Paul Farrell Interview

​Interview with designer and illustrator Paul Farrell about his tree prints.

The work of designer and illustrator Paul Farrell is inspired by his love for nature and a passionate interest in the graphic arts. Paul practiced as a graphic designer for over 23 years before concentrating on a career in art and illustration. His main body of work The Tree Series is an example of Paul’s strong graphic style. He uses silhouettes and striking colour combinations to explore natural forms. I caught up with him as he launches an exclusive Tree Series for The Art Cabin.

Where are you from originally?

I’m from Bristol. Bristol born and bred and I’m very proud of that.

Tell us about your Art and Design background? Where did you study?

I did my foundation year at Bristol Polytechnic and that was probably the most enjoyable time I've ever had in schooling and then I went onto BA Hons at Middlesex Polly for three years in Graphic Design. So I have a Graphic Design background. I graduated in 1988 and have been working ever since.

What inspires you most?

I thought hard about this but really it’s quite simple. Its anything that has appealing colour and form in the environment around me whether it be an orange lifeboat or the plumage of a bird or essentially a leaf on the floor. Anything that has a simple graphic quality and colour has a lot to do with that.

Which artist’s do you admire and/or are inspired by?

That’s a good question. The recent ones at the moment are Gary Hume a very graphic painter. I just love his forms and his colour, how he breaks images down into portraits, into simple. The person has a stage name. A French comic and art illustrator called Blexbolex and he is my age and doing very well. He creates beautiful graphic books which are very collectable at the moment.

What are some of your favourite objects in your studio?

I have two at the moment that are front runners. When I was small I used to collect Britains who are a toy manufacturer of zoo animals and they are plastic. I managed to find on eBay recently a boxed African Elephant with wooden tusks. The second is a glass Viking from the 1960s. Scandinavian glassware by a studio called Pukeberg in Sweden. It’s this big chubby Viking and he keeps me company.

When did you first become interested in illustration?

I’ve always dabbled from very early on. It comes from a combination of gifts and toys that my parents used to give me but I have always been sketching from a very early age. My parents too are quite creative so they have always encouraged that.

What was your first Design job?

When I left university strictly my first Design job was at David Davis Associates. I was a graphic designer specialising in brand and that was way back in 1989 and that lasted for a year. Essentially whenever I have worked for a graphic design company I have always had my own projects going on. I always collected colours, shapes and forms and always been devising my own projects but only until about five or six years into my career I actually managed to start talking to printers and getting things cheaply printed.

How process oriented is your work? How would you describe your creative process?

I guess it is very process driven because essentially a lot of the work is not hand draw it is within the computer so it’s using both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. What originally exists is my photography so there is a process. There is about four of five stages to each and then I guess where I loosen up is when I bring in my colour work. Then it’s the printing process. Lately I have been doing silk screens that I guess acts as a whole another process on top of everything else.  Because my work is quite graphic there is a very ridged and tidy method to most of it so at the end of each project it’s quite nice to have completed it and move onto the next.

Do you have any exciting up and coming projects?

I do yes. I have one called Animal Alphabet. Obviously they’ve been done before but this will be a series of cards and prints but using more obscure animals like H for Husky or Y for Yellow Finned Tuna and they will be done in three very bold colours and that’s something I want to do on the side and is something that will keep me busy for quite awhile I think.

Sounds like you are very busy. Are you more of a going out or staying in kind of person?

Well both I think. Staying in is the new going out and going out is the new staying in. Depends on my mood. Being back in Bristol after moving away from London going out seems to certainly be the preference.

Do you have a favourite restaurant in Bristol?

I do. It’s a small place called Zazu’s Kitchen and it’s in Horfield, Bristol. Its great there because you get daylight streaming in and it has free Wi-Fi with great cheap but very innovative food for lunch. It’s very good. Very relaxing.