A guy Called Minty X Peaceful Hooligan Q&A

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in illustration? 

Well, in the very early days when I was a kid, it was always superheroes or Warner Brothers cartoons like Yosemite Sam and Roadrunner. I was constantly drawing the characters over and over. Then, getting into high school, it was constant football, copying players from the cover of Match and Shoot. Then college was more graphic and fashion illustrations. Music, fashion, and football have always been a constant in my work, especially when I pulled the trigger in 2008 and went self-employed. Manchester music and the casual scene were a starting point for the work I was creating, whilst at the same time developing a style of my own.


What inspired you to pursue a career as an illustrator? 

From when I was a nipper, I was always drawing. It’s just stayed with me throughout my life. It was something I couldn’t let go of, even after a long break after college to when I got made redundant and became self-employed. Inspiration definitely came from what was on TV, like Tony Hart, Art Attack, and even Bob Ross. Of course, there was no internet then, so being self-taught and copying from books and magazines was all we had.


Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught? How has that influenced your work? 

I went to college, but hand on heart, there was never anyone giving me formal training. It was more guidance, so self-taught I was. The inspiration for my work definitely comes from anything I was or am into, like music, film, football, the casual scene, iconic images, posters, album covers, and raw photographs of the casuals in the eighties—all influence my work.


Can you walk us through your typical creative process, tools, and software from start to finish? 

The last two years I’ve probably quadrupled my commissions, so it will probably be easier to explain where I start and how I get to the finished stage. From the off, I need a great quality photo; the artwork is only as good as the image, and through no fault of the customers, some images I’ve worked with have been so out of focus and blurry that I spend double the amount of time I should on them. So, the image is all good. 

First, I'll start either on my iPad using Procreate if I’m at home, but at the studio, I’ll use my Cintiq drawing tablet, high-resolution document set up, and away we go, depending on the image. For example, a person commission will normally take around half an hour playing around with the sketch and composition. 

I never go into details on the sketches, only a mark and outline just to see where everything is and where it should be. 

Next, the outline. Turn the opacity down of the sketch, then add a thick black outline to go over the sketch. 

Next is filling out the flat colors, so at this stage, we should have a faceless colored image. Take the original sketch layer and place it on top of the color. Now we are in flow and ready to add some features. 

The only way I can describe my style is shapes and colors because that’s how I see it, picking the highlights, mid-tones, and shadows. The thing about the commission is you've got to nail the likeness early doors; otherwise, you could be going over and over to what you think is finished, and step back and it looks nothing like or even resembles what it should be. 

So after picking out the shapes and highlights, etc., it’s time to add details like skin tones and eyes and all the detailed things. 

It’s quite blocky, my work, as in no smooth gradients, etc., which is what I love. So finally, the details are in; it’s just polishing it off. 

I use Photoshop or Procreate, so at this stage, I’ll have a lot of group folders with many layers in. 

Once I’m happy again, I go back for reference to make sure I'm happy with the finished piece, and then I'll forward it to the customer to confirm.


How do you overcome creative blocks or challenges in your projects? 

When I’m doing commissions, I can spend half an hour to an hour looking through Pinterest or even Instagram, getting as much inspiration just to jump-start some ideas and get some sketches down. 

I also love running, another hobby of mine, so when I go out early in the morning, I’ll be sure to take an A6 sketch pad and a pen and run to a cafe for a quick coffee and start new ideas and work on other ideas I want to take forward.


Where do you draw inspiration from for your illustrations? 

Inspiration definitely comes to me from past images, iconic ones. Old films, old movie posters, and iconic scenes are the kind of things I want to draw and get my teeth stuck into.


How would you describe your artistic style? 

Very graphic, blocky, minty sort of realism.


Are there any particular artists or illustrators who have influenced your work? 

I get asked this a lot. My main one was the American artist Edward Hopper, and I studied the hell out of him in school, but apart from him, there have been many influences, but it’s mainly a bit of this and a bit of someone else’s work.


Can you share one of your favorite projects and why it stands out to you? 

Looking back, working with you guys back in 2012 was a cool project, and it's been a real pleasure to be involved in this EURO 2024 launch. I am looking forward to the future projects we have lined up with each other. 

Working with Gary Aspden at Adidas Spezial was also good, and the Sole Searching project. I was lucky enough to illustrate a piece to commemorate the shop that they found in Argentina and Carlos, of course.


What do you think are the most important skills for an illustrator to have? 

Don’t run before you can walk. Looking back at the A Guy Called Minty project, it definitely has been a builder. What I earned, I put some back into my business, kept building, and was able to get better computers, better drawing tablets, large format printers, and iPads to draw on mobile. 

It took a few years before I could afford to do it, as from the start, I used to sketch on paper and a tiny MacBook to work from. I see a lot of people throw big money at devices and technology straight away without building up a following, a style, or even a plan of what they want to sell. 

Skills I’d definitely say are practice your trade, keep drawing constantly, and save your images that inspire you. Keep building your style because the more consistent you are with your style, the more your work will be easily recognized.


Where do you see yourself and your work in the next five years? 

In the next five years? I would love to have my own exhibition of original work, and it will take me five years to get a big body of work to show. 

I’d like to think my style will still be the same, as I’m pretty happy where it is at the moment. 

My side project Mintropolis Goods has been a big hit. I did have a break last year as I was just too busy with the A Guy Called Minty side of things, but I would like to take this forward and see where it goes. 

Also, vinyl figures are a must to carry on with, but they are a long project.


How do you engage with your audience and build a community around your work? 

The usual community building, I think, for everyone is through the usual channels like Instagram, Facebook, and subscribers, etc. I am always getting approval on things I’d like to pursue, like the vinyl figures. 


GET INVOLVED WITH MINTY HERE :  https://www.instagram.com/aguycalledminty/