by Javier Melian, ChromArt co-founder
This born and bred West London artist is a hot ticket in the capital. He has created artwork and promo materials for Lee Scratch Perry, Jay-Z and the likes. He had a band but quit music to concentrate on his own style of 2D and 3D graphic artwork which is, crisp! as it says on the packet. People in the know wear his limited edition t-shirts. Impressionism, expressionism, cubism, now Prism! Read on and find out
Born in West London in 1979, CRISPS, did a BA Hons in Graphic Design at Staffs Uni /University Of Kansas, in 2000. He returned to London and graduated into a design position in the music industry where he created artwork and promotional materials for many famous artists. After a number of years he left to travel and develop his own artistic ideas and narrative.
On returning to London CRISPS took a product design job where he was introduced to Solidworks - a 3D modelling application - which he now uses professionally. It has become one of the primary tools with which he is developing his own style of graphic artwork. The combination of three dimensional and two dimensional design practices in his professional career have lead him to produce personally motivated graphic art using tape, acrylics, video projection and many other media types.
CRISPS began his artistic journey in 2010, doing geometric works in acrylic on canvas.
- In 2011 he joined the Printclub in Dalston where he experimented with ideas and worked to develop screen printing skills on
both paper and textiles.
- In 2012 he was invited to exhibit his first solo show in the CATCH bar in Shoreditch, London. 'ALPHA' was curated by Rob
Leech and ran from December 2012 through until March 2013.
- Around this time he took the moniker ‘CRISPS’ in order to detach his history as a musician and professional designer from a
new independent graphic artwork.
- In 2013 he began screen printing his first CRISPS designs on to limited edition t-shirts. In December of that year he quit
the band that he had been in for the previous 7 years in order to focus on his artwork.
- In 2014 he continued to develop the use of acrylic paints and screen printing techniques and submitted artwork to the Skull
Appreciation Society and LHR Exhibitions group shows.
- Moving into 2015, CRISPS continues to develop a unique language of visual communication through the arrangement and styling
of prisms. He is experimenting increasingly with the introduction of juxtaposing organic forms, objects, symbols and typography,
CRISPS still lives and works in West London.
Where does your name CRISPS come from?
On our first meeting a few years back my girlfriend’s five year old god daughter misheard and thought Crisps was my name. She laughed so hard about this and still calls me Crisps to this day but
has no idea that I’ve adopted it… I’m looking forward to introducing her to my artwork when she’s a bit older. This joke coincided with me wanting a moniker and it just seemed like a fun thing to
use a name given to me by a five year old, plus it represented my artwork quite nicely as well.
In terms of innovation what is the next best thing coming?
Innovation in my work?… My focus at the moment is on developing a recognisable visual style. I’m in an experimental phase using different media, processes and tools but I'm starting to settle.
I’m from a graphic design background and it's taken me time to get to the point where I can shut down the Mac, pick up a pen or brush and create something on paper or canvas that I’m satisfied
with. In fact it hasn’t quite happened yet but the last few pieces I’ve worked on using acrylics have come pretty close. Triangles and prisms feature in a lot of geometric artwork so its
important for me to develop my prisms to the point where they have an unmistakeable appearance and personality and are expressive in a way that your average geometric art isn’t. I want people to
see a pink prism and think CRISPS!
Is there a message in your art?
At this point each piece I create has meaning but not necessarily a message.
For instance I’ve just finished a series of what I’ve called ‘speed paintings’ after reading about Keith Haring He often worked with an audience, with music, and painted with energy and speed, but, he executed the work with clear vision and precise action and the results were great.
I was impressed and decided to try to replicate these conditions as previously I had been labouring for hours over precise triangles and geometric arrangements in a kind of concentration zone of solitude! Turns out that once I accepted that total perfection was unnecessary I was able to create with more energy, more quickly, and produce work with much more personality and style.. and it was more fun.
So the meaning of these ‘speed paintings’ is that they each represent a different result in a kind of controlled experiment that I applied to improve my working methods and to force the evolution of my style.
Some of my other works do have a message though. ‘Grab yer tool’ for instance. I hope that the message there is fairly obvious if you’ve seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, and if you haven’t you need to go watch it now.
What crossovers with other disciplines would you pursue?
I’m a CAD designer professionally and so creating 3D objects as CRISPS is something that I really want to get to. I love the work of KAWS and the ‘Companion’ figures that he created both as
one-offs and as mass produced items. Through my day job I have experience of working with 3D printing and both vacuum forming and injection moulding (manufacturing processes for plastic). When
the time comes, and if its relevant, I’ll be able to use these as production methods to create mass produced items to accompany my one-off pieces.
Which favourite artwork would you save from a fire?
This question reminds me of an event in 1994 when the artists Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, previously of the KLF, burned 1 million quid. The money was theirs - it was the proceeds from the hit singles of the KLF which they withdrew as cash from the bank, flew up to a secret location in Scotland, and then burned. They filmed the whole event and then released the footage. The reactions in the media were intense, I mean people got seriously worked up about it. I wonder what I would have done with that million? Would I help people? Would I spend it? Yes probably. But would I have the guts and the artistic conviction to burn it?!
So to answer the question I would save the film footage of the KLF burning a million quid from a fire because it was a brilliant, controversial, statement that provoked an intense argument that everyone could contribute to. In other words it pissed a lot of people off.
What are you currently working on?
Im doing some new screen prints in March at the London Print Studio in Kensal Rise - really looking forward to that. I just moved into the area and its going to be my first session in their studios.
I’m also working on a few new ideas including a project called ‘The Biggest C**t I Know’. It’s a visual compilation of the daily greetings I get from one of the (offensive, but surprisingly endearing) guys I work with. The prints are going to be a kind of typographic antidote to the positive statement screen prints that every London art market seems to be awash with - the latest one is simply called ‘Hello Wanker!’
Whats in the pipeline for the near future?
I have had work accepted into a couple of group shows ‘Lets Tesselate’ and ‘2 Colour’ organised by the LHR group in the Hanbury Arms Islington. The dates are not confirmed yet but they’ll be