Phlegms large scale and intricate street art has taken many forms over the years. From full colour wall murals to black and white illustrations, with his current pieces looking like they’ve jumped straight from the pages of his sketchbooks on to the walls of South Yorkshire.

But aside from being one of the most talked about street artists of  this year, with work featuring on the Wooster Collective, Concrete Hermit and Vandalog to name a few, Phlegm holds a true passion for comic book publication and one could argue that he’s an illustrator, first and foremost.

Having recently declared that he’ll be turning his back on the exhibition circuit for good in order to focus on new projects, Pejhy decided to catch up with the artist for a rare interview in order to gain an insight into some of the themes behind his work, his current methods and his views on the art industry.

When speaking to artists and galleries in Sheffield I found that you had a reputation for being quite a private artist. Gaining the respect of the local artists by exhibiting only when it feels right to you and then only on your terms. What are your thoughts behind exhibiting? Are you against your art being used a source of entertainment?

I’ve done a few small shows in the past but last year I decided to I stop exhibiting altogether, even in group shows. I have a love hate relationship with what I do.

Working on walls instead of canvass and making books instead of doing shows cuts out all the crap. It puts my work in the world for people to take it or leave it, with no brands or gallery reputations attached. Too many artists these days just don’t seem driven by ideas and a burning desire to follow a body of work. It’s just constant spamming, networking and hype. For me the work is way more important than getting somewhere with it.

One aspect of your work I really admire is your mock advertisements, highlighting the naivety of consumers and the way businesses manipulate us into believing we need there products to be happy. How do you feel as a consumer yourself?

I try and just keep away from it all; apart from buying paint and ink I really don’t need anything. Most of the time I find it funny like I’m walking around in a Douglas Adams novel.

I love the fact that you can advertise a shoe with a special heel that tones your arse and that people will buy that rather than exercise properly. That you can buy face creams that cost huge sums of money because they have some extract from a herb that flowers once a year on a full moon or some shit…like we can force back the ageing process with this 0.00001% extract.

Your recent time lapse video has been well received around the web, featuring on many blogs (including this one). Why do you think more and more artists, street artists in particular, are using the medium of film to show their work?

I think for artists that work in an ephemeral and spontaneous way video has become a great outlet these days. It shows the speed and freedom that makes this kind of art what it is.

You regularly blog you work in progress and keep your site updated with recent work and show previews of up and coming comics. As an artist working today do you think it’s important to have an online presence?

My blog is for me really, I see it as a diary. I update every week and it keeps me on my toes, helping keep lulls and burnouts at bay…helps me keep my pace. I’m not sure if I can say it’s important for all artists, I can only speak for myself really. It seems that having an online presence is important whether you’re an artist or not these days so I guess it must be important.I don’t mind updating one thing every week for anyone out there interested.

Some people have Myspace, Facebook, twitter, a blog, a website, a flickr account… I think at some point you must have to take a day off to do some artwork… so yeah it’s important but I think it can easily be detrimental as an artist or just as a person too.

Your last comic publication, issue 9: the sketchbook issue was unique in that it showed the reader how one of your works would evolve over time. It seemed like quite a personal issue. What made you want to publish a comic of your work in progress?

To honest it was just knocked together because I didn’t really have time to do another issue at the time. I was working on a bigger long term book project.

I produce huge amounts of sketchbooks; I have shelves full of them. I think I’m always looking for ways to use them in some way. The old issues of my comic from one to five had sections of sketchy Shrigley style drawings all of which I used to scan from my notebooks.

I recently purchased a comic on your recommendation, “Funeral” by Barnaby Richards which was absolutely beautiful. What other comics can you recommend?

I love Chris ware and Tom Gauld. Lesser known artists like Mark Beyer too. I like a lot of outsider art like Henry Dargers mad journals or the books of insane flying machines drawn by Charles Dellschau.

I don’t read a great deal of stuff because I don’t like being influenced. Every now and then I’ll treat myself though.

Is it true you’re currently working on your first book? What other projects do you have lined up for the future?

Yes I figured that if I’m rejecting gallery work I need to look at taking my self publishing to another level. I’m working on a long story set at sea called ‘in brine’ Its going to be a few hundred pages long, a4 and with a hard spine.

I’m currently about half way through drawing it. The next issue of phlegm will be out mid to late November and then I’m going to take a long break from the comic while I get in brine wrapped up.

Unfortunately I’m unable to post all of my favorite images from Phlegm’s huge portfolio of sketches and street art, so to see more from the artist please visit his website HERE

Crystal Morey is an American based artists whose delicate work in sculpture and drawing aims to explore human emotion and our relationship with nature. Intelligently portraying raw emotion and honesty in her work through images of  open palmed hands and faces, Crystal is proving to be one of the most important figures of the ever expanding Oakland art scene.

