“My personal work is often just a series of mistakes, losing pens, creasing paper, drawing a hand wrong, that sort of stuff”, explains the illustrator Harry Wyld. With a practice focused on artfully-smudged drawings, Harry’s main intention is to create obscure images that people can find a personal connection to. His illustrations directly reference their hand-drawn medium, traces of ink and graphite are purposely left on the page to create a comforting sense of imperfection. Not all illustration these days is digitally edited to perfection and Harry’s drawings are a testament to the beauty of flaw.
His personal work possesses an “abstract brew of dark humour”, featuring ghoulish characters with dark eyes, shrouded amidst shady imagery such as a skeleton embedded in a black crucifix and bold, gothic typography. These dark depictions are offset with humorous phrases that lighten the mood of the images. Combined with Harry’s playful style of drawing that is purposely off-centre and explicitly hand-rendered, the illustrations are sceptically witty. Harry uses colour less often for commissions but the “black and white work is still [his] favourite”. He tells It’s Nice That how “everywhere we go we’re bombarded with noisy adverts trying to grab our attention, so black and white pieces feel like minty fresh air to me.”
The Beneficial Shock Mag is a magazine that explores film through illustration. Harry contributed to the latest issue titled The Sex Issue, representing the 1996 film Crash through a series of poster-like illustrations. Utilising subtle gradients of pink and grey, the illustrator’s evocative drawing style is brought to life through the expressive characterisation of the film’s leading roles. Long, spindly limbs and strong necks are highlighted by sharp, graphic shadows. The figures are reminiscent of the work of Egon Schiele with their extended bodies at jutting angles. Whereas in other artworks, Harry commemorates the late Barry Chuckle with his recognisable grin in two joyous depictions of the comedian.
The illustrator specifically designs much of his drawings to be applied to clothing. Harry adds that “it’s nice to see the drawings take on new meanings in different contexts through the people wearing them”. In a similar vein that encourages unexpected combinations, Harry’s creative process “embraces accidents and lets external factors affect the work.” He is fond of the idea that his work beholds “an element of reportage” adding that “if my sketchbook gets covered in squashed banana at the bottom of my bag, I like to go with it.” Harry uses the sketchbook similarly to a diary, filling the pages with thoughts in the form of automatic drawings which he later revisits to analyse what sticks out.
Harry uses a soft, dark pencil or a leaky biro to create his distinctive style of drawing. Combined with a fluid line, the illustrator discovered his aesthetic during his second year of university when he broke his arm and lost all feeling in his right arm. Forced to use his left hand, Harry quickly decided to “loosen up [his] style”, realising that “it was fun not to be too precious” with his work and in turn, creating an ethos founded on the phrase, “the wobblier the better”. After another unlucky incident resulting in another broken wrist, Harry began working on becoming ambidextrous, although it’s “a long old process”, it’s allowed Harry to develop an innovative drawing style that is full of life and personality.
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