• Bb12
  • Bb11
  • Bb07
  • Bb08
  • Bb09
  • Bb13
  • Bb06
  • Bb05
  • Bb01
  • Bb02
  • Bb03
  • Bb04
Product Design

Barnaby Barford

Posted by Will Hudson,

London based artist Barnaby Barford has got a certain something that catches the eye, whether it be content of the pieces or the names he gives them. We caught up with him to talk about the wonderful world of ceramic figurines and the transition into stop motion film.

Through the research I did I read somewhere that your work blurs the boundaries between art, craft and design? Is this how you see it and how would you describe your work?

When I first graduated from the Royal College I was working in many different areas, so in a way my whole working practice covered these different areas rather than the actual work crossing these boundaries. However over the last 7 years I have concentrated my efforts on my Art pieces, this is where my passion lies.

I also didn’t realise that you use found mass-produced ceramic figurines and objects that you dismantle and reapply to create new scenes. Is it always like this or do you have to produce your own elements?

The work is all made using found figurines. On some of the recent pieces I have added other objects into the scenes that i have made such as the KFC boxes and food in ‘Family Feast’. I cut the figurines, re-assemble them and am able to change certain forms using milliput. The way of working is more akin to ceramic restoration really. The pieces are then painted with enamel paints. I like using the found objects as they are all made by different hands, they have all had a previous life and I guess originally they had very different intentions for their lives. If I was to make everything from scratch it wouldn’t have the same effect, I think people bring their own preconceptions to these objects when looking at the pieces. They are after all objects that most people would, on principal, dismiss in their original forms. I also enjoy the challenge of making these often somewhat discarded objects relevant and desirable.

Do the pieces you find determine the outcome of the final piece or are you searching for the elements to make up an idea you’ve already got?

I start with an idea for a body of work, something that I would like to explore. My studio is full of figures and I will look through these whilst also looking for other figures that I feel would be suitable. I may want to say specific things and these develop in tandem with finding the correct figures to say this, I guess it is a kind of casting process done for a play or a film.

Would you ever do a mass produced version or is it all about the one off?

For me it is very much about making one-off pieces, I enjoy this way of expressing my ideas and it offers the most freedom and the least constraints. The way I am currently working does not allow me even to make an edition due to the nature of the pieces I find. I am not sure I would gain much more in terms of satisfaction if there were 1000 pieces made as opposed to just 1, the enjoyment and the work is in the conception of the piece.

The names of your work are almost as entertaining as the pieces themselves, such as ‘Stick that on YouTube!’, ‘Salads! I’ll give them fucking salads!’ and ‘Yeah but did you see her tits?!’. These are there to just add humour or is there more to it than that?

They are absolutely vital to the work. It is what brings the viewer into the scene, it clarifies the new context. I hope there is still a certain level of ambiguity left within the piece for the viewer to derive their own thoughts from the pieces. I like to think people might try and think what has happened before and after this moment in time. Primarily, it is essential the pieces work visually, then the title shifts your expectations, takes you off-guard. To a certain extent it is could be a bit of a shock. I find humour is a great way to engage with people but there is always something deeper within the piece. I like the fact they work on different levels, if you want to take it as a joke then that’s fine but if you want to think a little bit more then there is often a darker side to be explored.

So moving onto your first short film, ‘Damaged Goods’, are there any puns left to describe it? So far I’ve heard a lot of ‘A classic boy meets girl tale with shattering consequences’ and one of my favourites, ‘It might be a sad tale but it’s a smashing addition to Barford’s repertoire…’

It cracked me up…..urgh! Actually it was a fantastic process, although I think you forget quite quickly how hard it actually was. I worked with some really great people on the project which made the whole process a real joy. It was a bit strange as I wasn’t ever entirely sure of the next stage involved in the process. It has been really fascinating to have now finished an to now understand what goes into making a film. It was really interesting to see how much movement we got from the figures and to feel somehow that their expressions change at certain points.

How was the transition from creating the sculptures to stop motion animation?

It seemed quite a natural transition, as I mentioned before I have always seen my work as almost scenes from films, they are of course narrative works so it was a case of expanding that narrative and scaling up their world.

