Edward Monaghan: Limb (detail)

Work / The Graduates 2013

The Graduates 2013: Vibrant illustration and crisp comics from Edward Monaghan

Edward Monaghan is very much his own man. Upon arriving at Central Saint Martins three years ago he quickly decided that the prescriptive nature of his illustration course was not especially to his tastes and set about creating his own curriculum; learning the tools of the trade that he wanted to practice and making work motivated by his own interests. While that might not make him the most commercially-minded graduate out there, what he has managed to achieve is an extraordinary body of illustration and comics in a style that’s reached a level of refinement well beyond his years.

Edward’s work stands out initially for its vibrant colour; huge, busy compositions that are bursting with purples, greens and yellows. On closer inspection however, there’s a lot more going on after that initial visual punch. Edward’s become something of a master at reductive storytelling, creating complex narratives with a few simple lines that make an increasing amount of sense the more you stare at them. That said he’s also a dab-hand at cramming as much information into a single frame as humanly possible. Both techniques work terrifically, underpinned as they are by a natural talent for narrative.


Edward Monaghan: Nobrow Competition


Edward Monaghan: Nobrow Competition


Edward Monaghan: Poster


Edward Monaghan: Poster

Why or who or what made you go to art school?

I’m from a town right next to the Slough trading estate. As John Betjeman eloquently noted; “It isn’t fit for humans.” Slough was always a pretty tepid, uneventful place and even though I lived in similarly dingy places up in London, the tumult of being in the city and part of a school full of daft, eccentric types was an exciting prospect.

People always talk about the pretence of art students and there is undoubtedly lots of it around; I’ve had a pretty morose attitude towards my institution for a good couple of years but there is something enticing about a concrete container that seems to attract so many buffoons annually. I was aware that the brief three-year hiatus from the real world would be something I’d have to savour, so choosing to spend it in a place that was as far removed from the doldrums of trading estate scenery was very important.

What’s the best mistake you made when you were studying?

Maybe the best mistake for me was to be sort of a bad student. A lot of the time I felt like we were being prescribed a fairly lofty place to dwell in the creative industry, which is understandable if you want to get a job. But most of the creative people I admire would do what they were doing anyway, even if they didn’t receive any financial gratification, and I felt the same. So I really just spent the year with my head in the sand, after learning Adobe Illustrator, in an attempt to produce some honest work.

As a result I’ve come up with a really comfortable method, which draws from other creatively sensual media, like music, instead of recycling trending archetypes. 

If you could show your work to one person, who would you choose and what would you show them?

Probably the Limb comic to Holger Czukay from the band Can.

Can you give us one prediction about your work for the next year?

I’ve already started working on a graphic novel called Archangels Thunderbird, based on a song I really love. The aim is to finish the work and eventually get it published. I’ll probably have to do that myself though. A prediction I can offer would be to expect more colours as I build on my swatch collection!

What’s the best thing you saw in the last three years?

I saw a planetarium in my jumper, demons dancing on Caledonian Road, and the toy-maker constructing an incredible plaything out of ridged sponges and gaffer tape.


Edward Monaghan: Limb


Edward Monaghan: Limb


Edward Monaghan: Limb


Edward Monaghan: Limb


Edward Monaghan: Limb


We are very pleased that The It’s Nice That Graduates 2013 is once again being supported by Represent Recruitment who are themselves celebrating being ten years old this summer. The graphic design recruitment specialists have developed a peerless reputation working with designers of all levels and matching them up with the right positions in some of the top agencies around. Represent’s support has helped us grow the Graduates scheme over recent years and we are thrilled they have partnered with us again in 2013.