UK-based, LordWharts (aka Wharton) hails from the port city of Plymouth, England where he spends his days illustrating colorful and witty designs that tap into the human experience.
"...the role of artists is to give voice to the voiceless and break through barriers and obstacles while attempting to bring us all closer together by realising that we all share similar fears and desires, concerns and loves."
Where is home?
I currently reside in the seaside city of Plymouth in the south west of England. Famous as the departure point of the Pilgrim fathers, Sir Francis Drake’s mighty defeat of the Spanish armada and home to an untold wealth of clotted cream and gin.
What is your creative weapon of choice?
My creative arsenal includes unfathomably powerful tools from finely crafted German Rotring technical pens to fancy-pants Wacom tablets. However, my day-to-day workman’s weapon of choice is the humble biro and scrap of paper and a mightier combination you couldn’t find for dispatching ideas. I find there’s something unpretentious and humble about them that allows me to get the best out of the sketching process. If I’m drawing in an expensive sketchbook with a swanky pen I worry that what I’m sketching isn’t good enough for the sketchbook or that I’m not getting the best out of my pen or some such mind non-sense so a biro and scrap of copy paper offer no such concerns and allow me to get on with what I’m trying to do.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I think like most people here at Redbubble being a creative was something I had always aspired to be, when I was a kid that looked a lot like the stereotypical idea of a French painter (beret, paint daubed smock and outrageous facial hair) but as I grew older the scope and potential for creative jobs widened and I found myself drawn to Illustration (no pun intended). I realised that it played to my strengths in terms of creative concepts and technical ability – I’m interested in playful ideas that capture the essence of a thought, feeling or character and although I’m not the most technical of illustrators I like to think my illustration style has a bold, joyful quality with plenty of energy.
What role do you feel artists have in society?
I think traditionally artists have been the voice of their generation, allowing others to find expression through their work; confronting the concerns or big issues that people face. That’s still true today but the creative ranks have never been so swollen and I’m always blown away by the creative spectrum of work I find on Redbubble and Instagram. The scale, style and subject matter are phenomenal, it’s almost as if every facet of the human condition is being explored and exposed allowing individuals to share and connect with anything from apathy and depression to the perfection of avocados and the luminous joy of everyday observations. If I can just recap and condense that long-winded jumble of a paragraph – I think the role of artists is to give voice to the voiceless and break through barriers and obstacles, while attempting to bring us all closer together by realising that we all share similar fears and desires, concerns and loves.
"I believe you need to be your own harshest critic, the ability to pick things apart and understand why they are or aren’t working is a valuable skill to develop. It’s only by constantly questioning and pushing yourself that you can improve."
Please share the story behind your favorite artwork on Redbubble.
This is a tough one. I guess like most artists I fall in and out of love with my work at different times so my favourite piece of work (at the moment) is the last piece I uploaded – ‘Dreaming (not Screaming) Eagle’. I think it represents the best aspects of my work – I think it’s fun, pretty cute to look at, I like the gentle colour palette and above and beyond the aesthetics it’s a message of tolerance, hope, and positivity – things that I try and inject into all of my work. In a time when the world seems in political upheaval when people are living in fear or anxiety and when it might feel like we’re taking a step backward as a global community it’s important to have reminders that we can all contribute to making a better life for ourselves and each other.
Please describe what you do in your own words.
I’m not the world’s greatest illustrator (just in case you thought otherwise) so to compensate for this I try to compose or combine a witty element to the illustration, something that allows the viewer to participate and invites investigation in the work. This might manifest itself as a composition that features two images in one (see ‘Wild at Heart‘), combining illustration and photography (see ‘Monkeys are nuts‘) or integrating type and illustration (see ‘Freedom‘ or ‘Wanderlust‘). For me, an illustration isn’t complete until it has an idea, a concept to share or a story to tell.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an artist?
Not to come across as a chin-stroking intellectual but there is a great Ernest Hemingway quote that I like to remind myself of from time to time and it is as follows: The first draft of everything is shit.
And it’s entirely true (for me) and I think the important thing to realise is that just because the first draft may very well be shit it doesn’t mean the final product will be, so don’t be disheartened by how things begin and focus on how you intend to finish them.
What is your dream project?
What I would absolutely love-love-love to do is a book cover for Penguin books. I considered them a high-water mark of publishing, pushing the boundaries of book design and embracing illustration. In terms or illustrated legacy, a book cover is one of the few pieces of visual communication that have a sense of permanence to it, books are items that aren’t easily discarded and they colonise a special place in our hearts. To be the face of a book, I think, would be quite the achievement.
What’s been the hardest lesson you’ve learned while creating a successful art career? What advice would you love to have told yourself five or ten years ago?
I believe you need to be your own harshest critic, the ability to pick things apart and understand why they are or aren’t working is a valuable skill to develop. It’s only by constantly questioning and pushing yourself that you can improve. So, learn not to settle on your first idea, draft, composition but keep exploring and experimenting until you’re satisfied that you’ve found the very best version of the idea you’re working on.
What artwork are you excited to work on next?
This is something I struggle with all the time, I actually much prefer coming up with ideas than I do making them, I have got pages and pages of notes and sketches of concepts and I can never decide which to do next. I’m currently playing around with a mother nature themed idea (one I had intended for mother’s day – and typically I missed the boat on that one) which features a voluptuous female figure, whose features and form are described through flora and fauna. Keep your eyes peeled for that one and when she finally surfaces you’ll understand just how long it can take me to get around to bringing my sketches to life.