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George Law: Hantu Head Honcho

After the last few editions of non-local and well established artist types it's time to head back to Sheffield. Veteran of a multitude of live paint shows and an increasing portfolio of commercial illustration and clothing designs through the Hantu Collective, this young artist is snapping at the heels of the established talent in Sheffield. I heavily recommend you go watch him doodle large-scale - at hyperspeed - if you get the chance. Drawings take me years. Yeah, that will be jealousy... BASICS, PLEASE. WHAT STARTED YOU DRAWING? Maybe I was bored as a kid, because my parents were running a takeaway business and couldn't buy me toys. I remember my aunty looking after me when I was a nipper and she'd help me draw around my hand using a crayon on a sheet of paper. She's still got them stuck up in her house somewhere. From then on I was always drawing on the back of bank letters and menus. CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF STARTING A NEW PIECE? Normally it stems from a spark, maybe some music, a film or a cartoon or comic book or even another artist's piece I've seen. Most of the time images pop into my head and I want to get them down on paper or on screen. I'll always sketch it out, put some music on and wile away some hours until I'm happy with what I have in front of me. WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM? I'm inspired by a lot of things - films, cultural references, music and comic books. Other illustrators and artists always inspire me, whether with their techniques, their ideas or even their attitudes towards their art and way of life. More recently, hip hop and chilled out electronic music has played a part in helping me form colours and shapes in my head. I wish I could explain this more. I guess every artist has their own mechanism for working, although I don't like to call what I do 'work'. It's more an occupation and a lifestyle, so I'm inspired by anything around me at any given time. [imagebrowser id=9] TOOLS. WHAT DO YOU USE REGULARLY AND WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE? Nothing beats a good old mechanical pencil and fine liner. For cleaner and more commercial work, I tend to put my images through Photoshop and Illustrator for a sharper, smoother finish. In my uni days I liked using water colours and acrylic paint splats in my work. I've streamlined my style now but I'd like to get back into using paints again. For wall murals I tend to use emulsion and paint markers. I don't see myself using a paint brush to draw as I can't really control a brush that well. I've only recently used a spray can and I kind of got the hang of it so who knows. I might branch into that if I can find the right outfit to go out at night in. That's a joke... WHAT OTHER ARTISTIC MEDIA HAVE HAD AN EFFECT ON YOUR ART? The computer has had a massive effect on my art, but I'd debate whether I'd call it artistic media - rather just a tool. HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR DAYS? I spend my days like Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm. I manage to get myself into all sorts of trouble, normally work related. A typical day includes perusing emails, reading the news, checking out creative blogs to get my brain going and trying to complete and sign off commercial work. These days I don't have much time to do my own work as I have freelance stuff and Hantu Collective to run. Hantu has been my clothing side project for a good few years and I'm working to get it off the ground in other cities. I tend to work six day weeks in our new studio space at S1 Artspace. I enjoy being in there as there's a nice vibe having other artists and staff around. I don't see it as an office, but more of a creative hub. WHICH OF YOUR RECENT PIECES HAVE YOU ENJOYED MAKING THE MOST? I find it hard to pick favourites, but I'd say my wall mural pieces for Cow Vintage Sheffield and Hair Kandi are my faves. The Hair Kandi reception desk piece was done live in front of loads of people during their opening party, so that was a lot of fun. The Cow brief was a lot of fun as well, because I was given free reign to cover their staircase wall. I admit I might have played too close to my safety zone, but it was enjoyable none the less. HOW HAS YOUR ART EVOLVED OVER TIME? My work has evolved with the Mac. It's clear to see that computers and technology evolve everything around us, and my work is no exception. Culturally, illustration is the same. There are styles that come and go, but the best people can adapt to what's around while keeping a visual signature within their own style, much like good bands can evolve but still sound like the same band. Radiohead, for example. I've noticed my drawing style has changed too. In my youth I drew cartoons and computer game characters, then moved towards more life drawing. But I realised I'm quite a rubbish life drawer, so I'm back on the cute cuddly stuff. I'd like my work to evolve into something a bit darker, but who knows. HOW HAS ART IN GENERAL CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED? Art, illustration and graphic design have taken on a more accessible image. When I was younger I had no idea how I could apply what I do as a job. At the age of ten I told my mum "I want to be an artist" and she'd tell me that you can't make money out of art. The only thing you could be was a cartoonist. I probably sound really old here but bear with me. I didn't have the internet to find out what a graphic designer was or what an illustrator was. Now young people can research and follow artists online and build up an idea of a potential career. There are more and more graphic design students applying for university every year, so it seems that art and the creative sectors in general have more coverage than they ever did. Art is in every faucet of life. You can't avoid it - it's just everywhere now. WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON? I'm currently working on a project with the Children's Hospital Charity, painting a small waiting room for them, which should be fun. I'm trying to fit in time for my own personal collection of new drawings inspired by Katsushika Hokusai. My friend bought me a great book on him for Christmas and it's turned my life upside down. Everything at the moment for me is samurai, ninjas and nice scenery. Whether I get to work on this new stuff brewing in my head is another thing! ANY TIPS ON HOW TO SURVIVE MAKING MONEY FROM YOUR ART? DO YOU FIND IT IMPORTANT? If you want to make money from art you have to be determined to work like a business and promote yourself. Even then, there are negative points to how you put yourself across to your audience. You'll always get work if your art is good and if it backs you up. Working as a freelancer keeps you on your toes and you have to get into that mind set of being your own boss and be disciplined. Speaking from a freelance illustration point of view, it's definitely important to make money. How would you survive otherwise? I have the perks of being paid for doing something I enjoy. People rarely feel that way about art. Traditionally, graphic designers and illustrators are seen as "commercial artists" and I still work to this label. I create artwork for people who need it or want their problem solved with an image or illustration. If I had to juggle a part-time job to survive whilst doing my illustration work, I doubt I'd be able to put anything together. It'd just be a hobby rather than a job. One of my old tutors told me that freelance illustration isn't a job but more a lifestyle. I understand what this means now. I'm always learning, the more work I take on. WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE IN ART? I don't like being stuck in the same place for too long. I hate it when there is no progression in style. I'm not a fan of sycophancy and people who talk about their art more than just doing it. Your work speaks for itself. I suppose being from Sheffield, I'm used to the humble nature of most artists around here, so I get a bit miffed if I see people blowing their own trumpets a little too loud. WHAT MAKES YOU SMILE IN ART? Good work, innovative ideas and humour. I especially like art that doesn't take itself too seriously. Sometimes I like reading the messages within certain pieces of work too. Banksy's stencil art has always made me laugh. He's the only artist who can do that to me. No matter what people say about him, he's got that weird wit that has an illustrative and political context behind it. He's what I'd love to be but can't become. GOOD ADVICE YOU WISH YOU'D BEEN TOLD EARLIER? Let your work speak for itself and keep on top of your admin )
by Jones

Next article in issue 40

The Ale City: Step Away From the Stella

Sheffield is a city famed the world over for its production of things, and though our major export has always been the stainless hard stuff,…

Sheffield is a city famed the world over for its production of things, and though our major export has always been the stainless hard stuff,

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