The giffgaff Happenings are a series of events hosted by mobile network provider giffgaff. There's a workshop starting today in Cardiff, with self-taught illustrator Phil Morgan. The Happenings will look to give younger creatives and illustrators the opportunity to hear about Phil's journey as an artist. Phil's work has that urban street edge which grabbed my attention so I thought I would find out a bit more about his inspirations, process and future projects...
What's your story and how did you get to where you are today? My name is Phil Morgan and I am an artist / illustrator working and living in Penarth, just outside of Cardiff, South Wales. I have been drawing from a very early age but have only been taking it seriously or not so seriously in the last five or six years. Back in 2004 I was working full time in City Surf, the oldest skate and surf shop in Wales. I was working with a good friend of mine called Matthew Ryan who started up a skate company called Crayon Skateboards back in 2007. In the year of 2009, I designed my first skateboard graphic for his company which led on to me designing a further five different board graphics for the company. Since then, I have worked with artists designing band merchandise, worked with a street clothing label over in Los Angeles, created a bunch of wall murals for various clients as well as focusing my attention on my own artwork.
Which is your favourite character illustration that you've drawn to date? It's really hard to choose but one that stands out for me is the Kanye West wall piece I created for the Art In The Warehouse Group Exhibition last year at the Milgi Bar in Roath, Cardiff.
What did you want to do when you were 10 years old? I wanted to be member of the Bones Brigade. It never happened unfortunately...
Which uni did you go to and what did you study? I have never been to university. I attended Bridgend College back in 2005 but dropped out half way through the first year. I was on a course titled Interactive New Media Technology which was teaching me how to use programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, In Design, Cinema 4D etc. I found it a lot to take in since I had been out of education for such a long time. It blew mind a little bit. I did manage to take the skills I learned from Photoshop which I still use today. I have never to this day got on with Illustrator. In school I didn't get very good grades. I left at 16 and wanted to get a job and have fun. I have had around 35 different jobs over the years and it's great to finally be working for myself.
What is the proudest moment of your career to date? I think honestly the first time seeing my artwork as a skateboard graphic. For any kid growing up listening to punk rock, creating art and skateboarding, it's what they always dream of seeing. I am still thankful to this day for Matt giving me that opportunity.
Which project has been a career highlight? I am working on one right now which I am not able to discuss but I can tell you it's a pilot art film for a big soft drinks company. Very exciting stuff.
How did you come to collaborate with giffgaff for the ' Happenings ' project in Cardiff? I was approached by a friend called Phil Traxx from a local band called Astroid Boys and designed the album artwork for his band's new record. They were featured in a recent advert for mobile network provider giffgaff's new campaign, called "We're all the boss" and the lovely Abi Pearl from advertising agency Fallon got in contact asking whether I would be interested in working on the poster campaign giffgaff were putting together. I designed five new illustrations which turned out to work really well for them. It's now led on to me doing a giffgaff Happenings event this week. Happenings is essentially a workshop with a bunch of young budding artists looking for inspiration and ideas. It'll be a chance to get more information about my career and a bit of insight, whilst doing some work of their own. All this stuff is new to me as I am still learning myself everyday.
How do you promote yourself? I use social media sites like Instagram, Flickr and Tumblr to get people to see my work.
Do you love or loathe social media? I have a love / hate relationship with certain sites. I have stopped using facebook because it's a massive time waster. I enjoy using Instagram as it's handy to show folks my work in progress and new pieces of illustrations without the bullsh*t. Flickr has been a great site to use as it has helped me reach out to a lot more people also being creative as well as bringing in some good work. I also use Tumblr as a site to show my work.
Which tools do you use to create stuff and what is your creative process? When I first got back in to art I was using mainly Photoshop to create my illustrations using my graphics tablet. The best investment anyone creating design work from an early start is to have one for sure. I use it as a tool to help me draw stuff and create ideas with on a daily basis, especially when it comes to doing more client based work. I have ditched it a lot more these days as I way prefer to create pieces of work by hand. I like to work more organically. My daily process is waking up early with a cup of coffee and doodling most of the morning. If I'm in to the sketches I am creating, then I will possibly turn them in to pieces of work. I am stock pilling a lot of my work at the minute for use one day in a show.
Where do you find inspiration? I find inspiration from a lot of obvious things. Films, music, books etc. I do spend a great deal of time thinking up ideas. I carry a small sketch book with me where ever I am to write down ideas or doodle stuff for future pieces of work. I find it really hard these days to switch off.
What do you love about what you do? Truthfully? I love waking up and taking no sh*t from anybody. I find it very liberating.
What is your favourite music to work to? I listen to a lot of Six Music throughout my day but if I get tired of that then I tend to listen to bands like Fugazi, The Pixies, Minutemen, Rocket From The Crypt, !!!, Gil Scott Heron, Tom Waits. All kinds of stuff.
What do you spread on your toast in the morning? I tend to lay of bread as I spend most of my time sitting on my ass, but, If I'm being healthy then some avocado with added Tabasco or if I'm hungover then loads of Marmite.
What are you working on at the moment? I have just finished two new pieces of artwork for a group art exhibition taking place in Los Angeles this month called ' Chilled Air ' curated by two good friends of mine, Luke Pelletier and Austin England. Next week I start work on a new wall mural for the Wales Millennium Centre Car Park which I am really looking forward to starting. Other than that, I am always on the hustle for work.