By Jason Thibault
Pure badassery. That’s all that came to mind the instant I saw the art of Godmachine. Like all of my favourite artists from the 60’s to the 90’s rolled into one. His illustrations have a “don’t give a damn attitude” and they look like they’ll bite if you get too close. His art decorates skate decks, posters, album covers, stickers, prints and most notably t-shirts. I’m hooked.
What inspired you to first start drawing? Did you struggle in your formative years or did it come easy to you?
I remember drawing a picture of Mickey Mouse when I was a kid and showing it to my best friend ‘bumpy’ – I remember he thought it was the best thing he had ever seen. I then remember doing a sketch of Jimi Hendrix and my family being a bit shocked that it was so good. I always drew- I was not really encouraged to do so as a kid so it was always there but not as an option to pursue- I was always told I had to build things or fix things- art was never accepted as a career choice. It has only been since I have had the support of my soon to be wife that it has developed into something that can sustain me.
First professional work (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it.
first professional piece was a clip art style piece for a shop in the UK. I remember making a slide show and borrowing someone’s laptop to show the owners of the company my dreadful artwork. They liked it- they bought it and sold it. I cringe at the thought of it- but was a great way to start. I can’t even remember what it was- some emo mess I think ahahahha.
Were you self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc…)
I am self taught. I remember being told a few things throughout my life and you kind of just pick things up from different places as you go along. I have a few mentors that help me with work now- more so now and I am trying harder to get most of what I lost as I was labouring on worksites. I think being able to look is the most important thing about art. I often ask people if they can draw, without looking, all the lines on the palm of their hand on a piece of paper now. or what the bottom of my jeans look like as the fold onto my shoes. I can- because I spent so much time looking at those things. I see a lot of youngsters copying ideas off people these days but not really knowing why, or what. they add light sources to places where there are none and detail where you don’t need it and wonder what they are doing wrong. they need training. It tickles me that they get confused as to why their pieces aren’t working. Jimi Hendrix used to say that he was copied so much that people even copied his mistakes. Same thing happens in art. And while the artist is correcting his mistakes and progressing- the blind followers are consistently making the same mistake over and over again and getting nowhere. are we off subject now? Maybe.
Tools of the trade: Taking a quick glance over at your pens, brushes etc…what tools have you mainly been using over the last few years?
A Wacom tablet and nothing else. I used to use paper and pen and scan it in and colour in photoshop. Now it’s all Wacom- from sketch to finish. It’s a shame really- I wish I had the time and the space to use the 8 blank canvases I have under my desk. As for Wacoms- you will never, never ever get the response you will get from using a pen on paper. Technology will never replace that feel or the look.
How has your toolbox evolved compared to when you first started out?
As above. Started out using pencil on paper, then paints and now a wacom. I dont like art snobs- people who masturbate over tools ‘oh you simply must use Bristol board’. No. That stuff is an option, Macs are an option, all tools are an option. I have a friend who paints with house paint and make up using his fingers. His work is better than those who buy the best materials. It is nice to use the best you can- but people forget that it won’t help your skills, and without your skills you may as well wipe mud on a wall.
Favorite brand of ink:
Black fine liners you get from the post office or a biro. Biros are better because they are everywhere and mostly free.
Type of paper:
White photocopy paper- you can get 1000’s of sheets for only a couple of quid and it is as good as anything.
Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration? Who are the masters of ink?
I get my inspiration from a lot of places. But I return to most artists to get, not inspiration, but that feeling of awe. Chet Zar.
Once a client has handed off an illustration job to you, how do you first tackle the job. Could you give us a quick overview of your process?
I make coffee- turn the computer off and panic whilst nervously avoiding the issue. Then I see something in a magazine or the Mrs tells me what I should do and an idea comes to me. Then I will sketch it out on Photoshop- and more recently paper- then make a start. Sketching in Photoshop- new layer- more defined- new layer etc etc.
What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?
I am still listening to Goblin Cock, Big Business, Blade Runner soundtrack and that’s about it really. Recently had my computer fixed and lost all my music- gutted.
What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?
I was lucky enough to befriend Brian Morris recently and he sent me some awesome pieces- they are these beautiful screen prints of skulls and birds and more skulls. the guy is amazing.
What’s the last novel you read and last movie that you saw that you’d recommend? Which movies and books do you always return to?
Dean Koontz is great. I recommend you reading his stuff. I was brought up (didn’t start reading really until 18/19) on modern classics, On the Road, One Flew Over the Cuckoos’ Nest, Bukowski, Kafka, etc etc, and never really read many modern writers in the ways of horror/thriller fiction. Until Dean Koontz.
As for recent films I saw The Mist recently by the same guys who made Shawshank and Green Mile. Very underrated movie. I recommend you go see it- its the movie equivalent of say a Neurosis track or some other great doom song- mind blowing. I also saw No Country For Old Men, I am still mulling over that one- can’t tell if its the best film in the world or a bit meh…. For that reason alone you know you should watch it huh? hahahah.
Current and upcoming projects?
I want to do an art show in my home town soon. I was never really liked as I was ‘the guy that did skulls ‘n ‘ shit’. But since it has become acceptable and I have some names on my portfolio- people are taking notice and being pretty cool. So wouldn’t mind organising a coming home gig with a few other UK artists that I have had the pleasure of knowing.
What would you tell an aspiring artist who is working his ass off but still needs and wants to break through to the next level?
Nothing you can do apart from that- contact everyone- do some work for free- but not all- do big names for free- people like fame- it makes them take notice sadly. But if you are working your ass off and showing your stuff- it’s only a matter of time till you get your break. In the meantime- create your own buzz/scene. The small music producer in his bedroom can do it- so can the kid with a copy of Photoshop.
You also need to be self critical. I remember thinking ‘yes this design is awesome’ then getting no buyers. It took me a while to learn self evaluations- learning to emotionally distance yourself from the work. I get lots of emails from kids who want to know how I sell designs and they are not selling any and when you see their work it’s not that good and it’s hard to try to explain to them that it’s not amazing and that they should practice a bit more. They spend 3 days on a piece- flood it with detail and feel like they have achieved something when in actual fact they have missed the point. I don’t know, it’s hard and I wish I could help without hurting anyone’s feelings.
For more on Godmachine you can go to his site, his blog and his MySpace page.