We recently caught up with Crystal in order to find out what themes are behind her new body of work and what techniques are used when shes capturing emotion in her sculptures.

A lot of your work deals with human emotion and in a recent interview you stated that your work has become more and more introspective over the years. What mental processes do you go through in order to come up with the emotions you want to portray in a piece?

My work has actually been very introspective and personal in the past and has taken a different route lately. I have been working on a body of work that is dealing with emotion in relation to environment. I have been building sculptures with figures in full backgrounds and themes of natural cycles and man-made changes in nature.

I don’t know if I have a mental process I go through in order to portray emotion. I try not to think about how the figures in my work feel, I try to feel the emotions I want them to exude and show them in the body, face and hands.

When you have an emotion you want to portray in a piece, how do you then avoid letting your current mood and feeling effect the end result as you work on the piece over time?

I try to work really fast! If I have a new idea for a piece I try to start and finish sculpting within a week. I find that I lose ideas or an idea can be diluted even if I make detailed sketches. I like to work with vigor and potency and they both escape me if I wait to long.

In your landscape pieces you said that you have taken inspiration from, amongst other things, nature and memory. Is there any place in particular that has inspired your work recently? is this reflected in the piece?

I use imagery from nature to make statements about the environment and to give my figures a context. I spent my childhood living in the forest surrounded by tall trees, mountains, rocks, and streams. Nature is a reflective, quiet place for me, a space where my mind can wander and be contemplative. Nature is also a precious place, it is finite and ephemeral, I like to work with this idea as an over-arching theme.

You seem to get a lot of support from other artists, including John Casey who has photographed a number of your works. If you could collaborate with anyone either living or dead who would it be?

The Oakland art scene is really strong right now and filled with lots of new galleries and artists. There is a momentum and everyone is really involved. I have a lot of support from other artists in the area. We are all working towards the same goals and it is really motivating to work as a group or a movement.

I would love to collaborate with so many different artists for so many different reasons. I have found that in the past, when collaborating with other artists, that I learn so much about working with people and my own ideas. But if I had to come up with a short list of dream collaborators, I would have to include Kevin Taylor, Tiffany Bozic, Egon Schiele, Akio Takamori, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and Jay Shafer from Tumbleweed Tiny Homes.

What’s the name of the exhibition you have coming up?

I am in several group shows that are coming up, although I am most excited about a solo exhibition at Rowan Morrison Gallery in Oakland this December.  The name of the show is ‘March Into The Sea’ and deals with ideas about the death of nature.

December 2010 – www.rowanmorrison.com

I have a drawing at POVevolving opening August 7th www.povevolving.com

What’s the idea or theme behind your new body of work that you have prepared for the exhibition?

My intention is to explore the human experience of emotion, and its relationship with the environment. I want to study the tenuous, symbiotic balance between human necessities and the health of our natural habitat of forests, oceans, mountains, and deserts. Everyday we strengthen the disconnect between what we use in our lives, and the destructive effects it has on where we live, the air we breathe and the water we drink. We have made a departure from nature and the balance that should exist has been broken. In my work I want to reveal the ephemeral quality of human life and show our dependence on an increasingly delicate ecosystem.

Which of your new pieces are you most proud of in terms of how honestly it has reflected the emotion you have wanted to portray?

“The Long Wait” is a piece I am pretty happy with right now. The idea behind the work shows that in order for new life there must be death. This piece shows a cycle of disintegration and growth at the same time.

When working on that piece what were your working conditions? What environment do you have to be in, in order to capture the raw emotion in your sculptures?

I need quiet time in order to think and read about current events. I listen to National Public Radio for inspiration. I have ongoing ideas and stories that build and need regular working time in the studio to stay constant.

To see more of Crystal’s work and to keep up to date with her exhibition schedule please vist her website: http://www.crystalmorey.com/

As another academic year comes to a close, universities up and down the country present to us their finest servings of fresh faced graphic designers and illustrators. This years show at Sheffield Hallam University has introduced me to the work of recently graduated illustrator Tom Casson.

Displaying his work in the form of prints and hand made zine’s, in his up and coming self publication “A Vision Of The Future” Tom has taken examples of modern culture and twisted them to paint his own (hilarious) view of western civilization in the year 2020. Tom writes “A Facebook profile is deemed worthy enough that Birth Certificates and Passports are fazed out”. We certainly hope that isn’t the case.

Showing a great sence of fun in his work we decided to invite Tom to answer a few questions for Pejhy before he enters the working world, heres what he had to say:

Congratulations on your nomination to take part in this years D&AD show. What will you be displaying at the exhibition? have you been given the opportunity to submit new pieces or will you be showing work from your graduation show?

