— 20 Jun 2017, 21:14
There's some fresh artwork dotted around Boxpark Croydon and it's turning heads. The man behind these thought-provoking, and often humorous pieces, is UK based freelance illustrator, Chromik. We sat him down to find out more about the inspiration behind his current exhibition and some other exciting projects in the pipeline...
Tell us who you are and what you do.
My name’s Stewart Chromik. I’m the Founder and Creative Director of The London Mural Company and I'm also an illustrator.
What was it that originally drew you to the 19th century artistic style that features in some of your work?
I think my personal style of illustration is something that has naturally developed over the years. I didn’t set out to really recreate a 19 century illustrative style, as such, it's a combination of influences from all sorts of things. I'm a big fan of illustrators such as Robert Crumb, Ronald Searle, Jamie Hewlett, Norman Rockwell and Chris Riddell; and, for years, I worked mainly in black and white, focusing on shading through line work; so I imagine a lot of my style stems from that.
Can you talk a bit more about the social and political events that inspired your current exhibition at Boxpark Croydon.
Most of the pieces were my recent personal work, so it’s great to see them in a context other than just another pic on my Instagram feed - so thank you, Boxpark!
It seems that since ‘Brexit’ first reared its head there’s been a lot of uncertainty and frustration about it, more so than usual, and the political climate seems heated more than ever and these bizarre characters keep emerging from it all.
The great thing about illustration is you can create an image that doesn't have to completely signify or encapsulate one thing; it can just be a nod to, or a dig at its subject. We get enough agendas and views poked down our throats so I try and keep my work interesting to look at and open for interpretation.
Talk us through your creative process.
For professional projects, I’m very strict with myself and my time - I normally work in half an hour to one hour bursts with a fifteen minute break or so, and just keep going until its done, send it off for review and then go again...
With my personal work, the process is a lot more laid back. I’ve recently moved over to Ipad Procreate and it’s a complete game changer and great to experiment with. Normally, I find a good podcast to listen to, or put on a documentary and start sketching.
I usually don’t have a plan, I just see what happens. I try to challenge myself though; if it’s through the line work, perspectives, composition, detail, etc. otherwise it just becomes a tedious process. There’s got to be some satisfaction from it.
How did it feel when The London Mural Company was approached to provide the extensive backdrop for Rag'n'Bone Man's UK and European tour?
It felt great! I try not to get too excited when projects like that come in, just in case I jinx them and they don't happen for whatever reason, but with this it was great. I’ve known Rag’n’Bone Man for years; I’ve done work for him on previous projects but nothing on that scale. So, yes, very happy, and very grateful that he got me involved.
Can you talk about any upcoming projects that you're working on?
I’ve recently been meeting with another creative agency, Studio 7, who are a subgroup of the amazing Acrylicize, so I’m really looking forward to the projects and artists we can combine together and see what the future holds.
On a personal level, there'll be more work for Rag’n’Bone Man, album art for Rum Committee, artwork for Romesh Ranganathan and his amazing ‘Hip Hop Saved my Life’ Podcast, and after years of people nagging that I should design T shirts, I recently launched ‘all ok apparel’ - where there'll be five designs to choose from.
Finally, what was the last track you listened to?
Travelin’ Light by J.J Cale.
You can catch Chromik's incredible exhibition at Boxpark Croydon until Friday 30 June 2017.