Very talented illustrator Richard Kilroy has launched a paper dedicated to his passion and obsession - illustration.
He very kindly asked to interview me for the paper and a very nice bunch of questions it was too.
Here's the interview and a link to the blog
You're a very multi-faceted creative talent: you're a creative director, artist, illustrator, designer, stylist and have also been involved with installations and window displays, has it always been important to you to keep this element of diversity to your work? I know you've mentioned in the past that you are the type of person who can get bored easily!
It is very important and also very natural, to me everything is interlinked and influenced by each other. There are areas that I've moved away from but inevitably always go back to in one way or another, I think its easier for me to look at the whole as apposed to sections of things. I am commissioned for sections of projects within fashion and costume design but you always need to know or be able to guess the bigger picture.
It's also been a real journey working through all these practices, and always wanting to be able to do more.
How important is the illustrative element to your work, and illustration in general?
I suppose its integral to everything I do, it's a tool as well as an art form and a job. It all starts with a sketch, an illustration. It's such a broad term really, when is a doodle and illustration, and an illustration fine art? Its hard I think to put labels on different practices of an artist.
But there is something about a more 'illustrative' style of work that can elude more to a narrative and have an accessibility for the viewer, maybe this comes from child hood.
I can see a lot of strong influences in your illustrative work, such as art nouveau, jean-paul goude and surrealism. What are the biggest influences or thoughts driving your distinctive style?
My influences are really broad, early obsessions with films like 'Clash of the Titans' lead to studying pre-raphaelite paintings and Art Nouveau. Alphonse Mucha has been a huge inspiration, from subject, to symbolism and composition, I was really interested by the mix of text and poster art with the organic lines of his female subjects and flowers. The interest in text meant that Pop Art really inspired me also. I was surrounded by many influences growing up, with architects as parents, two older creative siblings and London as a back drop.
I think I'm always aware of a narrative, however vague, I have often titled a piece before I've started it, and the title is very important to me as part of the work. I like my imagery to have different forces at work and be anachronistic. My work can be quite erotic with strong sexual undertones, in their many guises. I like to create beautiful imagery which is somehow turned on it's head or subverted. Polished exteriors with dark undertones I suppose.
I don't try to adhere to 'my' style, or guide lines etc when I create works, it's very organic and is just what comes out. A personal style is called that because it is personal. My influences have played a strong part in this of course and your influenced by things that relate to you, so it's really quite hard to say what thoughts drive it.
The taut exhibition seems to fit perfectly with your style of exploring the combination of art and fashion, how did go about getting your ideas for your drawings? There's a terrific dark quality to them, almost sadistic in their imagery, is this element integral to the 'Alex Noble' style?
There's a feel to your work that reminds me of Alexander McQueen's seductive rebellious tendencies.
'Seductive rebellious tendencies' - that's great, I'll remember that! The 'Taut' show was perfect for me yes and I did have a realization half way through that it was quite autobiographical in a surreal way. As I've always been pulled between Fashion and Art and it seems a recent thing that you can be both and be taken seriously by both industries, a real sign of the times I think.
The ideas for the work started with the concept of the show and the format I was given as to how the work had to be hung. I had fifteen perspex squares, all at different sizes to use as my mounts. The idea was to create a satirical comic strip about the many sides of Fashion and Art, seeing them as two characters, stealing, raping, lavishing each other. The style was intended to be quite different, a lot more ink and free hand, but I suppose my innate 'style' took over and I was very pleased when it did.
The dark and sadistic quality is integral now, it's the contrast and subversion and surrealism that drives through, but I always want it to be beautiful, even romantic, or my idea of it.
To go back to influences, when you look at the work of HR Geiger, Allen Jones or even Audbery Beardlsley, it's instantly beautiful, but always with a dark narrative running through it.
Which illustrations of yours in particular have you stepped back from and thought "YES, that's just fantastic, I don't want to change it at all"?
I'm quite good at finishing work, or leaving it unfinished is often part of my aesthetic. This doesn't always apply and there are pieces that have driven me completely mad, but then some how grown on me over time? It's strange but I'm not into perfection so sometimes it's good not to love everything about what you've done. It's so subjective anyway!
I don't think I ever think "YES", more like, "ok, cool".
You've exhibited work extensively, most notably at Dalston Superstore where you've helped curate, i particularly loved what i saw from the 'nouveau nude' exhibition. Is the gallery space something that you feel will forever be integral to you?
It such a broad term now isn't it? Any where can be a gallery which is great. I think exhibiting work will always be integral to me, it's so important showing your work to people, and getting it out there is really good for the soul and brings real happiness to your self and other people.
Curating the exhibitions has been a great experience and really is another art form in it's self.
The 'Nouveau Nude show' was definitely a favourite, I bought together artists and photographers from around the world who celebrate the male nude form. The idea behind it was to look at the recent trend in the public domain of the use of the nude male, in fashion and advertising. And how what had seemed to be such a controversial subject had become so trendy and bankable. But it seems the real controversy is actually about size, not just flesh.
Would you say that fashion illustration is a tough world, and your approach to diversity is important in order to survive?
I think it's a tough world in general, especially for creatives. Diversity is important to survive as the more you've got going on the more you'll work, but it does mean that sometimes you have to be three people at the same time, so diversity is tough too.
You've had a fantastic twelve months in terms of career, what have been the highlights so far? Is it fair to assume your collaboration with Lady Gaga, Philip Treacy and Nicola Formichetti for the Brits is close to the top?
Yes of course, that really was such a great experience, I felt so British, being so excited to also see it on the telly! I did a cover illustration for Wound magazine too that I was really proud of. It seemed all encompassing again like the Taut show. An image of the Prada Transformer building, an insane structure that rotates onto different sides for different events. It was architecture, fashion and illustration wrapped up in one.
Your creations for Gaga have gained you some major exposure, it's fair to say the red bandage dress in Bad Romance and the lace Brits number are already cemented in music history! Would you ever illustrate her? I can SO imagine an Alex Noble illustrated Lagy Gaga cd cover. You should pitch the idea, or if not, i will.
Of course I would, I really want to move into doing more art work for artists as well as clothes, actually a full mixed media composition. Creating the outfit, photography and then the post production art work. Record sleeve art work has been a strong influence too and I've done a small collection for the Batty Bass label, they are all very stylised for the BB brand and it would be nice broaden that way.
Bring it all on really!
Do you ever consider the possibility of developing into fully fledged collections or shows for your clothing creations?
Not right now, I'm really interested in making one off pieces, it's more like art I suppose. And my designs are much more suited to that clientele also, for music videos and stage performances. You need to devote your life to creating collections, especially working to season, and then if you miss one...........
I like the freedom I have right now to work on so many different projects.
Where do you see yourself heading with your work over the coming months? Do you have any planned projects at the moment you can share with us?
Everything is top secret I'm afraid. I am planning a large collection of new works. Large mixed media pieces, developing the masking tape further, using oils and and an even darker subject matter.
And finally, we at Decoy love to fantasize, what would be your dream collaboration / commission? What have you secretly fantasized about?
To be honest everything is going pretty well at the moment and dreams are coming true so.........I fantasize about having a solo show at the Guggenheim in New York or some where like that. Or design the costumes for an amazing sci fi romance, or opera. I'd like to be given a project that utilizes all my skills, like an old stately building to completely decorate and install and throw insanely dressed models off the roof, or something like that?