This is awkward *laughs* Unfortunately, I can not attend this years show. I am off to the USA for the summer next week, as I am working at a Special Needs camp in Pennsylvania. I did it last year and really enjoyed it so I am not too upset about missing out on the show.

Something i particularly enjoyed from you at the Creative Spark group show was your zine “A Vision of the Future”. Do you have any plans to make this publication more widely available?

Thank you and yes, I am going to release ‘A Vision of the Future’ later this year. I am going to reprint the zine, send a few out to possible employers. Then start selling the zine itself with a few screen prints of images from the booklet on my website, once that is up and running. Don’t hesitate, get your orders in now !

As an illustrator do you think it’s important to work on one recognizable style or is that something that comes naturally?

I believe when starting out as an illustrator it is important to have a certain style, wether that be the method and techniques you use or the concepts behind your work. This, then leaves room for experimentation as you progress in your career. I guess when you have been drawing for so long it eventually becomes natural when you first put pen to paper. I think its important not to be too strongly influenced by what’s fashionable and/or the current trend within illustration.

When creating pieces of assessed work or exhibition pieces, what are your ideal working conditions?

I really enjoy working at home. With everything I own around me, as then I can refer to a book or have a can of Rubicon Mango whenever I please.The most important thing is that I must always, always have music on. Its got the ability to inspire you and it can suit every type of mood you are in. I am currently listening to the album “Nigerian Rock Special: Psychedelic Afro-Rock & Fuzz Funk in 1970’s Nigeria”.

Who are you favourite illustrators working today? if you could work for/with anyone in the industry who would they be?

I have a few, Simon Spilsbury, Peter Arkle, I also really enjoy Vic Reeves’ work. I went to see him at a Q&A recently at the Lyceum in Sheffield and he was hilarious. His book ‘Vast Book of World Knowledge’ is one of the funniest things I have ever read/looked at. As for work, I would love my illustrations to be represented by the CIA (Central Illustration Agency) they have a great collective that show the full range of illustration that is around around today.

How would you personally measure what it is to be a successful illustrator?

Very difficult question especially as a graduate. Personally all I want to do is make people laugh. I think to be able to create images that need no caption, no explanation, that people just understand and enjoy, that’s being ‘successful’ for me.

Finally, now that you have finished your degree what do you have planned for the future?

Well as I said earlier, I am off to America for the summer. I am treating it as somewhat of a sabbatical, before coming back refreshed with quite afew exciting projects in the pipe line, including the “Vision of the Future” publication release. Of course setting up my website and looking for freelance work as I go. For now there is my blog:

http://tomcassonillustration.blogspot.com

I was first introduced to the work of London based illustrator Gina Baber a few weeks back by master remixer and producer Gold Panda after his gig in Sheffield when inquiring who had designed his amazing t-shirt print.

Crafting her beautiful illustrations for some of  the most prestigious names in electronic music ( including Gold Panda, Erol Alkan and Primary1), Gina has begun the move from the album cover and flyer design to build up a strong portfolio of delicate drawings and t-shirt prints. I recently caught up with her to reflect on her current works and find out what we can be expecting in the future:

First I’d like to thank you for taking the time for answer our questions, would you like to introduce yourself to our readers, any formal art training or qualifications? how did you start out as an illustrator?

Hey, my name’s Gina Baber. I studied BA Illustration at The Arts Institute at Bournemouth. I moved to London 4 years ago and started working as the poster designer for Trash & then Durrr. I make artwork for bands, musicians, clubnights & various other projects and spend the rest of my time working at Rough Trade, buying records, playing tennis and watching cookery shows and hip hop videos.

We’ve seen a fair bit of commercial work from you in the music industry. What are the benefits of working as an illustrator for other creative industries? Do you have a lot of freedom over what you produce or do you still have to work to a very strict brief?

I love working with musicians because music is my other main passion and I find it exciting to produce images that reflect the feeling of the  music. With most of the people I have worked with I have been lucky enough to have the freedom to produce images that have been inspired by  the style or feeling of the musicians work.

So what music inspires you when you work?

I am inspired by punk, post-punk, new wave disco and 50’s/60’s  rock’n’roll and the style and imagery that goes with it. I also love hip hop & RnB and listen to that a lot of the time. I really like the  type and graphics used on 90s hip hop records and music videos.  It really depends on what I’m working on or the time of day but I do  seem to work at night quite a lot of the time and disco seems to fit  that nicely.

Top 3 tracks at the moment:

1. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – They Reminisce Over You

2. Washed Out – Belong

3. Harlem – Gay Human Bones

There’s a consistent set of soft colours used in your illustrations and  I’ve noticed you like to include images of “hands” in many of your pieces. How  long did it take you to find your style, and what has inspired it along the way?

