SQUARE ONE: Steven Rhodes

Meet Steven, one of the artists for our Square One exhibition opening on 2nd of March.

Some of you may remember our handsome set of strutten postcards that were featured in last year’s Semi-Permanent packs. The man behind these truly wondrous pieces of work, Steve Rhodes (or as he’s more affectionately known “Rhodsey”) took some time to have a yarn with us about life, love and some questions referring to our Square One exhibition this Friday… but mainly questions referring to our Square One exhibition this Friday.

So without further ado  – the amazingly talented Steven Rhodes!


Where did you grow up? Have you lived most of your life
in Brisbane?

I’ve lived my entire life in Brisbane. You could say it’s because I’ve had an on-going love affair with this remarkable sub-tropical city, but don’t.


Your illustrations range from striking pop culture inspired posters, to beautiful, dreamlike animal/nature focused portraits, how would you describe your work?

I generally start with hand-drawings which I ink, scan and colour digitally on the computer.  I try to evoke a mysterious atmosphere by using a limited, vintage-inspired colour-palette, strange light and far too many full moons. Nature is a common theme in alot of my work but I also have a soft spot for wolfmen, zombies and swamp creatures.


Who are some artists you admire? How do you think they’ve shaped your style/technique?

The work of graphic novelist Daniel Clowes has been really inspiring me lately.  His drawings are deceptively simple but tell such a richly detailed story. And he does great 50’s era typography.
I’m inspired by so many styles. Norman Saunders (for his pulp art) and Charley Harper (for his mid century modernism) are a couple of other heroes. I’ve been trying to figure out ways of blending different styles into coherent pieces.


Coming from a strong background in landscape architecture, during that time did you ever think that one day you’d ever be making a career for yourself as a freelance illustrator/designer?

No, not really. I studied landscape architecture because I convinced myself it was going to be too hard to make a living from artistic endeavours. But eventually my creative desires bubbled to the surface like a drowning sealion and I had to have a career change. It was pretty scary but also pretty exciting and it’s a decision I’m glad I made.


What was that first opportunity you had that put you on the path to where you are today as an illustrator/designer?

I won a competition to design the cover of Time Off magazine with an illustration I did of Ladyhawke. It gave me some good exposure (and a Macbook) but most significantly, gave me the confidence to keep pursuing this thing.


From your previous design experience, how do you find working in full time roles as opposed to your freelance work?

I’m currently working full-time as a designer/illustrator for a surf-skate-street clothing brand. It’s more about designing for a very specific target market than doing my own style of work but it’s a pretty fun challenge (…and a steady income)


Looking back, what was your favourite project you’ve worked on
and why?

I was invited to work on a press ad for Shillington College that appeared in Monster Children, in collaboration with a design hero of mine, Timba Smits. We’re both ex-students of Shillington and we basically had free-reign to come up with whatever we wanted. We came up with a vintage sci-fi inspired piece and it was really satisfying.


Tell us a little about some of the stuff you’re unveiling at our exhibition

Well I love vintage pulp horror, science fiction and noir movie posters and book covers so I’ve used that as my starting point. I’m basically trying to recreate a series of authentic looking posters but with my own strange and hopefully humorous spin.  I’m also mixing up a few genres together.  


What do you wish you knew at your ‘square one’? (What gift of wisdom would you bestow upon your younger self over a cup of tea and a firm handshake)

Follow your heart. When my art teacher found out I wasn’t going to be studying art at university, I remember her telling me that I would drive myself crazy from artistic frustration– and she was so right.  But 17 year olds don’t tend to pay much attention to the advice of teachers because we’re far too cool and adults wouldn’t understand anyway.


Threadless Tees, street press, exhibitions – what can we look forward to next from Steven Rhodes

A shirt I designed just got released in Gap stores across the US in collaboration with Threadless, which should introduce my work to a much wider audience. That’s something…and maybe a kids book….and there’s talk of a festival poster. It’s going to be a magical year.

To see more of the fantastic Mr. Rhodes – visit his website here.
Better yet, do yourself a favour and come and check out his work in person! this Friday at Bleeding Heart Gallery.

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