• Alexanderchapman
  • Danielle
  • Jcrosson
  • Johngerrard
  • Katie
  • Tylerbaker
  • Sophie
Illustration

Wilford Barrington

Posted by Alex Moshakis,

Wilford Barrington draws people as we know them, which means he draws them not with one face but with many, eyes all over the place, fluid and alive with movement. We talked to Wilford about who these people are, why he draws them like this, and the place of art on the internet.

Your portraits depict movement, and often contain several faces. Why is this?

We never see the people we come to know in life from a single perspective. Nobody is static. We are strange and formless creatures that are mostly water and are constantly in motion, ever-changing throughout time and space. Just as we think we completely understand someone, they show us something new that we could not have foreseen. This is why I strive to reveal the layers and dimensions of a person in my drawings. By displaying a collection of attitudes within a single portrait I invite the viewer to interpret or uncover truths about the people I draw that may not be so easily summed up in words.

Who are the people you draw? How do you know them, and how does that affect the drawing?

My portraits function as a visual record of a conversation that takes place during the portrait sitting. In this way they are a kind of interview. The more the sitters are willing to invest, the better the portraits turn out. This is why most often the people I invite to sit for me are close friends or acquaintances that I trust and have established a rapport with. Most often appearances are deceiving which is why I am most interested in who a person is and what they do than if they have an interesting nose. That being said, I still find great enjoyment in drawing an interesting nose.

A recent portrait I did of the famous Canadian playwright Brad Fraser is an example of a sitter whom I had not met prior to the portrait sitting. My esteemed colleague Noam Gonick (Filmmaker) suggested that I draw him shortly after I moved to Toronto. I was excited to meet Brad because of his prodigic rise to fame and notorious reputation. The interview yielded strong results and I would like to draw more people like Brad in the future.

I have done commission work in the past where I have not met the person before, had not heard of them and therefore had no idea what I was getting myself into. At the time I badly needed money, which as chief motivation can be the fastest way to make false work. I arrived at this lavish and badly decorated penthouse to draw an ancient retired couple. For the first few hours I felt like jumping off the roof. The experience made me feel as though I was a circus seal balancing a ball on my nose while trying to sell them an automobile at the same time. I must have a rapport and genuine interest in the people who commission me so as to avoid such a ridiculous circumstance in the future.

As long as the sitters are interesting, show up on time and commit to the drawing process I am usually pleased with the outcome.

Who or what are your influences?

I have been influenced by pictorial conventions of the past, more so than by any single artist. At present the Chuck Jones cartoon “The Dover Boys at Pimento University” is a great source of inspiration for me. It was made as a formal experiment in the use of animation smearing. Smearing is used in animations to depict motion that is faster than the frame rate of the picture. If you stop a single smeared frame it often resembles an elongated stretched form. This is the closest two-dimensional artwork has come to successfully depicting the nature of movement through space. Smearing is a much more effective pictorial device for depicting motion than futurism, which merely palimpsets a number of points of motion at once and can look clunky.

What are your views on the place of art on the internet? How important is your web presence?

Most artists feel putting their work on the internet somehow devalues their images or decreases the demand for printed media. I have a feeling that in fact it is the opposite, and that the more people that are able to view the work, the greater the demand. I also look at an artist like Terrance Koh, and understand that a large volume of web content holds surfers attention for longer periods of time thereby making a stronger impression in the viewers memory.

What’s next for you?

I would like to work with magazine publications as an alternative to photographic portraits for interviews and continue to develop my work into new forms of media. I would like to explore animation, installation and sculpture as I earn the means to do so.

Portrait8

Posted by Alex Moshakis

Alex originally joined It’s Nice That as a designer but moved into editorial and oversaw the It’s Nice That magazine from Issue Six (July 2011) to Issue Eight (March 2012) before moving on that summer.

Most Recent: Illustration View Archive

  1. List

    Lawrence Zeegen has never been one to mince his words. The illustrator, writer and dean of design at London College of Communication has recently launched his new book Fifty Years Of Illustration which he co-wrote with Grafik editor Caroline Roberts. It’s an impressively ambitious undertaking with the duo condensing five decades into 1,000 images by 240 illustrators from 30 countries. Lawrence admits it’s a “pretty personal selection” but one that aims to “represent the movers and shakers across each decade according to the work I believe was instrumental in shaping the discipline.”

