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November 15, 2007

{     Interview : Mr. Pinks     }    


England is famous for many things, such as The Beatles, crumpets, Shakespeare, the Royal Family, Stilton cheese, fish & chips, and much more. However, even though you may find one of the Princes cute, read some occasional Hamlet, listen to the Spice Girls when you're driving by yourself (they're making a comeback, we heard) or love eating fish out of newsprint, the fact remains that if you haven't seen the work of Mr. Pinks then you need to be adding him to your UK list. Pinky's work is like taking a trip back to a time when "Help!" was the jam and Posh was in diapers. Paper cuts all hand done with no stenciling, psychedelic images of owls, apples and his famous skull are just a few of the images that will leave you wanting more. Lucky for you, Schmancy in Seattle is showing original work by Mr. Pinky this month beginning this past Friday, November 9th, so no trips overseas are yet needed. Kristen at Schmancy had a little talk with Mr. Pinks about his art, his process, his buddy Justin Timberlake, and what's coming next...


Since there is not a whole lot of information about you on the World Wide Web, can you first tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am an Artist. I make art. I paint and draw and have been doing for as long as I can remember. I’ve done a lot of things in my life, had plenty of wack jobs. I’ve tried to go to college, all the usual stuff, but I’ve always been an artist. I’ve always been drawing and painting. All I’ve ever really wanted to do is paint, draw and create things. I got hooked on cartoons and comics as a little kid and when graffiti came along in the mid 80’s I jumped straight in!

I grew up in Hull, a city in the North of England, there was nothing to do, so I painted graffiti, went to parties and designed posters for the parties!. I was in a big graffiti crew and became well known for a more psychedelic style, as the hip hop influence fused with a love of the sixties and the baggy scene kicking off down the road in Manchester.

I got out of Hull in the late 90’s and made my way down to the big smoke where the streets are paved with gold, London. It’s really the only place you can go in the UK if you want to get taken seriously as an artist. There are a lot more sharks, you have to learn to out swim them. I met a lot of great people and got involved in the East London art scene. Group shows, art happenings, poster art and finally in 2004 my first show The Feel. Since then I’ve continued to show in the UK and Europe until this, my first US show, I’m very excited!

I don’t know a whole lot about the UK and how supportive the art scene is. It seems like you have been a part of a lot of cool projects from what I see on flickr. What is your insight on being an artist in the UK?

You’ve got to go out there and make your own luck here in the UK. No one thinks it’s going to be easy being an artist and it’s not. But if you keep doing what you’re doing people might just start to take notice.


Did you notice a difference between the UK art scene, in comparison to the Seattle scene while you were visiting last year?

I loved Seattle, I hung out with the Hiberts for a week did some of the tourist things like going up the Space Needle. I knew very little about Seattle other than a few stereotypes like grunge and Frasier! I was blown away by the place it has to be said. Just the fact that it’s surrounded by mountains is amazing. What interested me about the States is that all these cities have there own little art scenes going on. In the UK it’s pretty much London and that’s that. There are people out there in other places but it’s often a lone voice or they’re not taken seriously. Everywhere I went in the States had a local scene of full time working artists.

You did some art work at a club that hosted a party for Justin Timberlake. How did that happen and how was it? Sorry dude, I couldn’t control myself.

JT asked for me specifically! He’d been tipped off to the Pinkyvision by people who know people. I covered the walls in skulls, owls and girls in sunglasses and big boom boxes!. He loved it. There is so much written about these people that they become kind of unreal, but he turned out to be a straight up guy. It’s the hangers on that are the creeps. It’s a strange world behind the velvet rope.

When you came to the States you traveled around and hung out with some artist friends that you had met via Internet. How was it to meet fellow artists that you seem so close to yet you had never met?

I guess it’s happening all the time now. The internet is a great way to communicate but at the end of the day nothing beats sitting with people and talking face to face.


Your art seems to be very influenced on 60’s pop art. What would you say are your greatest influences? Any other artists that have made a big impact on you as an artist?

The 60’s was a time of colour and fun. A time of exploring the imagination and radical politics. Those are the main themes in most of what I do. Artists as varied as Peter Blake, Ric Griffin and Patrick Caulfield all do it for me. The Beatles and The Beach boys have also been a big influence. They pretty much sum up the sixties for me. Anyone who tells you they don’t like The Beatles is either trying to be a smart arse or has just never really listened to them.

Is there any back-story on the skull that seems to appear in most of your artwork?

The Skull was a direct response to people telling me my work was “cute”. I’d never really thought of it as that, so I introduced the Skull to give things some balance. It may not seem so at first but it’s a very positive icon. It represents life as much as death, it’s a reminder of our own mortality. I’ve created hundreds of drawings, paintings and paper cuts of skulls and each one is different. Just like you and I.

I know you do your paper cuts without sketching anything beforehand. Is this the same case with your paintings?

If I sketch something out it can start to feel like a barrier so I tend not to bother. I like to let the image unfold on the canvas. I might have a basic idea in my head or in a sketch book but it’s only a staring point. I’ve also created a series of icons that reappear throughout my work, they represent different parts of my personality.


Since you do not sketch out your paper cuts before, what is your process for these detailed pieces?

Focus and a very very sharp knife. It’s the nearest I get to meditation.

Do you use ‘special’ products to make your hair so big?

Yeah marmite!

You and your wife were in New Mexico for awhile. Were you able to check out the Museum of International Folk Art; which displays one of the largest collections of Alexander Girard pieces? Your work, especially the paper cuts, reminds me of some of his work. His imagery and yours seem to be in the same family. Would you say his work has influenced your work?

I’d already been making the paper cuts for a few years but yeah I can see what you mean. At the start of our trip to the States we spent six weeks living in San Francisco, it was at MOMA that we first saw Alexander Girard, he’s unknown over here pretty much so it was a real buzz to see his work from the 50’s and 60’s and think ‘that’s crazy, he kind of works in a similar way to me’. Colour, forms, a feeling of freedom and fun. He’s a legend. I did manage to see his collection at the Museum of International Folk Art in Sante Fe. If you ever get the chance you should really visit there. It’s his lifetime collection of folk art from around the world. Millions of amazing hand made objects. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Oh and New Mexico is amazing, high altitude, frozen deserts, sacred mountains, shooting stars and the Pueblos, a really wild wilderness. I spent some time at the adobe house Dennis Hopper edited Easy Rider in. It was a real trip.


What do you see in the horizon for Pinky?

First things first will be online very soon. It seems like it’s taken forever to finally get this together but it will be worth it. It will have a lot of unseen work on there and a shop! As well as the website 2008 will see new exhibitions, a film and a book. So put your Pinkyvision goggles on and keep your eyes on the horizon!. Peace, Love, Unity and Fun.

Interview conducted by Kristen Rask of Schmancy Toys in Seattle, one-third of the FancySchmancyPants trilogy of Washingtonian awesomeness.

     » Check out more of his work at or his Flickr account!

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