phil witton

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Witton grew up just outside of Cambridge, "in a boring little village", he says. He spent most of his childhood drawing, skateboarding or learning to play instruments. Educated at the Norwich University of Art, Witton's body of work shows an experimental and expressive element to it, with a unique style we were intrigued by. We spoke to the artist about how his music and art interlink throughout his work and the people that inspire him.   


"I always loved skateboard graphics, album covers and music videos so I used to try drawing my own a lot as a kid. I used to do oil paintings when I was in sixth form but I got bored of it because it was not playful enough, so I adopted a more illustrative style that I could be a little more silly with." As a practising musician and artist, we were curious if both interlinked throughout his work. "Music and art are similar because they both require you to arrange and curate different components. You need to know what to add and what to take away, and which parts work together harmoniously. I feel that my visual work is more external and my music is more personal."

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"I feel that my visual work is more external and my music is more personal"

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"I'm always looking for new subjects to draw. I went on a big portrait kick a while ago, then I got tired of that and started drawing rooms, then household objects, then vintage tech and music equipment. I get very tired of drawing one specific thing again and again so I always have to find new stuff to draw and new ways to work, which is good because I guess it keeps things interesting, but it can be a bit frustrating at times." When we asked the artist about his current favourite medium, Witton said that he has been more interested in working digitally recently. "I think I like it because I can take all of the best parts of making physical work, scan them in and then manipulate them really easily. It offers the possibility of experimenting with an image without doing something permanent that you'll regret. I also did a run of riso prints with Notewell Press in Norwich which came out really nice. I want to do some more of that soon."

"I have a load of little A5 sketchbooks that I sketch in. I always have one with me incase I have an idea that I need to record. I use it as a way to not forget ideas so I can work on them later and flesh them out a bit more. I post the pages on my Instagram every now and then. You can usually see how my ideas develop into finished images from there."

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Witton has also collaborated with illustrator Charlie Woodland on a series of images that caught our eye. We were interested in how this artistic collaboration came about; "Charlie was on my Illustration course at Norwich University of Art. He was a friend of a friend and I got to see his work develop over the course of three years. His work at the final show was amazing, he has an ability to draw realistically yet give a dark surreal edge to his work. One day I just decided to send him a message to see if he wanted to make some images and he was up for it." 

Some of Witton's creative inspirations include "illustrative practitioners like Corey Purvis, Parra, Micheal Reeder and Georges. Also Quijun Li, John Karborn, Zdzisław Beksiński, Robbert Beatty and Broken Fingaz Crew. I realise they are all quite different but I love variety. Usually the reason I like artists is because their work is very different than mine." Witton has developed quite a unique style of his own, however he admits that he feels too close to his own work to be able to reflect on his style and that an outsider would be better at describing it. "The style shifts quite frequently too. I've always had trouble describing my work to people", he says. 

.An artist of many talents, we asked Witton where he see's himself over the next few years. "I have a few projects I'm working on right now. I have an animated music video project going on that won't be finished for some time so I probably shouldn't say too much. I usually have a few small projects on the go. As for the future it's hard to say. I was dealing with some anxiety about being 'successful' with my work but I don't really think I know what being successful is really. I don't think I mind as long as I can keep making stuff. Ideally I'd like to do some sort of art direction at some point."

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