I remember finding Gareth Brookes’ work on my first visit to a Bristol Zine Fair when I had just moved here to start Uni. I’m not sure if I was struck first by Gareth’s fascinating drawings moving fluidly from lino print to embroidery, or by the macabre storyline of his graphic novel The Black Project.
Tell us about your background, how did you get into illustration and start making graphic novels?
I studied Fine Art and spent most of my twenties putting on exhibitions and trying to get gallery representation. I started doing a stick man comic called man man as a bit of fun and the response was really positive so I carried on. Slowly the comics nudged out the exhibitions and I started getting more ambitious, using fine art and craft approaches such as linocut, mono print and embroidery in my work.
What was the best piece of advice you were given and who was it by?
Gašper Rus who used to edit Stripburger told me “do less better”, by which he meant don’t take on too many projects and do them all badly when you can do one or two things really well.
Can you tell us about any projects you’re working on at the moment?
I’m a bit secretive about my projects until they’re well established, but suffice to say my new work involves crayons and hallucination.
What is your work desk like?
What is your favourite piece of equipment for your work.
I like my Pfeil lino cutting tools.
Tell us about your favourite art space where you live.
I’m coming to really appreciate the National Gallery at the moment, you can wander in for half an hour or even ten minutes and always find something you’ve never seen before.
Have you been to any good exhibitions or events recently?
I recently went to the excellent Bristol Comics and Zine Fair, which happens every year around October. Bristol has a really good self-publishing and illustration scene and BCZF represents that very well.
How do you avoid artists block?
You just have to go and do something else for a while. Go for a walk or work on something else or just daydream. Sometimes you have to be idle, which isn’t the same as being lazy. Being idle is a creative form of laziness.
Some young artists find it difficult to talk about their work. Have you ever had a similar experience – do you have any advice?
It can be a bit of a nightmare talking about your work. Sometimes it can feel like there’s too much talk and you’re over thinking everything. But sometimes you can hear things coming out of your mouth that you never knew about your own work. The trick is not to be afraid of looking stupid, this can be difficult when you’re younger, especially when you’re around older artists that seem very clever. Take it from me, they’re not that clever, they’ve just had a lot of practice at appearing to be clever.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice about the art world what would it be?
I’d tell myself to stop worrying and just work hard, and not to expect to make much money.
Tell us about your relationship with social media – is it good, bad or ugly?
I use Twitter and Tumblr but it’s taken me a long time to feel comfortable using them. Social networking is positive as long as it’s not taking up too much time and too much brain-room. Social networking is far, far less important than having a real life network of people to talk to and do projects with. One hour of meeting people at a zine fair is worth 100 hours on twitter.
Thanks Gareth for the interview, it now seems inappropriate to finish the interview by linking to your twitter, but I’m going to do it anyway and try to compensate by going out and talking to someone about art today too: @brookes_gareth