At face value there’s more that goes into directing a short film (the lighting, the story, the music), with it being your first short film are you happy with the outcome? Anything that you’d change or didn’t expect?

There was loads that i didn’t expect but nothing I would really change. As I said before I was never sure what was possible in the next stage of the process. Fortunately I was surrounding by true professionals which helped a lot. What was really great was the film ended up exactly how I had conceived it.

Presumably you had to go through a casting to find the lead roles, how many other contenders were there? And where are they now?

I am making a small amount of pieces based on scenes from the film, using the characters from the film for a show at David Gill Galleries in Feb 2010.

What’s next, are there any plans to shoot another film?

I would really like to make another film. I have quite a few ideas for other work at the moment so it’s a case of trying to fit it all in!

See the short film ‘Damaged Goods’ here, www.animateprojects.org

Wh-300

Posted by Will Hudson

Will founded It’s Nice That in 2007 and is now director of the company. Once one of the main contributors to the site he has stepped back from writing as the business has expanded. He is a regular guest on the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Illustration View Archive

  1. Sacmagique-itsnicethat-main

    Sac Magique’s back with a brand new (magic) bag! The Finnish artist has updated his site – which I check almost as regularly as the news – with a bunch of new drawings in a new, sketchier style. As always his work has gotten funnier and more daring and I daresay he’s cracked up the weird levels a few notches. That’s why I love him, much like fellow Helsinki-based illustrator Rami Niemi, he approaches briefs from big brands with a carefree childish wit, unafraid to use cuss words, toilet humour and sarcasm in ample spoonfuls. He’s been making work for bands such as Fat White Family recently, and has been making personal work that rings of the cynical one-line cartoons found in pages of The New Yorker. That one entitled Drunk Online Shopping, and the London scene in particular. Sac, I love you. Let’s elope.

  2. Bernhardaxilko-itsnicethat-main

    Excuse the pun, but I’m a sucker for penis drawings. Birthday cards, desks, walls, Post-Its, other people’s books, car windscreens: to me the world is but a canvas for penile artwork. Judging by his startlingly extensive back catalogue of sexually charged, penis-infused illustrations, it seems Belgrade-based artist Bernharda Xilko is on the same page. His style is in the same camp as people like Patrick Kyle and Paul Paetzel but comes with a side order of terror, penetration and science fiction. For me, I like the depth of his one-panel cartoons, and how you can stare at it for a while like a saucy magic eye painting, and keep finding things you had missed first time around.

  3. Newyorker_01-wilfrid-wood-itsnicethat_list

    Giving us proof if it were needed that humour and style are in no way mutually exclusive, Wilfrid Wood has created a sweet, strange series of his signature plasticine caricatures for The New Yorker. The illustration spots feature throughout the mag’s style issue, aiming to sum up a variety of different New Yorkers “with hats and scarves and various accessories,” Wilfrid helpfully points out. As is typical of Wilfrid’s work, they’re very odd, sometimes ugly, and very brilliant, and rudimentary as they are we’re sure there’ll be a few folk in the Big Apple who see a little bit of themselves in these lumpy visages.

  4. Alisondubois-after-itsnicethat-list

    Alison Dubois is a San Francisco-based illustrator who channels all of the vitamin D from her native temperate climate into her work. Take After, for example, a collection of re-creations of works by great masters, including Henri Matisse, Peter Doig and a handful of Paul Gauguins. Her drawings are rendered in felt tip and dominated by primary colours, and looking at them for too long feels something like consuming a bottle of Sunny D via an IV drip.

  5. Thomas-slater-mosaic-itsnicethat-list

    It’s a good job “Thomas Slater, Illustrator” has such a nice ring to it, as we seem to be spending a lot of time on his website of late. His newest undertaking is for Mosaic, the science-led strand of the Wellcome Trust which is using commissioned illustration and photography to make even the most opaque of articles on their journal absorbing. For a piece entitled Do You Need to Go to Parent School? Thomas has created a series of drawings depicting kids both being encouraged by, and outsmarting, their ambitious parents – putting them on school buses, playing at being doctors from their buggies, or having their brains measured while diligently sipping on juice cartons. It’s the kind of commission which shows editorial illustration at its most challenging, but somehow Thomas manages to convey broad ideas about parenting and education with a simple and bold colour palette, outsmarting us all in the process.

