If you missed the ‘Close Encounters’ exhibition in Tokyo and happen to find yourself in the Osaka area, there’s still time to see some of Britain’s cutting-edge contemporary creatives. Artists represented include a cross-section of urban and street art from the UK's thriving art community. Among these artists is David Bray, a multi-faceted illustrator who has already made quite a mark in the art and fashion worlds.
A graduate of Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design, Bray has collaborated on projects with the likes of Agent Provocateur, Harvey Nichols, H&M, and Puma as well as non-fashion groups such as BBC Television, Virgin and Vodafone.
Bray took some time from his busy schedule to answer some questions for Time Out Tokyo about his work.
TOT: Do you have any previous experiences with your works in Japan?
DB: This is the first time my work has been shown in Japan. It’s a really exciting opportunity. I owe the UKAdapta chaps big time!
TOT: You've done some collaborations with the fashion industry. Was this something that was a clear goal for you, or was it something that was unexpected? What is your relationship with fashion?
DB: I've never really had a plan for anything, other than to keep drawing. The collaborations have always come out of the blue... I share a studio space with a fashion photographer, so I guess I’m surrounded by fashion on a daily basis, but I myself am quite scruffy! In a stylish way— ha, anybody who knows me will not believe that.
TOT: What about your work do you think appeals to your Japanese viewers?
DB: That’s a tough question. It would be great to get some feedback from Japanese viewers... I always try and make beautiful images, hopefully that comes across.
TOT: Have you been inspired by any Japanese artists?
DB: My inspiration comes from everywhere, in that respect I am like a cultural magpie. I have always been amazed by Japanese prints from the last century... really refined and incredibly rendered.
TOT: Women feature heavily in your work, and it could be described as sensual in line, composition and visual density. Is this sensuality a result of your female subjects, or do you find yourself relying more on the technical aspects of drawing (line, composition, colour, etc) to bring that feeling about?
DB: I think it’s a combination of subject and technique... I could never draw women, and that really frustrated me. So I pushed myself, and pushed and pushed...and am still trying to perfect it. I guess what you see is my obsession to overcome my incapabilities. All the artists I admire captured the female form so distinctly, and in my own humble way I am trying to emulate them.
TOT: Animals and human-animal 'hybrids' (for example, people with animal-like masks) also show up as a motif. What role do animals play in your artistic lexicon and what does this say about the animal-human relationship?
DB: I have always been fascinated by nature documentaries, obsessed in fact... I guess that spills out into my drawings. Using animals as subjects is more about pushing my boundaries as a technical craft. I have never consciously considered the symbolism... I tend to start with an idea, and let it develop from there. It is quite linear from piece to piece, it’s almost like I am testing myself— so okay, I have drawn this, but can I draw that?
TOT: You use colour in a really light-handed way, even when it's abundant in the image. Is this intentional or something more organic?
DB: Its quite organic. I am highlighting points of the images. Life can be pretty retina burning - so much visual stimulation, visual overload. I guess I pare it down to feel in control in my drawing in a way I can’t in life.
TOT: You've done some video and animation, for example lingerie ads for Freya. What sort of experience was that for you? Was it radically different from your usual medium or did you feel it was related?
DB: The animation wasn’t that radically different, I just had to draw more and in a shorter space of time! I think the animations can improve in time. I see these previous experiences as stepping stones, a new process to learn. The animators I have worked with are incredibly talented, but it would be great to be given more time to develop something more refined— something with more fluidity and with beautiful movement.
TOT: If you hadn't become an artist, what else you have done?
DB: I trained as a graphic designer, so maybe that. To be honest drawing is an addiction, something I have done since an early age. I think if I was driving a bus for a living, I would still be drawing in my spare time.
TOT: What are you working on now? What are your future plans?
DB: I am collaborating with a burlesque artist in New York. There is a project in Los Angeles with a company called Bilk which should come together in January... and also sorting out dates for a gallery show in London.
Bray’s work is now showing as part of a second showing of the Adapta Gallery’s group show ‘Close Encounters’, until Sat Dec 12 at Triangle Club in Osaka.
Special thanks to Haruka Irie and Adapta Gallery