Spotlight: Preston Paperboy

— 26 Feb 2018 by Lauren Furey

Artist photo 02

March is here and we're bringing out the big guns. Boxpark Croydon has played host to a mesmerising selection of eye-opening exhibitions, and, this month, we're placing our walls in the capable hands of Preston Paperboy. Expect colour, chaos and culture as we delve into the mind of one of the country's greatest modern artists.


Tell us who you are and what you do.

I'm Preston Paperboy, I am a neo-expressionist painter from Essex, UK.  My surname is Preston, so most people call me Preston; its an adoptive name. I am the co-founder of Paperboy Worldwide, hence the second half of my artist 'stage name'. I have painted and drawn ever since I can remember, but it's only since the back end of 2016 that I have taken it further than just a hobby.

What can people expect from your exhibition at Boxpark Croydon?

Expect something different; it's a window of opportunity for the viewer to step inside my head. The most important part of my work is to evoke thought, I hope people can draw on different aspects and elements of my work that sticks with them. Each person I have shown my work to picks something completely different as a statement, and hearing a viewers' response is the most enjoyable part of creating these pieces. I believe art should be 4-dimensional, and the key puzzle piece for every piece of art I make is the mind of the viewer.

You've previously referred to the 'chaos' in your work. What does that mean to you?

Chaos is a friendly word. We all have our own forms of chaos in our lives, it's how you contain it that's important. I am pretty OCD about certain things, I live a pretty regimented life until I am behind the brush. Art is my way of letting loose and containing chaos within the canvas.

Who were some of your inspirations when you were starting out?

There are so many. My top 3 would be Basquiat, Cy Twombly & Kaws. Audacity and branding are key things that inspire me and those three have it all. I dream of leaving a legacy even half as great as those.

You've said that your work is inspired by street culture and current affairs; have recent global events given you a lot of fuel for thought?

The world is f*cked. With the fast paced evolution of technology and devolution of humanity, it's hard not to be inspired. I personally think a lot of artists try to keep up with it, it's so hard these days, particularly with the time it takes to create a piece; by the time you're finished it's old news. I am moving away from that chase. The world needs more positive vibes, and I'm going to give it to them.

What does 2018 have in store for you?

2018 is going to be wild. I have a lot of inspirations from current world affairs, but I will not be voicing my opinion quite as 'head on' as I have previously. I am currently working on a series entitled 'Pipe Dreams', and it will retain my style but twist my compositions with something that, I hope, will make the viewer smile. It will be focused on large works and consistent media, sizes etc - that's my OCD kicking in. Everything up until this point has been experimentation, so 2018 will bring me out my shell, 100%. 

Finally, what was the last song you listened to?

Blocboy - Look Alive. But the last song I listened to whilst painting was probably Lionel Richie or Stevie Wonder. And now you know how it goes down in the studio.


Preston paperboy's trademark smiler which has made his art iconic, is depicted with dollar signs for eyes, a sad smile and a tear. The smiler represents the fundamental misdirection of modern society against what really matters.

"I always see my inner child in the smiler, too focused on financial gain rather than legacy. It reminds me to continue to chase my dreams, to leave my legacy... My dreams are simple - based on 3 success pillars" 


You can follow Preston Paperboy online on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.