Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Graham Carter's East meets West

By Millie Findlay

While jotta member Graham Carter has been one of the most sought after illustrators in the UK over the last ten years, as one of the founding members of Peepshow Collective, he’s now celebrated for his prolific repertoire of silkscreen prints, which explore childhood fantasy, the animal kingdom and now, a collision of eastern and western culture.

Deer Boy, Quiet Carriage, Ever Red, Seeking Samurai (Click any image to enlarge it)

Graham rediscovered his love of silkscreen printing in 2005 and hasn’t stopped since with a string of successful solo shows across the South East, and exhibiting in galleries throughout the UK. His unique printmaking style has made him one of the most collected printmakers in the UK over last 5 years, with characters and exquisite colour pallets which transport the viewer into a land of robots, giant bears, origami creatures and of course, yeti’s.

What were your main inspirations for the work you have made for your upcoming show?

I’m kind of caught between two phases at the moment. On the one hand I am into retro American culture and design, and on the other, a more Oriental inspired approach.

My desire to visit China/Japan is evident in my work, although it’s more of a fantastical version rather than a true study of their culture. So the show in general is a meld of the two cultures. Like a travel diary

How do you approach your personal work as opposed to your commercial projects?

The excitement factor is at a zero generally when I ‘m working on commercial briefs so I tend to go about things on a robotic level. In some cases I just automatically produce what I think the client wants rather than ‘how I would do it’ - because I know from past experience that they will say, ‘hmmm. We like it, but can it be more like this....?’ So I just cut that stage out to save time.

There is a completely different feeling when I’m producing my own work and I become absorbed in it and quite excited about reaching the end result. I speedily try to get through commissions to give myself time to work on my own ideas, which usually begin life on the page of a sketchbook, scribbled or in a coffee shop while watching the world go by.

How did you come to focus back on your own work, rather than company briefs?

I wanted to give the Brighton Art Fair a go because it looked like a fun thing to do and thought it would be interesting to see how my ‘other’ work went down as it had largely been unseen. Luckily the response was overwhelming so I’ve just carried on from there. Until that point I didn’t realise the print business was such a big thing, so it proved to be great business shift as well as a personal one.

How did you rediscover your love for screenprinting?

Ah it’s always been there and I’ve always kept my hand in even when working for Habitat etc. Wherever I’ve lived I’ve always investigated the local open access print workshops. I’ve tried alternative working methods but always came back to silkscreen. I’ve only scratched the surface really when you consider just how many screen printing methods and surfaces there are to play with, so I should be doing it for a while longer. Investing in my own printing studio was the next natural step for me so I’m lucky enough to be able to immerse myself in it - as long as my back holds itself together!

How did you come to the yeti as a recurrent character?

It’s only really featured in 2 or 3 recent prints but it seems to be a favourite with people. I just enjoy the idea that the Yeti truly exist and are revelling in the fact that no one can find them, and living quite a happy peaceful existence. I produced around 40 yeti clay sculptures for a show at ink-d gallery brighton so I need to wait a while before I revisit Yeti land.

What are you working on at the moment?

Just finished working on a design for a high-end ladies fashions company. They specialise in using artists to design their tops and it’s basically like working on a huge cross-shaped print. Quite a departure from my usual way of working but quite enjoyable towards the end.

Just about to start on a limited edition screen print as part of a group show for ink-d gallery, based on the kissing policemen by Banksy (I maintain I sketched it out first before he produced it – so now my version can finally see the light of day!).


Check out Graham's work on jotta


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