Contemporary art is, in most cases, defined as art that has been and continues to be created during our lifetime. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, if this was the case, how can we explain that no other artistic definition, no other artistic category of -isms is as confusing, and at the same time straightforward as Contemporary Art? The term demands respect from the beginning and its first word, contemporary, it almost seems to suggest that you must know what it is without having to ask. God forbid you did, because maybe then you will not be considered as someone who’s in touch with what is going on. Well, FARID is not afraid to ask, what is Contemporary Art and how can we define it today?
In a series of virtual Q&As – we speak to creatives who define their own meaning of Contemporary Art.
We kick off with Julian Gower: a graphic designer and illustrator born and raised in, the epicentre of artistic liberality, Brighton. A 20-year old who channels his day-to-day life into beautiful and thought-provoking illustrations.
When did you start having an interest in graphic design and illustrations?
I started having an interest pretty much as soon as I could grip a pen or pencil I guess, my dad Neil is a professional Illustrator, or as he refers to himself ‘Graphic Artist’, so I’ve been bought up around it. I’ve always been influenced by his work, and growing up around it has definitely made me want to go into a similar profession.
If you remember, what was your first design/illustration?
I can’t remember my first exact illustration or drawing, but I do still have two (rather crude) drawings, one of Woody, and one of Buzz, knocking about at my Mum’s house somewhere. They must’ve been from pretty early on. I’ve realised now that I’m influenced a lot by what’s around me and what I do and clearly it was the same when I was a kid, considering I loved toy story and still do (who doesn’t?!).
What advise would you give your past self when it comes to graphic design/life?
The advice that I’d give to the past me is a difficult one. I guess it would be to relax a bit more, and not make everything look so perfect. For a long period, I was obsessed with everything looking exactly how it was ‘supposed’ to look and be on point… I’m a bit of a perfectionist really. However, now I’ve realised it doesn’t have to look spot on every time, and that’s relaxed my style a bit and taken it in a new direction. I think the way that I work is constantly changing, and I like that because I get a bit bored of working in the same way for long periods of time. So my advice for that developing stage of my life would be, don’t make an image for the outcome, make it for the process… bit cheesy I know.
How would you describe your designs/illustrations?
I’m not really sure how I would describe my work, that’s a really difficult question to ask for me, especially as I feel my work is in quite a large transitional period. At the moment, I feel my work isn’t being quite what I want it to be. However, I guess the current themes through all of my work that has never changed, are always fairly bold, colourful, and almost always block colour. I don’t tend to work in tone that much, but I know it’s something that I will explore in the future.
WHERE DO YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FROM, WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR DESIGNS?
Inspiration comes from anything really. My dad’s work has always inspired me, especially when I lived at home and saw what he was doing on a day-to-day basis. But I also take it from everything around me, the two places I spend most time are Bristol and around Brighton, so they’re both pretty visual places with lots of things to take in. Also, I find a real quick way of getting inspiration is from books or social media, I often find myself turning to either of these tools when I’m in a bit of a rut and need a quick inspiration boost as they’re both such readily available materials.
Do you see graphic design as an art form and why?
I’m currently studying illustration but my work has always been very graphic so I would put my work somewhere between the two subjects of graphic design and illustration. But I class both subjects as an art form, of course. I think someone would be slightly mad not to. They’re both extremely visual subjects, both with endless possibilities of what you can do; and there is always exciting new methods and pieces of work being developed.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
In the next 5 years… well, I have two years left of my degree, so I’ll finish that. Hopefully, within that time my client base would have grown a bit more and more, then when I graduate the plan is to go live somewhere far away for around a year or two, maybe work a bit and also try to make a living off illustration. I’m not too fussed about actually having a steady income or progressing to the next part of my life until my late twenties, early thirties. I’d rather go enjoy myself across the world whilst I still can, and if I can make money from illustration whilst I do that, then I’ll be more than happy.
If you want to see more of Julian’s work head over to his Instagram!