Graduated last year with a BA in Illustration, illustrator Darren Shaddick dabbled into the arts after the realisation that taking the path of A-levels didn't work. Come now, Shaddick has no doubt unlocked his artistic capabilities with an incredible body of work ranging from comics, zines and drawings. Influenced by his observations and using techniques like Riso printing, Shaddick's outcome of bold graphics are a wonderful sight to look at. We spoke to he illustrator about zine-making, his creative process and overcoming creative blocks.
"I am a kid in a tall man’s body, I like to draw, visit charity shops and ride my skateboard once or twice a year. I grew up in a small town in the South West of England, where there isn’t a lot going on for the younger generation and not a lot to draw inspiration from; although it does have its perks, it’s in it’s own bubble so that does give you the motivation needed to move on to bigger and better things plus it makes it quite exciting to visit big cities. I graduated from Plymouth University last year with a BA in Illustration, and am now attempting to be an adult whilst working out how to push my illustration work into a career."
"I’ve always had an interest in drawing and graphic design, but never really thought that I could do an awful lot with it. I used to draw all of the things I loved, such as: album covers, cars, cartoons and my favourite PlayStation 1 Characters (Sir Daniel Fortesque & Crash Bandicoot). After terrible experiences with trying more academic A-levels at college, I decided to start a fresh by taking up an Art & Design Diploma, which changed my entire outlook on where being a creative can take you." A lot of Shaddick's work incorporate elements like music, cartoons as well as his knack for zine-making. We also particularly admire his visual interpretation of some of his favourite music which he illustrated as album sleeves. "I really enjoy flicking through a finished zine and seeing a coherent piece of work, I love creating images that speak to each other from either side of the page. Zine making for me is a good way to develop ideas and see where things go, it’s nice to challenge yourself to see if you can make a complete zine in a day, say you have so many pages to fill and just see what comes out of your head. I also love seeing one of my zines being reproduced. Whilst at University I made use of the Risograph printer there, printing one colour at a time makes you highly anticipate what the final outcome is to look like, it’s always completely different to what a computer screen can show you, but usually for the better."
Talking about his creative process, Shaddick explains the usual doodling and note taking in sketch books. "I like to absorb the environment around me and draw from experiences and to try to inform my illustration from these things in some way, Shaddick says. "Occasionally, I sit there with a piece of cartridge paper and some instrument to draw with and draw whatever comes to mind and see where I can take it and sometimes a project can form itself. To overcome creative block I use the excuse of having a coffee quite a lot. I find it quite helpful to start off small and work from there, maybe draw senselessly for a while without any obligation and an idea should arise. Trying to switch off any self doubt is a big helper, I think quite a lot and tuning out of that is often very useful with my creative process. Also talking to people can be great, it’s interesting to get a different point of view and they may inform you of something you didn’t quite think of yourself."
"I had the greatest tutor who would show us lots of great artists, books and movies and that definitely had a big impact on my work today. Growing up I wasn’t in a creative environment, but my creativity wasn’t discouraged. I’ve always had a little book of my own to doodle in and had a good amount of friends with similar interests, in which we’d always be making little skate videos and bouncing ideas off of each other."
"My work is often informed by my influences and things I am excited by as well."
"I like to think it stems from the realisation that image making doesn’t have to be perfect or realistic, just executed well", Shaddick says about his illustrating style. "My style is very fluid, quick and playful. I have a keen interest in limited colour pallets and colour combinations, along with editing very crudely drawn images within Photoshop or Illustrator. My work is often character based, I like the human form and I enjoy abstracting it, I am also really into how people dress and I like reproduce clothing items which I think are interesting within my drawing. My work is often informed by my influences and things I am excited by as well."
"I seek a lot of inspiration from movies, I like to look for how the titles overlay the images and how certain scenes are framed. I love typography especially how it was used on old book covers, where it seems more tactile and complements the imagery so well. I’ve rediscovered a lot of my childhood toys recently and I take inspiration from their aesthetics and colours quite often. Also I take a a lot of inspiration from my surroundings and experiences, to me it is important to make work that is somewhat personal."
Speaking of some of his favourite artists, Shaddick mentioned the likes of José Jajaja, Nicholas Ménards and David Hockney. "I’ve always been into the work of José Jajaja because of his amazing style of drawing and his book ideas, I’ve always really loved what he creates and a personal favourite of mine is called ‘Magic Box’, where the book can actually turn into a box that houses the characters inside - brilliant. Along with this, Nicholas Ménards work has always driven me, his animation named ‘Somewhere’ influenced me so much and everything else he makes is ridiculously cool. And David Hockney, because he is just the best, I saw his his recent exhibition at Tate Britain and my mind was blown."
Shaddick is currently preparing himself for the Brighton Illustration Fair in October where he'll be showcasing new work and selling a range of stuff from zines to socks. He's also hoping to work on some editorial briefs in the near future. "In the next few years I hope to be freelancing a lot more and exhibiting a lot more, whilst experiencing new places and things, I want to take up as many opportunities as I can, failing that having a day job that is somewhat creative would be much appreciated."