Is Strange really your last name or did you change it from something else? Please tell me your middle name starts with an “R” so you can sign stuff DR Strange.
Yes indeed, Strange is what’s written on my birth certificate but I’m afraid my middle name is Ian. That said, I am related to Dr Strange.
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I grew up on the outskirts of South London in a town called Bromley. I now live in East London.
How did art play into your childhood?
From the minute my brothers and I were old enough to scribble my parents would constantly sit us down in front of a pen and paper and encourage us to get creative. It does confuse me when people ask me when I started drawing because I can honestly say that I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t.
What kind of student were you in school? You seem like the kind of kid that would doodle in class.
I was generally quite quiet overall, kept my head down and my pencil doodling.
On one of your posts you mentioned you were waiting on set, set for what? What sort of jobs have you had over the years, both creative and non-creative?
I think the post you are referring to was an occasion were I was waiting to be used as a hand model which although a touch absurd has been a semi regular thing for me over the last few years. There have been several jobs over the years and I’m still juggling quite a few in a bid to pay the rent. Some of the highlights include - shop assistant, barman, post-production runner, VT op., video researcher, storyboard artist, cathedral steward, film/TV extra and of course illustrator.
What does your family think about what you do? Are there any other creatives in the family?
As already mentioned it was really my family that encouraged me to explore creatively from an early age. It has been a bit of a running joke in the past that when my Mum has questioned whether I should have taken a somewhat more academic path in life that I then turn the blame back to her for all her pushing me to continually draw or make things from such an early age. In terms of my immediate family we’re all pretty creative in our way whether it be either art or music. One of my older brothers also studied art and is now a photographer.
What is your dream job?
Pass, I’m still trying to work out what I want to be when I grow up.
Have you always been good about carrying a sketchbook with you? If not, how did you get into that habit?
Although I have always been an avid doodler, I’ve not always been so great at filling sketchbooks. Maybe it’s a bit of an age thing, not that I am particularly old just yet but it has been a while since art school (which curiously enough because I spent most of my time playing around with experimental film and video was probably the four years when I drew least in my life) and it gets to that point where you have to decide ‘am I just going play at art or am I determined to make some art?’ Also I had a couple of completely unconnected people give me a few packs of the small (Sketch Wallet sized) sketchbooks which had sat on my shelf unused for a bit. I finally got to the stage where I figured I should probably fill those up and having seen the Sketch Wallet online a few times I finally decided to stump up the cash for one as a late Christmas present to myself. Happy to say I now have a growing shelf of used sketch books.
I’ve noticed a lot of your sketches are little details around town. What are some of your favorite places to sketch?
Am not sure I really have favourite places to draw, it’s mostly a case of passing time and trying to stay productive if I find myself somewhere with a few minutes to kill. Of course having my Sketch Wallet to hand comes in very useful here. I am gradually training myself to reach for that rather than my mobile (not always succeeding though).
Where’s the strangest place you’ve sketched?
Not sure if it’s overly strange but I do have a sketch book that I have snuck onto film sets before and doodled extras as they sit around in period costume.
What are your favorite type of illustration jobs to get?
So far the music stuff has been quite good purely because it has given me most freedom to not only play around with an idea but also space to develop new styles of working as well.
How did you get involved in creating album art or gig posters?
Well the very first album cover I did was for a group called Empirical who have been a regular fixture on the London Jazz scene for some time now. I actually play in a band with a guy who was at school with a couple of the group so got the chance to meet them socially a few times. It was during one of these occasions that I struck up a conversation about comic art with Nathaniel the saxophonist. He ended up asking me to do some comic book inspired artwork for their second album but it was then decided somewhere down the line that something more abstract would be better. I tried out a few things but nothing I was really happy to show anyone. It was only when I heard that the label had hired another artist that I decided to throw something together over night, mostly just to save face as I assumed I had lost the job by that point. I was actually very surprised when I got a call back saying that they’d rather go with me. Since then building up a working relationship with both bands and labels has led to some of my favourite portfolio pieces.
If money and time weren’t an issue, what creative project would you do?
Hmmm, that is a tricky one. I think if money and time weren’t an issue I would probably try and pull myself in too many directions as I find it very hard to settle on any one style or technique. I would probably be constantly in training to improve my craft but most likely never finishing anything. I guess the good thing about deadlines and financial needs are that they force you to get things finished and out there.
That said I do have a real passion for film and cinema and with that a short film project that I have been trying to get made in various forms for the past 15 years (wow! has it really been that long?). I should probably get that done if only for my owns sanity’s sake.
What advice would you give a young artist that wants to “level up” their art?
The main one really is practice. It is good to observe others and listen to all the tips and advice you can but I don’t think it really goes in until you’ve sat in front of a piece of paper with pencil in hand and worked it out for yourself. The more you do it the more natural it becomes, you’ll even find stuff that challenged you before slowly transforms into some of your go to techniques in your overall 'artistic arsenal’. Keep doodling and more importantly keep doodling regularly.
Thanks for taking the time to share the nitty gritty details of your life, where can people find you?
The main one is my website which is www.thinkstrange.co.uk but I can also be found www.instagram.com/thinkstrange and at www.facebook.com/thinkstrange.illustration and if you felt like giving my band some love check us out at www.georgeskaplanpresents.com all art and design supplied by yours truly.