“No shits given”: Luke John Matthew Arnold’s cut-throat posters are rooted in love and acceptance
The pop art-inspired illustrator uses humour and irony as a vehicle to amplify the voices of different communities and movements across the globe.
- Olivia Hingley
- 13 September 2022
The iPhone Notes app has become a vital part of many people’s lives. A quick-fire shopping list; a selection of songs waiting to be added to a Spotify playlist; or a debt from a friend you’re waiting to be paid for; its uses appear somewhat endless. It’s within this very app that illustrator Luke John Matthew Arnold sources inspiration for his cut-throat, tongue-in-cheek phrases. A “veeeery” long list that he has been adding to for the past five years, some entries come from hearing things from people while out and about, while most are plucked from his own brilliant mind. “I love hearing what crude people come up with, it’s wordsmith gold,” Luke begins. “But to be honest, more often than not it’s my own bogan-pirate-potty mouth.”
Looking up to the work of Tracey Emin, Keith Haring and Barbara Kruger for their use of text, imagery and “confident no shits given”, Luke sources inspiration for his pallet from Ken Done and Sally Gabori. Outside of the contemporaries, however, Luke is also inspired by his personal mental health journey, the state of the modern world and the complexities of different communities around the globe – the LGBTGIA+ community, for example. “I let my work open up dialogues and explore different stuff, in the hopes of learning and connecting with people,” he explains.
This focus began early on in Luke’s illustration journey, when he produced a series of posters for the Global Climate Strike. Conscious that the posters were to be used in protest, legibility was at the forefront of the illustrator’s mind, pushing him to go big with the text and thus instigating a now staple feature of his work. “The day of the marches, I was not expecting people to really use them as I had a super low following and just thought some of my mates would like them,” Luke recalls. "But it was a real turning point for my creative practice, as it kind of blew up.” Featuring Luke’s friendly aesthetics and sharp tongue (one sports the message Mother Nature is Pissed), while still conveying a concise message, the posters are a brilliant example of successfully using humour and artistry to tackle momentous issues.
While Luke may seem naturally inclined to the medium, his journey into illustration was somewhat a “fluke”, he describes. Originally training as a silversmith, it was when Luke got a job in community work that he found himself with little time for metal. So, he began doodling on his breaks and posting them on Instagram. Eventually getting the odd freelance gig, Luke threw himself in the deep end, accepting with little knowledge of online digital tools. Soon developing his “slow-moving style made up of a select few ingredients that I just chop and change as I roll along”, Luke began getting some pretty big gigs – or as he refers to them, “holy shit moments”. One of which is his collaboration with Gorman, an Australian clothing company, which saw his designs featured on dresses, dungarees and trousers. “It was absolute chaos, but I got there,” he concludes.
Luke John Matthew Arnold (LJMA): Mother Nature’s Pissed (Copyright © LJMA, 2019)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.