Artist Interview: Mr Mead

Mr Mead is a fine artist and illustrator working in pen and ink, often on a large scale with incredible attention to detail. Mead’s artwork is driven by his fixation and childhood terror of anthropomorphism. Working from the eminent Jamaica Street Studios in Stokes Croft, Bristol, Mead creates artwork for folk tales, album covers and poster designs alongside producing his large-scale works.

Could you firstly tell us, who is ‘Mr Mead’? 

A guy who draws all my work for me, he is very shy and therefore likes to hide behind a silly moniker. One of these days though he will be coaxed out of the shadows…..

You describe your art as ‘bio-mechanical anthropomorphism’.  Could you please explain this?

I saw a Paul Mcartney and the wings album when I was really young and it had a weird inlay of a monkey being mutilated with a weird machine on his head. For some reason I remembered the aesthetic of this and I have been drawing characters with machines on/in their heads ever since… In a nutshell it is animal people with things merged in with their regular bodies I guess…

Mr Mead - A Giants Gloom

Mr Mead - A Giants Gloom

Where do the characters in your art stem from and how do they ‘become’?  Is it pre-planned in any way, or completely natural?

The characters mainly stem from my intense fear of animals suits that I decided a few years back to overcome. Now, whenever I see something new on that theme it sparks something/makes me cry and then I start scribbling…

And could you tell us a little about your process…

I have a lot of ideas, and am normally very impatient to really develop them small scale so normally I do a terrible scribble of an idea with a lot of writing around it and then get bored of that and draw big (as it feels so good) making it up as I go along…. Usually the end result only bares a resemblance in concept to the scribble…. After that it is normally a lot of cross-hatching and blending and my mind tends to shut down at that point, then when it wakes up again the picture is done…!

Did you study Art? 

Unfortunately yes, I studied animation. It is a very interesting subject that has the power to suck out your soul like the Dark Crystal. I escaped that land with my soul relatively intact and went to find greener pastures (my own work!) I learnt a lot though, so I can’t complain…

Tell us about Jamacia Street Studios?

It’s a smelly, mouse ridden creative wonderland. I almost live here in my tiny little windowless cupboard, cross hatching away. There is a lot of diversity in the building and there is always hints and tips around every corner…..

You come from Cornwall originally, what initiated the move to Bristol and where would we be most likely to find you lurking?

Cornwall to me was about as inspiring as watching T.V, so therefore I ran away. Bristol on the other hand seems to be artistically flourishing. Having said that there is not much of a ‘weird scene’, and I like my weird stuff… So soon I may be lurking elsewhere, currently though the rooftops of some abandoned building playing solitaire is where I shalst be…

Mr Mead - Wotsit's First Light - Fine Liner and Ink on Paper - AVAILABLE

Mr Mead - Wotsit's First Light - Fine Liner and Ink on Paper

You have created your own niche market, but which artists would you compare yourself to/draw inspiration from?

Thank you, I didn’t really think I had. My inspiration mainly comes from over the pond, the American art scene (anything in Hi Fructose magazine) really gets me inspired, Kris Kuksi, Sylvia Ji to name a few… Also recently I cannot tear myself away from the French blog ‘A Mon imaginaire’ it is utterly mesmerising…

Locally it is Tim Lane and Tom Bagshaw, both constantly make me inspired/depressed. Also before she moved away Beth Carter has been my number one source of art spark…

'Dark Suits' Playing Cards

The last few years must have been very busy, releasing your own set of playing cards and being involved in various different shows. What can we expect to see from you in the future?.

It has been crazy for the last few years, and at the moment I am taking a small breather as all that work nearly killed me last time… When I am back though I have many new installation ideas brewing and a few giant pieces planned… I am also making new work for a gallery show and the Jamaica street open studios is 5th July, so having said that I was resting, that’s not actually the case…!

For more of Mr Mead’s work, or to see his Dark Suits Playing Cards, please see his Artist Page.

Video of Mr Mead creating Captain James McWolfson