse?
DW: I’m still trying to find one, but I’ve been told that they find you so maybe I should stop looking.

LLO: Tell us about your approach to your work, your unique “no brushes” style and your choice of fantastic vibrant colours.
DW: I’m drawn towards the idea of making something beautiful out of what could be classed as lo-brow materials and methods. I don’t use brushes because I want the pieces to raise a question about graffiti and traditional painting as there can be strong preconceived ideas about both. People are normally quite surprised the work is made from spray paint and I think many are also surprised they actually like the work when its outside on a wall; suddenly they have connected with a scene that they previously had no time for at all.

As for colours, I’ve gone from two extremes. For two years, I only painted in black, white and pink (as it was cheaper and allowed me to concentrate on the subject more), then I came across a  box of random coloured spray paint that had been buried in the studio and started exploring as many colours as I could and all at once. It just felt right at the time and it’s been a lot of fun.

LLO: Favourite memory of painting on the walls of London?
DW: Pretty much every time I paint outside, someone comes up to me at the end of the day and says “I saw you doing this earlier and I thought it was gonna be a right load of old crap, but I like it now. Nice one.” I think this is a great compliment.

LLO: Which piece are you most proud of at the moment and why?
DW: I’m really happy with this one (above). There were probably at least ten times I wanted to throw it off the fire escape. It finally came together the night before it had to be delivered to a show, so I was glad she made it. It’s not been easy between me and her.

LLO: You’re part of the Scrawl Collective. Tell us about this group and how you contribute.
DW: It’s a bunch of artists with different styles and practises. We all dip in and out of it I guess. We do shows here and there, projects come up or one of us might get an idea and get others involved or sometimes nothing happens at all… It’s the 10th anniversary soon, so there are rumours we may be getting something together.

LLO: Do you prefer exhibiting in galleries or on the street?
DW: They both have there positives and negatives. Walls are great because you have room to be very expressive and lots of people get to see the painting. With gallery work you get to spend time developing techniques and immerse yourself without anyone watching you. I try to balance both but I need to get outside more next year.

LLO: Which other London-based artists do you admire?
DW: So many for so many different reasons. At this very moment: Adam Neate, Will Barras, Polly Morgan, Christopher Moon, Arth Daniels

LLO: Where can we see your work now? Any big plans for 2011?
DW: I’m pleased to be in a great show at the moment called In/Human running until 23rd December 2010 with five other artists at 595 The Kings Rd, London SW6 2EL. I may be doing a major solo show late 2011. I’m still toying with the idea. I will be hiding out in Berlin for the summer and making new work, so we’ll see what happens.

Thanks David!

For more from David, check out his colourful website.

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

Listen to a Londoner: K Anderson

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you’re up for being interviewed, email littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk.

K Anderson, 28

K Anderson plays ‘lesbian music by a boy’ – confessional, conversational songs about the important things in life – getting older, bad sex, and needing a special someone in your life who can shave your back hair for you.

LLO: Which aspects of London life most influence your creativity?
KA: I think the randomness of London life is what is most inspiring. Turn a busy street corner and you could walk into a makeshift market, a film shoot, a drunken punch up or a protest march – you just never know. Speaking of random, the other day I ran into a girl who I went to primary school with on the other side of the world. My head is still spinning about that.

LLO: Where are you from originally, how long have you been in London and what brought you here?
KA:
This is always a bit confusing: I was born in Scotland, but emigrated to Australia with my family when I was 8, and then moved to London when I was 22. My friends in high school were obsessed with Oasis, and I was obsessed with the Spice Girls, so England was the obvious place for us to plot our escape to. I was the only one who actually managed to move here, though…

LLO: Tell us about the making of your video for “Shrug”. Lots and lots of feet…
KA:
I carried a video camera with me for a few months, and sheepishly asked all of my friends to dance for me when I caught them in a good mood.  I wanted a light and breezy video to go with ‘Shrug’, which is one of those toe-tapping songs disguising a sinister lyric. The hook of the song – ‘You want to call what we do love, I want to call it dirty sheets’ – keeps getting me into trouble with prospective romantic partners…

LLO: Favourite place in London to spend a Saturday night out on the town?
KA:
My favourite club night is ‘Unskinny Bop’, which is held at The Star of Bethnal Green. They always play totally random songs, and so you find yourself dancing to tunes you haven’t heard in years and years. Expect Betty Boo followed by The Temptations, Fuzzbox, and The Backstreet Boys. Amazing!

