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Interview: Idiots Pasture

Tuesday 10 July 2012

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Words Spindle

Leeds is known as one of the biggest creative hubs of the North and the fantastic rate of innovative artistry is only increasing by the day, what with collectives such as Nous Vous being based here and a real sense of support for the arts across the city, we caught up with one of our favourite Yorkshire-based Illustrators, Idiot’s Pasture, for a chat about frustration and prejudice in the creative world, his favourite fellow artists and, er, Cannibal love triangles.

 Firstly, your brand name of ‘Idiot’s Pasture’ and cited descriptions of your work being ‘strictly lowbrow’, bring a sense of relaxation to the audience viewing your pieces I believe- was this a conscious decision?

Well I initially started using a pseudonym as a way of keeping my anonymity, I used to write gory comics and draw things puerile and offensive but at the same time I was working with young offenders and I thought it’d probably be best if my employers didn’t see a comic about a cannibal love triangle that I’d written. I’ve always had a bit of an issue with the art world and most aspects of elitist highbrow culture and through art college I saw enough bullshit socio-political theory behind people’s empty work from the least socially aware and politically active students. Art and Academia only alienates people and makes them feel dumb: depoliticizing and devaluing people who can’t access it. I’m not saying that I produce political work, far from it, but I do operate in a DIY manner. The teenagers I work with had only ever been taught about ‘High’ Art and its financial and cultural value, which automatically puts it out of reach for the majority. Keeping it lowbrow makes art fun for the young people I work with and makes it fun to produce.

Where did the name come from?

It’s shamelessly stolen from one of my favourite bands, Black Dice. It’s the name of a track from their LP ‘Repo
How did you first get into illustration and screen printing?

Well, I failed my Art GCSE, but I really enjoyed drawing so I just kept going with it in my spare time, which meant that I got to do things my own way and not have to be constricted by the requirements needed to gain an Art or Design A-Level. It was far more enjoyable this way. I managed to get a place at Art College where I was first exposed to screen printing. Screen printing is kind of a cathartic process for me, the repetition makes it really relaxing, I just pop my headphones in and do the same thing for a few hours or so, I don’t have to talk to anyone.
It sounds anti-social but I understand the process, I used to find it really therapeutic myself and although art can cause debate, I agree that it is also important for aiding escapism for the producer as well as the audience at times. Who would you say are your biggest influences within the art form?

Chris Johanson, Dennis Tyfus, C.M. Ruiz and Gary Taxali. It’d be silly to leave out David Shrigley too, because I’d never have started drawing if it wasn’t for him.

Some of your pieces remind me of 
Daniel Wilson’s drawings, being tongue-in-cheek and rustic respectively, yet others are executed in a cleaner, more graphics-orientated manner, do you often have an idea of which route you’re going to lean towards upon receiving a commission, or do you prefer to let ideas develop and alter as you progress?

I usually bang out a lot of quick ideas, most of them are awful, then narrow it down to maybe three or four ideas and let whoever I’m working for decide which they like, then continue with their chosen design- usually people what a combination of elements from different designs which is cool because I’d never think about combining them. For some things it seems appropriate for it to be more hand drawn in appearance and for some if makes sense for it to look more graphics based, it just seems to feel right and I usually have that in mind right from the start.

Do you prefer to create art with specific guidelines or to ‘reign free’ through this proccess?

Definitely reign free! Most people I work with just say what information they need on a design then the rest is up to me. If it’s too restrictive I just get angry and want to swear. Restricting someone’s creative output is frustrating for the producer and makes the whole process unenjoyable. That’s probably why I failed my Art GCSE.

One of my favourite pieces of yours is a
poster you designed for a screening of the 1983 cult movie Repo Man, it’s very Twin Peaks which I love. Although the poster doesn’t necessarily cater to reflect the original movies aura, was it important for you to stick to your trademark style in order to complete a personal piece?

Thank you! That’s one of my favourites too. I was a bit worried about this because I didn’t want to offend any other fans of the film. It took me quite a while to find a design that worked for me and my style, as well as reflecting the films image. I’m not the kind of illustrator that is, essentially, just a tool for someone else’s vision, I don’t like people telling me exactly what they want and I don’t want to produce work in someone else’s shadow or style. Drawing is a very personal process for me and I want to keep it as fun and relaxing as I can and that means doing my own thing my own way.

Are there any new artists of which you are a particular fan of emerging at the moment?

There are loads of great people from Leeds at the moment that I think deserve more attention, I am completely in love with Kate Prior, Matthew the Horse and Jay Cover. Some of my friends are producing amazing work too, everyone should look at Sam Tomlins, particularly his Lustin4Justin (Justin Bieber megafan) blog and Rob Goodall AKA Wizard of the North who put on a lovely exhibition about Dogs recently.

I’m familiar with Kate Prior, I’ve seen a lot of her work in and around Leeds and at exhibitions for her gig posters myself. It’s great how Leeds , well actually the whole of Yorkshire, is gaining such a fantastic art scene that is only evolving even more. Finally, what do you have planned for the future?

I’m currently working on a poster for Dazed and Confused for my favourite cinema, Hyde Park Picture House, which will be fun and I’m going to be doing some postcards for The Print Project, who do Letter Press printing at the infamous 1in12 Club. I’m doing the Hookworms album art which should be fun, it’s pretty surreal seeing my own illustrations on 12″ sleeve. I’m planning on building my own exposure unit so I can screen print at home and possibly start printing for other people too but I’m struggling with money at the moment so that’s on the backburner. I have a top secret project planned with Sam Tomlins (who I mentioned earlier) where we’ve invented a fictional character and will be producing work as him but I can’t tell you much about that as it’ll blow our cover, I think it will be very funny and will hopefully end up as an exhibition and zine or blog.

Sounds fantastically mischievous! Thanks for talking to me IP, good look with everything!

Words: Leah Connolly