Vive talks with Alex Fine
I find that an easier way to describe Alex Fine’s work, is to compare it to two different situations. It certainly isn’t the visual equivalent of writing a polite complaint to your local political representative. I find it’s far more like kicking his office door down and throwing him off of the top floor of his building. There’s nothing quiet about it, and it certainly doesn’t bore you - and lets face it, there is nothing boring about throwing a politician off of a building.
Combining excellent palettes of colour, with brilliantly constructed line work, Fine has done work for the likes of ESPN Magazine, Burton Snowboards, WWE Magazine, Philadelphia weekly, along with many more.
- There seems to be a strong political vibe in your work, how much of that is down to personal interest and how much is down to client direction?
There has always been a polarized political environment in my life as I grew up very close to Washington, DC. As an artist I love to make political and social issues an important part of my personal work. Unfortunately I rarely get to illustrate political pieces for my clients as I work mostly for entertainment and sports oriented publications and articles. Every so often, when I do get to illustrate something political for a client it doesn’t even feel like work to me because it is something I would be doing anyway.
- How did it first start coming about?
I have been interested in political art since I was 10 years old and first saw the work of Steve Brodner. His drawings of Ronald Reagan really appealed to me in the way he was able to capture a politician’s character without even having them say anything in words. Since then I have been adding political themes to much of my personal work. As I said earlier, my environment has also played a large role in my political motivations. Growing up, I would hear conversations between family members and teachers as well as on TV shows like Meet The Press where I would pick up names and terms without fully understanding. As I got older and started understanding government more, I would start moving past the portrait and into the narrative.
- Have you ever turned down work / would you ever turn down work on the basis of a conflict in opinion regarding what the illustration represents?
Luckily I have never had to turn down work due to a conflict of opinion. I think most art directors who visit my website will clearly see where I stand on issues and therefore wouldn’t bother asking me to illustrate anything that would conflict with my beliefs. With that said, I would surely turn down work if it did in fact clash with my personal beliefs. There are even publications I would refuse to work for because of what they stand for, regardless of what the assignment might be.
- Any particular music you like to listen to while working, anything interesting about your work environment?
Music is a huge part of my day. The music I listen to reflects what I need to get done. I start every morning listening to bands like Iggy and the Stooges, The Ramones, The Clash, and my favorite music to get me energized Guitar Wolf. I love Japanese rock and roll and early punk rock. My work space, located in a small corner of my apartment get’s really chaotic as an assignment progresses. By the end of a job you won’t be able to see any of my desk under all of the papers. After I’m done I always clean my workspace in preparation for the next job where I start the cycle all over again.
- What would be your ‘perfect project,’ and what is your favourite type of work to do.
My perfect project would involve a series of portraits with narrative illustration surrounding each portrait. I’ve always loved drawing people though stand alone portraits can get a little boring. Whenever I do portraiture for a client I love to read about the subject and come up with iconic objects or scenes to surround the person and describe their story or character.
- Describe your ideal client, perhaps a client you would love to work for.
I would love to illustrate a Rollingstone record review. It’s such a big canvas with a lot of room to mix concept with portrait. Another dream client of mine is Time Magazine. Ever since I was a child I would flip through Time just to look at the amazing illustrations. The conceptual work has always been smart and the portraits have always attracted me to read further.
- Who / what are your biggest influences artistically?
My earliest influence was Norman Rockwell. His realism and socially relevant concepts really got me hooked. He could have stopped at “Americana” art but really pushed the limits of his time with racial and religious openness and acceptance. I imagine he lost some of his audience by standing up to the outdated separations that were existing in the U.S.. Later I started becoming a big fan of Kent Williams’ exaggerated realism and Charles Burns’ amazing ink work. The biggest turning point for me was when Yuko Shimizu came to speak at my school. Yuko is a mix of everything I love about illustration. Excellent technique, smart concepts, strong colors, she really made me rethink the way I had been working. Now I try to combine all of my influences to create something closer to what I call my “style” and I still am influenced by many of the same political and social issues that I have been thinking about since I was a kid.