LLO: What’s the best part about living in your postcode?
KA:
I live in Stoke Newington, and although there are a number of pushchairs to avoid when walking down Church Street, I don’t think I would want to live anywhere else. There is a real sense of community here, and everyone I meet is fiercely proud of this little village. Oh, and there’s an amazing vegan stall at the local farmer’s market.

LLO: I hear you’ve been inviting people into your big new bed. Tell us more.
KA:
I’m slightly modest when talking about my music, but if you start me talking about my bed you won’t get me to shut up! It’s a super-king-size, and I have been madly in love with it since I bought it last year. I started a video series, ‘In Bed With K Anderson’ as a way of not only showing it off, but the talents of my many singer/songwriter friends. The premise is simple – people come over and sing a cover of a recent hit song in my bed with me. It’s been such an inspiring project for me, and it’s great to discover they way other people approach music making.

LLO: While you were in bed singing Rihanna/Eminem cover, you wore a t-shirt with iron-on letters that says “vegans make better lovers.” Are you vegan? If so, what’s your favourite place to go out for vegan food in London?
KA:
I am, indeed, a vegan. I would have to say that my favourite place to go in London for vegan food is RootMaster (www.root-master.co.uk/) – it’s an old routemaster bus which has been converted into a bustaurant (see what they did there?), and has delicious pizzas. Oh, and the cheesecake is quite delicious too.

LLO: What’s your favourite unique London discovery?
KA:
Candid Café, which is behind Angel station, is just lovely. In an area which is riddled with Starbucks, Café Nero and Pret a Manger, it is nice to find a little, unique space which sells plenty of varieties of teas and has proper, worn-in couches to spend an afternoon lazing in. What’s especially good about it is that there’s almost always a place to sit!

LLO: You just launched your album, The Overthinker. Why should we immediately pick up a copy and have you thought about what’s next?
KA:
‘The Overthinker’ is a snapshot of London life for an unsure 20-something year old; someone who is no longer cocky enough to believe the world will bend at his whim, but also not yet fully comfortable with the person he is becoming. It is at times awkward, brash, and comforting. At all times, though, it is honest. Perhaps too honest.

For the future, I am most looking forward to doing more writing – bringing out an album is hard work! Before that, though, there will be more ‘In Bed with K Anderson’ sessions and music videos to accompany songs on the album. I will also be hitting the road soon, visiting different parts of this country with my guitar on my back…

LLO: What’s your favourite place to play a gig in London?
KA:
I love playing at the cabaret venue Royal Vauxhall Tavern, because it has a proper stage, lovely sound, and a really appreciative audience. Oh, and it’s probably one of the only venues I play at in London which has its own dressing room. It may not be swanky, but it’s rather fun telling people that you have to go to the dressing room to get ready.

Thanks K!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

London Art Spot: David A Smith

I met David briefly at the Trafalgar Hotel last month where his work was on show as part of a jottaContemporary exhibition called Into the Wilde which featured pieces that drew inspiration from Oscar Wilde’s work. He was hanging about like any normal graduate, drinking a beer with friends, happy to chat about his work. It’s surreal, perverse, playful, sometimes disturbing and full of energy.

And it’s been given quite a lot of attention lately, particularly due to his position as a finalist for the Catlin Prize this year. With an MA from Chelsea College of Art on his already impressive CV, David’s sculptures have been featured in Art Review, Spoonfed.co.uk, The Independent, Elle, The Guardian and BBC, among others. Perhaps it’s the bizarre materials he chooses or the narrative popping out of each piece or how quickly his mind churns out intriguing new ideas. Whatever it is, props to David for his long list of gallery exhibitions, commissions, awards and relentless ambition.

