Zeke Clough is an illustrator from Preston, UK. While being a prolific contributor to SRK's Stickerbomb series he is perhaps best known for his distinctive artwork for the label Skull Disco. Zeke's work is now appreciated by comic and zine fans internationally. In this interview Zeke talks to us about giant squids and future digitised existences. Originally I'm from Nelson, a small industrial town in North West England.
The artists I work with mainly live elsewhere, they're people I've been fortunate to meet either through doing zines in the 00's or through my work on record sleeves. How would you describe your work?
As a virulent mixture of tragic farce and high-resolution cartoon catastrophe. Although I do have calmer moments and enjoy drawing from life or doing simpler works for children. Hopefully through it all is a sense of humour and solid draughtsmanship, that's my aim anyway. What makes your work unique and what inspires you?
An unorthodox world view I suppose and a brain that seems stuck in the twilight zone of psychedelicised horror... So many things inspire me, favourite artists such as Roberto Matta, Brion Gysin, Takashi Nemoto, King Terry, Savage Pencil, Basil Wolverton, Hideshi Hino and so on. A big inspiration is marine life, I love reading about this online, from the intelligence of whales and dolphins to the recent success in filming the giant squid. Also, I get inspired by walking in the countryside, watching wildlife, natural decay, things like that. 'Nervous Future Creeps'Do you have any specific theme to reflect through your work?
I'm quite interested in the future possibility of a digitized existence, and am exploring this idea in my, 'Nervous Future Creeps' series of works. However I prefer to just draw without a pre-conceived theme in mind, this way I'm often surprised as the thing that's really bothering becomes manifest without my realising it consciously. I started drawing at age 3 and just kept going.
Then gradually discovered different art forms as I got older, starting with comics. Marvel/DC comics, UK kid's comics like, 'Shiver & Shake' and 'Whizzer & Chips', then in the 80's I discovered 2000AD, which totally blew me away, it was so original with it's idiosyncratic art styles, satirical content and bizarre stories. What has been the most important thing to happen to your career as an artist?
That would have to be Sam Shackleton starting the 'Skull Disco' label and inviting me to do the artwork. It was a great opportunity to develop a cohesive design aesthetic for the label over a series of releases that complimented the music. This process is something I really enjoy, trying to capture an aspect of the music in a visual form. It also was important as a lot of people saw my work because of Skull Disco, which led to further opportunities, collaborations and friendships. Particularly the ongoing collaboration with Mordant Music. My work process is always changing as I don't like to only use one style.
For me, it's more enjoyable to try different techniques, for instance I just did a drawing that used biro, paint marker and Neocolour crayons. However my favourite way of working would have to be drawing in my sketchbook with a pencil, I like that it's simple and portable, anywhere you can sit down for a bit, you can work. What do you consider to be the best piece of artwork you have done?
Possibly the, 'Hard Shoulder' comic I did with Baron Mordant of Mordant Music, the art in that was focused and minimal, it served the story with no extraneous biological murk to distract. Really, the work I've done that has this focused intent behind it, I would say is the most successful. An acrylic painting I did recently was also the accumulation of a lot of study and I'll be doing more pieces like that in the future. What is your biggest challenge as an artist?
To keep going! it's hard to be an artist in this spirit crushing malaise that the current government seems to think is a good idea. It requires a high level of stubbornness and the support of a good network of friends. That aside, I would say imposing structure on an aberrant imagination, producing works than give the viewer a way into my head, should they wish to go there.Currently I'm working on the next 'Hard Shoulder' comic with Baron Mordant
and doing some animation work for the, 'Mordant Miasma' at the Liverpool Psychedelia Festival in September. That aside, I've two other comic strips I'm working on and want to do more paintings in this new style I've recently developed. I'm thinking of adapting my style for kid's books too, think that could be fun. Explore more of Zeke Clough's work at www.zekeclough.co.uk
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