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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Dreamboat Exhibition – Four Interviews with Four Illustrators

Interviews with artists featuring at the Dreamboat Vs Inkygoodness Exhibition in Bristol. Ben Steers, Dave Bain, Leila Shetty and Sarah Dennis discuss dreamboats, backgrounds and the influence of music on art

Written by Helen Martin

Intergalactic dreaming

Illustration by Ben Steers

As you may have seen yesterday in this post, I went along to the Dreamboat Exhibition in Bristol last Friday. It is a collaboration between art platform makers, Inkygoodness and Bristol label, Dreamboat Records using the theme: Dreamboat. As you probably gathered from yesterday’s post, I thoroughly enjoyed meandering about, staring heavily at the floating ships. However, as opposed to me rambling on about my own thoughts on each of the dreamy vessels, this post is devoted to four artists who contributed to the Dreamboat Exhibition. Fusing music and art, I wondered how the artists used music in their art and what inspired their own dreamboat illustrations. Please note that the Exhibition is open until December 30 – so you have plenty of time to get to the West and check out the gorgeous illustrations.

So, let’s start with Ben Steers. Ben is an illustrator and designer working out of Bristol. He has worked for a variety of companies including; The Sunday Times and the NHS as well as Spunky Clothing Label.

Moon Rise Ben Steers

Illustration by Ben Steers

What inspired your dreamboat?
My dreamboat piece was inspired by an ongoing narrative that has carried over from the last Inkygoodness show. It follows a solitary bear that spends his time playing amongst his woodland home. The bear looks out at the moon and dreams of other worlds. Before he knows it (and quite possibly under the influence of some kind of woodland mushrooms!) he finds himself sailing across the stars.

What’s your artist background?
I was always a restless child and never really clicked with education in the traditional sense. Being a “left sided thinker” art was a good outlet for my creativity and a practice that I naturally connected with. Since I was a wee nipper I have always enjoyed scribbling and when deciding on what course to do at uni, there seemed to be only one option – Illustration. I studied for 3 years at Plymouth University and graduated in 2008 with a BA Hons in Illustration and Graphic communication. Although I was “traditionally” trained in using oils/acrylics/pastels etc at school, my uni course taught me the commercial skills that I now implement in all my illustration work.

ABeautifulmachine1.Benjpg

Illustration by Ben Steers

How do you find music influence/inspire/interact your artwork?
I have always been a big music fan and find that music has an indirect effect on me and my work. There are certain genres that I will plug into when sitting down to complete certain tasks. I find that high-tempo, up-beat tune’s help me to really focus on what I’m doing and result in a much more productive artist. It has been a long time goal of mine to design a vinyl sleeve and inlay as I love the old classics and nothing touches the sound of vinyl. Unfortunately it is becoming harder and harder these days to crack into the music industry art scene, but I will keep the faith and my fingers crossed that something comes through!

Next is Dave Bain. An illustrator and designer, Dave has worked for CBeebies and the NSPCC, among many others. He is currently based in Bristol and also works as promoter and DJ.

Dave_Bain_2

Illustration by Dave Bain

What inspired your dreamboat picture?
I wanted to paint something that felt like it was floating in another reality separate from the hum-drum of every day life.  I’ve obsessed with masks and the playful nature of how they create drama and hidden secrets.  I’ve been developing a set of masked characters for a while, and the dreamy avenue that my piece was referencing lent itself perfectly to hiding the characters faces, except for the central younger lad.  Memories of children parties and feeling detached from that atmosphere run through this artwork.  I dream most nights and often have dreams involving finding my way to another world.  A previous exhibition with Inkygoodness had the theme of ‘Wonderland’ and I did a piece called “Journey to Wonderland” which featured another journey with similar characters, that time on the back of sparrows.