For this week’s London Art Spot, David talks us about experimenting with shark teeth and treacle, digs into his experience to reveal a bit of advice to recent art graduates and shares a story about his grandfather’s cane.

Thief

LLO: This being a London blog, which aspects of London life most influence your creativity?
DS:
It’s an obvious answer but the Galleries and exhibitions that, if you were so inclined, could keep you busy with show openings and visits all week long. Although I do love, that even in this city, you’re never too far from a bit of greenery, a park or something similar to wander into. I need a little bit of nature close by as it helps me work and London has plenty of these wonderful areas a stone’s throw from the busy streets.

Together

LLO: What’s the most unusual material you’ve used so far to create a piece of art? Is there a story behind it?
DS:
I would say Shark teeth have been the most unusual material although I did do a project with a fellow student at Chelsea where we created a pool on the floor out of black treacle. We projected an image against it of two studious looking men and made it look as though they were sinking in the pool. It took 16 cans of treacle!

I have also just completed a piece which used a resin foetus skull. I re-worked the skull so that the jaw could hold a machete in its mouth then the whole piece was covered with a rich purple flock.

Together

LLO: Anything particular objects you have in mind to experiment with in the near future?
DS:
I have just acquired a resin bust form of a black bear. It’s going to be another light piece and a lot of work but I’ve been excited about starting on it since I drew the plan out in my sketchbook. I also have a resin cat skeleton that I’ve had in my studio for a while and I think now is the time to progress with this piece too.

LLO: It’s been said your work shows a “macabre sense of humour”. Would you agree? If so, give us a good example of a piece that best represents this part of your personality.
DS:
I would agree there is something slightly humorous about some of the works I make. Shuck was piece that had a dark streak to it yet kept some humour around it. It was a skeletal dog form I had finished with black gloss paint. I positioned the piece in the corner of a room, and inside its rib cage leading out of its mouth I had threaded electroluminescent wire that piled up on the floor beneath. It really grabbed the viewers’ attention when they entered the space, despite its small stature. It was an irradiated guard dog for my exhibition space, happily ingesting this radioactive looking wire in spite of it leading to its current appearance as nothing more than blackened bones. It became somewhat disturbing but also endearing as a creature that really shouldn’t be there, and wasn’t alive, but still had something life like and charged about its presence.

Shuck

LLO: Share a piece of work with the most interesting story behind it and tell us about it.
DS:
It’s perhaps not really an interesting story but it means a lot to me. After my Grandfather died I got hold of one of his walking sticks. I wanted to do something with it as it was such a beautiful wooden form but I also wanted to preserve the memory I had of him, protect it in some way. After much decision making I used the piece, and placed human teeth made from resin all around the handle of the cane. It made the Cane obsolete to any other potential user as the teeth defended the cane from the grasp of another. It’s a very personal piece and I don’t think I’ll ever let it go.

Cane

LLO: Animals (including skulls of dead animals) and neon lights both play a huge role in your work. Where does your fascination with these two elements stem from?
DS:
I grew up always being encouraged to look at and understand nature. There is always something new to learn and that’s the interesting part. Growing up in a more rural setting you get a firm grasp of the fragility of creatures in their natural habitat, and that death is something very close by. I use skulls because they show the fragile form of a creature. There seems to be a something divine about these forms, be it the way antlers have developed on roe deer skull or the way the teeth in a tiger skull are designed specifically for its hunting prowess. Light is something I came to late in my MA so I feel I’ve got a lot of experimenting to do. I like using light as it makes you work harder when creating sculpture; there’s a lot more to consider in relation to reflection and shadow. Importantly, the effects I can get from it are precisely what I am looking for particularly when I use Electroluminescent Wire.

LLO: Each piece seems to hint at a story. How important is narrative to you and do you think about this before you begin or does it unfold as you work?
DS:
Narrative is quite important in my work but my practice has begun to steer further away from a deep reliance on it and more towards referencing specific areas of animals as omens and their apparitions as bearers of news. I have a way of working that begins with one idea and soon gathers pace including other areas of my research quite quickly. It’s always nice to see what ideas and thoughts you can have when you start working but some ideas tend to be quite tenacious and once I begin with them I get a little obsessive about seeing them through to a specific conclusion I have in my mind.

