Illustrator Interview 14: Shaun Gordon
1. How long have you been an illustrator/artist?
I always preferred it to other subjects in school. I remember drawing Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles to an immaculate standard in the late 80’s/early 90’s. It took me so long to get their heads right and their little tails always looked like penis’s. It was always just fun to draw things.
I don’t think I’m that great at drawing but I always had some odd ideas. I was around 10 and I drew a dog on my friends head in biro because I thought when he was old and bald it would still be there. I hope it is!
2. What inspires your work?
Back when I was 16 and in art college I got given a project to research an artist and their work. We just picked an artists name out of the hat and that was that. Go find out some stuff. I picked out Austrian artist Friedensreich Hunderwasser who at the time I knew nothing about.
Turns out he’s bloody amazing! The way he draws, the colours he uses and the bizarreness of the images he comes up with are just perfect. I love them. I have a bunch of his books so always look at his paintings and architecture for some ideas. Animals play a big part in my work also. Maybe I’m lazy and I find them easier to draw than people! I think you can distort animals more and they’ll still look like an animal.
With people I find it’s different. I am an animal lover though and own a dog and two rabbits who surprisingly get on pretty well. Other illustrators too. I’m quite a fan of Simon Peplow, Zosia Olenska, Elzo Durt and Lucy Mcloughlan to name but a few. I love the bold images and colours they all use, but there’s always these amazing details which fully make the pieces. Looking at this amazing stuff just makes me want to do better.
3. What media/software do you work in and why?
I work mainly in Adobe Illustrator, simply because it’s phenomenal! PhotoShop too but for my style illustrator is great. I can sit down for hours mindlessly tweaking the points on screen! Everything about it is grand.
4. How would you describe your style of artwork?
You know I’m not really sure. I think perhaps it’s complete nonsense but it’s so bold and ridiculous, it catches your eye. That’s a good thing.
5. Do you do any initial sketching or planning before starting a new piece?
It depends on the piece or the project. Sometimes I’ll sketch then scan, do some thumbnails etc but a lot of the time I just get on with it on screen. I’ve mastered freehand mouse illustration! With illustrator it’s so easy to edit things that I think it’s the best system for me.
6. Which illustrator/designer/artist most inspires you?
I listed a few above but the main one still has to be Fritz Hundertwasser. He’s just fantastic. Everyone go look at his work now!
7. How do you deal with the business inside of being an illustrator?
Well I find it all fairly informal because the main platform for conversing is email. I’m quite a fan of that because my people skills need some work! It’s great because you could be talking to the head of a huge company and you don’t have to worry about nerves or anything because you’re pretty much talking to the screen.
Working freelance though you get let down a bit but you just have to try keep your chin up I suppose. I think it’s very much out of order to not even send an email explaining reasons why not, but I understand the people I work for have a lot more to deal with than just me, so that’s fine. I remember one of my first freelance jobs was for quite a big U.S. band.
The guitarist was real keen on my work and was always in contact. I spent two weeks working solidly to get their 10 tour designs done and then nothing. I never provided print files so they didn’t rip me off but it was just a little frustrating. That’s just how it is though. I’ve done a ton of work for some great people though! There’s a bit of a risk because a lot of the time there aren’t contracts but most companies are cool. You win some you lose some.
8. What words of advice would you give to any aspiring artists out there?
Do what you love.
Forthcoming work/exhibitions or projects
My tour tee for the Mountain Goats will be out in September for their US and UK tours….. and also my board series for Ekta Skateboards. I’m currently working on the 2012 wake skate series for German company New Schnitzel.
I’ve got ongoing things happening with Flip Skateboards and SlayshTank Apparel. In the early stages of projects for Nike 6.0 and Given Skateboards. I managed to get a piece in the Australian Design publication Semi-Permanent which should be out soon. Looking for an agent also and am currently in talks with a UK agency. Nothing has happened yet so I still need representation!
You can see more of Shaun’s work over at his site here> www.shaungordon.blogspot.com