Featured Artist 2016: Will Bertram
Published: 25 May 2016
Will Bertram's unique illustrative style is what makes him one of the promising young Artists that we're most excited about seeing this Skipton Open Studios. In the past Will's illustrations have graced the walls of local cafes, could be seen at Festivals including Reasons, Branchage, Forum des Arts and the Natwest Island Games, have been part of exhibitions including 'Arcane' and won him awards in the Gallery Magazine's Student Art Awards and Original Open Art Competition. This year Will has been preparing new material in advance of his open studio at Jason Butler's studio, with fellow Artists Ben Robertson and Abi Overland. Will let Holly Smith photograph him in his studio, and us pick his brains to find out more about what he's been up to:
"What mediums do you work with?
A big mixture really. Pen, ink, emulsion, wax but more recently i’ve been experimenting with oil paint.
How would you describe yourself as an Artist?
I like making imagery that explores identity through cult behaviour and dark humour. I’d say I work best under a bit of pressure and like to experiment with different mediums and disciplines.
Have you taken part in Skipton Open Studios before?
I haven’t, but i’m very excited to be involved in it!
How did you first get into Art?
I always liked to draw and Lego was always my favourite toy. As I got older I did model making but it was making my own versions of things and the painting that interested me the most. Although I did art at school and considered it my favourite subject, it was only after I left education and had a year working that I realised how much I missed being creative. There was a summer when I’d drawn on some skateboards for friends and ended up doing a hand-drawn mural in another friends room, I enjoyed it so much it pushed me into going back to Highlands and carrying on with art & design. It made me realise that art & design is what I want to do with my life and that I have a real passion for creating.
Who is your creative inspiration?
I get creative inspiration from a lot of different sources. Some being artists, my favourite’s at the moment are George Condo, Albin Talik, Victor Castillo & Agustin Garcia. However I always look at Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel, Francis Bacon & Marcel Dzama. I also tend to get inspiration from current events and popular culture, at the moment imagery from Mad Max has been leaking into my work.
Why should we visit your Studio?
I’m not actually exhibiting in my own studio, I’m exhibiting in Jason Butler’s studio at 10 Commercial Buildings with Abi Overland & Ben Robertson. Our exhibition will be the first group show in Jason’s new studio following the success of his solo show ‘Seekers’. The mixture of Abi, Ben & Jason’s talents with the spacious studio should be a completely unique experience with works of art that, although differ in theme and medium, compliment each other and have an obvious flow.
What have you been doing so far in preparation for this year’s Open Studios?
Everything I’ve been doing since March has been in preparation for Skipton as well as my final exhibition at Highlands School of Art. Following a group show at the Fort Regent Art Gallery with artists Josh Bale and Sam Bullock, I’ve been trying to step out of my comfort zone and put the pens down a bit more. This has led to me working with oil paint and emulsion to create unique textures and patterns that emulate my digital work, as well as using a lot more colour than people will have previously seen in my work. As well as new techniques, I’ve been doing a lot of research and creating starting points ready to go once Highlands is finished in the month prior to Skipton. I’ve just about finished three large-scale flatpack sculptures as well as a selection of digital prints and GIF animations.
What can we expect from you from this year’s Open Studios?
I’m hoping to create a range of work that showcases all of the skills I’ve developed over the last few years, from digital prints and simple animation to oil painting combined with illustration. There will be a mixture of prints, sculpture and originals as well as some customised enamel pins exclusively available at the exhibition as well as some surprises. I don’t want to give too much away in terms of imagery. However, there will be recurring characters that will be explored through a sort of dystopian escapism and dark humour, in a way which they haven’t in the past.
Describe Jersey’s creative scene in 5 words…
From here on."
Catch Will's Open Studio during the East weekend, 2nd + 3rd July, 10:00AM - 5:00PM, where he will be showcasing alonside Ben, Abi and Jason. You can also take part in the free Seaside Illustrations session that Will is holding with fellow illustrator Sam Bullock at Seaside Shenanigans on Saturday 18 June - the perfect opportunity to learn from Jersey's Posca-Pen pros themselves! Please visit Will's artist profile for links to his website and contact details as well as a map of where to find Jason's studio.
Photos courtesy of Holly Smith Commercial Photography.