FRONT Magazine

ILLUSTRATOR PROFILE: KEATON HENSON

Tell us a quick bit about yourself.
My name’s Keaton and I’m an illustrator/artist and songwriter from London. I spend most of my day drawing strange things with lots of hair, writing/recording songs, or watching Columbo.

Full interview and image gallery after the jump…

Talk us through a typical job, from the initial idea to a completed piece.
Well, I usually start by just going outside and gathering a bunch of ideas in my head, sorting them into piles of good and bad, then sometimes I’ll do some sketches but usually just go straight into the final drawing. In most cases I start by drawing a rough shape, which helps me figure the composition, then I kind of fill it in with whatever idea I’ve had. Once I’ve finished the drawing, I scan it and either colour it or send it straight to print.

Disney or anime? Toilet-wall graffiti or photorealism?
Well, Disney feels a bit like Coca-Cola or Nazi Germany to me, so it never really grabbed me. I don’t think I was ever bored enough to truly get into anime, and toilet-wall graffiti is something I don’t pay too much attention to (but do wonder how people have the time to do it in there). Photorealism has been totally obsolete since the camera was invented. It’s the art equivalent of men in guitar shops ‘trying out’ guitars and playing 20-minute blues guitar solos.

Do you prefer working freehand or doing as much as you can on computer?
I really love to draw. The computer stuff’s fine for colouring if the client has asked for it, but for me I’m happiest when I’m just drawing in ink on paper.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen?
God knows. I spend most of my time indoors so mostly see cool things on TV or out the window. There’s a pretty cool bird drinking from a puddle out there now.

What artists/illustrators do you look up to?
The guys I majorly admire are Sam Weber,
Chris Norris,
Dan McCarthy and
Jonathan Viner. There’s a ton more but I’d say those guys really are the most incredible artists.

I say it in a lot of interviews and always feel I shouldn’t have, but I really think if you want to be an illustrator you should just draw, (or paint, or whatever you do). Basically, I think university for art is a ridiculous concept. If you’re considering studying any kind of art at uni you should think about how much you enjoy drawing, how much someone else can actually teach you about how to develop YOUR style, and whether the time might be better spent drawing for two years and trying to get real art jobs.

I see countless unique, awesome artists going to uni, and coming out with a dated style you can only define as ‘art student’. They’re suddenly terrified as the three years I spent begging for paid jobs are just beginning for them now and they’re nearly 25.

See more of Keaton’s awesome work in FRONT every month (on the Secret Language page as well as loads of one-off stuff) and on his site keatonhenson.com.

Also the ultra talented fella has turned his hand to music. Check his video here.

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