  2. List

    Growing up in a family of doctors, Swedish illustrator and paper-cut artist Petra Börner secured her first commission (illustrating medical journals) through her surgeon mother, which might go some way to explaining why her work is so reminiscent of botanical diagrams in biology textbooks. Petra’s principle subject is the flora and fauna of the natural world, which she creates using paper cut techniques so intricate and painstakingly-detailed that they scarcely look like they could be real.

  3. List

    Alright, we admit it – Peter Judson has made a lot of work we’ve been really into this year, and he’s had the props on the site to prove it. But why should we be made to contain ourselves when he keeps producing illustration of this calibre? Why, we ask you?

  4. List

    If, like me, you spent many an hour in your teenage years gazing absentmindedly at Larry Carlson’s experimental website Medijate, you’ll no doubt be similarly transfixed by The Landfill from the very talented Santtu Mustonen. Stitching together a “collection of unused sketches, leftover drawings and rejected ideas from forgotten projects” to a mesmerising soundtrack by Tuomas Alatalo, Santtu created a hypnotic animation that’s a work of art in its own right.

  5. List

    As the man who gave form to the twisted genius of Hunter S. Thompson, British illustrator’s Ralph Steadman’s latest project seems like a perfect fit. Ralph has worked with Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan to illustrate some limited-edition Blu-Ray covers for a special boxset of the series due out early next year.

  6. List

    Having just re-read Sammy Harkham’s 2012 anthology of short stories Everything Together I was stupidly excited to find out he’s just got himself on Tumblr and uploaded a small but growing archive of work both old and new. Included in among old covers of Kramers Ergot, book jackets for Kafka anthologies, Bonnie Prince Billy album covers and bits and pieces of rejected work are original drawings from his ongoing graphic novel (and surely future masterpiece) Blood of the Virgin, which he’s also selling to fund further work on the project. I for one cannot wait to see this project massive volume finally realised. Keep at it Sammy!

  7. List

    This top image by New York-based illustrator Karan Singh caught my eye on purely aesthetic grounds; it was only when I delved a little deeper that I discovered the interesting story behind the work. Karan was one of several artists commissioned by Ogilvy New York to work on the IBM US Open Sessions, whereby LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy created a series of tracks based on data gathered at the tennis tournament.

  8. Main2

    I came across the work of Matthias Geisler over on Booooooom the other day and was reminded that we hadn’t posted something like this in a while. Matthias’ work is a swirling blend of spirits and creatures that are created with meticulous use of pencil crayons and water-colours. Is it me or are watercolours real in at the moment? All the cool kids seem to be using them.

  9. List

    If you’re feeling a bit bleary eyed this morning, grab a cup of coffee and take a look at Goncalo Viana’s beautiful illustrations to wake yourself up. Rich with colour and charming detail his work has a wonderful texture to it, as though you could reach out and actually feel the deep pigments he’s used.

  10. List

    Before I write anything about illustrator Nicolas Delort I feel like full disclosure is necessary; between the ages of 11 and 14 I spent all of my pocket money collecting and painting Warhammer models and most of my saturdays hanging out in Games Workshop, which means I’m predisposed to LOVE epic fantasy artwork, like Frank Fazetta, Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo.

  11. Main

    It’s comforting to see the resurgence in the physical aspects of music. There was a moment a few years back when gig posters and witty, well-crafted promotional material seemed to be confined solely to the world wide web, which made every poster that was actually printed on paper something of a novelty. Not any more though: we’re receiving and finding so many illustrators now whose portfolios are chock full of variations on the humble gig poster and they are brilliant. Today we thought we’d champion this theme with Dutch illustration student Douwe Dijkstra. His visual interpretations of bands such as The Growlers and Losers are taking the stylistic qualities of early 1990s gig posters and infusing them with a modern style to make some seriously nick-able printed matter. Keep up the great work, Douwe!

  12. List

    On the morning that David Cameron is giving a press conference on the UK’s future role in Afghanistan, Scott King’s latest book seems even more significant. Anish & Antony Take Afghanistan is a graphic novel that Scott sees as “a critique of the deployment of public art,” which satirises how far we’re prepared to enforce our cultural values on others. Through Scott’s writing and Will Henry’s illustrations, we follow as Anish (Kapoor) and Antony (Gormley) try and bring cultural regeneration to the war-torn country.

  13. List

    The London-based French illustrator Malika Favre has had another big year, adding even more breadth to her already impressive portfolio of work. In the summer she was invited to Tenerife by a Spanish design collective called 28ymedio to take part in its Illustrated Journey project, which aims to “help fight the economic crisis in Spain by promoting the Canary Islands and bringing a new stream of tourism.”