This week Brighton Journal spoke to local illustrator and printmaker, Graham Carter.
Graham’s vibrant and playful artwork combines the fantastical and the mundane, and frequently explores animals and nature through humour. His recent work includes helping to design the “Ashley Too” robot featured in the “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” episode of Black Mirror, starring Miley Cyrus. We discussed why Brighton was the right place for Graham to explore his artistic flair, as well as the various artists that inspire him. Take a look.
Hi Graham! What are you up to today?
A combination of looking after my two boys in the morning and painting / assembling little wooden laser-cut baboons in the evening!
Describe where you do most of your creative work.
At a shared studio space in Seaford, my home town. It’s above a beard oil manufacturing workshop which is kind of cool! That’s where my computer and giant printer live. I have a home studio set-up where I prefer to do the messy stuff but have rather limited time to use it.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve worked on?
I recently helped to design the little robot Miley Cyrus in an episode of Black Mirror. That was pretty cool to work on, and a very random project. Still not sure why they thought of me for it but I’m glad they did!
What made you decide to become an artist?
I’m not sure I ever did decide really! It’s just the only thing that really excited me at school, and I seemed to have a natural flair for it – so I just went with it. I nearly settled on working my way up in retail but I have my family to thank for pushing me on to art college!
What are you currently working on?
A series of new screen prints for an open-house in May (which was postponed this week due to that pesky virus). Also a new children’s book on a space theme with another author.
What are the key themes in your work?
Animals and nature seem to be featuring a lot lately but I go through phases. It used to be about Yetis and robots. Combining the fantastical with the mundane is what interests me, along with a dash of humour, but I don’t think there’s a great deal of thematic consistency there.
What would you like people to notice about your work?
The humour I think. I tend to put different artistic hats on (I wish I could stick to one thing! It would make my life easier!) so it won’t always be number one priority. It’s something I always come back to though.
What attracts you to the medium you work in?
I work in many! I guess what I’m best known for though is the printmaking and 3D box art. I love the whole process from start to finish, combining modern technology with an old school hands-on print finish. I’m still learning all the time with printmaking too as there are so many ways to do it, and the laser-cutting is a fun new element I’ve enjoyed getting to grips with.
What equipment could you not do without?
Boring answer but my computer! It’s how I plan all my work and decide on colour/layout etc . I do sometimes fantasise about spending a year not even touching a computer and doing things the old fashioned way but I’m not quite there yet.
Who or what inspires you?
Not one particular artist but I’m always drawn to those who create a particular world. I guess a lot of it is down to maintaining a particular style but it’s also about the feelings they evoke. Artists like Simon Stålenhag, Mark Ryden, Tara McPherson, Shaun Tan, and Jamie Hewlett to name a few.
How is your work affected by living in this area?
Being Brighton-based for so many years gave me the confidence to get my work seen and not be to anxious about the fact it was a bit quirky. Brighton was ready for it.
What’s your favourite thing to do locally?
I have a young family. I don’t get much time to do things that don’t involve soft play! But I do love getting out and about with ‘em, be it a stroll around Cuckmere Haven or a ramble in Friston forest. If I’m alone I love being able to drive the campervan to the beach and use it as a mobile studio!
What’s your favourite gallery (or place to see/experience art)?
At the moment it’s probably the Towner in Eastbourne, depending on what they’re exhibiting. It’s a great space. I’d love to visit Gallery 1988 in LA sometime though. I have a thing about movie-based artwork.
If you could collaborate with one artist, from any era, who would it be and why?
Well that’s a tricky one! I love the idea of subversive, undercover pop-up art. So maybe Banksy could help me out with that one. He likes that sort of thing right? Mine would be a lot less political though and more random. Like placing 100 Al Pacino statues around Brighton or something. Just to freak people out!
What’s your favourite colour?
Did I mention I go through phases? At the moment though it’s probably mustard yellow.