INSIDE THE BRAIN OF DAVID STURGESS
On some weekday evening over a quintessentially British cup of tea, we caught up with David Sturgess, as known as boredatthebar, about his recent productive venture in abstract illustrations
In a short succession and an artistic path that has nothing but just begun, David Sturgess has been churning out illustrations left and right. and his sporadic artistic style has become a staple of what he is about.
Whether it be music productions or visual artistry, David has always pointed a creative energy into some sort of activity: “I used to draw a lot as a kid and it was probably something I’d alway do when I was eight or nine sorta thing. I was quite good at it for my age, then did a bit at school, but then got drawn
into making music and stuff instead. Basically for the last 10 years that’s all I’ve really done creatively. It sorta came out of nowhere. I tried to start drawing again but didn’t have much success in terms of doing stuff that I thought was any good.
“I didn’t try and consciously try and draw anything that I’d thought I’d want to share with anyone, then all of a sudden I sorta posted one thing onto Instagram and then a friend of mine who's a musician, instantly he was like, can you do my album artwork and single artwork and things like that. Then that drove me to want to start drawing as much as I can sorta thing, it’s not like I’ve had loads of success as an illustrator but I've been designing logos and stuff for all sorts of people, and it’s only been like two or three months. Maybe friends who are trying to start clothing labels and stuff, managed to get an internship with Only Green, in Stokes Croft, managed to wrangle that somehow.”
Coming from a band orientated musical background, habits and traits acquired from those times can be found having an impact on the creative flow of his illustrations: “Because I was in a band before, I think what I realised was when you're in a band, you hear a song that you like sorta thing, you don’t copy it but you take things that you like from it and try build on it. But before, maybe I’d wanna try and be as original as possible with drawing, but obviously that’s impossible to do. If I see a style or an illustrator I like, I’ll try and figure out how they’d achieved a certain look, obviously not copy them but sit down and go alright, try and figure out how they’ve drawn that, and try and apply to it myself.
“Even though the style of my illustrations, I thought at the time had radically changed, but it hadn’t really. I think the elements are the same but the style and the technique has sorta changed. I wouldn’t want to do the same thing all the time really, and at this stage I don’t think anyone’s paying much attention.”
JUST ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE OF DOING IT
Cultures of skateboarding and art have coincided since the beginning of skating’s history. From Marc McKee of World Industries to Mark Foster of Heroin, the artwork embedded in skating’s timeline and community has had impact on his art style: “I look at what I love, like skating, and brands like Supreme, Palace, and Hockey, Fucking Awesome!, things like that. Obviously their art style is very unique. It’s definitely rubbed off, there’s lots of illustrators who have their style and they do it really well.
“They’ll sorta stick to the same thing, which is great. It makes it a lot easier for me as well, to be able to draw one thing one day, and then completely do something else.”
The city of Bristol is an intriguing and creative place. With such a diverse web of creatives nestled in this humbled abode, the chances for networking becomes a lot more prevalent: “There’s a lot more opportunities, as I say that internship with Only Green sorta came out of nowhere. You’ve got great artists everywhere, you can’t walk around without seeing art. The music scene is really cool. Even when I was in my band playing gigs and stuff you meet so many creative people with fingers in lots of different pies, I think it’s had a massive impact really. Don’t really know what I’d be doing if I hadn’t moved here to be fair. It’s a very bright and vibrant place. My experiences of living in the city and the things you pick up from going on nights out to Motion or something, even that has an effect on my illustrations, it’s strange.
“I think they’re all cool in their own way, and looking back on them, they do seem to get better with every one, just in terms of my attention to detail. An illustration will take me about half as long now, and I’m more comfortable with it. The newest ones are definitely my favourites in terms of style. I did one today which was pretty cool, of some germs swarming over a 1p coin, and that started off with just drawing a circle, started filling the circle with weird shapes and that came out of it. I was very pleased with how that one came out.”
Creative processes and the act of putting thought to physical can’t be narrowed down to a definitive right or wrong: “With me, the same with if I was making music as well, I always try and finish it off within one sitting. So if I have to come back to it, it’s probably not worth - the idea’s probably not good enough to carry forward sorta thing. I can spend all day drawing something but when I finish up for the day it’s either done or it isn’t. I don’t really plan what I’m going to draw, I’ll have an idea in my head, and I’ll either achieve what I set out to do in a way, even though there’s no real plan, or it’ll just be a catastrophe.
