Provocative and thought provoking, Paul Blow is an illustrator whose work has a striking graphic style, and trademark wit. His work has appeared internationally in a variety of projects for an extensive and impressive client list. We had a chat with the award winning, dorset-based illustrator to learn about his childhood inspirations, skills for rapping 80’s hip hop tunes (Freeze… Rock!), and how juggling gets him out of a creative block.
1. What’s the first piece of art you can remember making?
It was 1980 and the film Grease was out with John Travolta, all the girls loved him and all the boys wanted to be him. I made a drawing from the cover of the John Travolta annual. I didn’t trace it I just looked and drew. I was so pleased with it I pinned it to my wall next to my bed so that when I woke up it was the first thing I saw. I was 9.
2. Describe your working routine – studio, kitchen table, caffeinated beverage of choice, music, silence?
I work from a studio in an old rope making factory, so the studios are long. When I’m working on ideas – silence and coffee. When I’m working on the final art – BBC 6Music and more coffee.
3. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people.
I can sing/rap all the lyrics to Grandmaster Flash ‘White Lines’ – I have no idea why.
4. What was the last film you saw at the cinema, and what did you think?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – my son and I thought it was fantastic, it almost made me feel like I was 9 again.
5. Which book illustrations have stayed with you from childhood/influenced you?
My family back then weren’t really into reading books. I know! So comics were my main source of inspiration. 2000AD and artists like Kevin O’Neil and Brett Ewins had a massive impact on me.
6. We hear you can juggle! What do you love most about it/does it play a role in your work?
Whoa good research!! Yes juggling helps when I get stuck on ideas and I need to change my thinking processes – it helps clear the mind.
7. What gets your juices flowing as an artist?
The simple words from an art director – “Just do your thing.” I love an open brief where I can challenge myself and maybe my audience.
8. You’ve worked with some very cool clients, from Nobrow to The New York Times, and have an impressive editorial collection in your portfolio. Have you had any favourites?
I enjoy the tight deadlines and the pressure to come up with ideas quickly – well maybe not enjoy but I have a need to do it and thrive on it. So any work from the Newspapers like the New York Times, The Washington Post or the Guardian is where I’m happiest.
9. What areas of your work or personal development are you hoping to explore further?
I worked on an animation for VH1 last year about the guitarist Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath and how he invented Heavy Metal and I’m doing another one for them now on the Miami rap group 2 Live Crew – so I’m developing my sequential design skills and getting great results.
10. How would you like to be remembered?
I personally don’t worry about me as Paul Blow being remembered, but I would like my work to be remembered in some way. So I have a lot of work to do. It’s all about the work.