Detailed Simplicity Will Blood

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Will Blood, a Brighton (United Kingdom) based artist, who has been freelancing since late 2011.  He is known for his work on The Peopel. In this interview Will Blood talks about his artwork and himself as an artist.

How did you get where you are now?
‘’As far as professionally, everything came from being involved in music. I studied music and I was in several bands. I always wanted to keep the imagery in house, so I designed the t-shirts and album covers. After a while I started doing it for other bands too. People started paying me for my art, and I suppose I found designing the merch more fun than making the actual music. Since then I decided to be a fulltime artist. I actually never intended to be an artist in the slightest.’’

You started practicing your artistic skills at some point, how did you develop your interest in drawing?
‘’When I was eleven, I collected all sorts of creatures like bugs, spiders, lizards, and I’d always draw them. I would take pictures of them from inside their tanks and draw what was on the photograph. Nature was something I loved as a kid, and I still do. You know, plant life, and bugs, and animals. However, I did have a huge gap in my life where I wouldn’t draw that much. I didn’t start drawing again until I was in my twenties. When I was a teenager, skateboarding and BMX’ing were my main interests, which is why I didn’t start drawing until I decided to make my band’s merch. The creative process of the band was something I wanted to be involved in. It made more sense to do that yourself than outsourcing it.’’

What does your creative process look like? You see a blank paper, and what happens then?
‘’I might draw the same thing three or four times with pencil, starting out with a really rough sketch. Sometimes it’s nearly right and I put the sketch over a lightbox, trace the bits I like, but then sort of fix it as I go. On occasions, it takes me two or three times before I draw a version that’s ready to get inked.’’

How come you prefer using the stippling method in your drawings?
‘’I guess, it’s quite striking, it’s a nice way of adding depth to drawings. Often when I’m doing it I wonder why I do it, because it takes so long, and it’s quite boring once you start doing it. I guess I’m trying to do it less, as it’s gotten quite popular over the last four years.’’

Why do you use black and white so often, instead of colours?
‘’Ultimately it’s the most striking way to make an image. The contrast between the two colours is the most it can be. I’m not very good with my colour theory, I don’t really know a lot about it. So, it’s kind of a safer bet to do it this way. I’ve been trying to learn more. Over the last years I have put more colour into drawings, especially when I’m doing work for clients. You need that sort of aesthetic, you need it to be more colourful. Colours just look more appealing in oppose to black and white.’’

Let’s talk about The Peopel. What’s their origin story?
‘’Well, I was doing a job for Vans, last year, making custom designs for shoes in their shops. People would come in, asking me to make their shoes special.  I would draw all these Barebones characters, which took really long. Of course, I had to turn around a certain number of shoes per day, but these skeleton characters were making that pretty hard. That got me thinking about something unique that could be easily replicated, and that triggered The Peopel. The shoes turned into real Will Blood pieces, distinguishable from other artists. My Peopel could act as the main object in an image, but I could also squeeze them into the background. I could make everything something recognizable.’’

What exactly are The Peopel?
‘’The idea behind them is: the simplicity of their design is representative of them being humanity without all the little things that make us more complicated. I think of them as being almost child-like. You know, still in awe with the world. The Peopel don’t have all the attributes that make a person bad.’’

The Peopel appeared in a series of yours about extinct and endangered animals, could you tell me something about it?
‘’That series is about our lost connection with extinct animals. You can see The Peopel bursting out of the animals in the illustration. I like to grow them into something to do with natures, with earth.’’

What do personal projects like these mean to you?
‘’Well, my main problem is that I really lack focus sometimes. Obviously, a certain amount of my work has to make money. I need it to survive and support my family. However, I want to constantly create stuff for myself as well. Sometimes I get a bit lost and I get carried away by these projects. I often don’t have enough time to see my personal projects through. I’m definitely guilty of sorts, biting out more than I can chew. With regards to that project, the ultimate goal is to do a series that would be cohesive next to each other in an exhibition to raise awareness of declining animal populations.’’

Speaking of personal projects, what inspired you to do the Lyrics Series?
‘’The inspiration of the first one was the Nick Cave song Babe, you Turn Me On. I’ve been a big fan of Nick Cave for years, and that image just popped up in my head one day. Someone looking slightly pissed off in an abyss only going up to their knees. That idea really appealed to me, and the rest of the image came later when I was sketching. The second one is inspired by a Monty Python song that I heard in a shop. It made me laugh, and reminded me of the first time I heard it when I was a kid. The image of one my characters sitting on a log, being slightly mad appeared in my imagination, and the rest came later.’’

Let’s move on to the Book of Bare Bones, how did that start?
‘’I think the first one was due in 2012 or 13 for an exhibition in Brighton. That drawing was about Finn and Jake from Adventure Time, which was really popular at the time. The poses they were in triggered my imagination. The exhibition was popular, so I carried on. I came to the point where I had about 50, and I decided it would be fun to make a book. That was actually my first Kickstarter project. It did quite well, so I continued turning characters into skeletons.’’

Do the pop-culture characters in the book mean something to you?
‘’Some I’m a fan of, and some not so much. I had never really heard of some of these characters until someone told me about them. As a kid, I grew up with some of the older cartoon characters like Ren and Stimpy. Those mean a lot more to me than others.’’

How about the future, what is a passion project for the future?
‘’I would like to complete the Lyric series, make about 25 and put it all together in an exhibition. I guess the same goes for the extinct animals series. Making more mural work in public spaces would be cool as well. If I could establish a clothing brand featuring The Peopel, I definitely would. There’s loads of things I still want to do.’’

What do you still want to achieve by the end of 2017?
‘’Last year my Instagram account got deleted, and I’d like to get it back to the way it was. I guess in an age in which social media is so important it’d be nice to grow my audience. I had about seven and a half thousand follows and now I have about two thousand. If I could even get it halfway to the way it was that’d be great. Wrapping up a fourth Book of Bare Bones is on my list as well. I want to plan exhibitions for the year to come concerning my personal projects too.’’

If you want to see more of Will Blood’s art you can go to willblood.com or check out his Instagram account. You can find the Bare Bones characters right here. Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you will check out On-Art in the future again.

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