News / Illustration

“The optimism in my work is very intentional”: Steven Harrington on his new show, Magic Hour

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Steven Harrington: Magic Hour (Via Steven Harrington)

LA-based illustrator and artist Steven Harrington’s work makes us happy. Which is handy, given that the general state of the world today means we’re often found caught in the midst of what might be considered by some as “a state of turmoil”.

“The optimism and approachable cartoon language in my work is very intentional,” Steven tells us over email ahead of the launch of his latest solo show, Magic Hour. “I like working within a colourful and cheerful language because you can talk about a serious subject matter, while still being approachable.”

Opening at Los Angeles gallery 670 South Anderson Street, on 13 April, the show, which is supported by sportswear giants Nike, sees Steven presenting a pair of paintings which combine to create a 16-foot mural of sorts, alongside a batch of smaller paintings.

While Magic Hour features canvases stuffed with the pop-psychedelia that Steven’s best known for, he says that the paintings on show — work which walks the line between lighthearted playfulness and something more nuanced — deal with the difficulties of reality, nodding toward politics and global warming. “Despite appearing fun and poppy on initial read, my work contains many themes that are only unveiled upon further investigation,” says the Coca-Cola collaborator.

In addition to the paintings, Steven will be displaying a box-fresh batch of brilliant white trainers he’s designed for Nike. Emblazoned, as you’d imagine, with a selection of the illustrator’s uber-friendly characters, they are sneakers that look great and do their bit for the planet at the same time.

“Nike reached out last year to collaborate on a special Flyleather footwear pack to celebrate sustainability,” he recalls. Flyleather, for the uninitiated, is a material formed of recycled scraps of leather. “I didn’t know much about the footwear development process before the project but I learned that most leather shoes are made out of patterns just like clothing. When you go to cut the patterns out of the leather you end up creating a bunch of waste with the leftover unused material. Nike came up with a process to sweep up all the scraps and recycle them into new material. The recycled new leather is smoother and really cool to apply artwork on to.”

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Steven Harrington: Magic Hour (Via Steven Harrington)

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Steven Harrington: Magic Hour (Via Steven Harrington)

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Steven Harrington: Magic Hour (Via Steven Harrington)

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Steven Harrington: Magic Hour (Via Steven Harrington)