We had the absolute pleasure and honour of talking to one of our favourite artists, Darren Grealish who creates concert posters, album art and illustrations and has worked for a lot of well known bands in the music scene. His work is both psychedelic and surreal and influenced by the iconic rock poster art of the 60s and 70s. He’s telling us a bit about himself and his art and we’re absolutely stoked that we can add some of his artwork to The Planet Of Sound for you to enjoy.
First of all, thanks a lot for taking the time for this interview. Can you tell our readers a bit more about yourself?
I’ve been a freelance Illustrator and poster artist since 2000.
What or who do you believe contributed to you becoming an artist?
I surround myself with artists, musicians, writers, film makers etc. There’s not one person in particular. Mainly I believe an artist is born an artist.
It’s in our DNA. I believe a person who is not born an artist can go to a big fancy art school and in time perhaps learn the mechanical skills to get into the field of let’s say Graphic Design but a true artist is born that way. Art school can be a good asset to an artist but I never went to a school.
What or who do you think influenced your style and how would you describe it yourself?
First as a child it was cartoons and comic books, Mad magazine and TV. Then rock and roll and the record cover art. I was a huge punk and 60’s freak so of course I was mesmerized by all the sixties venue posters and eventually saw the posters from the 90’s. Punk flyers really blew my mind also. Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, The Fool art collective, Martin Sharp, Marc Rude, Alphonse Mucha, Michelangelo, Art Chantry, Klaus Voormann, Edward Gorey, Kroft Super Stars, Art Clokey and so many more. Those are just a few. And far as me I didn’t go to an art school. My art education came from self study of various artists through my life and that came natural because I was already completely drawn to art.
Can you tell us a bit more about your background as an artist? When did you realise that you could actually live from your work?
I had no formal training. I just remember I always liked to draw and showed a natural inclination for art. All things art. My mind would gaze in awe at films and their characters. I always loved to read great fantastic stories. I was never a big fan of murals but have seen some amazing ones for sure but would find myself looking at advertising much more I think than the average person. I would notice if something was out of registration or the colours were off. This would come in handy down the line working as a Graphic Designer and working with printing side of things. I would study what I liked and art that I did not like I mentally discarded. I would stare at great art and study the line work, the use of color, the composition and application and would always ask myself “Ok, how did they do this?” I still do that. As far as realizing I could make a living doing this? I had no choice. I’m terrible at anything else. It’s all I know how to do.
How do you find inspiration for your art?
I am always sifting through all of my art books as well as constantly saving images from the internet that inspire me or perhaps I love the colour etc. But mainly I sit back in my chair and stare at the ceiling and my brain starts spinning with ideas. One after another and then a thought will get me excited and I jump up and begin writing these ideas down on paper. I just keep doing this and it then begins to grow by itself almost. Sometimes the best ideas come to me when I’m in bed in the dark. Then I jump up and find a piece of paper and pen to write it down because I will for sure forget it in the morning.
What is the process of you creating and drawing a poster? What materials do you use?
I’m a pen and ink guy. I do my pencil first and then I ink it. I then use markers or watercolor, color pencil or Photoshop to color. And sometimes a combination of all of those. I ink on Bristol board. I use Micron pens.
You have created poster art for some well known artists and bands. Can you name a few?
The White Stripes, Modest Mouse, Swervedriver, Primal Scream, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Warlocks, James Brown, Beck, The Lemonheads, PJ Harvey, Oasis, Moorhead The MC5, Queens of the Stone age, Nick Cave, The Roots, Interpol, Paul Weller, Lee Scratch Perry, Gogol Bordello and lots more.
What was or is the challenge to create a poster for any bands or artists? Do people normally request a theme or do they usually let you get on with it?
Dealing with an occasional manager or promoter. Most people let me do my thing. The more art direction I get the worse for me.
What kind of music do you listen to yourself? Any recommendations?
Shoe gaze, Punk Rock, The New York art scene, sixties and seventies rock, old soul, Brit pop, Psychedelia, Garage, funk, folk. It’s endless.
Last gig you went to?
Do you play any instruments yourself?
Yes, I have played bass and guitar all my life. I play drums too. Harmonica, tambourine
What are your plans for the future?
To keep doing what I do and to continue to grow as an artist and person.
Where can we find you on the internet and purchase your artwork?
My brand new website. It’s current and has info, bio, a blog, shopping cart etc.
I am also on Facebook:
Thanks a lot for answering our questions.
All images copyright by Darren Grealish