Artist of the Month: Will Daw

Meet Will Daw, one-time Ninja warrior, and our latest Artist of the Month…

The thing about doing this job is that, necessarily, you are thrown in the way of arts practitioners. Getting to shows, mingling with the artists, and occasionally interviewing some of them is what it’s all about. This is the stuff that sustains you. Not simply in providing the meat and potatoes of content, but it reminds you why you got into this game in the first place.

Without wanting to make him blush, this is how we felt following our interview with latest Artist of the Month, Will Daw. His enthusiasm for his work and the stuff that inspires it is infectious. It probably helps that we are close in age, and shared child-hood obsessions with gaming books and the Star Wars and Alien movies, but still. It’s not every day you leave an interview feeling more productive than when you arrived.

For Will, it all started with the usual things young boys obsess about. “All my school books, no matter the subject, were filled with monsters and ninjas. When I was about 7, I spent the summer dressed as a ninja!” And following the ninja phase? “I’ve been a big film fan since I was tiny. Thinking about how films are made as early as 10, reading magazines my mum didn’t like in off licences! These days it’s still film, and music … I’m a big fan of comics.”

This enthusiasm is apparent in his output over the last couple of years, despite an early setback. From a village in South Wales called Clydach, Will came to Liverpool following a bad first experience with university in Swansea. “I did a year there, but the course and town wasn’t for me.” Looking for more hustle and bustle, Will decided it was time for a change. “I moved to Liverpool because of the [previous] experience of studying with little in the way of opportunity.” Initially taking a job, a few years later he decided he was ready to move back into education, enrolling on the Graphic Design & Illustration BA at Liverpool John Moores.

“All my school books were filled with monsters and ninjas. When I was about 7, I spent the summer dressed as a ninja!”

This time, the experience was more satisfying and productive. It didn’t hurt either that LJMU’s reputation in graphic design and illustration is richly deserved, or that Daw’s year was of a particularly high calibre. Midway through his final year and looking for something to do on graduation, he successfully answered a call-out from Mercy who were looking at creating an internship scheme with a difference; one that would repay the hours of time and skill with something to show for it.

The result was Young Pines, a gifted group of creatives working across different disciplines. A measure of their success was outliving the internship. First, with the exhibition No Vacancy, and then, an ongoing commission to produce illustrations for the football and lifestyle zine, Spiel. Their individual progress has been such that you wonder if they will continue to evolve as a group. “That’s going to be difficult, but I’d like to just because the quality of the people on the project was so high. I’d personally like to collaborate one at a time with any of those guys.”

Other work often seemed tied to his continued interest in film. As part of an on-going project started by Sam Meech and Re-dock, he lent his talents to the brilliant A Small Cinema, producing a series of posters to advertise and accompany screenings of short films. He also undertook a commission from VW and FACT to live draw at a special screening of the film Beginners, with the drawings being filmed and projected as he worked.

But as mentioned earlier, comics have always been on the list of fascinations, informing, and often featuring in his practice. “I’m making a comic about HR Geiger working on Alien. I’m basing it in part on his diaries which I had as a kid, then recently rediscovered at my parents.” It’s a beguiling idea; especially when he goes on to explain that Geiger was put up in rural England (over a pub) to produce his drawings. “He gained a stone eating stodgy pub food. I like to think of him taking walks in the countryside.” With his nightmarish alien never far from his thoughts, one supposes.

Behind the committed fan-boy is a serious and ambitious professional (not that you’d guess from his twitter profile). He complains that he’s currently working out of a space at home. “I have a good set up, but I’m looking to find a studio space in the near future. I need a routine.” And having just gone self-employed, he’s always on the look-out for work. Don’t expect to see his name attached to any old thing, mind. “Commercially I’d like to get the chance to work at the kind of stuff I already do. The main thing is to be able to make work that I enjoy making and like looking at.”

You can see more of Will’s awesome artwork here

Posted on 02/07/2012 by thedoublenegative