John Booth is a very talented Hackney-based artist who graduated from Central Saint Martins, where he is now an Associate Lecturer in Fashion. His vivid work covers the full spectrum of media including ceramics and painting. He was recently invited by Tate Modern to take part in the 2015 Sonia Delaunay / Tate Collectives – a programme which invites emerging artists to respond to the Tate exhibitions.
His remarkable work, featured by Nick Knight’s SHOWStudio, is based on techniques such as collage, embroidery and drawing. We catch up with this amazing illustrator about his projects with fashion houses Fendi and Zandra Rhodes, and his love of David Hockney and Keith Haring’s art. He’s just produced a beautiful vase, titled ‘Love’s Easy Tears’ after his favourite Cocteau Twins song for the House of Voltaire. That’s how he caught Art is Alive’s attention.
Are you an artist or a designer? How would introduce yourself?
I get asked quite a lot to define myself with a title, I guess I introduce myself as an illustrator, and then people decide which bracket to put me in, sometimes people say artist, sometimes people say designer, I’m happy with either.
Did you always want to be an illustrator?
I have always loved drawing, so yes, In a way I have always wanted to be an illustrator.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I love books and I believe that they are very important sources of inspiration, so I like to discover new artists and works through researching in the library at Central Saint Martins and at Donlon Books, on Broadway Market. I also try and visit as many exhibitions as I can. I am constantly looking for inspiration, so its an ongoing thing, and i suppose you can find inspiration anywhere really.
How do you generally start?
I always start with drawing. I keep a sketchbook of ideas for ceramics or any other works I have in mind. Drawing has always been my starting point.
What’s the hardest part in what you do?
Working freelance can be tricky at times, its hard to be disciplined with creating work, as I think I can get distracted quite easily, I’m trying to procrastinate less.
Do you feel closer to fashion or contemporary art and design?
I think fashion, as I’ve recently been working with the fashion label Fendi, and I teach fashion design and illustration. I studied Fashion with print at Central Saint Martins, so its something that I have always been very interested in. I am also very interested in the art world, but i don’t necessarily feel like i’m a part of it.
What’s the latest exhibition you’ve seen?
Lukas Duwenhögger at Raven Row, it was amazing.
Who are your heroes?
David Hockney, Betty Woodman, Karel Appel, Eduardo Paolozzi, Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Niki De Saint Phalle, Ellsworth Kelly, Keith Haring.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
There are so many things i’d like to do, so its hard to think of a single person or company I’d like to work with. I would really love to design wallpaper!
What was the best thing you learnt at Central St Martins?
To draw constantly, to look at books, to pay attention to the world around me and to work independently.
What are your upcoming projects?
I am currently working on new ceramics for an exhibition coming up soon, and I’m also planning a publication.