I can’t remember the first time I came across Gallons of Ink. About a year ago and no doubt during one of my frenzied random searches for new Barnsley artists on facebook. When I found it, I loved it from the off. The loose style and surreality reminded me a little of Vic Reeves‘ art. I also found myself picking up my well-thumbed copy of Webster’s Pictorial Dictionary again, once I’d seen Gallons’ work.
I’m a lover of all types of art, but I have a sepcial interest in artists’ sketchbooks… sometimes more so than the finished article. I really like it when an artist allows you inside and shows you how they take an idea and run with it. Luckily, Gallons of Ink has it all, drawings, sketch books and even a unique collection of merchandise.
I really wanted to share Gallons of Ink with you all, so I hope you lot enjoy the work as much as I do.
Have a gander of this interview I did with Gallons Of Ink…
Have you always drawn? When I was a little kid, I used to love drawing Thundercats and maps. What did you love to draw when you were little?
Yes, always. As a kid I was the same. I’d practice drawing cartoon characters until I got them exactly right. I drew Disney characters a lot and also Snoopy and Pokemon characters. When I was 11, I got a book about still-life drawing as a gift, so moved on to drawing more realistically. I practiced with the usual flower still-life set ups, or fruit for a while, but got bored of that quickly, so instead started to draw animals from books or magazines that I had
Was drawing something you saw family do – parents, siblings?
A lot of my family are creative in some way. My Sister studied Photography, and both of my parents can draw but it wasn’t something they did often. My Aunty is a painter, so it was always inspiring when we went to visit her and I’d see her studio and these amazing paintings she’d done!
Did you take the art route at school, college and uni? What qualifications did you chose?
At school I took Art as a GCSE subject, and was secretly gutted that I didn’t get an ‘A’ in it. I went on to study Graphic Design at college, and then Interdisciplinary Art and Design at Uni where I studied a bit of everything; fine art, printmaking, Graphics and 3D design. I specialized in Graphics and Printmaking in my final year and achieved a 2.1 degree in Art and Design
When did you make the transition fom simply sketching to placing your images on merchandise? And how have your ideas for products developed over time?
I went through a phase of getting bored of pen and paper, and getting stuck in a rut, ideas wise for projects. I found it helpful if I tried something different, even if it was just drawing on to found materials like envelopes or patterned paper, just to mix things up a bit and maybe kick start an idea. I also started printing drawings on to fabric, which led to me making cushions as gifts for people.
I also like the idea of ‘useful art’. I love art prints, and have dozens, but I think its great that you can print on to a tote bag and people will love it enough that they want to carry your work around! With the homewares I produce, I’d seen other crafters on Etsy and at fairs selling decorated teapots and teacups and I really wanted to try it, and I basically found out through Google the different ways of doing it
Is everything you produce one-offs or do you sell multiples too?
Pretty much everything I sell is a multiple item. The homewares are sort of one-offs as I hand draw the design on to the item, there’s no stickers or transfers involved. I take my time with each one so that the design is faithful to the one that the customer has seen online. They will vary very slightly but that just makes them extra special! In the future I’m hoping to sell original drawings which will be definite one-offs, but I don’t want to part with them just yet.
Do you find that specific kinds of images or product types sell better than others?
My Tea-Pun range are definitely my best sellers. Tea Bag Tidys were all I seemed to be making last year! And for a good 6 months to a year, a tote Bag featuring two Rabbits singing R Kelly’s song Ignition was unbelievably popular. Its weird what people connect with
I love your tea set products and the tea-related word play you have with them. Teawok and R2 T2 are favourites. How far do you reckon you can take those jokes?
Thanks! Lots of people seem to like the Tea Sets and they get a lot of positive comments at craft fairs. Hopefully they have some mileage left; I think the Star Wars ones will always be popular as it has such a huge fan-base. I have a soft spot for the Dinosaur designs and the Mana-tea, so I hope other people continue to love those ones too
You have a very distinct drawing style. Which artists/illustrators have influenced that?
Quentin Blake was one of the first illustrators I was aware of as a kid, and I’ve always loved his drawings. I also love Ralph Steadman‘s work, who’s most famous for his ‘Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas’ illustrations. They both have a really scratchy, sketchy style. I like that their work doesn’t look too polished or clean, you can tell its done by hand. At Uni, I was introduced to the work of Leonora Carrington, who was an amazing surrealist painter. She was a fascinating woman, and I’ve definitely been inspired a lot by her work; just to draw whatever comes to mind, however strange it might be. I think you get the most original and creative ideas that way
I find sketch books fascinating. They are often a real insight into an artists mind and method of working. I like some of my favourite artists sketchbooks just as much as their actual finished works such as Jean Michel Basquiat, Frida Khalo and Adrian Tomine. You have recently started showing pages from your sketchbooks on your Facebook page, how did this come about and do you have further plans for them?
Me too! I love seeing the beginning of an idea, and the development stage, and also one off sketches and notes by the artist. Tumblr is a great place for noseying at peoples sketchbooks! I can spend ages on there. I suppose it’s big headed in a way, but I thought if I love looking at other peoples sketchbooks, then maybe people would like looking at mine too?
From December 2013 to December 2014, I did one sketch a day which I posted online. I was wary of doing it because I knew some of them would be terrible! In the end I was glad I did it; not only to see how the sketchbook developed but on a personal note it was good to be reminded of tiny moments I’d drawn about, and would otherwise have probably forgotten. I would love to produce some kind of picture book one day, maybe not a published sketchbook; it’s something I’ve been thinking of for a while. Or maybe a series of self-published zines on different subjects; at some point I will do that. I have lots of notes scattered around sketchbooks, about what they could be about!
Do you have any particular favourites out of the drawing or products you have produced?
Product wise, the Bron-tea-saurus design is my favourite. The Tea-Rex seems to get more attention but I think that just makes me love the Bron-tea-saurus even more!
With my drawings it tends to be daft little sketches that I like the best, like a tiny water colour I did of a Kiwi Bird eating a bag of Wotsits. One of my favourite ‘proper’ illustrations that I’ve done is of a bear with a cage full of rabbits for a stomach. I drew that as part of a series I did inspired by song lyrics. That one was inspired by ‘My Body is a Cage‘ by Arcade Fire
Do you sell your work in any shops or at any fairs? How does that work for you?
I sell at fairs at least a couple of times a year. I’d love to do it more often They can be really fun and it’s good to meet other crafters and see their work and how they display and package items. Thinking back to my first ever fair, my display skills were terrible! I don’t have stock in any shops at the moment but it’s something I want to do
Do you illustrate and design full time? If not, do you have plans to try and roll out Gallons of Ink out as a career in the future? Or do you have any other future plans?
I work part time as a Sales Advisor in a clothing store, but I’d love to be a full time illustrator in the future but still do the homewares on the side maybe. Illustration has always been something I wanted to do since I found out you could draw pictures for a living!
Are there any local artists, designers, craftmakers that you are a fan of or admire?
Brian Wildsmith is an illustrator who I admire, his work is beautiful! And my friend Emily makes gorgeous ornaments under the name ‘Charming Creatures‘. I have a lovely 3D likeness of my dog Edward from her but she also makes and paints very detailed Bird figures as well as other animals. There’s a few not-as-local artists from Leeds I’m a big fan of too, an illustrator called Becci Maryanne who I’ve done a few fairs with, and Nicola Hanrahan too. Also a craft maker called Sarah Fordham who does embroidery pieces, her work is really witty as well as being bright and beautiful too.
If you would like to find out more about Chloe McGann and Gallons of Ink, visit the following links: