Recent University of Brighton graduate, Paul Layzell is a London-based illustrator with a delightfully edgy retro-vibe to his work. With a seemingly similar adoration for the grittiness of ’70s and ’80s New York as my good self, his work could just as easily adorn the walls of seedy pre-Giuliani Lower East Side Manhattan as they could a 21st century hip East London bar – there’s definitely a timeless cool to the young artist’s illustrations, and its a cool we’re looking forward to seeing so much more of.
Enthused by the young punk’s deft touch with a doodle, we caught up with him to talk creativity, family, basketball and the Olympics..
Where’s your hometown, and where are you based now?
I was raised in Cardiff, currently reside in Southeast London.
Do you think location affects creativity?
Not necessarily. For me personally, being in a positive place helps me stay motivated and inspired. But I think creativity is a way of thinking that can flourish anywhere.
Is Britain’s creative industry too London-centric?
Yes. Emphasis on the ‘industry’ bit though. There are plenty of great creative communities across the UK, but in terms of making a living, your chances are better in London. For better or for worse.
How would you describe British creativity?
Dynamic. There is such a variation of work being produced that the climate is never stagnate, there’s always something fresh round the corner.
Has being British had an effect on your discipline?
Quite Possibly, although I can’t be sure as I don’t know any different.
What do you think the rest of the world’s view of British creativity is?
I think it is seen as a place that produces great work and talent. I hope the world realises that it thrives off ambitious people coming from all over and being a part of this great community.
The Swinging ’60s, punk, Hacienda-era Manchester… is there one period of intense British creativity that you’d like to have been a part of, and why?
Boy, that’s a tough one. Maybe around the 1980s, I like the aesthetics associated with that time, a lot of great art was being produced, music videos were coming to the fore. I can see myself enjoying that.
Are there any quintessential British traditions that inform your work?
Nothing stereotypically British, I don’t think. I draw a lot from the environment I’m in, so perhaps there are some British qualities rubbing off.
Where in Britain do you feel most inspired?
London. I like a little get up and go, London has plenty of it!
The top 3 British creatives who have inspired you?
I’m going to throw a curve-ball here and list 3 creatives who I know personally, as I get most of my inspiration from my peers;
Matt Layzell: My brother, growing up I learnt everything I know about drawing from him.
Pete Gamlen: Illustrator and best buddy, I always get excited to do new work whenever I see he’s been busy.
James Hines: Old uni comrade, has a preternatural sense for design and aesthetics.
If you could collaborate with one GB creative, from any field, who would it be, and why?
Wilfrid Wood. He makes beautiful sculptures, something I have never done and would love to learn about.
Will you be watching the Olympics?
Yes! I have tickets to a basketball game.
If creativity was an Olympic sport, who’s the one person you’d want to represent Britain on the global stage?
James Jarvis, he’s a prolific artist, plus I hear he’s into his running.
Which sport would you like to compete in at London 2012?
Basketball! I play in my spare time, but I am by no means Olympic standard… yet.
You couldn’t live without…
Music. Cliche, I know, but I love it so. I make music when I’m not drawing, I listen to music when I am drawing.
What makes you smile?
Stupid stuff. Internet goofs. Puns.
The best piece of advice you’ve ever been given…
“…Paul, dont be an artist, It’s a hard life and you won’t make any money…”
We’re going to the pub and we’re buying, what are you drinking?
Pint of bitter and a single whisky with ice, please. Cheers.
What’s next for you?
Keeping myself busy, working on as many projects as I can, launching the ‘Layzell Bros’ website… I better get cracking!