I think I have always used a lot of colour in my work. I am inspired by the paintings of Hockney, Matisse, Warhol, Keith Haring & Richard Hamilton amongst others, punk sleeves & posters, North American Indian, South American, Egyptian & Aboriginal textiles and painting. Clouds & sunset.

How would you normally start a new piece of work? What process do you go through?

It depends, but I usually do lots of drawings and bits of collage and  somehow piece them all together. I often use my own photography as  initial inspiration as well. I am currently doing a lot of screen  printing and making marbled & collaged backgrounds that I then print onto and embellish.

Where do you go for artistic inspiration? Who are your favourite artists/illustrators working today? Any favourite galleries?

Some of my favourite artists/illustrators working today include Bjorn  Copeland of Black Dice, Shawn Reed of Wet Hair & Raccoo-oo-oon who  runs an amazing label called Night People records and does all the  artwork. I also love Susumi Mukai (Zongamin). He is incredibly talented.

From your website I’ve only been able to find one print for sale, entitled “O//wl_s”. Is there anywhere else we could purchase your work from? will you be releasing anymore prints at your next exhibition?

I am currently working on a set of limited prints, zines & t shirts  which I will be selling through my website and at the exhibitions I am  currently planning with my friend Patrick.

What can we be expecting from you in the second half of 2010?

I will be doing solo and joint exhibitions with a couple of friends, and hope to start a very small clothing range (mainly printed shorts),  learn to play the drums, do more artwork for bands and start a record  label and an RnB/hip hop night with a difference.

You can find more of Gina’s illustrations on her website.

Daniel Brereton (AKA Dan has Potential) is a London based artist turned video director known for his raw style, use of bright colours, Aztec themes and geometric shapes.

Most of you will recognise Daniel’s work as a music video director, producing modern classics such as Radio Ladio by Metronomy , True Romance by Golden Slivers, Bathroom Gurgle by Late Of The Pier and Dream Off by Best Fwends amongst others.

Dan was recently kind enough to take some time out of his work schedule for a brief telephone chat, here’s what he had to say:

Where do you go in search of art?

I’m always on flickr looking up crass images, recently I’ve enjoyed the work of M Bomba and Mattew Lock from ww.puffandmagic.com his work is amazingly intricate.

You mentioned on your Flickr page that you draw inspiration from Outsider artists such as Joseph E. Yoakum. What styles really get you going?

I love Outsider art or folk art, basically anything that is figurative. I think the best art is from the imagination when you can’t see clearly in a piece that forms have been studied.

I think that a lot of my best work comes from being spontaneous; I’ll produce my best drawings with little preparation as it doesn’t help to think about ground rules.

In your self portrait you’ve made your self look very in-human, almost robotic. Has this come from your love of triangles?

With my self portrait I was experimenting with lines and shapes, building up a picture. I love looking at drawings and deconstructing them.

When directing and producing music video’s how much creative control will you have in comparison to what the record label and artists want?

I have to approach work very differently when it’s for a client, which is probably why I don’t do a lot of commercial work.

When producing music videos my level of creative input will varies on the artist and record label I’m working for. Late Of The Pier, for example had a lot of input where as someone like Metronomy had less so.

The music videos you direct can have a very strong personality, for example the video you directed for Best Fwends features your original Onionhead character and many other themes we see regularly reoccurring in your artwork. Has there ever been problems with creative differences, e.g your ideas not meeting the bands image?

It’s a strange thing, the music industry, as image is a very important thing. I understand how some of my ideas my not match the bands ideas.

The Cribs were a difficult band to produce for at first, they have such a strong image that the record label clearly wanted to preserve. When working on that project my approach was very different, I had to adapt my ideas to what would work with them.

Are there any videos are you working on at the moment?

January is a pretty dead time for the music industry so nothing going on at the moment, however I’ll soon be working on a new music video for Your Twenties, who are Gabriel Stebbing’s (From Metronomy) new band.

Do you listen to music while working, say if your thinking up ideas for a specific music video will you listen to the track in question over and over again?

When working i like listening  bands like Metronomy… ect. At the moment I’m really into Neil Young and Cat Stevens

You’ve been off the exhibition circuit for quite some time; do you have any shows lined up in the near future?

Aside from my video work, I draw every single day so I’m always working. The next show I’m involved in is called “The Art of Conversation”. The idea of the show is basically like a visual game of Chinese Whispers which each artist creating a piece in response to the one before.

The show will feature a tone of artists and will stretch from London to Berlin.

Dan’s brand spanking new handmade zine  is available now from the Chapter One gallery, a steal at only £4.00. Limited edition of 20.