Uberkraaft is an illustrator from the UK that I’ve been secretly admiring on flickr. His creatures are fun, bold, and slightly creepy (in a good way, course!). I’ve learned a very important lesson from this interview. Judging on his variety of drawings and illustrations, Matt Williams does what he loves and he doesn’t need a ‘niche’ to know what his loves. It’s pretty inspiring, don’t you think? I think so!
Tell us about yourself : )
Hello. I’m uberkraaft. I make all sorts of stuff, illustrate things, do graphic design, experiment, have creative slumps, have creative highs, spend a lot of time thinking & a bunch of time doing.
What sort of illustration media do you use?
Generally paper & pen, occasionally I work digitally with a tablet in Potatoshop and when I have a paint marker in hand i’ll scribble on anything – snails and fruit are a favourite!
Where are you from? What inspires you about where you reside currently?
I live in Westcliff in Essex – Southeast England folks – what can I tell you? It’s a run-down seaside town… Morrissey filmed ‘Everyday is like Sunday’ here (Southend actually but it’s the same thing!) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0LeL9BUPtA – I’ve never really thought of it as inspirational in any way… but it’s an interesting thought!
What are you currently working on?
I’m in the early stages of planning a competition entry – providing new illustrations for Albert Camus ‘The Outsider’ (‘The Stranger’ in the US?). I’m doing a fun little psychedelic thing for www.hypem.com for their top albums of the year but mainly I’m just working on the big project… getting better & making the work I want to make.
Are you a full-time artist?
Yes & no 🙂 In daylight hours i’m a Creative Director for an agency doing branding, advertising, web etc – http://www.thinkstorm.co.uk
– Once i’m home & the kids are asleep, I put my drawing hat on and try to stay awake long enough to produce something!
What is your background? Self taught? How did you get started in drawing and arts?
Another interesting question! Self taught? I’ve been through art education but within the route I took there was very little ‘hands-on’ training. I grew up drawing every day & ended up doing a sculpture degree in Sheffield which, in a way, had the best kind of ‘teaching’. Day one of the course we were allocated a studio space and were practically left to our own devices for 3 years! It was real ‘deep end’ kinda stuff – you had to self direct your practice from the start. I guess that really helped me get through the creative twist & turns I’ve had to make throughout my career … Later I went on to do a Masters in digital media with a real ‘art’ flavour – Video installation, virtual theatre, sock puppets etc, and that got me into the possibilities of working digitally & led me into working in the creative industry.
What/who keeps you motivated/inspired?
Ha! – I don’t know. I’m not particularly motivated. I suppose I want to see what I’m actually capable of … I want to make things that only I can imagine & perhaps that only I would want to see! : D
I enjoy how strange and psychedelic your creatures/characters are. Do you give them stories? How and when did you develop this style?
Yes, there’s always a narrative of sorts – it’s kind of essential for me to work that way … it helps me to construct weird scenarios & elements for the illustration. My earlier doodle style work was becoming a little ’empty’ for me because of it’s lack of meaning… the newer stuff relies heavily on imagined narratives, partly because I find the results more satisfying and partly because I like the idea of people trying to ‘decode’ them. I’d like to think I don’t really have a ‘style’ – I’m pretty ‘anti-style’ at heart. I get bored if I do the same thing over and over again – but saying that, people have said they can spot my work immediately even when I shift ‘styles’ … so who knows?!
Do you have a sketchbook and would you mind showing us a page or two?
Hmmm. Yes I do. But I’m crap at using it ‘properly’ … I don’t have the time to ‘sketch’ in the traditional sense. I tend to sketch an idea, erase & redraw, until I’m happy to turn it into a piece … so the sketches are very short-lived & transient.
What does your studio look like?
A living room. A do most of my work hunched over a coffee table with a snoring labrador occasionally kicking me in the back.
What sort of music do you listen to while drawing?
It varies wildly! I get hooked on stuff, play it to death & move on. At the moment I’m into Mozart’s Requiem, The Books, Nigeria70 (funk stuff), Damian Jurado, Clouddead while I’m working … but then a lot of the time I love just having the radio on.
Do you have any advice for artists who are trying to find their ‘niche?’
Me? Advice? : D – Sure! Don’t look for a niche! Just do your thing … do what makes you happy … get good … everything else will fall into place. If you start thinking about what you ‘should’ do or what will make money or what will be successful, you’re doomed to failure. Make the work that you want to see … It’s like telling the truth. People will respect you for it & dig what you’re doing. Keep going & you’ll get better. I love the term ‘artistic practice’ – the more you practice, the better you’ll get!