We take a look at the London-based artist and illustrator’s effortless, spontaneous ‘mess making’
After graduating from the Bath School of Art in 2013, Joe Gamble set up shop in London, and has been developing his craft ever since. For Joe, “the exciting part to drawing and making is the marks you don’t necessarily mean to make”, and this informs a spontaneous way of working that produces admirably skilled results.
For Joe, a conscious effort to resist refining a piece is the only viable reaction to what he sees as a growing trend in personality-absent illustration. Focusing on ‘the natural’, then, he changes as little as possible throughout his working process…the adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind. Furthermore, a recognition of never being able to wholly replicate some drawings has also lead to the use of computer scans, allowing him to play around with layers of drawings.
As the Morrissey experimentations show below, an unrestricted, natural depiction of likeness is often the most interesting. A fan of natural texture, “such as those achieved through using charcoal and watercolour”, Joe expertly lets the materials doing the work, avoiding emphasising the detail and letting a few strokes suggest something more meaningful. Beyond this, Joe’s uninhibited experimentation with mixed media has also produced some beautiful work, such as the CMYK screen-print and Secret 7 cover below.
A painting of ‘Anonymous/shared sadness’, which Joe tells us was his first attempt at painting since A level, epitomises this ‘less is more’ approach. The plan had been to return to the piece, but if you can’t “bring yourself to add more” like Joe, the piece obviously stands for itself. Instead, the absence of any specific emotion evokes a feeling of emptiness that further detail could never have hoped to convey.
This style has been fundamentally developed through an appreciation of the importance of context, a lesson learnt at university. As a result, the ‘refined’ side to Joe’s style is that each piece is deliberately pared-down, left to powerfully imply its full purpose.
As part of the Niles Collective, Joe will also be contributing to some extremely exciting things this year, so we’ll be keeping an eye out of what’s to come. For now, make sure you check out his website and blog below.