Art, music and colour mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. While talking to Wes, it quickly became clear that he isn’t a casual illustrator. As an artist, the inspiration that drives his work as an artist comes from anything that speaks to him through colour or music. He found inspiration on our fall winter collection for the designs above. Learn more about Wes in the following interview.
You describe yourself as a 'pantone enthusiast.’ Why would you say colour is so important to you?
Colour to me has to be right, and by that I mean when I look at something beautiful in nature it just looks right, it looks perfect, I'm always trying to find the right colour to compliment the one that's come before and keep building and building the colours until the palette creates the mood or a feeling that I'm trying to convey. I see the colours all as characters in a story, all interacting with each other and creating something interesting, balanced and compelling.
And you continue: ‘I like drawing, vintage clothes and old books.’ How and when would you say this passion started? Have you always dedicated your time to these hobbies?
As a child my dad would bring home pads of paper and marker pens from his job as a graphic designer, and I'd do pretty much what I do now and just sit and draw people from my imagination all day long. As a teenager I got into hip-hop and dance music, this was the early 90s and all my friends were sneaker mad, pestering our parents for basketball boots etc. the clothes interest started to come through then, next it was skate culture through the rest of the 90s and 00s, then at some point in the last 15 years I really got into collecting vintage American clothes, from work wear to Ivy League and that's where I am now drawing from my love of clothes from all those periods of my life and combining them to create new looks.
The book collecting has mainly centred around buying art books, every time I leave the house I always come back with a new book for my collection, typically they'll be about an artist or art movement that I'm currently into, lots of books and magazines on fashion and clothes too, which help make for good reference images when I'm coming up with drawings.
When drawing, what inspires you to start an illustration?
What inspires me with drawing is getting a strong palette of colours together and complimenting someone's skin tone and colouring, and then seeing how I can break that down through a character's clothing and the background colours, trying to balance all those factors and looking to create something that really sings with balance and harmony. I don't want it to go crazy with colour but I want to avoid it looking dull, it's got to be exciting and considered. I find if I concentrate on that then the image normally comes together quite well. At the forefront though it's got to say something about that character.
Have you ever thought of starting your own line in fashion? If so, what could we expect to see?
Personally for me I quite like tried and tested classics but using colour in an interesting way, ideally an outfit should show history and the future, something like a tweed overcoat with modern sneakers is an obvious example.
I love well crafted clothes with a culture behind them, that could be Shetland jumpers from Scotland or it could be Madras cotton from India, or good quality footwear from Northamptonshire in England. I'd like to do a collection of clothes that relies on that history of production we have as a global community, combine different elements together that have yet to mix, infuse it all with the colours and patterns I love, and show all my influences together in one statement.
Let us know you a bit better! Name one of each: favorite colour; artist; musician; book; designer.
Favourite colour has to be bright mid-tone Kelly Green but I can't live without the basics Oyster Grey, and deep Navy blue.
Artist is between a few, but at a push it has to be Hockney he can manifest what I wish I could so I always study his work and see what it can teach me about my own work, his colour, his use of space, different textures and mark making, but Van Gogh speaks to me very directly too, it's difficult to choose. I feel like with Van Gogh I learn more about life, but Hockney teaches me about the image.
Musician has to be Aphex Twin I've been into him for nearly 30 years now, an almost mythical artist who is exploring sound to its fullest and playing his own game, I also have to mention Panda Bear from Animal Collective who creates these wonderful sonic spaces. Oh and the jazz greats, who are to me Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Bill Evans.
Book is probably "Colorist" by Shigenobu Kobayashi, he was a Japanese professor specialising in colour and psychology, he spent his whole life creating a system of colour based on mood and feeling, and that book goes along way to make you really think about what you can communicate with colour.
Favourite designer is Le Corbusier, mainly because of his systematic approach to proportion and colour utilising things like the golden ratio, his paintings were really interesting too, he had something of the artist and the mathematician to him. One of my biggest book buys was a really old copy of The Modular which he wrote and goes to explain all his theories, which was probably the most I'd ever spent on one book, but I couldn't leave the shop without it. Its a piece of history.
You noted on one of your pieces that you have synaesthesia. What was it like to discover this? How is it to live with it?
I've had it since I could remember I'd sit in bed with headphones on as a kid and this world of shape and colour would enter my mind's eye as the music played, its almost like a galaxy of bright colours and swirling objects. When I was in bands I'd remember the songs as images, everything is all very visual to me, I think I always reference every sensation as a visual image. When I came off my long board recently and tore the ligaments in my arm I could sense the pain as bright red and orange flashes down my arm. I suppose it just how my brain interprets the world, to me its very useful in how it helps me to understand.
Which comes before, music or colour?
They're so intermixed in my life I can't separate them, but the best way to explain it is I need to draw everyday, I need to create visually. I suppose the difference is I have to create pictures, it's in me to do that. But I have to listen to music, I don't feel the drive to create music so much, but it's an obsession to listen to it.
To finish of, in a few words how would you describe your ‘vibe’ ?
I'm pretty laid back but also my brain is going constantly with ideas so I'm happiest to be in a relaxed atmosphere and creating, on my own or with a small group. If things get too complicated or I don't feel like I can sort out a problem I get pretty stressed, but as I've got older I've managed to keep perspective on things. So my vibe really is that of the explorer or the inquistor, I like to understand how things work and then build them back up to communicate what I need to. When it comes to a personal style or clothes I love clothes I can live in, I like the changing of the season and getting out big wool coats, I'd be happy living in the wilderness, being close to nature, but I also like the excitement of the city, with lots of different people from expensive menswear to street style. I guess that is my two sides the romantic outdoors and modern fast-paced life.
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