Recently about in our streets defacing the Harley and Bank Street in the name of art, Mr Gauky has been a staunch favourite doodler of mine for years. Distinctive styles across any scale, wall to skateboard. Dizzy memories of Manchester’s Northern Quarter are often illustrated with crazy viking murals by Gauky. As the man himself […]

Recently about in our streets defacing the Harley and Bank Street in the name of art, Mr Gauky has been a staunch favourite doodler of mine for years. Distinctive styles across any scale, wall to skateboard. Dizzy memories of Manchester’s Northern Quarter are often illustrated with crazy viking murals by Gauky.

As the man himself states, style comes from drawing. You can adopt all the newbreed skills of the illustrator you like, but if you haven’t done the time, your work will always lack the authenticity of the pensmith. As testament to time well spent, I’m very proud to have this full feature from Gauky – and the custom front cover is just taking the piss. A gentleman.

WHAT STARTED YOU DRAWING?

I’ve been drawing as long as I can remember. As child I had a room under the stairs full of lego, pens, crayons and paper, and I’d just spending a lot of time there making and drawing things. I didn’t finish high school and spent most of my time skateboarding and working crap jobs, where I’d do more doodles than work. It wasn’t until later in life that I started taking it seriously. A friend saw some of my drawings and suggested that I go back to college, which then led to uni, and it’s around that time that I started getting my first illustration work.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF STARTING A NEW PIECE?

Client work usually starts with their input/idea and some research, but after that it’s the same process as my personal stuff. I do lots of doodles until I get a loose idea, then sketch up some roughs and trace my drawing on a lightbox until the linework is nice and crisp. Then depending on the format I choose, I’ll either paint, colour it in Photoshop or redraw the whole thing in Illustrator.

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM?

I like to visit museums and libraries, as they are a great source of inspiration and reference material. I also like to collect and surround myself with art, books and owl-related stuff that inspires me. It’s great to have collections that you can obsess over.

TOOLS. WHAT DO YOU USE REGULARLY AND WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE?

I couldn’t work without my wacom, but favorite tool is the standard biro (Bic medium & 1.6mm) on LaserJet paper. I’ve got stacks of original drawings that I prefer not to sell. It’s nice to keep the originals, because once you’ve sent something to print you often don’t see it for months and the essence is lost in the manufacturing.

WHAT OTHER ARTISTIC MEDIA HAVE HAD AN EFFECT ON YOUR ART?

Discovering vector illustration had a big effect on me. Illustrator unknowingly changed the way I draw. It made me want to recreate the crisp tapered line and fueled my obsession with detail. I’ve learnt to discipline myself a bit more nowadays, but when I first started using it, I’d often find myself drawing details that couldn’t even be seen once you’d zoomed out to the printable size.

HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR DAYS?

I like to start my day the same way I did as a kid – watching cartoons while eating my breakfast. It helps ease me into the morning and wake up. Then I’ll make a fresh pot of coffee, read/reply to my emails and then start working on whatever needs to be finished. Sometimes if it all starts to get on top of me or the ideas aren’t flowing, I’ll head to Stockwell for a skate and that usually gives me a fresh perspective on things.

WHICH OF YOUR RECENT PIECES HAVE YOU ENJOYED MAKING THE MOST?

I recently worked on an artist series for northern shredders SuperdeadSkateboards. They asked for a collection based on the movie Battle Royale and I jumped at the chance to draw Japanese schools girls attacking each other. It’s also the first time I’ve had the opportunity to design a wheel graphic and board triptych, so I was stoked when they approached me.

HOW HAS YOUR ART EVOLVED OVER TIME?

It’s become more polished and detailed and my use of lines has changed for the better. Sometimes I look back at old sketchbooks and even though they are quite raw, they have an aspect of personal humor and character that is sometimes lost in my commercial work. I used to worry more about getting the idea down on paper despite a lack of technical knowledge and I try to retain that essence in my current art attacks.

HOW HAS ART IN GENERAL CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED?

It’s become more readily available due the boom in social media sites, which has made discovering/networking with artists a lot easier.

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

There are a few group exhibitions in the works. I’m contributing to a custom Bearbrick show and a Bill Murray tribute show at Gallery 1998 in LA. I’m also working on my second series for SuperDead, who are great guys to work for, as they are always open to my warped ideas.

ANY TIPS ON HOW TO SURVIVE MAKING MONEY FROM YOUR ART? DO YOU FIND IT IMPORTANT?

Ha…do any artists know the answer to this one?! I think there’s always going to be highs and lows when working as a freelance artist. Stick to your guns, believe in your art and never under-sell yourself. Despite any negatives, the perks of being an artist are worth it. Along the way, it has created some unique opportunities and I’ve met a lot great people in the process.

WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE IN ART?

No art is original, but the interpretation of an idea is. I have a mixed bag of artists that probably contributed to the way I draw now, some friends and others dead masters. But it seems a lot of people think that they can just develop a style overnight by incorporating elements of other artists’ work, instead of letting it evolve naturally.

Artists and illustrators should learn to draw in the classical sense – do a spot of reportage, learn techniques, try out new mediums or do some life drawing. Over the years without even noticing, you’ll have achieved that so-called style you were so eager to emulate in the first place. Draw your cat, draw the coffee mug in front of you, fuel your obsessive collections, but most of all, just keep drawing.

WHAT MAKES YOU SMILE IN ART?

Subtle naivety, uber detail (I hear the devil lives there), gore, lots of gore and anything that references childhood memories.

GOOD ADVICE YOU WISH YOU’D BEEN TOLD EARLIER?

Say no to spec work.

mrgauky.com

Interview by Matt Jones.