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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

An interview with Scott Nellis of Manic Minotaur: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featured artist.

Meet illustrator Scott Nellis from Brighton, who makes wonderfully vibrant colourful artwork that is just perfect for my colouring book.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Introducing Scott Nellis of Manic Minotaur, who has created a wonderfully vibrant piece of artwork for Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion. Scott originally favoured a simple black line before discovering the joy of colour, helped along by contributing illustrations to Amelia’s Magazine open briefs, making him the perfect man to create colouring book double pages for me!

How does your colouring book artwork represent forbidden love, and what elements have you used to represent this in your patterns?
I love drawing psychedelic portraits so I decided my starting point would be simply to have a guy on the left and a girl on the right. As I began to draw, my ideas developed and I used the classic storyline of Romeo and Juliet for inspiration. The guy became angelic, the girl devilish. I imagined them conducting their affair in secret with consequences of a cataclysmic, warring feud between the forces of heavenly good and demonic terror from the depths of hell. Aww.

You studied at the University of Brighton and stayed on in the town, what keeps you there?
I moved to Brighton in 2004 from Essex for a change of scene. Upon arrival I decided I had had enough of the work I had become used to doing i.e. temping in warehouses or doing data entry type jobs etc. I began a year of evening classes in art followed by a year’s foundation course in art and design at Brighton and Hove City College. I was very lucky to be offered a place on the illustration course at University of Brighton. By that point I had already settled in Brighton and had no intention of leaving when graduation came about in 2009. Compared to my home town of Chelmsford, Brighton offers so much more for artists and musicians to get their work out there. Exhibition / gig spaces, festivals, art trails, craft fairs etc etc. It has a good alternative scene. I highly recommend a trip to Brighton for anyone who has not already visited. Now I’ve been here for over ten years I would like to try somewhere else. Berlin perhaps.

Why did you decide to move away from producing intense black and white artwork and how long did it take to become so intensely coloured?!
I guess I became bored with the process of producing the black and white stuff. It was extremely laborious and I wanted to be able to create work where I felt I was reacting more immediately to any music I was listening to. I’d used colour whilst studying but never really got to grips with it or found my own way of using it. I felt safe reverting to black and white and not veering away. It took me a few years to find my colour style.

How did answering open briefs like those put out on twitter by myself for Amelia’s Magazine help you to develop your new style?
Often the briefs were of a subject I wouldn’t necessarily normally work with e.g. fashion which took me out of my comfort zone. This was a much needed stimulation that I had been missing since graduation. You are always working to a brief in University and so self-motivation was less of a problem. I continued to draw lots but also digitally scanned all sorts of textures, washes and mono-prints. I layered them in Photoshop for lots of interesting results and combined them with my drawings. I gradually adapted my style to create the highly detailed, highly colourful, psychedelic drawings you see now. I still prefer to draw with fineline pens onto paper and I colour with either a range of felt tip pens or in Photoshop.

How and why is your work inspired by “music, psychedelia and counter culture?”
Along with many people I have also been romanced by the projected memory of the 1960′s. It was such a renaissance period for art and music in the western world. When I was a teenager and introduced to good 1960′s rock music, I grew my hair long, pretty much dropped out of school and for years was inseparable from my guitar. I love the sense of freedom that comes with travel. The way you feel when you are not bound to anything.

Why did you chose the moniker Manic Minotaur – what does the name represent and what do you hope it says to others?
Although not a gamer any more I still have a very special place in my heart for the 8-bit games that were released during the 1980′s. I just think there was something a bit more mysterious and weird about those games. I wanted a name that would be a homage to that era of gaming so I came up with Manic Minotaur derived from the game title Manic Miner. The game isn’t particularly a favourite of mine but Manic Minotaur is a catchier name than Jet-Set Woolly Mammoth, as suggested by someone else. You probably need to have a bit of retro game knowledge to find any amusement in that.

What kind of commissions are your favourite kind and why?
Definitely ones where you are given an initial brief and allowed freedom to execute it in your own way.

What is your favourite type of music and how does music in general inform your work?
I still love listening to rock, pop and psych from the 1960′s and 70′s and I enjoy listening to rock and alternative from all the following decades too. I listen to Radio 6 Music probably too much and I went to Glastonbury this year. Music is my biggest source of inspiration. Merely hearing notes can cause an explosion of imagery in the mind. Not to mention all the fantastic album artwork that has been released over the years.

Where can fans catch you and your products in the run up to Christmas? what will you be selling?
I’ve got quite a few craft fairs in the weeks leading up to Christmas where I will be selling cards, prints, notebooks, badges and mirrors –
Bazaar Brighton – Unitarian Church, Brighton – 26th September 2015
Crafty Fox Market – Dogstar, Brixton – 3rd October 2015
Crafty Fox Market – Bussey Building, Peckham – 10th October 2015
Wild Strawberry – Unitarian Church, Brighton – 17th October, 31st October, 14th November, 28th November
Brighton Etsy Christmas Market – Open Market, Brighton – 6th December
…and more to be announced!

My Etsy shop is brimming with goodies for anyone unable to make these events. I’ve also had some sticker designs selected for the forthcoming Stickerbomb 3 book. Oh yeah and some drawing in a certain colouring book that is due for release soon.

I can’t wait to share more artists’ work with you – keep checking in every day to discover a plethora of Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion talent.


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