Q&A with Redbellyboy.

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Aberdeen born, London based Ewan Taylor, aka Redbellyboy, first caught our eye back in 2021 with his happy and humorous rainbow palette typographic screen prints. Incorporating classic British sayings (think Fancy A Nice Cup Of Tea and Hello Sunshine…) along with references from music and literature, his playful and uplifting works are visually stimulating positive punches of joy. So it was brilliant to take some time with Redbellyboy and talk about all things art, gaining a deeper understanding of his work and life as an artist.

Q&A with Redbellyboy.
Fancy A NIce Cup Of Tea | 4-Layer Screen Print | 76 x 56 cm | £225 | VIEW

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I went to Edinburgh College of Art and studied Film and I’ve been working as a Filmmaker for over 20 years. Whilst I was at Art School, I did many things as you do, and Screen Printing was one of them. I’d done it before too as I had studied Graphic Design and Photography prior to going to ECA, but I hadn’t touched it for about 20 years. So when a friend recommended that I go to The Print Club in London, I ignored him and just sort of thought, ‘oh I did that at college’ and didn’t think twice about it. I was trying to get a short film made at the time and it was proving to be very frustrating and very difficult. A friend then recommended I go see an exhibition that was on at The Print Club, so I went to have a look and was blown away by how amazing it was. My wife then bought me a day’s course and I fell in love with printmaking. And so for the past four years I’ve been chipping away and now I’m producing screen prints as often as I possibly can.

Would you say you have always been a creative person?

Yes, I think I always have been creative. I used to love drawing as a child. Art was the only subject in school I ever really had a connection with. I studied Graphics and Photography and Film. My family’s very creative musically and also in the arts, painting and drawing. My sisters and my Mum and Dad all have an interest in it. It’s a really important part of my life.

Why do you do what you do and what keeps you motivated?

I do what I do because I love it! I get a lot of enjoyment out of it. It’s a challenge. I find creativity difficult sometimes – it can be frustrating and plus it can be hard getting your work seen. It’s a constant challenge to put work out there in front of other people and it’s never easy, but it’s always enjoyable and I do like the challenge. Every time I think about not doing it, there’s something inside me that makes me go back and try again. So I kind of feel I have to do it. And even though I’m constantly criticizing myself, it’s a nice thing to keep working on – trying to be colorful and portray a different side to myself than the guy that always wears a black jumper.

Q&A with Redbellyboy.
Redbellyboy.

Which artists do you follow?

I follow loads of Artists, Printmakers, Illustrators and Painters. Thomas McGregor is a friend of mine and one of my favorite painters – he’s very, very good. And I also follow more establish artists like Grayson Perry and Shrigley. I like their sense of humor and bold colourful work. I recently saw the Hockney exhibition at King’s Cross in London, and that was just amazing – again, so bold and colourful, something I’m really drawn to, which you can probably tell from my own work! Nick Grindrod is a fantastic painter. His work is really abstract (I think when you look at his work you can see why I would like it…). We Are Fatherless is print collective who do some really interesting things. And there is a painter called Roman Klonek whose work I really enjoy. He produces woodcuts and they’re quite stunning. Again, very, very bold – very, very colourful.

Which artists influence your work?

I mean, all of these people influence me. And I really like Eduardo Paolozzi, who is a Scottish Printmaker and Textile Designer – his work is wonderful and colourful and crazy, very pop art based. And KMG who is an Aberdonian artist. I come from Aberdeen as well and find her work incredible. There’s just so much in life, so many things going on that stimulate me. I draw my influences from lots of different areas, whether that’s graphic design or music or painting; it’s constantly changing.

Q&A with Redbellyboy.
Left: Helter Skelter by Nick Grindrod Right: Hollywood Wax Museum by Eduardo Paollozi

Can you describe your typical day in the studio for us?

My typical day in the studio probably starts a bit later than I would like. We’ve got a wee boy who has just turned two. He’s an absolute joy, but it does mean the beginning of the day can be quite slow. Luckily I live a five minute walk away from The Print Club London, where I have a desk space. It’s such a great place to work. It’s filled with lovely talented people. I like to get in and chat to some people, have a cup of tea, and then head to my desk. There is always so much to do, from planning out new designs to preparing to print. It’s a constant cycle of prepping work. Screen printing is all about the process, and so many parts of it can go wrong, which can set you right back to the beginning. Like snakes and ladders in a way. I try not to be too structured hours wise – I don’t like to put pressure on myself to be there for a certain amount of time, but I do like to sit at my desk, with my headphones on, and lose myself in the work.

Q&A with Redbellyboy.
Everybody Needs A Fuck Off Rocket | 6-Layer Screen Print | 50 x 70 cm | £250 | VIEW

What visual references form the basis of your work?

