Featured Artist: Mr Woody Woods
Manchester-based Art Director and Illustrator Mr Woody Woods creates colourful illustrations and oddball characters infused with a real sense of fun.
You can currently catch his work in the Art Space of our favourite Mancunian breakfast spot: The Koffee Pot. We caught up with Woody to talk people watching, Instagram and his latest exhibition.
We stumbled across your work just last week at your exhibition in the Art Space at Koffee Pot, how did that come about?
Well it’s my first solo exhibition, which is a really big deal for me. I’ve never done anything like this before, so when the opportunity came up I jumped at the chance. All of my work has previously been shown online so it’s been really nice to get the original drawings, prints and paper-cuts out there in the real world for everyone to see and get involved with. There’s also a competition running to win your own, hand-drawn portrait (of you, by me) and a poster of my characters for you to colour in whilst your there.
We did have a little scribble over a cup of tea!… So, what’s your story? How did you become an illustrator?
Drawing has always been my thing. I’m an Art Director by day and can often spend the whole day drawing up new ideas. My own work has always been in the background, but in the last few years it’s really developed its own identity and started getting more and more attention, which is amazing.
How long have you been working in the industry? Do you find it easy to balance your own work with commercial jobs?
I’ve been working in advertising since graduating from university, and my own work has slowly developed alongside it. There’s a bit of a blur between my personal and professional work – it all stems from visualizing ideas in new and original ways. I’m a big fan of Instagram and how quick and easy it is to put new work out there – which is great if you’re short on time. It’s definitely helped me reach a wide audience with my work.
How would you describe your work? Can you tell us a bit about your process?
I’ll often start by sketching my ideas out in very simple black and white line drawings and develop from there.
I love bright and bold colours, which feature heavily in my work (and my wardrobe!), and I really like exploring new mediums.
A lot of what you’ll see in the Koffee Pot exhibition started off as pen or pencil drawings, which I’ve then worked into in Photoshop. There are also a lot of my paper cuts too, which I love doing. My work varies from being very graphic and bold, like the paper cut outs, to intricately detailed drawings, which can take hours to d
Your illustrations are packed full of character and charm. Where do you go for inspiration? Are there any particular themes you like to explore or things you love to draw?
I’ve always had a real interest in people and people watching. My work is very character based, I must have created hundreds of characters when working on my Woody Rather project. I’ve worked on a lot of portraits in the past too. It started out as something fun to do for friends and then I started to get a lot of interest in them from the public. People send me their family photos, pets included, and I’ll draw them all together in bright and bold colours.
You just touched on your rather fun tumblr side project Woody Rather. Can you tell us a bit about how that came about?
I was freelancing at the time and started it as a fun project on the side. I really liked playing the game Would You Rather with friends, so I challenged myself to come up with an original drawing every day for over year.
It was difficult at times, but looking back it really helped me focus my own illustration style and find a way of bringing a real sense of humour to my work.
It’s really nice to see how much my work has developed and grown since I started that project.
And what about the future, what’s next for Mr Woody Woods?
I’m having a lot of fun developing my work across new mediums and collaborating with different designers at the moment – the plush characters created for the exhibition by Yorkshire based designers Rag Makers, are awesome. I’m also working on a series of childrens’ rugs for The Land of Zug, which will be amazing.
Koffee Pot is one of our favourite hangouts in Manchester. Can you tell us what your favourite about the city is?
Manchester is a great city with so much going on, I love spending the weekend exploring. There’s always something happening or a new restaurant or bar opening up – it feels like a really exciting time to be in the city.
And finally, what do you love most about what you do?
My work is a total escape for me, it’s really fun to do and I love the freedom I have to create whatever I want. Putting up the exhibition at Koffee Pot has been really rewarding; seeing my work in a new environment and getting great feedback from the customers has been fantastic.
The Mr Woody Woods exhibition runs 17 September to 21 October in the Art Space at Koffee Pot