Here at Cotton On MCR we are big fans of our new Manc of the Month, himHallows! He’s a super talented illustrator, print-maker, animator and all-round lovely guy. We got to ask him all about his summer exhibition at The Modernist and the inspiration behind his work. We also heard a little about what’s yet to come! And naturally, we got to the bottom of why he’s currently “obsessed” with beetroot…
Cotton On MCR: Please introduce yourself/your work to our readers.
himHallows: ‘Hi, I’m himHallows (actual name Paul Hallows) and I’m an illustrator based in the Engine House, Islington Mill, in Salford. Currently I’m exploring hand drawn illustrations as patterns in my personal practice with an eye on making that my broader illustration work.’
CO: We saw that you recently visited your exhibition at The Modernist called ‘Infrastructure’. Can you tell us more about how that went?
hH: ‘It went really well! The whole year I had been experimenting in my practice to figure out what direction I wanted my work to head in and how to be more cohesive in my style. The infrastructure patterns fell out of that, pulling in a lot of what I’ve previously been working on and so was really lovely to see a lot of people enjoying the results and getting it too.’
CO: You weren’t always planning on being an artist for a living, we read you studied Physics with Space Technology. Can you tell us about how you settled on illustration and do you have any advice for someone considering art as a career?
hH: ‘I used to sit in lectures sketching out the next gig poster I was working on so my commitment there was pretty low…! Even though space is a very appealing place to work, I had to go with my heart. I think that’s it really, if deep down you know that whatever you do in life won’t complete that desire for something else, then you have to really think through what that means.’
CO: What do you think of Manchester’s art scene?
hH: ‘Very exciting! We have a lot of established creatives who are still pushing themselves to create stronger works and there’s still space for emerging artists to find their niches and cliques. I’m pretty enthused right now about Pink, a new gallery space coming soon and of course all the continuing changes at Islington Mill. Manchester and it’s surrounds has the constant challenge of not being bogged down by a city-wide nostalgia for our nineties past, but I think there’s enough fresh work pumping out of this city to keep us relevant. ‘
CO: What has been your biggest challenge so far?
hH: ‘Quitting a full time job to go full time freelance. It was hard adjusting to the lack of a good, steady income, a tough call especially when there’s bills to pay. I haven’t looked back though, my previous life wasn’t the one I wanted to be living.’
CO: What has been your best/proudest moment of your career?
hH: ‘There’s been a few, last summer’s exhibition at the Modernist, putting on a film and sound projection piece with all my Engine Housers at the MOSI, and seeing my animation work on screens at the Barbican. Every year brings something fresh to feel pretty proud to be part of, it makes this all feel worth it.’
CO: What keeps you motivated/what is your inspiration?
hH: ‘The moment an idea happens, when you’re thinking of the next thing to do and it starts to form in your mind, then it all clicks together, it’s a really addictive feeling. I chase that a lot. The inspiration can come from anywhere, but currently it’s all the patterns I’ve seen in life and now come flooding back to me when I’m thinking on ideas. I spend a lot more time just stopping to look these days, getting a little overwhelmed by how intricate the infrastructure around us is but how much we consume to fuel that.’
CO: We know that you’re very passionate about film. We’d love to know what your top 3 most influential films are?
hH: ‘As a child, I wasn’t really sure what art I was into (or if art was my thing) so films and TV on terrestrial telly were the most prominent visual media I was taking in. So from an entirely visual perspective (although they are probably my actual top, comfort movies), I’d say The Thing, Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan and Jaws. There’s a real sense of breathing room in films of those era’s, like a lot of shots of just open expanse and with a pretty small colour palette, you’re allowed to just sometimes sit in that for a moment. I always want to do that.’
CO: We read on your website bio that you’re currently “obsessed” with beetroot. We’re very intrigued by this! Please tell us more?
hH: ‘Last year I didn’t like beetroot and Atelier Bepop (excellent artist, go check him out!) told me if you eat something once a day for 30 days you actually start to like it. Turns out now I love beetroot! I don’t like the idea I wouldn’t enjoy something if it was served to me, especially how beautiful baby beetroot can look too. The exception is dill, it’s a garbage herb and my serving suggestion is straight into the bin.’
CO: Hahah! So what’s next for himHallows? Can you share with us your future plans or anything you currently have in the works?
hH: ‘Currently starting to have ideas and themes on the next series of patterns so hoping to build up a new body of work in 2020 with those. The piece I’m working on at the moment focuses on all the cranes and building sites that have sprung up around Manchester, I’ve not been short of reference material for that… Have future pattern plans which look at the sun loungers on Jesolo beach and maybe seats in a stadium, watch this space!’
CO: If you could meet any artist dead or alive, who would it be?
hH: ‘Gilbert Shelton, alive, he wrote and part drew the Fabulous Furry Freak brothers, an underground comic I grew up on as a teenager and absolutely loved. My earlier gig posters were pretty well influenced by this, I hear he’s living in the South of France now, maybe I need to make a pilgrimage…?’
CO: And lastly, if you could live in any artwork/painting, which would it be and why?
hH: ‘IKB 191, that deep blue expanse to just infinity, I imagine that’s a very serene place to become part of.’
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