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Partnership / London Graphic Centre Billboard

Slovakian illustrator Martin Groch’s take on Christmas is trippy and fantastical

Christmas and great image-making aren’t always the most comfortable of bedfellows, as many a ClipArt elf and twee, baubled scene will illustrate. To make something brilliant but also festive, it seems wise to look a little outside the gift-wrapped box, which is exactly what illustrator Martin Groch has done with his brilliant billboard for the London Graphic Centre.

Creating work on such a huge scale led Martin to some fascinating starting points, allowing his work to be informed by Socialist era Easter European murals. "Presenting work and workers as the base stone of society,” Martin explains. “I thought it could be nice to mesh up those ‘socialist’ motives with a contemporary atheistic Anglo-American image of Christmas. I really like some formal aspects of those murals, like playing with proportions of figures – big hands, smaller heads and so on.”

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Martin Groch: London Graphic Centre Billboard Work-In-Process

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Martin Groch: London Graphic Centre Billboard Work-In-Process

The brief for the project was to create an image based on a “fantasy factory” theme, steering away from Christmas conventions and into something altogether more surreal. “It’s hard to say ‘I’m fan of christmas’ or the festive period,” says Martin. “For example meeting up with family could be pretty stressful but this year I’m pretty much into it. And also, as with every Christmas, I will read Moominland Midwinter again.”

Working entirely in vectors on Illustrator, Martin took these Socialist starting points and jumbled them with influences from “Yves Chaland, bit of studio Ghibli and much more.” He adds: “I like to read. So lots of my inspiration is coming from different texts, in the past two years specifically a novel by Mircea Eliade called Pe strada Mantuleasa. I also finally read an essay by Rem Loolhaas, called Junk Space and I love it. In some motives from that book I see parallels with New York-based artists like Ben Schumacher.”

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Martin Groch: London Graphic Centre Billboard Work-In-Process

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Martin Groch: London Graphic Centre Billboard Work-In-Process

So how has creating a huge billboard image impacted the way Martin worked? “I’m trying to be more disciplined, but still constantly developing my drawings and design, and learning,” says Martin. “But I’m not thinking too much about where my work will go. I don’t have a specific aim. Maybe it’s not good approach – everything in my life is just floating somewhere, developing very naturally but at least I’m moving.”

Head down to the London Graphic Centre store in Covent Garden to check out the installation, printed by ABC Imaging.

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Martin Groch: London Graphic Centre Billboard

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Martin Groch: London Graphic Centre Billboard

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Martin Groch: London Graphic Centre Billboard