Dave_Bain

Illustration by Dave Bain

What’s your artist background?
As long as I can remember I’ve loved to draw and make things.  I dreamed of being able to make a living from it and have always had that goal in mind throughout my life.  I studied Illustration at Falmouth and loved every second of it, after which I moved to Bristol and threw myself into whatever creative opportunities came my way.  It’s my love of drawing and coming up with fun ways to interpret briefs proposed to me, which get me going.  I love the diversity of Bristol and the strength of the creative community here.

How does music influence/inspire/interact with your art?
I listen to music almost constantly, while working.  I love a wide-range, classical, jazz, folk, dubstep, techno – anything that is made with care, love and catches something in my brain and heart.  I run a folk night in Bristol called Feel The Folk and DJ in bars and clubs as well.  Music is definitely interwoven into the way I work and think.  I truly believe in its power to boost artistic creativity and love its motivational edge.  There’s nothing like getting lost in a painting with a soundtrack to accompany you.

Now Leila Shetty, an illustrator based in Liverpool. She likes drawing small birds and cats, among other things. Leila has just graduated from Liverpool School of Art.

LEILA_SHETTY_DREAMBOAT

Illustration by Leila Shetty

What inspired your dreamboat picture?
I kept my Dreamboat image quite simple and wanted to create quite a serene, peaceful illustration 
with the little boat sailing as the focal point. I think it is the serenity of the scene that makes it dream-like. 

What’s your artist background?
I studied Graphic Arts at Liverpool John Moores University (Liverpool School of Art) and specialised in Illustration half way through the course. I’ve always been much more interested in the creative industries than anything else but like to work on quite a small scale – Illustration is perfect for this. Since graduating I’ve been doing lots of different bits and bobs of freelance work. 

housesLeilaShetty

Illustration by Leila Shetty

How does music influence/inspire/interact with your art?
I think rather than music inspiring my work, it is words and stories that influence it. I suppose music can be a way to tell a story though. I like to produce work that is based on words and stories; these can be the most mundane and simple of things that make the most interesting images. I also like to do narrative work to tell stories.     

And finally we have Sarah Dennis. Sarah is an illustrator living in London. Her work ‘invokes a feel of story tale innocence with a contemporary feel’. As well as her illustrations, Sarah has a popular collection of handcrafted felt characters.

dreamboatSarahDennis

Illustration by Sarah Dennis

What inspired your dreamboat picture?
As the tile suggests, my inspiration came from the sensation you have in the morning when you are in a dream like state. I imagined myself floating in comfort and this floating feeling brought the nautical theme to mind with the water inhabited by jellyfish and sea creatures. The male character who is floating within the cut out waves and wearing a stage cape whilst holding a little boat represents vulnerability and innocence.

octo2Sarahdennis

Illustration by Sarah Dennis

What’s your artist background?
I moved from my hometown Brighton to Bristol in 2005 to complete a degree in illustration at the University of the West of England. My work developed over this time and I found that I enjoyed using collages to create whimsical narrative based artwork . After graduating I stayed in Bristol to work on a variety of creative projects. During this time I wrote, illustrated and published a children’s book called “Toby”. I also spent much of my time working with a creative collective called “Hot soup”. The group embarked upon several diverse projects: hosting drawing based events, creating cardboard creations for theater productions and completing bespoke illustrations for clients. After exhibiting a solo show at the “Here” Gallery I moved from Bristol to London were I now spend my days working in a studio in Stoke Newington along side many inspiring artists and illustrators.

wolfandrabbitflatSarahDennis

Illustration by Sarah Dennis

How does music influence/inspire/interact with your art?
After having an idea of what I would like to create whether it is for an exhibition or a piece of commissioned work, I find that music plays a very large part in the process. Having got my idea, with my materials and papers at the ready, the next thing to do is to put on the headphones and find the right album that complements the mood and tone of the artwork. This helps and even influences my art in the same way as working alongside other artists.

See Dreamboat Exhibition at Start Gallery, (via Top Deck) Start The Bus, Bristol

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