Warlord

LLO: Having recently graduated with your MA, you’ve been exhibiting constantly, getting a good amount of press attention and positive feedback. Do you have any solid practical advice for other artists about to face the real world?
DS:
I have been more than pleasantly surprised at all the interest my work has generated; it’s been fantastic. The best piece of advice I can give is keep in touch with your fellow graduates if you can, and if you got on with them! Moving out of your college studio space is one thing but when you leave you also lose you peer group and these people are the ones that have been around you and know your work well. Keep these friendships and opportunities for mutual feedback strong. It’s always good to know what others are up to. It can keep you going, help keep things positive. Also if you sell any work from your degree show to collectors, then keep them in the loop about what you do next, what work you make next.

Revenant

LLO: Which other London-based artists do you admire?
DS:
There are quite a few, so, in no particular order: Alex Virji, Sîan Hislop, Blue Curry, Jeremy Willett, Sam Zealey, Aidan Doherty, Matt Clark, Amy Moffatt, Luke Drozd, David Cochrane, Abigail Box, Adam Dix, Lindsey Bull, James Capper, Tianzhuo Chen, Tim Ellis, this list could go on and on…

LLO: What are you working on now and where can we next see your work?
DS:
I currently have two commissions that I am working on at the moment that will keep my summer fairly busy but unfortunately both pieces are going into private collections so won’t be seen too widely. The next shows being mooted are in September after that I have a solo show in November, at the Yarrow Gallery, which has been pencilled in for a while now. I have also been approached by a gallery in Los Angeles but that’s a future possibility at the moment and still needs some discussion. I always try and keep something in my diary to work towards, it helps keep me motivated and dedicated to improving.

Wraith

Thanks David!

For more about David and his work, see his website: www.davidasmithart.co.uk

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

London Art Spot: Martin Hoare

Some people love to capture London on film, others in photographs, a few just in memory. Welsh illustrator Martin Hoare takes his sketch book out to the streets. Later, some of these sketches are transformed into more elaborate drawings or paintings. For a while, his pens & pencils sat in a drawer while he concentrated on his day job as a graphic designer, but now he’s set up a blog to revive them. It’s called Martin’s Doodles. If you enjoy his unique catalogue of London life below, pop over and have a look.

For this week’s London Art Spot, Martin tells us a story of frustration as a prospective art student, talks through the process of creating a new piece of work and about the satisfaction he’s recently discovered in a completely unrelated hobby that fills his spare time.

Piccadilly Line

LLO: How does living in London influence your creativity?
MH:
London is an amazing place to live and work. I’ve lived here now for 12 years and there are still always new places to discover. I love the way that each area has its own unique feel, the way you can travel just a short distance and feel like you’ve gone somewhere completely different. It’s always been drawing people and the way the people of London interact with each other and the urban environment. That’s what really interests me. Someone once said: “There’s 8 million stories all playing out at the same time.”  That’s what I’m trying to capture.

Green Park

LLO: Graphic designer by trade, and here you are with a blog full of “doodles”, of sketches and drawings. What’s your artistic background?
MH:
I have always been a compulsive drawer. As a kid, I don’t think I was happy unless I had a pencil and a stack of paper. I left school at sixteen and took a training scheme at the local Ford Motor plant. I think it soon became apparent that I had no interest in producing axles and, fair dues to them, they set me up with an interview at the local art college. But without formal qualifications, they weren’t interested in taking me on, and at the end of the interview they showed me a perfectly airbrushed illustration of a motorbike and told me not to come back until I could produce work of that standard. This really discouraged me from perusing any kind of career in art. It wasn’t until years later that I found out the illustration was from a student’s final degree show.