  6. Sygold-itsnicethat-list-new

    Illustrator S.Y. Gold is one of growing number of young illustrators making a virtue of the limitations of digital software. His imagery makes clear its origins – Illustrator line tools and Photoshop’s airbrush can – in its exuberant final results. What’s the purpose of his unusual images? Hard to say but they display the beginnings of some great character design as well as the potential for interesting editorial applications.

  7. Margot-fabre-itsnicethat-list-4

    Friends aren’t really friends until they’ve gotten together with a bundle of felt tips to draw a bunch of pornographic illustrations; which is precisely what makes graphic design student Margot Fabre and her mate Frederik Stender such good ones. The pair have combined their creative skills in the purest of ways, doodling a collection of wildly imaginative and not altogether innocent sketches of a couple – and occasionally an extra character or two – having a really, really nice time. It’s filthy and hilarious and completely unafraid to have a giggle at itself, and we bloody love it.

  8. Emilyflake-itsnicethat-main

    I’m always slightly concerned about the dwindling amount of observational cartoons and “funnies” in the newspapers, but whenever you think the niche, historic skill is waning you come across another gem in a corner of a broadsheet. Places like The New Yorker are still very much championing this craft, and have recently been commissioning New York cartoonist Emily Flake to make dry comments on her city for their magazine.

  9. Ridejournal-katemoross-itsnicethat-list

    At risk of sounding like the formulaic hipsters that we almost certainly are, the Venn diagram of indie magazines and cycling is one in which we’re pleased to revel in the overlap. The Ride Journal is a fabulous celebration of bikes and all who ride on them, and so we were interested to hear that a show featuring some of the best illustration to feature in the past nine issues is about to open in London.

  10. Main

    Matthew Houston or “Doctor Butters” as his web address proclaims, is an young illustrator working in a truly old-school way. The Ohio-based artist designs characters and worlds in a style he’s honed after years of studying drawing, which he took up after sacking in his job a few years back. I love how he’s embraced a fundamental branch of illustration in character design, and has strayed away from trendier styles in his quest to become an illustrator. The creatures and people he creates are a bunch of people seemingly inspired by video games, sci-fi, comic books, The Hobbit and anything to do with castles, folklore and legend. In an interview with Questioning Creatives Matthew says “I would recommend going to art school. It gives you time to focus on art. It gives you an excuse to create every day. Make sure to work on personal projects while in school, don’t just do homework.” Wise words.

  11. Pm-int-main

    Paweł Mildner’s style keeps changing. He jumps between crisp renders, oil pastels, Riso prints, paintings and drawings like there’s no tomorrow, and has a particularly interesting portfolio because of it. He lives in Wrocław, Poland where I can only imagine he spends his days in a well-lit, affordable studio creating zines and books that appear to be for children, but are actually cynical and witty enough to appeal to your discerning comic book-loving adult as well. I sometimes find myself lurking on his Flickr page, not really up to much, just loitering about, dragging his images on to my desktop, hoping one day he’ll notice me.

  12. List1

    Adjectives we’ve used to describe Oscar Bolton Green over the years include: delightful, super-talented, pretty accomplished, punchy, great, wonderful, wicked, vibrant and… different. He is all of these things and more. A consummate illustrator who never ceases to impress us with his experimentation and flair. Witness his latest set of personal still-life drawings. All he’s done is assemble a few bits and pieces from his house and then sketched, but holy hell they look fantastic! When you’ve become accustomed to seeing someone work digitally it’s a pleasure to be reminded they’ve got innate abilities as a draughtsman and can use pencil and paper at will – even better when the results are this good.

  13. Joe-melhuish-int-list

    Idyllic mountainous landscapes are fine and funny domestic settings are good too, but it’s not often we see illustrators tackle the subject of intricately designed custom weaponry. We appreciate Joe Melhuish’s new project all the more for its originality. He first started drawing bizarre pockets knives that look more like the jumbo Super Soakers while researching for a commission for “quite a big pop musician,” and soon became fascinated in the way weapons might grow to become an accessory to one’s identity.