Artist of the Month: Sean Wars

Our new Artist of the Month wouldn’t even describe himself as an artist, but don’t let that fool you. WARNING: This feature contains cussing…

If you can be sure about a few things in this world, it’s that Sean Wars loves wrestlers, skulls and blood. Oh, and crucifixes, really bold colours, graffiti, robots and lightening bolts. The illustrator and musician is also one for telling it like it is, and we’re a little nervous about interviewing him. Ironically he’s the one that’s nervous, implying that he might get drunk beforehand. Thankfully this doesn’t happen, and we have a very civilised coffee in FACT café instead to talk about what he’s up to.

Sean Wars declares on the info section on his site: “I’m Sean Wars, I like drawing, colouring in, and making various kinds of racket with my mates.” It’s apparent that music and art for him are interlinked; with most of his commissions coming through gigs, musicians, and magazines related to noise and music. All of his illustration work is loud, using in your face primary colours, thick black outlining, aggressive cartoons for grownups. “Its just drawing cartoons without the patience of doing a comic! I fucked about with computers too much … I lost a lot of my drawing skills, which is good. I prefer the way I draw now to how I ever have, I’ve figured out what I’m doing.”

His style very much comes from doing gig posters. “You need gig posters to be bright and basic, and to be able to read them from across a room. I’m too impatient to make it too intense and detailed. I just need to draw it!”

Inspired by other illustrators like Johnny Ryan and Jack Teagle, childhood influences rule. “I still love wrestling. Tacky nonsense is brilliant, I just watched it all the time as a kid and didn’t stop, didn’t get embarrassed. I liked all the wrestlers, except Stone Cold Steve Austin. It’s essentially the same as watching Eastenders, only occasionally you see someone break an arm.’

As with many artists, despite his confident portfolio of work, Sean actually failed A Level Art. “Art was the only thing I enjoyed. I hated everything else.” Jumping from college to college after school, having no idea what to do, he “somehow ended up doing engineering because I used to fix the hoover and shit.”

“Tacky nonsense is brilliant”

Sean ended up getting a ‘day’ job building control panels to fund his freelance work – “like building big meccano” – and finishing his City and Guilds now through night school. “Its my last bit of paperwork so if I ever lose my job, I’ll actually have some qualifications. But the job only exists to fund the nonsense I actually care about.”

And that nonsense is art and music. “I drew from a tiny age but then got a bass guitar at 14. I don’t really play anything well! I’ll have a go of anything. I’ve got a dream of buying a set of bagpipes. I cack-handedly play stuff. I don’t like practising, much like in my drawing, I like things to be of the moment.”

We wonder, but expecting him to laugh at us: does he use Microsoft Paint at all in his work? “ I do use Microsoft Paint! People have tried to get me onto Illustrator. It fucking ruins all the lines. Doesn’t look like a drawing. Microsoft Paint is just the simplest one there is. I don’t need anything more. The best thing is the Windows 7 version; you can zoom in and out. I used to scan drawings in at 600 dpi and I’d colour it in just by scrolling round. I’d save it, then open it up in another programme that’d shrink it down, so I could see the gaps I’d missed out!” But doesn’t that actually end up making it harder to use in the end?! “It’s about getting the most you can out of basic bullshit.”

Sean (though he says otherwise) is a talented musician, and his love of music extends to making his own instruments. “I’ve built pedals and contact mics, and for DIY Music Day me and my mate built a plank of wood guitar that played itself. It sounded alright.” An incomplete list of instruments he has played currently stands at guitar, panpipes, accordion, thumb-piano, toy keyboards, voice changer microphones, playing pedals as pedals, and feedback loops.

The amount of bands he has been in include some incredible names; Monobrow, Trouble With Books, Avian Flu, Friend Request (our personal favourite), and Bastard Power Swimming Orchestra, as well as being connected to other bands well regarded in the Liverpool scene like Mugstar and Ex-Easter Island head.

Trouble With Books is at odds somewhat from the noise bands he plays in; with Sean using feedback loops, Paul Hirons on double bass and partner Angie Walker on acoustic guitar (the latter two also part of psych band The Left Hand], the sounds they produce are incredibly layered, mature and, well, beautiful. “[Playing music with Angie] that’s about as romantic as I get. She’s useful to have around, as long as being in loads of stupid bands is concerned. I’ve met everyone I’m friends with through gigs.”

What does he think of the rest of Liverpool musicians and bands? “People seem up to doing anything here. I definitely know now that any stupid idea I have I would be able to gather loads of people up to get involved! I don’t know many people who just do one band. Everyone’s a multi-faceted person.”

And that’s at the heart of Sean. For all his bluster, being abrasive and saying that he hates everything, he’s very clever, sensitive and essentially a believer in people and projects. Future projects he’s involved in that you should check out  include a Trouble With Books album, coming out soon on Lancashire & Somerset, an exhibition of brand new artwork at Wolstenholme Creative Space, and new sticker packs. Yes please.

Using Chrome and can’t see Sean’s bespoke homepage banner animated as it should be? Download free app here

Seans plays in Crucifix at The Pilgrim Sat 31 March 

Exhibition at WCS alongside live music from Divorce, ChildAbuse, and StigNoise, Thursday 5 April

Buy Sean’s work in our Shop and also at WCS Record Fair Saturday 21 April

Posted on 28/03/2012 by thedoublenegative