interview: ed cheverton

︎Interview, Painting, Illustration, Sculpture  
︎ Ventral Is Golden

Artist, illustrator, toy maker and generally playful human being, Ed Cheverton, speaks of his love of jazz and his energised visions of a colourful, cartoon cosmos.

How long have you been doing what you have been doing, and how would you classify it exactly?
I’ve been making pictures and art for as long as I can remember, but I guess I started pursuing it as a career after I left school seven years ago and did a degree in Illustration at the University of Brighton. I feel very privileged in that I’ve always known what I wanted to do (make art) and so I have been working towards it all my life. Even though I studied Illustration and still work a lot as an Illustrator, I tend to classify myself as an artist and maker.

Where are you from? Has your education and background effected your artistic output at all?
I grew up in Bath and then after studying in Brighton I moved back west to Bristol where I’ve lived for the past four years. Bath was a very insulated environment for an artist, there wasn’t much of a creative community there. But I discovered sites like DeviantArt and Flickr, which although I have very much moved away from now, at the time they were revelations. My teachers at school were really good also, but looking back, the curriculum they had to teach was really bad. It was always very heavily dependent on creating work “inspired” by other artists, rather than focussing on ideas. College and University were therefore incredible experiences for me. Moving to Brighton and being surrounded by dozens of other like minded people gave me a constant rush of motivation and drive. We just had the freedom to really explore what we wanted to create.

“Play is essential to my process. Like I said earlier, making art is one of the funnest things I can imagine, and that is mainly due to how much play can be introduced into art making.”

What are you trying to articulate through your art?
It’s kind of always evolving over time. Towards the end of my degree I realised that making art was the funnest thing I could imagine. I was having the best time just creating, and so I decided I wanted this to show in what I made. I’ve definitely had this in mind ever since then and I do tend to think the work I make is more successful the more I enjoyed making it. I also feel very strongly that you should make work about what you are passionate about.
This seems a bit obvious, but when you’re making work that's themed around something that is very important for you, it has far more conviction than if you’re trying to latch onto what is popular at the moment.

Of course this is a lot more applicable for me when I’m making work for myself rather than producing Illustrations for clients, but I then find so much of my own work informs the client work. For the past twelve years or so I’ve had a very strong interest in Jazz music and so I made a lot of work about that, and I was largely inspired by jazz as a student. More recently, I realised what intrigued me the most was the really free, improvised and expressive aspects of the music itself, rather than the style or visual representation of it. This has kind of evolved into me being more interested in making work about these abstracted ideas, and in a very roundabout way led me into becoming obsessed with wonders of space exploration. This is all very self indulgent of course, but I try to keep a level of joy and fun apparent in what I make because I’d love for others to feel as excited about this stuff as I do.

How important an aspect is 'play' in your process and output?
Play is essential to my process. Like I said earlier, making art is one of the funnest things I can imagine, and that is mainly due to how much play can be introduced into art making. It can be very easy to slip into a routine or a method of working that’s comfortable and reliable (something I’m very guilty of at times). Having as much play with a project as possible can usually produce outcomes you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

What kind of artists have influenced, inspired or directed your ideas?
So many of my friends from University inspired me and continue to do so. The cartoonist Nick Edwards who introduced me to the comics of Seth and Chester Brown made me want to draw again (after giving up in favour of collage). Wai Wai Pang, who has such a unique and beautiful visual voice (she also has a fantastic comic out now by Peow) and I had so much joy from making work with her recently. Chris Harnan creates some of the most gorgeous drawings and collages I’ve ever seen as well.
After Uni I met some wonderful artists here in Bristol, such as Jayde Perkin, who makes heart wrenching comics and beautiful paintings. Also David McMillan who draws wonderful character observations. There’s too many to name but my friends have always and will continue to always inspire me.

Has any current, topical trends caught your eye recently? Anything from a film, something in the Media, or anything that deserves particular attention or scepticism from us?
Me and my partner watch loads and loads of films. Something we watched earlier this year (it’s actually a few years old now) which we both adored was the Swedish film We are the Best. It’s about three teenage girls in the 1980s ostracised for their love of punk music. In a slight tonal shift, we also went to see the new Guy Ritchie, King Arthur film a few weeks back. I kind of enjoyed it in a guilty pleasure way, but in all seriousness the soundtrack is worth a listen.