Zine- An Interview With Nathan Evans
By Emma Chaplin on Jul 12, 2016
We catch up with illustrator and muralist Nathan Evans on his super cool work in Leeds and beyond.
Hi Nathan! What have you been up to in the last few weeks?
I’ve been incredibly busy recently and in the world of a freelance illustrator that’s really good news! The projects have been extremely varied, which is great because it keeps things fresh and interesting.
I’ve illustrated some products for an independent cycling clothing brand and I’m creating some album artwork for a band. I’m also currently developing some ideas for a couple of upcoming murals. There’s a number of other projects in the pipeline too, but these still need to be confirmed.
Most importantly, I’ve been painting some hand lettering for my brother’s wedding signs! I used it as an opportunity to produce a short stop-motion video to showcase my creative process.
Aside from the creative side of things, I’ve been doing some interesting interviews recently. The most exciting of which was with JELLY Illustration Agency. Then another to accompany a limited edition sketch pad I designed for art supplies shop Fred Aldous.
Can you tell us a little more about your work with East Street Arts and their Art Hostel?
I’ve had a great relationship with East Street Arts for the past 5 years or so. They’ve really helped with my professional development as a creative. Artistic Directors, Jon Wakeman and Karen Watson have done so much for so many artists and I feel they deserve a huge pat on the back.
As a result of this relationship, East Street Arts approached me to be involved in their crowd funding campaign for their Art Hostel. I created some hand lettering graphic elements and some hand painted props for the campaign video and I even did a spot of acting for the project! The crowd funding video was incredibly well received by the creative community and successfully reached the £5000 goal in no time, which was an amazing achievement for such a great cause. I wrote an article on my website about my involvement in the project.
More recently I completed a hand painted ‘WELCOME’ sign for the floor of the Art Hostel reception area. At the moment I’m currently in talks with East Street Arts about painting a larger mural as part of the building, so I’m pretty excited about that.
And what about the 30ft mural you constructed at the start of the year in Leeds?
That was an absolutely amazing experience and is still my largest and most ambitious project to date. It felt like a real step up in my career and was a great opportunity to showcase what I can achieve on such a large scale, in a high profile location.
I was overwhelmed by all the heart warming conversations and positive feedback I had whilst painting the mural and was pleasantly surprised how much it meant to some of the local people. I even invited my dad down to help with the background for a couple of days, which really meant a lot to us both.
Most importantly of all, the commission has provided me with a great sense of freedom. Choice is a real luxury as a freelancer and I’m currently able to really enjoy that luxury and be selective, devoting my time to projects that really interest me.
I’ve been very busy since the ‘Hello & Welcome To Leeds’ mural and had so many positive experiences as a result of the project. It will always stick in my mind as a time of change in my career and as the first time I appeared on BBC Radio!
Do you prefer larger scale work like the murals or more intricate illustration?
I’ve been pondering this question myself quite a lot over the past couple of years and I think I’m finally realising the answer. The truth is I don’t prefer one over the other. I love the fact that I have these two disciplines which compliment each other and provide an element of variety in my work. I can jump between the two and this keeps each of them exciting.
I’m very fortunate in that if I get a little restless sitting at my desk working on an illustration brief, I can put on my paint splattered overalls and get outside to work on a mural project. Then once I’m tired out from the physical exertion of producing a large scale painting, I can jump right back into the studio and relax exploring illustration ideas again. I think any career is about balance and variety, especially if you have a creative mind that wanders.
I’ve noticed music often influences your work; how does this feed into what you do?
I would go as far to say that music is the beating heart which pumps rhythm through my illustration. When I’m in the studio developing illustration ideas, it’s a ritual for me to be playing Hip-Hop beats as my soundtrack. On occasion I even share a video of me thoroughly enjoying my music in the studio. I sometimes worry about this having a negative effect on my image of professionalism, but I think sometimes everyone gets a bit too serious and forgets that this is a creative industry that should be fun.
I’ve been buying vinyl for a while now too. I really love the format of the artwork and how nice a record and it’s sleeves can be as an object. However, it does sometimes annoy me when I have to break off from inking an illustration to turn the record over!
A dream project for me would be to fully design and illustrate the vinyl record artwork for a recording artist. So if there’s any musicians reading this who like my work and want to collaborate on producing an amazing vinyl, let me know.
Which collectives/artists/designers/illustrator’s work do you admire and want to champion currently?
I have lists of illustrators, designers and artists whose work I love. There are so many that it makes it impossible to cherry pick just a few. Instead, I will share some who I personally know:
My good friend Mark Powell is an amazing biro wielding portrait artist, whose work rate is incredibly inspirational. He produces his beautiful biro portraits on found ephemera and in recent years has received great recognition within the art world. We have talked about collaborative projects in the past and hopefully one day it will actually happen!
My amazing girlfriend Becki Clark, who produces lovely simple watercolour illustration accompanied by her hand painted brush lettering. She focuses mainly on producing prints and bespoke stationary and was recently selected to sell her beautiful creations on Not On The High Street.
Another good friend of mine, film maker Bokehgo, who produced the short film as part of the ‘Hello & Welcome To Leeds’ mural project. His positive attitude towards all things creative and his infectious enthusiasm, make him an unstoppable force and an absolute pleasure to work with. I’m personally really looking forward to seeing where his film work will take him.
I love been able to share ideas with the creative people around me and help one another develop and grow. I think surrounding yourself with fellow creatives will always keep your work moving and developing, which is essentially what I want to achieve for the rest of my life.