Nicholas Stevenson’s work is full of fun, whims, mystery, and (in his words) sometimes a bit unsettling. He mostly paints in colorful gouache with broad strokes and adds some folk art elements to his works. A look into his sketchbook reveals man an exciting images and narratives of clandestine nature. Nicholas is shares some simple facts in the interview below:
Hi Nicholas! Tell us a bit about you:
I live and work as an Illustrator in London, studied Illustration in Hereford and spent a while living in The Seychelles as a child.
Drawing has been something I was interested in as long as I can remember. I was always looking for ways to physicalise the fantasy world I was playing in. In the Seychelles I wanted to be a pirate so bad, I’d get my dad to make me hats and flags and I would add skull and cross bones. I would draw bullet holes on paper, cut them out and blue tack them to the windows to look like we’d been attacked by rival pirates. It wasn’t very convincing…
Hmm… so, what would you like to call yourself now… as an artist?
Art at its very best for me is sort of funny and uplifting and inquisitive, so I try to be all those things. I usually describe myself as: an illustrator who makes pictures that are fun, lively, mysterious and occasionally a bit unsettling.
I mostly create illustration work, but I also have a band, do gallery shows, make music videos, and short animations. I enjoy all of them more or less the same, but my focus is shifting all the time. At the moment I’m having a blast just painting for my upcoming gallery show with Angela Dalinger.
How do you create your illustrations and how much time does it take?
Sometimes I’ll spend a couple of weeks labouring over something, especially if it’s digital. Imperfections in digital pieces don’t tend to look so interesting, but when I’m painting I revel in imperfections and accidents. I rarely spend more than a day on one painting, if it’s not right I just do another one. I like to plan the piece as I go, sometimes using scissors and moving parts around. It’s good to plan and draft, but the best things often happen by chance.
Ha, that’s a good question. I think my sense of humour is mostly manifested in my art, and only makes sense there. I’m pretty sure, my jokes normally fall pretty flat in conversation.
What equipment and material do you mostly use?
Poster paints, gouache, brushes, coloured pencils, indian ink, acrylic inks.
My work has been commissioned by The New York Times, Urban Outfitters, Warner Records, Blue Note Records, Jamie Magazine, Anorak, Oh Comely. I won silver at this years Serco Prize.
What are your views on contemporary art?
All the various forms of contemporary art have really grown on me, I could spend all day hopping from gallery to gallery, and it’s easy to do just that in London. As a teenager I used to be in to the Pre-Raphaelites, Egon Schiele, Klimt… I was suspicious of most contemporary work. Somehow I’ve come around to enjoying more conceptual and new works, even video art would you believe? I sort of see myself as an Illustrator with one foot in the art world, it’s all a big fun mystery to me still and I hope it stays that way.
I’m working on a children’s book, and a gallery show at Atomica in London. It opens August 14th and is a collaboration with the German artist Angela Dalinger. The show is called Home Sweet Home, it’s all voyeuristic views into imaginary homes, with all the weird pets and bad decor that go along with them.
Tell us about your inspirations and favorite stuff:
I go to galleries whenever I get the chance. I saw British Folk Art at the Tate Britain last weekend, and that was totally brilliant and quite funny in places. I love outsider art, and the magazine Raw Vision, a super fascinating field. My fiancée is writing her masters dissertation on outsider art environments, so we discuss it all the time. The Radio Lab podcasts have been great company for me while I’m painting, such great story telling. I try to maximize the amount of non-illustration influences I have, and avoid getting too sucked in to the illustration world. I really feel that drawing should be about the world around us, not about other drawings.