Style is more than simply what you like. Its tied to culture, space and time as well as personal preference and on some gut level, instinct. Someone recently caught our eye who fits the Altru style sensibility, the ridiculously funny, talented and prolific Illustrator Simon Spilsbury. His art style is very precise but also sometimes sketchy and it grabs you and shakes you about. It’s like a very talented juvenile delinquent made off with a very expensive fountain pen. He has the classic British touch - loose lines that don’t always connect, an airy light touch then slipping into a bold smear. True talent makes what is very difficult look easy, he’s got that in spades. The result is fun, cool and definitely someone we want to hang around with.
As a way of introduction, here are some samples of his work printed on a fabric medium along with the short interview we did with Simon. CHEERS!
A. Who were the people who influenced you?
S.S. All the S’s - Steadman, Scarfe, Searle, Steinberg and a few others obviously like Bernie Fuchs, Seymour Chwast, Alan E Cober.
A. What was the first piece of art you remember seeing?
S.S. I was in my dad’s life room from the age of four, so all that I saw there really - old-lady impasto and a bit of hippy psychedelia. Not much in the way of big galleries until I was well into my teens but I remember the uber ones like The Mona Lisa, Guernica and Goya’s ‘El Tercero De Mayo'
A. Where do you go to for visual inspiration now?
S.S. I don’t have an inspiration routine but my best thinking’s done while walking and I walk a lot - I’m not a fan of being trapped in a vehicle or behind a desk - I don’t even like wearing a hat! Depends where the inspiration’s needed; people is easy, just sit outside a cafe in a city and watch how women hold their handbags and how men smoke - or the other way round preferably. If it’s inspiration for composition, I’ll look at contemporaries who are better designers than me - Noma Bar, Seymour Chwast. Or I’ll leaf through George Grosz and Saul Steinberg books.
A. If you could relocate your studio for a year, where would you go?
S.S. It would have to be somewhere in the States, not necessarily NYC, maybe Chicago, LA or somewhere hicky like Oklahoma - I’ve been to Oklahoma a couple of times and it’s got its fair share of weirdos to draw.
A. What is your most indispensable bit of kit?
S.S. My collection of Kaweko pens, they sound Japanese but come from Germany and are packaged in a great little tin.
A. If you hadn’t been an illustrator... ?
S.S. My mum once said “why don’t you get a job in the Post Office.” That’s when I packed my bags. If I wasn’t a busy illustrator I’d definitely write a bit more but in my dreams I’d be leading people through the jungles in Asia with my jungle mate - who incidentally can kill you with his eyeball.
A. What are you working on right now?
S.S. Various wall drawings, a personal project based around celebrity, boosting my retail archive and just about to start an animated TVC for a booze company [that’s all I’m allowed to say].
A. How do you unwind at the end of the day?
S.S. I don’t really…I annoy the crap out of myself by carrying my sketchbook everywhere and then getting anxious when I haven’t opened it. If I’m in the pub I treat it like a life room. If I’m at a dinner party I draw naked people for laughs.
A. Do you travel? Do you enjoy travel? When traveling how is your life & creative process effected?
S.S. I used to travel a lot as I spent 10 years travel writing for The Sunday Times but currently not travelling huge amounts because the kids have got to get through exams and university but it won’t be much longer. I have just got back from Northern Australia and a desert trek in The Sahara with all my explorer mates so don’t pity me too much.
A. Technology? To embrace, disregard or rebel against it?
S.S. Necessary evil. Computer Armageddon would suit me well.
A. What relationship do you have to clothing?
S.S. Chuck it on and peel it off. I am partial to T’s though.
Visit Simons's website to view more of his creations: www.studiospilsbury.com