Neck Deep bassist Fil Thorpe-Evans on illustrating: “F*ck it, I’m going to have a go at this”July 26, 2016
If you’ve caught Neck Deep live the last few months, you may have noticed their exclusive tour prints hanging out at the merch table. The artist on these posters is none other than bassist Fil Thorpe-Evans, who was more than eager to chat with AP about his newfound hobby. Who knows, maybe you’ll be seeing more of his prints soon…
Where did your interest start for illustrations?
FIL THORPE-EVANS: It’s very recent for me. Everybody assumes that because I suddenly came out with illustrations, prints and stuff, that it must be something I’ve done my whole life. It really isn’t the case! I honestly hadn’t done much of any kind of art more than a couple of years ago, if that.
I think one of the big things that got me first into it was when we played our show with Blink-182 at Brixton Academy. They had these screen printed posters by Ian Williams, limited to 50. I got one, because I saw it and I was like, “Holy shit, I’ve got to have that, that’s such a great thing to have.” I was like, “Where do I get more of these, and more different bands? I’ll start collecting them.”
I started following artists on Instagram, too. I was looking at [them] so much, I was like, “You know what: I want to do this. I love how this makes me feel, and I love looking at it, I really want to see if I can do it.” So as you do when you get interested in anything, I hit the internet, and looked up a bunch of stuff on how people do it and different ways of doing it, and techniques and equipment and all this kind of stuff. So I said, “Fuck it, I’m going to have a go at this.” I got a shelf on my computer and a lot of pens and pencils and equipment and little bits and bottles and started going at it and spending a lot of free time doing it.
“I never want to post anything that I’m not super-stoked about.”
I didn’t even really tell anybody about it, or post anything that I’m doing, because I’m sort of critical of anything I do. I never want to post anything that I’m not super-stoked about. Then came the whole thing about the website, it played into it in a major way. I had this massive list of artists that I really liked, all of them I’d be looking at their social media accounts and all the bands we knew and stuff, and they’d have all these followers. Then I’d be following these incredible artists that I loved, that had like, you know, 500 followers or 1,000 followers. I’d be like, “Man, this is crazy, why do these not have so many more followers? They’re posting stuff that’s really cool.”
Been working hard on updating @thrl_co with new products and artists. I'm also putting up two prints of my own for the first time since the site came out, 2moro at 6pm GMT. Limited to 50 and 25, all hand signed and hand numbered! Gonna have to be quick to get these. Giclee prints on velvet fine art paper, only the best. Pictured below are a sample of some of the other products currently available on the store. Wanna say a quick thank you to everyone who has purchased and supported so far. This site carries a lot of personal meaning for me and was built to help promote art and artists who I believe deserve more recognition and give people like you guys a way to find it all and support it in one place. So if you haven't already be sure to follow the instagram @thrl_co as supporting this cause is as simple as liking an artists picture! Also we are having a big holiday sale on the store right now so check it out www.thrl.co thanks again to everyone! #thrl
That’s what led me to starting the website, and I started a whole catalogue of artists, I kind of host that for them, and help promote them and give them a chance to build their fanbase .
It’s fun to me because I love doing the art, and it’s fun for kids and people to buy them and collect them. The U.S. headline tour was the first time we’d done it. I volunteered my services. I guess it worked out alright. Kids really got behind it, that was cool. Half the tour had one design and the second half had another. I thought it was fun because it gave this idea of like, you can get both, and they’re more collectible.
I’ve actually done record art for a bunch of bands recently. I’m just tweeting out, seeing anybody who needs work, and just volunteering my services because I love doing it. It’s definitely become a pretty fun thing for me. Obviously, the band comes first and I love that, and music is always going to be my number one thing. But I love doing the art thing, I do it a lot, and I spend a lot of time working on my website that sells all these other artists’ work, and I do features on them and promote them on my social media accounts.
A lot of people could get some real joy in these artists, they’re great, and they’re often great people. It just surprised me how small it is in the scene. The music is this all-encompassing thing, that everybody is into and I would die for, and then there’s the art thing that I don’t think is that much different. I think that kind of stuff should get just as [many] fans as musicians do. I think it’s all in one, and I don’t think it’s any different than music in a way.
Where are you hoping to go next with your art?
It’s kind of fun working on a record at work. Being in a band, I know the feeling of [having] a new record, and how important it is and how much time you spent on it and having artwork that relates and works with it.
Honestly with the art thing, there’s nothing I wouldn’t be into doing. One thing that I’d actually like to do is illustrate a kids book. Some people think that’s kind of weird, but that’s [my] dream. When I got into [illustrating], that was one of the genres of art that interested me the most, that I was most related to. I love it. One of the things I really enjoy doing is drawing these monsters and sinister-looking characters but in a kids-book style. I did this EP cover for a band recently, and the cover is like that. It’s this watercolor, really colorful thing. It’s this little pink monster character guy who looks really cute, innocent and happy. Behind him is this gang of really sinister-looking spooky ghosts. He’s sat on the edge of the cliff and it looks like they’re plotting something really sinister. I do really enjoy doing that, but I don’t think I could put it in a kids book. I’d get nightmares and shit, that’d be horrible.