“It’s just done when it’s done, it’s hard to say. Don’t try dwell on it too much, just enjoy the experience of doing it. I’ve done probably like 30 to 40 illustrations in the past two or three months, which is pretty crazy really. There aren’t really any I’d look back on and think oh, that’s a bit shit, or I’d redo that bit. I think they’re all good in their own way, and different in their own way.
“To say I’ve got a vivid imagination is probably true, but I don’t really use much in way of reference either. So when I’m going to bed I might have a weird dream or whatever, or something pops into my head at some random point of the day, and then I’ll find a couple days later I’ll be drawing something very similar to that weird idea that just popped into my head. It’s weird. Once I start and I’m like, oh this illustration is going to be this, I almost have like a clear image of what it’s going to be like when it’s finished even though I don’t really do any initial sketches or do anything to plan it out. In my mind’s eye, I’ll be like right, this is how I want it to look, sometimes it’ll be bang on to sort of how I envisioned it, other times it’ll be completely different, but I’ll always be quite happy with the end result.”
In 2020, the aspect of online and digital marketing is as paramount as ever, with social media playing a crucial role in reaching a wider audience and getting work noticed. Stressed even more today with the social distancing restrictions imposed on events: “I deleted Instagram for years, cos I felt like I was wasting so much time just watching skate videos constantly. I’d always followed illustrators then as well, and always been really interested in illustration. Got Instagram back again to start posting all these little doodles and stuff, there’s hundreds of random illustrators from all over that I think are really cool.
“I’ve never been one to self publicise really, like with making music. I’d record a song, maybe put it on my Facebook, maybe make a post like, oh I made a song, and 10 people would listen, which is fine kinda thing, but obviously that’s not how you make a name for yourself. It’s exactly the same with my illustrations. I’ll go on a website and I’ll type in illustration hashtags, copy and paste them all in sorta thing. I enjoy sharing my work but I don’t really enjoy making people look at it sorta thing. One of my friends got something that I drew, a picture of a sword, tattooed onto the back of their leg. They didn’t tell me they were going to do it, they just sort of messaged me like oh, I hope you don’t mind but I got this tattooed on me. That’s sick, that was mad. Obviously I want as many people to see them as possible, but I’m not one to force the subject.
“I was talking to my girlfriend about it cos she’s like a marketing wiz - so the opposite in terms of me - something about me saying, oh hey everyone check out this thing I’ve drawn, hope you like it just makes me feel sick [laughs], cos obviously the reason I’m posting it is I hope everyone likes it and enjoys it but to say it out loud is a bit weird. It’s not an evil but, Instagram is a necessary evil, but obviously it’s the best way to get people seeing your stuff. I’ve set myself tip a little portfolio website, that’s the best way to see all my illustrations, cos they’re in the best resolution they can be and stuff like that. So if I’m applying for any freelance opportunities and stuff, I’ll just pretend the Instagram doesn’t exist and use the website. Gotta fake it until you make it.”
With 2020 placing everyone in unusual and unplanned circumstances, the effect it’s going to have on artists and the work that’s produced will be an interesting outcome to follow. David has made productive use of this period: “It’s been a really nice way to fill the time in this crazy last six months, it’s been mad really. I’m starting to take it a bit more seriously, try and get my portfolio there and actually try and land a job in that field. I just want to get as much experience as possible, I sorta wanna try and make animations as well of them. I just want to learn as much as possible.
“I think the main rule for making anything is draw from your own experience, and obviously the Corona Virus has had a huge impact on everyone sorta thing. I don’t really consciously plan any of these things, it comes up but I’m not trying to push a message on to anyone. But yeah it’s affected everyone, it’s affected my past six months. I do sorta subconsciously try and avoid - not hoping onto a bandwagon or anything like that - but just trying to spread a message or whatever that isn’t my own.
“The one I did today of this virus and stuff, that came from when I was playing Dr Mario on the Switch, it’s basically like Tetris, but you throw pills at different coloured virus’ and you’ve got to try and line them up and kill the virus. That’s basically where that came from.”
Find more of his work at:
October 13th 2020