To see more of Alex Fine and his work visit here
Epic debut music video from Woodkid. Incredible cinematography.
Directed by; Joann Lemoine.
Manchester Orchestra released this video last year. It won a ton of video awards. You’ll see why. It’s Amazing.
Vive talks with Christian Newell
If someone jumped me on the street and screamed ‘Describe Christian Newell’s work in two words,’ I would firstly say ‘Chaotically beautiful,’ closely followed by ‘who the hell are you and why are you wearing no trousers.’ Whatever the situation I would choose a similar collection of words to describe a lot of christians work. Combining a loose painting style, with areas of such intrinsic detail, his work is certainly not something that washes over you.
You may well already be familiar with Christian’s face and been completely unaware. It’s been popping up in various Adidas advertisements in London as ‘The Pride of Southwark,’ having recently ‘Taken the stage’ with designer Jimi Crayon for the Adidas olympic campaign.
Christian’s work with Jimi has been plastered across a London billboard for all to see, in itself an incredible feat - but no surprise when considering the exceptional quality in his collection of work.
- What sort of thing really gets you out of bed in the morning, what are you striving for, what inspires you?
Haha I find it so hard to get out of bed, recently red bull and a lot of pantera! I’m striving to finish university at the moment, got a couple more months till I finish my 2nd year at camberwell. Napoleon dynamite and a huge pile of magazines and books that I’ve just been buying out of impulse have become my inspiration at the moment!
- Are you one of those artists that plans a painting, or do you just get a feel for something and run with it?
I used to plan a lot of my paintings when I was younger, but recently I have just been going with the flow, I’ll just paint and try to figure things out on the stop.
- How did the ‘Take the Stage’ opportunity come about, and what was your initial reaction?
My friend Jamie Rothwell introduced me to a Youth Agency called ‘Ruby Pseudo’ and they were involved with Adidas and that’s how it came along! I was unbelievable stoked, but not really fussed about it at the time, but it’s blown up more than I could imagine, was kinda scary!
- Tell us about ‘Last Night In Paris.’
Last night in Paris! We’re a collective of creatives! We’re self efficient with the making of our own beats, covers, songs, artwork etc. Changing the game! Best collective in LDN
- How much of your life is reflected in your artwork?
A lot of my life is reflected in my artwork! It is my life
- Are there any other creative fields you’d like to have a go at in the future?
I have been jumping in and out of directing music videos and short films for myself. I really enjoy doing it, will definitely keep pushing that!
- Self motivation aside, are there any iconic figures in your life, or perhaps in the industry that drive you to succeed, personal heroes perhaps?
My father is a really iconic figure to me, since he passed away i have not stopped working. Tyler the creator, lil b, Last night in paris and my friend Sam Rowe are inspirational people to me, very very hard workers! Connor Harrington and Anthony Lister’s work have had a long lasting impression on my work so far! with ‘Ian Francis’ blowing my mind out at his new exhibition at Lazarides. Regarding personal heroes i would have to say Picasso, Francis Bacon, old masters like Caravaggio, El Greco. Erm, Franz Kline is pretty rad. I went to see a Gustav Klimt exhibition in Venice that was pretty good! And Egon Schiele! And JIMI CRAYON!
- How would you describe your ideal workspace.
My ideal workspace would have to represent my way of working, messy but neat at the same time! I find order in chaos, most of the time! I have not had a desk for a whole year as my family moved house, so all I’ve had to work with is a bed and an easel! So I’m unbelievably stoked to have a desk! Artists will understand!
You can find more of christians work at www.christiannewell.com
Vive speaks with Michael Manomivibul.
Michael is a freelance illustrator whose work ‘thrives on mystery and atmosphere’, He combines the classic narrative with a gorgeously realized illustrative style. Although Michael’s work may at first look unsettling and surreal, those who look at it on more than a superficial level are at once able to relate to the sense of adventure and the unknown- and the buzz that coincides with it.
