On the Wall: International Nobody

One of our first artists to get involved with UAM is East Londoner International Nobody.

International Nobody’s universe is a heady mix of vibrant and multi-coloured creatures, extra terrestrial ’naughty bits’, visual playfulness, triple entendre. We had a chat with the artist to find out if there was any method to this madness…

How would you describe your work?
I can list some adjectives others have used: ‘infantile’, ‘childish’, ‘bold’, ‘colourful’, ‘rude’, ‘insubstantial’…

What is your favourite medium to work in? 
The silk screen-print is king. Pen and ink is a very close second.

How did you develop/find your own style? 
I’d been working with vinyl toys for some time. The brand I was responsible for was concept-based, elaborate, gothic. Prior to that I did a Fine Art degree so by the time I got down to it, I was tired of over-intellectualising things, hour- long critiques, using words like ‘painterly’ ‘sombre pantone palettes’ and the rest of it. I suppose my style is a natural reaction to that.

I can appreciate detail and intricacy (awesome Joe Coleman and Hieronymus Bosch come to mind) but when I started my practice that is not what came out and onto paper. If I was going to draw say, a red car – it would turn out to be the reddest, boldest, out there car. I figured I better not fight it – just let it come out.

When did you realise that art was your future? 
Watching Rolf Harris on Cartoon Time. I just thought: look at how much fun this bloke is having, singing his little ditty drawing Porky Pig eating a sausage or something – I thought: that is what I’m going to do.

What/who are your biggest influences? 
Tex Avery, Mysterious Al, Jamie Hewlett Tara Mcpherson and John Kricfalusi are to blame. Bad porn, Henry Rollins, creature-feature horror films, j-horror, Alan Moore, Brother Ali and saucy seaside postcards all might have something to do with it. I do remember seeing the work of Katsuhiro Otomo for the first time and just thinking: “raaaaa!”.

What challenges have you faced so far in your career and how have you dealt with them?  
There was a time when I needed the cash so I took on a retail job, knowing that it was a means to an end and I’d be out of there in 6 months.  I was there for two years. Nearly killed my creativity dead. Not enough time to work, guilt-tripped into working more days, felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere because I should have been working on my next piece not in a shop being paid to be shouted at.  I admire people who can compartmentalise their lives or organise their time that way. In the end I decided it just wasn’t worth it. The job had to go. If I believed art really was my life then I figure I’d just start living that way and immerse myself in my work. Opportunities would come once I made time and space for them. Probably the best decision I ever made.

How has the internet and social media sites such as facebook helped you as an artist?  
Social media sites- not so much- in all truthfulness, I’ve avoided them. Everyone and their Shih Tzu has a myspace, everyone wants to be noticed so it can difficult to stand out. They can be good for letting people know what you’re up to and great for seeking out spaces/other exhibitions but I find having an online portfolio + word of mouth has been good. I’m not looking to get discovered by some fancy art dealer dude who will only sign me if he sees I’m mates with some other big name street artist or if my work looks like whatever happens to be the ‘happening thing’. I do what I do because I’m passionate about it not because I want to be famous.

The industry is very competitive, so what have you done to promote yourself?
Got myself into any show that will have me. Left postcards/promo cards about. Put my stickers on any surface that’ll have 130gsm self-adhesive paper, in every place I visit for the first time.

Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
I’d like to have the world as my canvas.

If the world were your canvas what would you most like to create?
Let’s be honest: the planet needs a giant International Nobody style paper bag over its head made from recycled receipts. Also I think the world needs colouring in. France needs a 14pt bold outline. India would look nice with some polka dots and every mountain needs a nipple. It would just brighten up everyone’s day.

And finally…

What advice would you give to artists looking to break into the scene and develop a name for themselves?
Be nice. Talented illustrators/writers/artists who know their craft and are polite are a rarity- you’re sure to stand out…but in all seriousness:

1. Get every idea you have down on paper. Some will be bloody awful but you might have a gem or two in there.
2. Don’t be afraid to experiment, everybody says it but its true: you can’t know what you’re good at/comfortable with unless you do.
3. I’d like to say networking but this is hard work for introverts.
4. Never say die, be relentless, practice your craft, grow the thickest of skins. Seriously rhinos should have nothing on you. Art is subjective. People can be harsh. Take the compliment/diss. Suck it up and get on with it.
5. If you’re comfortable with something…go and do something else (I’m aware of the contradictory info here ) I don’t know…say you’ve never been to the theatre or the opera because you think it’s for tory toff scum or something…go and see some bloody opera- gain some perspective, experience new things. Sometimes I think, Art is symbiotic: in order for you or your work to develop you must be stimulated/fed by your external life. Works the other way round too.

One worders…

Pen or can? Pen
Wall or wood? Wood
Computer or pad? Pad.

Although, if I do use a computer. I just use my finger to draw on the touch pad, while holding down the left button. I can’t deal with the pointy stylus thing and the tablet- too restrictive. Good on those who can.

You can see International Nobody’s work and have a chat with the artist at our show on Sunday 13th November at Graphic Bar London.

Have a look at International Nobody’s website here

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