Artist Of The Month: Spudgun

Ahoy hoy! Our latest Artist Of The Month unveils his Simpsons-inspired artwork for No Homers Club, his successful Secret 7″ submission and demystifies the reason behind his alter-ego. What’s not to like?

What comes to mind when you think of The Simpsons? Millhouse’s glasses, Krusty burgers and DUFF blimps? Blinky the three-eyed fish? Spider-pig or Max Power? In a series so rich with creative ideas and a ridiculously strong visual identity, it’s surprising that there aren’t more exhibitions dedicated to the most popular family TV programme ever made.

Cue No Homers Club: a curated collection of Simpsons-inspired artwork – with a healthy dose of creative licence — submitted from around the world, and opening at Constellations, Liverpool, tomorrow night. Promising pop-up donut stalls and American diners, live screenprinting, tattooing and face-painting (a Marge makeover, anyone?), an in-house pop band and embroiderer (one for the residents of the Springfield Retirement Castle?), it’s an “exxxxcellent” (sorry) homage. But how exactly does an artist do justice to such a popular creation? Where do you start?

One exhibiting designer and our new Artist of the Month, 27-year-old Spudgun, knew exactly what angle to approach the commission. Revealing a sneak-peek of his Simpsons artwork exclusively on TDN — an A1 print of his favourite Springfieldians – he told us the process wasn’t easy.

“We loved the distinct symmetrical style and quiet humour in his work”

“I’ve created portraits in the past, so I thought it was fitting here as there are plenty of characters from The Simpsons to choose from. The idea was to sort of replicate a school photo album, all characters face-on. It was a challenge with some to get a good enough likeness, as they don’t tend to be shown face-on in the show. I had to work with reference images of toys, figures and my own initiative to make each of them easily recognisable.”

Selecting Spudgun for the exhibition was a no-brainer, recalls No Homers Club co-curator Michael Fowler. “We loved the distinct symmetrical style and quiet humour in his work. At first, it all seems pretty minimal, and I suppose at a glance it is; but as you look more closely, his pieces are actually quite intricate. The screenprint he’s made for No Homers Club will have been incredibly difficult to create; he designed 18 different Simpsons characters for it and it’s absolutely massive.”

Graduating from a Graphic Design BA at Leeds College of Art in 2012, Spudgun confesses that he only developed his particular style in mid-2013. Initially creating work purely for his own enjoyment, the Spudgun alter-ego developed as a way of separating two “completely contrasting” design styles, and not wanting to over-complicate his professional portfolio. “We couldn’t be more different”, he admits.

With work reminiscent of Chris Ware and Craig and Karl, it’s fair to say that Spudgun’s oeuvre is fairly playful in tone yet working within strict design parameters. But is he a fan?

“It’s all to please myself. All of that spills into my work”

“I bought Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth a couple of years ago and still haven’t finished it. It’s mind-blowingly beautiful but a complete head-fuck to read. I’ve restarted it three times, as I’ve put it down for too long and simply couldn’t get back into it. I’m aware of Craig and Karl’s work, but I would never look at their work again, because there is that urge to imitate. I’m not saying they haven’t influenced me subconsciously, but my work certainly falls within that ‘category’ of style.”

Describing a technique derived from having “a great appreciation for iconography”, Spudgun loves simplicity, clean lines and symmetry, which transfers into both his design and everyday life. “I’m a perfectionist. I find myself correcting objects if I think it’s slightly out of place. Aligning my shoes, or arranging my desk at the end of the working day as if it’s being photographed for a blog. It’s all to please myself. All of that spills into my work. I want everything to be perfectly aligned, and have equal spacing, down to the pixel.”

Perhaps this perfectionist characteristic is to thank for his inclusion in this year’s highly competitive Secret 7″ exhibition – a critically-acclaimed music and art project, inviting international creatives to design record sleeves for some of the best contemporary musicians – which Spudgun describes as “amazing news”. Spoiler alert: you can get your hands on his secret design on 4 May when all the sleeves go on sale.

Laura Robertson

More from Spudgun at and @emptyspudgun

The No Homers Club exhibition opens tomorrow at Constellations, Liverpool, Friday 17 April 2015, with a special opening party 6pm til late (£8 OTD), and with workshops (Saturday 18 April) and a print fair (Sunday 19 April) (free entry). Exhibition continues until 1 May

This year’s Secret 7″ exhibition continues at Somerset House, London, until 3 May 2015. All 700 sleeves are exhibited and then sold for £50 apiece on Monday 4 May. You don’t know who created the sleeve, or even which song it’s for, until you have parted with your cash — the secret lies within. All proceeds go to charity

Posted on 16/04/2015 by thedoublenegative