Mr. Mead‘s surreal illustrations examine his personal fears, materializing as looming and haunting forms. These dandified and often masked animal-people provoke viewers with their bizarre gesticulations. Mr. Mead animates the inhabitants of the darkness, often providing these characters with finely trimmed suits.
What are you up to on the day-to-day?
I tend to draw manically mostly during the night. It seems like the day is just a lead up to a lot of loud music and intense cross hatching in the glorious depths of the eve.
The studio I work in is great for productivity, as well. I’ve made it into a small art cave, so mostly it involves me going slightly nuts in there and drawing 24/7. Then, I go home bleary eyed but creatively satisfied (hopefully…).
When you first began drawing, what was your work like?
Well, I started drawing odd things when I was a kid. Recently, I found a drawing of mine that I did when I was five and it seemed to entail a lot of weird animal-people killing each other on a pirate ship… So I would say my work has always leaned towards the strange side of life…
My parents seemed to encourage this strange behaviour, so it went from there, I guess.
What was the last thing that you drew? Can you describe the process?
It was a 6 ft. x 3 ft. fox king with a robe of wires—it was a private commission and a real challenge. I drew this one with posca pens, which are acrylic based pens and that have recently released thin versions. So, I finally was able to make the blacks consistent and get the usual detail I want, which has always been a problem in the past.
The process is to draw it out in pencil, then mask the character, roller the bg for a smooth finish and then draw the detail and lighting for a long long time after that…!
How do you prepare yourself to work?
Usually, I procrastinate for a long time/research/look at all forms of inspirational social media/get sad that everyone else’s work is incredible. Then, I put a good album on and start.
Many of your figures often have distinctive outfits, like Captain James Mcwolfson—where do they come from?
I have been really into strange Victorian clothing simply as an aesthetic for a while. The whole slightly steam punk-esque type of thing is great to me. Recently, my characters have been donning prison stripes and bangles, which come from something deep in my subconscious that I have not figured out yet…!
You mention that your studio has no windows. How do you think that your surroundings manifest into your art? What qualities do you desire for a studio space?
I have been asked this one a lot! My art would be the same if I was living in a sunny treehouse, as much as the space I have at the moment. My studio suits what I do, it does not affect the outcome in the end! Will never be drawing pretty ponies 😉
All I need from a studio are books, a decent music system, and pen and paper, and I am pretty happy!
I’ve gathered that you are quite interested in psychoanalysis—to what extent do the artists that inspire you help you to recognize things about yourself? What are concepts in their work that attract you?
I am; this is true. It’s a strange one, though—I feel that I learn about myself through what comes out on the paper, and once it’s there I can piece together what it means and where it came from!
As for other artists, I see them as ways to push myself to their level. I am my own worst critic (as I guess everyone is), and so I never like anything that I do. For me, to look at other people’s incredible work really lights a fire under me and makes me want to achieve. Sometimes this has an adverse effect, of course, and makes me go to the pub but that’s not most days.
As for concepts, the standard of original and thought provoking ideas that come out these days is shocking, and it always (every morning) makes me bend an idea into a more original concept. I think that if I lived in a cave then that may not happen; outside influence for me is integral to my work.
What do you think the reception of your art is like?
Well I am not dead yet, so that’s good! I am very appreciative of anyone that supports my work and keeps me alive by investing in it. As a full time artist, is not easy to understand my work’s reception—online and real life feedback is utterly invaluable. To me, I see it as an invisible pat on the back. If a piece gets a good response online, it keeps you going. Of course, meeting the same people in the flesh is also very important.
The most touching things I have had over the years are responses from children who have drawn in my style. That has happened a few times now and it’s an extremely rewarding feeling that I could have influenced a child’s artistic path in some way.
I don’t feel my art is for everyone, and that is fine. It seems that the people who follow me are really into it, though. And to me, that’s the most important thing.
What’s on the radar for you?
Soon, I am going to Cape Town, South Africa, for my first art residency, which I am very excited about. I will be painting murals out there, drawing on giant skulls, and making an art installation, so it will be a busy and interesting time for sure!
Then, in the summer, I have another mural residency in Iceland, which is followed by a possible London show and the usual barrage of drawings…!