Featured Artist – Phil Wheeler

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What is your earliest memory of creating art? (or drawing as a child)
I remember drawing big, sprawling battle scenes with aeroplanes and spaceships and castle sieges. Little boy stuff but very intricate with lots of detail and drama.

What type of environment do you prefer to work in? At home or in a studio? Listening to music?
Having recently moved into a new studio after years of working at home, I have to say I prefer it. Working at home has its advantages but now, with children around, I feel the need for more space. And the need to re-set the work/home life boundary which was getting very blurred. It helps to have a bit of distance from work.
I like to work listening to music – and I find internet radio is good because you don’t have to interrupt your work to decide what to play next.

What type of transition needs to be made between creating art for yourself and creating art that is commissioned?
For me, the paradox is that the creative freedom I crave whilst working on commissioned jobs can be overwhelming when I finally have it. Although I view my own projects as an opportunity to develop and experiment, I still need to set myself briefs and deadlines in order to produce work.

What type of artwork do you have hanging in your home?
I have mainly prints and posters hanging at home. These include some great Charley Harper posters, a big reproduction of the famous Beggarstaffs poster for Don Quixote at the Lyceum, some Polish film posters from the 70s and a couple of prints by Kustaa Saksi. This represents just the start of my collection.

Who was the first illustrator that you noticed and admired?
I think an indelible mark was left early on by the artwork in Monty Python. Although not strictly speaking an illustrator, Terry Gilliam’s bizarre, surreal animations made a real impression. Absurd and sometimes sinister, but to me unforgettable.

Is there any one publication that you still have aspirations to see yourself in?
For a long time I fancied seeing my work in Wallpaper the super-stylish design, architecture and lifestyle magazine. Now I’m not so sure if what I do is suitable but it would still be nice….

What are your goals for your future as an illustrator?
Apart from attracting ever bigger and better job commissions, I’d like to achieve more variety in my work. By this I mean variety of applications and variety of scale. I like the idea of seeing my work in many different places and sizes – giant murals, tiny packaging, printed on fabric and etched on metal…
I also have the ambition to produce and sell prints and T-shirts and do some motion work.

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