Illustrator Richard Hogg‘s first solo show opens today at East London’s Concrete Hermit Gallery. Richard sent us a selection of images that will appear in the exhibition and took time out from hanging the show to tell us a bit about it…
Creative Review: We first met you when you were working at Airside. When did you set up under your own steam, what prompted the move and how’s it all going?
Richard Hogg: Its going realy well thanks. I set up on my own just over two years ago. There was a few reasons why. I supose the main thing was that I realised that If I wanted to keep doing this thing that I love for many more years then I have to do it under my own name. Up untill then I had enjoyed being relatively anonymous within Airside but I had a revelation that, if I want to still be doing what I do at the age of 60 then I need to be a bit more self sufficient. Take responsibility for my own reputation. Although, no doubt, Airside will still be going strong by that time too. There was definitely nothing acrimonious about me leaving Airside. In fact it initially felt a bit weird leaving a job that I was very happy in and felt very lucky to have.
CR: Who have you been working for?
RH: At the moment I am working for We Are What We Do, The Design Museum, Mika, Barclays Bank, Grafik and this morning I did an editorial for a magazine called Early Years, i think it is read by childcare professionals.
CR: Where are you based now – tell us about your studio…
RH: My studio is in Hackney. I share it with the artist Roger Kelly, who is my oldest friend. He makes huge paintings so it is like a prober big artists studio. However, it has one very conspicuously cluttered, office-like corner – which is mine.
CR: Now then, this is, I believe, the very first Richard Hogg solo show. Tell us about the work you’re exhibiting.
RH: At the core of the show is a serise of screenprints called Of The Wall. Using bricks as a metaphor for people they tell a simple story about freedom, happiness, rebellion and conformity. As well as this I am showing quite a few other screenprints and some new drawings. It is the first time in about ten years that I have shown ‘original’ drawings, which is quite exciting for me. I have had to re-learn the art of making drawings that I am happy with – without the saftey net of Photoshop! I get properly nervous making them. It’s a good feeling though, reminds me of the days before computers. I think the tension adds somthing to the work too. I will also be showing a sneak preview of a book that myself and Nobrow have been working on.
The above is one of the original drawings Hogg is exhibiting. No computers or printers were used in its creation
CR: Are there any themes or ideas that run through your work?
RH: I remember talking to you about this before and about my love hate relationship with the way that a lot of the work that illustrators and designers like myself make seems to often have a kind of cheerful, celebratory – almost smug feel to it. The “yay” factor. I’m as guilty as anybody at making these kinds of images, and I am glad that they make people happy – but it troubles me slightly and I like the idea of trying to undermine it a bit. There are a lot of images in this show which have that kind of feel to them but perhaps tainted with a bit of pain and unhappiness also.
Also, I feel a bit weird saying this but I have been thinking about politics a lot while making this work too. I don’t like the idea of making overtly political work but there is definitely a social or apolitical element to what this work is about. Like the brick prints. I think the overall theme in them is that the notion of individual freedom is a joke and is the main thing stopping us from achieving freedom as a society. It’s a big issue, perhaps the biggest. But I dont mind too much if people don’t get that.
CR: What about the way you work – do you consider your work as having a particular style?
RH: I dont like to think I have too much of a style. Of course I am the same person so the work is bound to look kind of similar but it isn’t technnique driven. My ambition is for all my work to have a paticular sensibility to it, rather than a style. I like to try and keep my drawing style as plain and simple as possible. But I dont try so hard as to stop myself from enjoying making it and I dont want it to be de-humanized. I happen to like drawing flooby curly shapes so alot of my work is full of that. I don’t beat myself up about it. I like working in different ways, just to keep it interesting. drawing at different scales, using different tools. A bit like what I was saying earlier about these drawings not going near a computer, it is a bit of a change and it has been fun. I love computers too though. Some of the work in this show was made using 3D software!
CR: We also like to know what artists and image makers are listening to and munching on – what’s been on the studio stereo of late – and what are your favourite biscuits / studio snacks?
RH: OK, off the top of my head we have been listening to alot of Pavement recently. Malcom Middleton, Orange Juice, The Melvins, Talking Heads too. We listened to a few Pixies albums last week, and also re-discoverd the amazingness of Vitallic. Me and Rog have been friends since we were teenagers and music has always been a big part of that, making each other tapes and so on. Now we work together that has blossomed, mainly into constant arguments! Lately we have been snacking on Kellogs Start and mini Dime bars (although they spell Dime differently now don’t they?). Anna brought a bag of them back from Manchester.
Richard Hogg Of The Wall runs until 29 August at Concrete Hermit Gallery, London E1
See more of Hogg’s work at his website, h099.com