They come from so many different places. I really like words. I like typography. I like a good saying or something I can try and take and skew somehow with the way I design the lettering. I like print packaging, like old vintage food packaging and posters from the underground…. When I was young, my Uncle Drew came back from a visit to Soviet Russia, and he had these old posters that featured images of Lenin and they had a fantastic constructionist design – very Soviet in look. It was so striking and so bold and almost quite silly in the way it was all so posed, like a superhero poster. I’d never really seen anything like it! It was very arty, but obviously done in a propaganda sort of way.  There was something else that interested me – the way it had been designed for a mass public audience and had been mass produced. I think this is why screen printing appeals to me. There’s a boldness to it and a vibrancy to the colour that draws your attention.

Q&A with Redbellyboy.
In the studio.

Can you tell us what you are working on or towards at the moment?

I’ve just submitted two designs for this year’s RA Summer Exhibition. I was lucky enough to get into the exhibition last year with my Women Of The World print, so I’m trying again. I’ve been working on a piece called The Alphabet of More – it’s a very colourful, alphabet design where each letter sparks off a word of what we need more of in life to make things a wee bit more joyful. And I’m just working on new designs for upcoming shows. I’ve got lots of ideas that have been sitting around for a while – in general, it can be about four or five months before my ideas start to come together properly, so it’s a slow process.

What role do you think an artist has in today’s society?

I think artists in this day and age have a multitude of duties. I think that we’re there to bring some joy and some light into people’s lives. I think we’re also there to try and highlight some of the stuff that’s going on in our world. But I think from my point of view, what I try to do is bring a wee bit of light into the world. I think it’s an important aspect of any kind of art, whether that’s music or film or TV, to sort of entertain. I like that side of it – bringing some colour into people’s lives.

Q&A with Redbellyboy.
Love Lines | 7-Layer Screen Print | 50 x 70 cm | VIEW

And how does social media impact your practice?

Social media is incredibly important for my practice because it’s how you get seen. There’s a lack of physical gallery space, a lot of it is now online which can make it very difficult to draw a huge audience towards yourself. The virtual space is very overpopulated. But it is important because you get seen by people that you don’t know. You can reach all the way around the world with a post, which is something that you couldn’t do before. And it drives sales to your website and to the galleries that you’re represented by. Instagram is the one that I really like for my art – it’s nice to engage with people that you’ve never met.

We’ve got a couple of your latest releases available in the gallery at the moment – ‘Women Of The World Take Over‘ and ‘Love Struck‘. Are you able to tell us a little bit about each?

Yes! Women Of The World Take Over was inspired by an Ivor Cutler song – he’s a Scottish Musician and Poet. He has a wonderfully dry sense of humor, which appeals to me. And even though it was recorded in the early eighties, I thought the message of the song resonated now more than ever. I took the lyric and turned it into a poster to celebrate International Women’s Day 2022. I added ‘Rise Up’ as I thought the simple lyric of “Women of the World Take Over, because if you don’t it will come to an end, that we don’t have long” was almost too simplistic – I think the women will have to take it by force. And you know, you’ve got some support from certain sections of the male population if you do want to do that. When I first released the print last year, I submitted it to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and Grayson Perry chose it to be featured in one of his print rooms during the exhibition, which just totally blew me away. I still can’t quite believe it because obviously I’ve been a fan of Grayson’s for quite some time. The idea of him even looking at it makes me feel slightly sick. But anyway, it was selected and it sold out really, really quickly – within ten days it had all gone, all 100 copies of that edition had gone, which was incredible! The new version that you have available in artpistol is a second edition, hand-finished with gold leaf on the eyes. I enjoyed adding this detail – the reason she’s wearing sunglasses is because I think if women do take over, the future’s so bright, she’ll have to wear shades. It was a very difficult print to do as it’s quite complicated from a printing perspective, but I’m so pleased it got such a good reaction.

Q&A with Redbellyboy.
Women Of The World Take Over | 8-Layer Screen Print | 56 x 76 cm | £525 | VIEW

And Love Struck… I like to play with words and numbers, as not only do I like phrases and sayings and being able to get a sense of humor, or emotion across doing them, I like the marks they leave – how graphic they can look. A lot of my works aesthetic can be very graphic. It can be very structured, so with Lovestruck, I wanted to do something that appeared more freehand. And I had the idea about love being so powerful – that it’s like a lightning strike. I spent ages Googling how many volts there are in a lightning strike, and of course, I just couldn’t find out what it was, so I thought, I’ll just sit down and I’ll start to put some numbers together, so that it looks nice. I also wanted the piece to have less colours than I would normally use – I wanted it to be a striking image. The red I used is called Fire Red and it has a real depth to it. There’s a lot of pigment in it. And I’ve always enjoyed working with gold leaf. It can be challenging and it is very time consuming and sometimes it doesn’t quite work, which makes it an expensive failure. But when it goes well, like it has done against the red, it can be a really lovely final addition. I wanted the print to look like a well balanced design from the distance, but once you leaned in a wee bit and actually read what it said, it might raise a smile…

Q&A with Redbellyboy.
Love Struck | Hand-Finished Screen Print | 56 x 76 cm | £350 | VIEW

Thank you so much to Redbellyboy for taking time out of his busy busy schedule to chat to us. We can’t wait to see the new work you release later in the year!