Featured Artist: Steven Rhodes

FK talks to Brisbane based artist Steven Rhodes. Steven is the artist behind our amazing new Brisbane Flyer

How long have you been creating art?
I’ve always kind of defined myself as an artist.  I did art at school and took oil painting classes. Instead of doing a fine arts course, I took the ‘financially secure’ path and studied a profession, working as a landscape architect. During this period my creative harvest changed to song-writing and recording and I’ve made about 10 albums worth of questionable material. This was an obsessive hobby rather than a career move. Then I got back into design again. Especially digital art which lead me to enrol in graphic design and onto my current trajectory.

You have just graduated from studying graphic design, how has your illustration evolved since starting the course?
I’ve always had artistic instincts, but I think studying design just reinforces those fundamental design principles and gives you the technical skills and shortcuts. In the past my style has been a lot more haphazard, whereas since graduating I’ve begun to hone in on my own unique visual style. Which is really what you have to have – an individual style that is your own.  It was also great just being around a bunch of like-minded individuals.

How would you best describe your style of work, and which areas do you most like exploring?
Well my style is still evolving but a lot of my recent illustration work is tending to be “arranged objects on a theme”. Kind of like a collage but with all the elements being hand-drawn and scanned.  I like to mix up the visual styles in a piece so I have detailed pen drawings and realistic sketches contrasting with flat colour and simple shapes.  I’m interested in complex detail versus empty space.  A lot of my work is monochromatic or a limited colour palette and I’m definitely drawn towards vintage, sepia-filled tones. I love aged textures and the beauty inherent in the ravages of time.

Where do you seek inspiration for your work and what are regular websites you visit for inspiration?
Nature, particularly birds, trees, vintage typography, mid-century modern cartoons, old flaking paint and urban decay, retro wallpaper, the crescent moon, seventies fashion, hallways, falling stars, storms, music, the late afternoon. I love film-makers with a distinct visual style – David Lynch, Wes Anderson, Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

I regularly visit the websites – Drawn and Threadless.  Jackywinter is great for checking out amazing illustrators. Lost at E Minor, Blanket magazine and all the emerging artists blogs are inspiring also.

You just won a Brisbane Street Press art competition, how has the reaction been since then?
Since winning that competition I have been hailed as a God amongst men…just kidding! No, other than some quiet pats on the back it’s basically been business as usual. It’s good to get your work on the cover of something but actually, I think one of the best things about winning is it boosts your confidence a bit. It lets you know that your work is making an impact and to keep going. Sweet validation. We fragile, introverted artists are so needy.

What do you love most about Illustration and design?
I guess I really respond to artwork that evokes an intense mood or feeling.  Something that surpasses the current design trends and just speaks for itself. I also love art and design that has a certain darkness and ambiguity to it. An element of mystery or a slightly unsettling atmosphere… with a sense of humour.

What inspires you about Brisbane?
Well this isn’t specific to Brisbane so much, but I like to go for walks in the late afternoon when the light starts off golden and fades to twilight. I find it’s a great way of clearing the mind at the end of the day. Where I walk there’s a field with cows, a big creek with turtles and ducks and eels. There’s also a bat colony.  I love watching swarms of bats flying overhead at dusk. Who doesn’t? It’s pretty inspiring that nature can still be so prevalent in the middle of the suburbs.

Where would you like to take your work, and what are you working on for 2010?
I’m just going to continue to get my work out there and seen by as many people as I can. I’d like to get enough illustrations together for an exhibition and just see what happens.

Long term I’d love to be able to do commercial illustration as a full-time career. Particularly in the creative industries such as music, fashion and publishing.  Or plan B: Live under a bridge.



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