London Art Spot: David Stevenson

Calling various bits of East and South London home for over a decade, illustrator and animator David Stevenson can’t imagine living anywhere else. He tells me the average person only stays in London for seven years so he counts this as a tiny moral victory. He was born in Wolverhampton.

David’s work is influenced by Jack Kirby, Walt Simonson, the internet and literally whatever the last thing is that he saw or read. He’s always doodling stupid stuff (his words, not mine!). He also admits to wasting far too much time in front of a computer. He draws things for anyone who will pay.

Recently married, he drew himself as a gorilla on his wedding invitation so keep that in mind when you get to the question about his self-portrait in this week’s London Art Spot interview. He also lets us in on the bizarre way he heard of Michael Jackson’s death and shows off an illustration he feels really captures Sean Connery’s sexual magnetism.

LLO: How does living in London influence your creativity?
Obviously there are loads of creative things going on in a city this size, but mostly it’s the people. When you hit a creative snag you can get out of the studio, jump on a bus and just people-watch until you buck your ideas up.

LLO: A lot of your illustrations are comments on current events or the arts. What inspires you and what’s your favourite source of daily news?
Rumour, opinion and word of mouth. And by word of mouth, I mean the internet really. You can hear the news anywhere now – and quicker than the proper news channels. The way I heard about Michael Jackson’s death? An orc told me, in World of Warcraft. Of course I googled it; you don’t just take the word of an orc you don’t know. But I like that randomness.

LLO: You’ve had some big clients like Amnesty International, Orange and Warner Brothers. Who’s your dream client?
High profile clients are useful, because they do open the door for more opportunities. But if you’re involved in something genuinely good, chances are people will hear about it.

LLO: I hear you also do some comedy nights. Tell us something funny?
I’m not one of those funny comedians. I do stand-up pathos; roughly five minutes of quivering my lip, then a single tear trickles down my chin. It’s very moving. Some audiences have moved right out of the building.

LLO: Where can we catch your next stand-up gig?
The London comedy scene is pretty quiet during the summer months, as everybody decamps to Edinburgh. So I’ll be chilling out until Autumn, making an effort to be as unfunny as possible.

LLO: What sort of animation projects have you worked on?
Very quick stop-motion videos for songs, mostly written by my good friend Rob Manuel. Generally we go for a very fast, hand-made feel to keep the energy high. It’s more immediately satisfying using objects in the real world than being stuck in an animation programme.

LLO: If you were to do a self-portrait illustration, what would it look like?
Me. It would look like me. I hope.

LLO: Which illustration are you most proud of and why?
I like my picture of Zardoz, which I’d say totally captures Sean Connery’s sexual magnetism.

LLO: Are there any public figures in the spotlight at the moment you’ve got your eyes on to illustrate?
Ed Balls is so pleasingly ugly that I really hope he does more stuff to get on the news. Like eat some orphans or something.

LLO: Which other London-based artists do you admire?

Hartwig Braun – Illustrator
Duncan Smith – Children’s Illustrator
Daniella Baptista – Photographer
Gerald Scarfe – Legendary Cartoonist

Thanks David!

For more of David’s work, check out his website:

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

Listen to a Londoner: Rakeem Neil Peebles-Nazir

Listen to a Londoner. This is a weekly post where people who live (or have lived for a while) in London answer a few questions about the Big Smoke. If you fit the bill and want to be interviewed, give me a shout at Always looking for new victims volunteers….

 Rakeem Neil Peebles-Nazir, 33

Rakeem is a journalist and writer who moved here, studied here and will, most likely, live out his days here; a naturalised Londoner, who discovered that it’s much more interesting to be Scottish somewhere other than Scotland!

LLO: How long have you lived in London?
I’ve lived in London for 11 and a half years. I moved here in may ’98 when I was only 22. The day before I moved to London, I didn’t know I was moving. It was a snap decision at about 7.30am!

LLO: Where are you from originally?
I’m originally from Edinburgh. Beautiful place, but too cold for my liking.

LLO: Best thing about London?
The best thing about London is the fact that it’s so big. There is so much to do and see. I think I could live here the rest of my life and not see most of it.

LLO: Best place to catch a gig?
Best place I’ve been to catch a gig was the Dublin Castle in Camden. I’ve been quite a few times and am rarely disappointed by what’s on.

LLO: Favourite London discovery?
: My favourite London discovery is a cool little Polish vodka bar behind Holborn station. The way the alleyway is built, it’s totally hidden from view from the main street. It’s not very big, but they have every flavour of vodka you could think of and some really nice Polish beers too. It used to be called Na Zdrowie, but I don’t know what it’s called these days… I must go check soon! [Editor’s Note: Because no one could pronounce the name, it’s now called Bar Polski.]

LLO: Best time of year in London?
RNP-N: The best time of year in London is definitely the middle of summer. If we’re lucky enough to be enjoying a heat wave, there’s no better place. All the parks fill up with people, the streets are awash with happy faces… even the traffic seems to slow down a bit. The only downside is being on the tube for any length of time!

LLO: First place to take a visitor?
The first place I’d take a visitor to the city is the London Eye. I can’t think of a better way to show someone the city than to see that view of it from over the rooftops before setting out to explore it.

LLO: Boris is…
…probably going to go down in history as London’s greatest ever mayor. He’s pure comedy value, which is where I think half of his votes came from and the other half are from those of us that think he’s a lot more astute than he let’s on. He might well witter when he’s speaking, but he’s still got a good head for politics. Well, I think he does, anyway.

LLO: What would you change about the city if you had the power to do so?
If I could change one thing about the city, I’d have the tubes running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For the relatively small amount of people that would use it through the night, you could easily afford to have some of those Police Community Support Officers on every train during the night and London would be that bit safer.

LLO: Best place to spend a Sunday afternoon?
For me, the best place to spend a Sunday is quietly reading my newspaper over breakfast with friends somewhere in the city centre. I’m a big fan of Covent Garden, but down by the river’s really nice too. Then slope off somewhere to watch the football. It’s what Sundays are all about!

Thanks Rakeem!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

Graceless in Edinburgh

One of my articles was just published in Seven on a theatre production called Graceless which addresses Feminism and its meaning in 2009:

Womanhood means independence, love, nurture, office politics, impending wrinkles, wobbly bits to conceal and curves to flaunt. It makes us vulnerable to the lure of frilly knickers and inevitable blisters from staggeringly high heels that would make Carrie proud. Womanhood leads us on a journey of friendship, family and self-discovery, twisting around the oddities and awkwardness that often accompany us on the ride. It’s about time we confronted the raw truth of it all. Continue reading…