As promised I drew a new illustration to switch out the print we've been selling so far in the tour. Decided to take a more minimalist approach with this one. So for people coming to this tour from Sacramento onwards this is the new print designed by me available at the merch booth, hand signed by the whole band and hand numbered by me! Remember each night the prints are usually limited to around 15 pieces so if you're trying to get one you gotta act fast! Collect a piece of Neck Deep merch history and piece of my personal art history! Only available at our shows on our current U.S tour #neckdeep #worldtour #collectemall #keepshowpostersalive #rockart
Can you tell us more about the exclusive Neck Deep tour prints?
I’m going to be doing more of the Neck Deep posters, and I want to make that a bit of a thing on tour, like there’s always one of them, and it’s always there for people who really enjoy that and collect it like I do. I have a garage filled with prints and posters, most of them are in tubes because I’ve got nowhere else to hang them all. I’m going to be doing more of them, but outside of doing stuff for Neck Deep, I’d love to do anything, really.
That first one I drew, the big colorful one, with the weird forest and the monster creeping over the house. I felt like that had this weird folklore thing. I was like, “Oh, this looks like an illustration of some weird Old English folklore about kids getting eaten in the night by some kind of monster.” We were already on the tour when I decided we wanted to do a second one halfway through. Originally, we were going to do that one all the way through. I just sat there one day, and thought, “Oh that’ll be sick, halfway through the tour, we’ll switch it up and we’ll make it even more limited, and the second one is the next phase of it.” Because it was one tour and it was splitting halfway through, I wanted the second print to be not completely new and random and different, but from the same weird universe the first one was in. If I’ll do two prints on one tour, I kind of want them to be related, because they’ll look like they’re from the same time period. The second one I did in just black and white, because the first one was really colorful and really bold-looking.
What was your learning process like?
I [start] with a little pencil and paper and draw out ideas first. I’m really bad for not spending enough time on that part. I often do things where I get excited about it and I want to get it straight into the computer and I skip over the first part and it makes it harder for me in the long run because I have to re-do things.
Then I take it to Illustrator—I know a lot of people go straight into Photoshop and just draw stuff in there, or whatever—but I kind of map everything out in Illustrator and draw geometric shapes. Then it goes from Illustrator to Photoshop and I put texture in it and paint it, and do brushes and all this crazy stuff to make it look real. That’s just the way I do it, because that’s the way I learned. Just from research online.
I designed this screen poster as a limited edition special print that you can purchase along side tickets to our UK headline tour at www.neckdeeptour.com! It's the first time ill be actually screen printing one of my designs and I'm pretty happy with it! The tickets are selling fast so make sure you act fast. There may also be an alternative extremely limited colour way of this print being sold somewhere special in the near future so keep your eyes open 😉 #neckdeep #UKTOUR
“If you care about it enough, you’ll make it work.”
It’s crazy, you can learn anything online. It goes without saying, but if you spend enough time and look in the right places, you can pick up anything. I learned all this stuff in a couple weeks. On Monday, I’d woken up and I’d never done anything, I didn’t really even know how to use Photoshop or Illustrator, and then two weeks later, I was making stuff that looks like the stuff I make now. It’s as simple as knowing where to look and taking the time. If you care about it enough, you’ll make it work. Just practicing it, and I did a lot of little testing stuff. Then I got my head around it a little bit. I still do that now, I’m constantly looking for new info on it and new ways to do it just like you would anything you care about. Yeah, that’s the process.
The biggest thing people are surprised about is that I’ve not done it forever. People always ask me, “How long you been doing the art thing?” I’m like, honestly, a year or two. I just one day was like I’m going to do it. That’s a personality thing, if I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. I’m going to throw my entire self into it, and I’m going to sit there for days watching stuff online, making sure I know how to do it perfectly before I even start.
What about your website?
It is a platform that I built, and every [piece] on that site is picked by me. It also sells tattoos and I love tattoo fashion—I think that’s something a lot of people want and they don’t really know where to get it. They think they need to get it directly from a tattoo artist, and they don’t have time for that. All these tattoo artists I really like and care about, I’m like, “Yo, make these designs and I’ll put them up on the site and promote them for you,” but yeah, every artist on there is picked by me and we pick all the stuff together. It’s just a platform I’ve built to help them make some money for themselves and to further their name.
Everyone’s trying to buy the best T-shirt or [something else], and I’m like, buy something that means something more. I don’t know, I guess I enjoy buying art and buying prints and collecting stuff. I know not everyone’s going to be into that, but if they are or if they find something in it, I didn’t really feel like there was a place to do that. Especially for art. When I was trying to get into it, I really struggled to find somewhere where I could go online and see things that I was like, “Oh, that’s cool, oh that gives me an idea.”