We asked Michael to further explain the inner-workings of his illustrations:
“I think at the very core of my work is a sense of adventure, of pushing just beyond what’s known. Adventure grand and small, over the next mountain and under the next stone. Over that are layers of atmosphere and ambiguity, a certain open-endedness that lets the viewer fill in the blanks. I push for a sense of wonder and serenity in my work, though this often comes across as melancholy. Along with my taste for adventure I’m also fascinated by the potential for that adventure to consume them, the potential for failure or weakness. I love that cliffhanger feeling. I have a massive fascination with the ocean, it still seems endless in its mysteries. It’s so full of life but can also feel completely alien and empty.
Ultimately I’m just trying to make pictures and stories that are true to me, it’s easy to get caught up in what you think everyone else wants but in the end if it makes you happy then it is likely it will make others happy too.”
You can see more of Michael’s work here.
Vive speaks with Polina Egorushkina.
Polina is an illustrator from Moscow, Russia. Her style is beautifully considered, combining tight linework with mediums such as watercolour. Her narratively-driven portfolio really shows off her diverse and unique style. We asked Polina about one her most recent projects, ‘The submarine’ which illustrates Verne’s novel ‘20,000 leagues under the sea’.
What inspired you to illustrate Verne’s ‘20,000 leagues under the sea’?
I received an order to illustrate 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. I am extremely fascinated by the oppressive dark atmosphere of the submarine-prison.
How did you get inspired?
For inspiration, I visited the Polytechnic Museum, oceanariums and Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.
What kind of projects are you working on now?
Now I’m working on “The Wizard of the Emerald City.” This is a Russian version of American fairy tale “The wizard of Oz”. That would be a different color cheerful fantastic story.
What mediums do you use for your work?
I love watercolor, etching, and also draw with Indian ink.
Anything you’d like to add?
Now the book [20,000 Leagues Under the Sea] is to be published, my designer-friends will be making awesome table lamps in a steam-punk style of copper and ceramic. They will be sold in a kit.
You can see more of Polina’s work here.
Really ace video; “True Love” by Hooray For Earth
Directed by; Young Replicant
Vive speaks with Jamie Mitchell.
London-based Jamie Mitchell began his working career as an architect, but after deciding that the industry wasn’t for him he made the courageous decision to return to his roots.
Jamie is now the joint founder of Ohh Deer- an established brand showcasing the best in upcoming talent.
We asked Jamie a few questions earlier;
What inspires your work?
Inspiration is a weird one, I’m highly concept based, I deal in the language of ideas - as Illustrators have to, so getting a message across in the most affective or thought provoking way is what I aim for. I love animals, and always have, and don’t really enjoy humans (because of how destructive we are) so there are hints at that theme in my work.
You used to be an architect, why the drastic change?
I enjoyed my degree in Architecture because I was in control of the direction, as soon as I went to work for a practice any sense of self got lost, and I became a CAD monkey. I wanted to get back to what I loved, ideas and drawing.
Tell us about your working practice, what is the key to your success?
The key to success is being busy, if we’re talking about how i work on a micro-scale, you have to be driven, and very motivated. I started a business (www.ohhdeer.com) while working as an architect, and decided that I wanted to do that and freelance Illustration fulltime. When I made that decision I took every opportunity available to me. I’m now doing work for some very exciting projects and my brand has work in the design museum, the millenium gallery, magma books, london graphic centre within 6 months of launch.
Any words of wisdom to other illustrators?
Keep busy, even if you’re doing something for free, it’s still better than doing nothing at all, it gives you the chance to develop and get used to working for clients.
Any work you’re particularly proud of?
I look back at my work as a whole and frown. I’ve started bringing architecture into it though, with textures and whatnot - I’m proud that my work is progressing generally.
Do you try and keep a routine or take each day as it comes?
Everyday is different, and where deadlines are involved, you can’t always predict when or how long you’ll have to work. I go to my studio to work though to try and keep and element of ‘work vs home’, which is important.
You can see more of Jamie’s work here.
A lovely video and song for Sea Oleena’s ‘Cold White Sheets.’
Directed & Edited by Kayla Hoglander.
Director of Photography: William Binks.
Art Director: Kevin Kostal.