Interview with DAVID BRAY
In a few words, but not too few, tell me a little about you. Extra points if you can make it rhyme!
I would take the time to make it rhyme, but my poetry has always been duff.
I formally trained as a graphic designer at central St Martins, graduating in 1992. This brought on the fear that I might be spending all my working life behind a computer screen, the very thing I went to Art College to get away from, so I became lost for a few years, until a good friend gave me a kick in the arse to go show people my drawings. It’s slowly built and built, first as an illustrator, then as an artist. These drawings have opened doors to so many different adventures, and taken me from South London to all over the world.
I was brought up in the suburbs of London in the 70′s and 80′s. It seems to have twisted the way I think. And now my studio is in Woolwich, by the river Thames.
Are you an angry man?
Can you feel my anger? I get the feeling everyone thinks I’m a bit easy going, a bit of a soft touch… but I’m proper angry. About all the stuff.
You’re a man of many names, David. Are these pseudonyms to help identify your mood, or for the purposes of allowing the audience to see what work corroborates to the person you wake up as?
I’m really into electronic music, and became fascinated with artists putting sounds out under different aliases. Each alias was originally meant for different styles, but they’ve become a bit jumbled, the idea was to label each style. As an illustrator, taking my book round to advertising and design agencies, it became clear that if there were 15 different styles going on there they would be a bit freaked out and wouldn’t cope. Once everything became compartmentalised, they calmed down and started to offer me work. I was going to start my own illustration agency with 8 different illustrators, and not let anyone know it was just me, but that was impractical from the start.
Do you still hold on to the idea of holding your own agency?
I do indeed; I think it’s really achievable. Can I introduce you to Falk Jensen? An amazing photographer…
I think I may have run by him once. Come to think of it… But anyway, you cited electronic music as an influence on behalf of your collection of alias’, can you tell us a few other things that help to fuel the energy (or the anger) that goes into your pieces?
Without sounding glib, it’s EVERYTHING. Could be an overheard conversation, a newspaper article, a wildlife documentary, seeing the way someone wears something. It’s infinite, inspiration strikes at the oddest times! On a more immediate level, artists that I am influenced by and admire: Helmut Newton, Araki, Eric Stanton, Charles Keeping, Egon Schiele, Eric Gill, Falk Jensen, Allen Jones, Richard Prince, Richard Phillips, David Shrigley, Max Ernst.
Do you feel your work aims to be seen as a movement of any sort, or does using so many names make it difficult to identify with a single genre or movement?
I’ve never really considered that before, I’ve never considered myself as part of a movement. I don’t really know that many artists to feel affiliated with a scene. I just turn up to my studio, draw and see what happens. Having so many alter egos I am affiliated to my selves.
Is that all sounding a bit problematic for my mental wellbeing?
No, so long as you don’t engage in dialogue?
I found, under your own name, many of the illustrations utilise a monochromatic pen and ink style; is this your favourite medium to work in?
I wouldn’t say it was necessarily my favourite, but it is the most immediate. If there is one thing I’ve retained from my art education, it is to utilise the tools that are available –don’t whine about the stuff you have not got. When I first started out that’s all I had, a black pen and a jotter pad, so I tried to make that work in my favour. As I’ve gone on I’ve tried to add to my list of equipment. I much prefer newsagents to pick up pens and stuff; everything seems brighter and more fun! Some art shops have a bit of a sense of being a bit earnest and worthy. I’m not into that.
Technically speaking, many of your illustrations that focus on the female form are anatomically proportionate and suit a style that’s approachable from a fashion designers perspective. Do you have a background in this kind of work, or are you simply an avid admirer of the female form?
I have a background in fashion illustration, and years of life drawing classes have helped. Plus behind this studded leather wall a vast private collection of vintage por…
Pork pies! Moving on… Your work features the dichotomy of good design, with ‘bad taste’, as some may call it; is it your aim to be provocative, or is that simply a side effect of your passion?
That’s a side effect. That’s the Bromley upbringing.
by Jeremiah Tayler
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