Thursday, 5 March 2009

Looga, Barooga

Chris Pell is an illustrator and student currently living in Brighton, he creates intricately detailed and irresistibly grotesque drawings and videos. I interviewed him recently and asked some questions here and there, read and enjoy -

-TLL: You've been drawing now for years, how would you say your style has developed? 

No, I totally agree. It's funny, I never really see my self change the way I work but in retrospect it has changed a lot. Studying in Brighton was the biggest influence, I stopped listening to certain types of music and got into others and just meeting other people around other courses introduced me to other influences. The whole sort of focus on human contortion and figurative work came from loving fantasy art I think. It's just so great, I grew up with a book of the works by Boris Vallejo, I kind of imagined illustration would be something like that until I came to uni and got my dreams shattered.

Flyer designed for Crystal Antlers show in Brighton

-You've had links with plenty of bands/musicians, being commissioned to do cover art and graphics, how did you get approached to draw these works and how do you go about the illustration., do you try and stick to the feel of the song/band or just create and see how it goes?

Bands would generally stumble across my page or a blog and sometimes ask for work but most of the time I would approach artists I really like and ask if we can work together. I was lucky with university that it gave me a chance to work with musicians like Joe Howe (Germlin, Ben Butler & Mousepad) and not worry about money or time because it allowed me to manipulate any piece of work into a self-initiated project. But yeah because I was contacting people like Joe I was able to generally do whatever I wanted, I think making the drawing or animation fit the music is generally the golden rule.

-Looking at your website recently, I have to ask who these commissioned photographs are for and what inspired the project?

As a matter of fact the two photographs were part of course project to re-design a chosen album cover. I chose Witch's self-titled album and worked with graphic designer Joe Porter to help set up each photograph. The music fitted quite well with what we had in mind and I was getting into the body paint stuff a lot. I'm hoping to use these images further and possibly make a music video of some sort in the near future.


-For an illustrative artist a website can be quite restricting, how do you choose to present your work to an audience/the viewer?

At the moment isn't what I want it to be, there's going to be a big re-vamp on the horizon with a much nicer interface. I agree it's difficult to properly show what you're about on a monitor screen, so I've got a few fingers in various pies trying to get my work out there. Generally for the internet though I've been setting up all kinds of accounts, flickr has been the most recent and also vimeo.

'Will to Power' - Print available for purchase

-Your work always seems so creative and eclectic, do you draw inspiration from any non-artistic influences?

I suppose it depends on what you mean by non-artistic. I like looking at anything really that's genuine, I try my best not to look at other illustrators, its like poison that is, can't get out of your head. I watch a lot of films and listen to a lot of music which both help me draw, I also like the internet. a lot. It's pretty bad but I like going on blog binges and youtube sprees, its amazing how much effort people put into things that never have any point. Like the other day I found myself searching "me singing..." and watching videos of people filming themselves singing, then watching people crit them over webcam.

-And whilst on the subject of influences what aural delights have you been surrounding yourself with recently?

Without namedropping I'm listening to a lot of hip hop recently like Big L and also bands like Abe Vigoda and Pavement but that's when I'm in a good mood, when somethings wrong like I'm skint or its raining I'll put on some wolves or hot cross.

Music Video created for Germlin

-You've been experimenting with videos, creating for bands and artists, why did you choose to branch out in this way? do you think you'll be continuing your work in this medium?

I'm not really sure, as I've said I'm looking to do a music video of some sort but in terms of my animations I think I'll come back to that. I started playing around with after effects when I wondered what it would be like to animate my drawings, it was fun but very time consuming. I'd usually take a few days on a drawing but it takes me weeks to do a small animation, a lot of drive gets lost and I find myself trudging along, drawing trees and mountains for ages. I make it sound like I don't enjoy it but I do though, nothings more satisfying than seeing your pictures move.

-Your current residence, Brighton always seems like such vibrant and busy city, how has living there affected your work and yourself?

Brighton is crazy, I grew up in Shepshed which was a small town near Loughborough, and came here after foundation not knowing anybody. Coming from such a dry, angry town to a tiny city full of art school kids was funny. I got used to it pretty fast but its like a little shielding bubble, you meet pretty much everyone who lives here and no one can misbehave otherwise everyone knows about it. It's a lively place though, a couple of years ago I co-started a club night called which is taking a lot more shape. It gives me the chance to vent any other work I want to do to use through club night flyers and posters.

Flyer designed for Angry Dance Party VI a clubnight Chris runs

-What have you got coming up in the future? You mentioned moving to New York, do you think you'll ever make it to there?

Wow I wish. It's been on my mind for the last year or so but I'd love to stay in America for a few months. Money seems to have issues with me (as opposed to the other way round). I think I may stay in Brighton for another year and maybe think about moving to the big grey LDN and hopefully get a job doing what I enjoy, drawing and taking fantasy pictures, then who knows, land of the free I think.

For more details as well as prints for sale, see and for more images see his flickr