I did a fanzine for a bit around this time, designed a few record sleeves, t-shirts and gig posters for local bands. Then when the need to get a proper job came along, I became a painter and decorator. So I was working as a painter, but just the wrong type. I still kept on drawing but didn’t think of doing anything with it until I started taking a life drawing class. There were a lot of art students there from the college that had turned me down a few years back and I was surprised to find that I was drawing at a better level than practically all of them. So I thought, what the hell, gave up my job and started a foundation course. I intended to go on to study fine art or illustration, but having discovered the wonders of what could be done on a Mac, did a degree in Graphic Design and have been sitting in front of a screen ever since. The down-side of this being that for a long time I put down my pencils and brushes and it has taken me quite a while to pick them back up again.

Brewer Street

LLO: Where did the initiative to start “Martin’s Doodles” come from and what do you hope to achieve by keeping the blog?
MH:
I had drawings all over the place, in numerous sketchbooks, on bits of paper, and it was hard to keep track of everything. I really needed to get everything scanned in, just to pull everything together. So the main reasons for setting up the blog were getting organised, getting my work out there and moving it forward. After all, what’s the point of producing a load of artwork if it’s just going to sit in a drawer in the spare room?

LLO: Best place in London to shop for art supplies?
MH:
Cass Art in Islington. I spend a lot more there than I need to, I have a thing for buying new sketch books, whether I need a new one or not. I also visit the London Graphic Centre in Covent Garden quite a bit.

North Lanes

LLO: Favourite place in London to sit with a sketch pad?
MH:
Probably somewhere on the South Bank, especially when the sun is out. There’s usually a chilled atmosphere and noone is in a rush to get anywhere, which is helpful when sketching.

LLO: Which piece are you most proud of so far and why?
MH:
It’s usually what I’ve just finished or am working on at that time. I’ve just finished a painting ‘Leaving Las Vegas’, which is Soho street scene. The thing that started me off on this image was the signage, which I just had to work into a painting. And being Soho it just had to be a night scene.

Leaving Las Vegas

LLO: Describe the process of how your artwork comes to life from the moment you conceive an idea to the finished product.
MH:
I’ll spend a lot of time wandering around just looking for somewhere that will work as a drawing or painting. I’ve basically always got an eye on the next piece of work. Once I’ve chosen a location I’ll do a few rough sketches and take as many pictures as I can. I’ll then put all these together in Photoshop, and usually work up a composite image, putting all the elements together. Print this out and make a rough pencil drawing sketch placing all the main elements on the page. Once that’s done I’ll start working up the drawing, with either a fine liner, or ink and pen. Once I’m happy the drawing is done, I’ll either add shading with marker pens, or I might scan the drawing and colour it in Photoshop.

The next stage is to determine which drawings may have the potential to be worked up as paintings. The whole painting process is a lot more involved and time consuming. Unlike drawing where the work can be finished in one sitting, a painting can be very much a stop-start affair, gradually taking shape, depending on the free time I have available. But it’s really rewarding when you finish with something that you’re pleased with.

Oceanic Leather Wear

LLO: What do you get up to when you’re not drawing/doodling/sketching/painting?
MH:
Aside from work which takes up a large part of my time, I have recently started gardening. For the first time since moving to London I have a garden, and have really gotten into growing my own vegetables; there’s something really pleasing about eating food you’ve grown yourself. I tend to go to a lot of galleries. One of the great things about London is that there is just so much art going on; wherever I happen to be, I can usually take a bit of time to check out whatever galleries are around. Being Welsh, I also often end up in the pub watching a bit of rugby.

LLO: Is there a place in the capital you’d love to sit for a day with a sketch pad but haven’t had the chance yet?
MH: Actually having the luxury of a day to sit sketching is not something I’m used to. Maybe it’s being a Graphic Designer, where everything is driven by deadlines, but there never seems to be enough time to fit everything in. I’ve never done any drawings on the tube; maybe I could sit on the Circle Line going round and round drawing people. Perhaps I should try that.

Smoking Man

LLO: Any impressive up-and-coming London-based artists we should keep our eyes on?
MH:
Print Club in Dalston (www.printclublondon.com), has some really good illustrators and artists. I like a lot of the work they produce.

Sundae, Sundae

Thanks Martin! 

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