Skateboarding demons, goo-monsters and some top-notch typography, Biff is a talented illustrator with an unbeatable reputation and a wild imagination. From his home in Weymouth, Biff spends his time dreaming up images that allude to everyday life, with a healthy splash of fantasy and a touch of the gnarly, and bizarre. Looking at Biff’s work, it’s difficult to figure out what came first, the comedic alias or the great bank of playful illustrations. One thing is for sure, the two compliment each other perfectly and, pardon the gratuitous punning, paint a great picture. A winning combination of laid back doodle-style, mixed media processes and simple design makes Biff one of our favourite illustrators. Having worked with clients from all over the world, transposing his fun, fresh images onto a great selection of products, from tees to skateboard decks, it stands to reason that we’d want to know more about what inspires his illustrations and where he got started.
How did you get into illustration and design?
I’ve always been into drawing and doodling, ever since I was a nipper. I would copy old sega megadrive characters from the game boxes. Ryu from Street Fighter was a favourite. It wasn’t until my first year of college that I realised I could make a bit of pocket money by drawing for local bands. My first paid job sparked something inside me, and I’ve been drawing non-stop ever since.
Tell us a bit about your processes and how you like to work.
I like to keep things as basic as possible as my attention span is almost non-existent. Working pretty fast helps. I draw everything by hand and scan it in to colour digitally using Adobe. However, I’ve begun to move away from the digital aspect as I believe you become a much more valuable artist if you know how to generate ideas through experimental mediums. I respect the more traditional methods as an artist and look up to those who use them.
What are your influences and biggest inspirations as an artist?
Like a lot of artists who follow the same practice I do, I began doodling whilst I was heavily into skateboarding. The artwork that revolves around the sport reflects the freedom you find when you skate. I believe ideas should come naturally and shouldn’t be forced. Skateboarding has no rules, just like art. A lot of ideas just come out of nowhere, for example from watching TV and films or listening to music. Conversations with creative friends also inspire me, big time. My girlfriend is a pretty creative person and we bounce ideas around from time to time. Watching other experienced artists produce their work is also a massive motivational boost.
Your work has a great sense of the carefree to it, a spirited vibe. How important is comedy to you? Do you put a considerable amount of pre-planning into your character developments and situational illustrations or does ‘the funny’ just come naturally?
I’ve never really consciously thought, ‘this has to look cartoony’ before I start anything. It genuinely just falls out of my head onto the paper that way. It’s a natural response to creating and is the only way I feel comfortable portraying anything. I don’t spend too much time thinking about what I’m going to draw. Going with your gut and getting it down ASAP is the best way for me.
Tell us a little about the apparel section of your website.
T-shirt design is so underrated. It’s celebrated amongst certain artists and is slowly becoming more respected but I think a majority of designs nowadays are pure imitation, slopped out without much thought. When they wear a design, people are essentially walking billboards and I think that this particular kind of design is a great exposure platform for most, if not all artists.
In your opinion, what’s the best thing about being a creative?
The freedom. I’m barely making any money from it at the moment, which gives me time to draw whatever comes into my head. In a way, I like being set briefs by clients as it’s refreshing to design something you normally wouldn’t, but right now I’m enjoying building up a strong portfolio, or trying to at least.
Do you have anything excited planned for this year?
I’m working on a short illustrated story about giants, which is fun, and Sticky Crowd are presenting me with an award in Shoreditch this week, which I cannot wait for! Other than that I’m just searching for new and exciting people to work for, as always.
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Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth