Alex G Griffiths is an illustrator and designer based out of London. He’s a self-described daydreamer and a glance at his work lends credit to it. Alex’s work is very approachable. There’s an innocence about it, yet, comes with a deeper sense of meaning when you explore his pieces as a whole. I fell in love with his work the moment I saw it. It’s filled with lovable animals, especially a crafty little fox, nature and this warm feeling of isolation. Oh, did we mention he likes monkeys?
We had a conversation with Alex to learn more about his work and understand the genesis of his ideas.
Hello Alex, wonderful having you for chat with us. Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi there! I grew up in a small town just outside London, England. I currently work full-time as a graphic designer in Central London, and spending as much of my spare time as possible working on my drawings.
When did you start drawing and how did you first start?
I’ve been drawing in one form or another from a young age, but I started properly when I went to university in 2005. I went abroad to study in Hong Kong and started to keep a sketchbook regularly, which I found a really good way of dealing with being in a new and different environment as well as a good form of escapism.
Your work contains a lot of elements of wildlife and nature. Could you tell us little more about how that came to be?
I’m not much of a city person. I much prefer to be in the countryside surrounded by nature, so that always has a big effect on my work, although I’m starting to bring a lot more architectural elements into my drawings.
You have a book in the works, ‘The Middle of Nowhere’. Is it only illustrations, or will it be accompanied by a story? Would it be a children’s book or one that transcends the ages?
Yeah, it’ basically an illustrated narrative. I really like the idea of telling stories with pictures and leaving a lot to the imagination of the audience. This is my first attempt at a book, so not sure how it will be received.
I wouldn’t say it’s a children’s book exactly. It’s mainly for people that like illustration and that happen to like my work as well!
When does your book come out and how can one buy it?
It will come out as soon as I finish it which is hopefully in the next couple of months. I’m planning to sell it through my website at first, but hoping to get it stocked in some stores too. I post a lot of updates on my Facebook page so keep checking back!
“I’M NOT MUCH OF A CITY PERSON. I MUCH PREFER TO BE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE SURROUNDED BY NATURE, SO THAT ALWAYS HAS A BIG EFFECT ON MY WORK, ALTHOUGH I’M STARTING TO BRING A LOT MORE ARCHITECTURAL ELEMENTS INTO MY DRAWINGS.”
Apart from your book, there are other series’ you’re working on. Could you shed a little more light on them?
I’m pretty focused on this book right now, but I usually can’t help my mind from wandering to other things. I mentioned earlier that I’m bringing more architectural elements in, and have started to sketch a few ideas based on creating complex towns and cities set in the past with lot’s of strange things going on that you’d have to look closely to see. Almost like a cross between Escher and ‘Where’s Wally?’! I’d like to do a complete series of drawings based on this idea.
Pen and paper; they seem to be your preference for most of your work. What drew you to them and how have they shaped your work? Do you use any other tools?
It’s all about pen and paper for me, and I don’t tend to branch out too much. It’s just want I enjoy, I guess, and find that it suits my way of working. I’m also very interested in traditional techniques, before digital was an option. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate digital illustration. There’s loads of stunning work out there. It’s just not very me.
I also think pen and paper is a great starting point for any illustrator or designer, its the best way to develop ideas and experiment.
“I GUESS MY WORK IS MAINLY ABOUT VULNERABILITY AND INNOCENCE, THAT CHILDLIKE CURIOSITY THAT YOU MENTIONED. A LOT OF MY WORK IS ABOUT BEING LOST, WHICH IS HOW I FEEL MUCH OF THE TIME.”
The themes you explore have a very childlike curiousity to them. What runs through the mind of Alex Griffiths while working on these pieces?
Yeah. I guess my work is mainly about vulnerability and innocence, that childlike curiosity that you mentioned. A lot of my work is about being lost, which is how I feel much of the time. To be honest I don’t know exactly what runs through my mind sometimes, it just sort of happens. I might have a random thought or I’ll hear a piece of music that’ll get me going in a certain direction, and I’ll just start sketching out ideas which eventually become a finished illustration (hopefully!).
Starting out your career, were you influenced or inspired by any artists in particular?
Not so much at first, I just wanted to draw to get my thoughts onto paper. But as I started developing a style, I started to see lot’s of different artists that inspired me; Quentin Blake and E.H. Shepard are two that come to mind.
Where do you usually get your work done? What’s you workspace like? Care to share some pictures?
I always have my sketchbooks with me, so the process can start pretty much anywhere! We don’t have much space in our current flat in north London, so my wife has very kindly let me take over half of our living room so that I have somewhere to work. I have 2 desks pushed together, a lightbox, a scanner, a shelf of books and hundreds of pens!
You’re a Boards of Canada fan (as evident from your series titled ‘Wildlife Analysis’). What are you listening to these days?
Yeah, I’m a big fan of that genre of music, it’s really inspiring to me. There are lot’s of small record labels that I really like that put out some really nice electronic music, such as Hapna and Opal Tapes. Right now I’m listening to an artist called 1991.
If you could sit down for a drink at the bar with any 3 personalities, dead or alive, who would it be?
That’s tricky one… Actually it would probably be Boards Of Canada, which covers 2 people. I’d love to find out more about them; they’re quite reclusive. And also get them drunk enough to agree to let me design their next album cover! And the third person would have to be a famous artist like Picasso. Hopefully he could give me some good advice!
A lot of artists using Cupick have been quite drawn to your work. Any words of advice to our community?
I think I’d say to put your ideas first and let style come naturally. Don’t try to force something, do what you enjoy. And also, try to draw something everyday!
Visit Alex G Griffiths on Cupick to check out more of his work.