News

The People's Printshop Interview with Nick Sheehy.

Nick in his studio.

Zach Tutor recently sat down and asked People's Printshop artist Nick Sheehy some questions about his life, his interests, travels and art:

Hey Nick!  How are you?  Could you tell our readers a bit about who you are and where you're from?
Hey! I'm good! My name is Nick Sheehy, I'm from the southern bit of Australia called Tasmania. I live and work in London as an artist, illustrator and designer. I like drawing.

Just thinking about Australia and Tasmania brings ideas of wild adventure and endless spectacle to my mind.  What are some of your wildest stories from your time living in those places?
I grew up in forest areas. So lots of climbing trees, swinging from trees and jumping out of trees. Hurting myself. Exploring. Making stuff out of junk. Setting stuff on fire. Making stuff out of junk specifically to set other stuff on fire. No particular stories but a lot of singed eyebrows.
What originally drew you to sculpture?
I always liked constructing stuff and the idea of materials: leg, plastic models, clay, etc. I think I was drawn to the technical aspects and sense of process. And it seemed more exciting than drawing on flat paper.

And how did you transition from sculpture to your illustrations?  Were they both related thematically?
After finishing my sculpture degree I never wanted to make art again. For me, sculpture had turned art into this heavy, noisy, expensive, time-intensive, wasteful, tedious process. After a few years of not thinking about art, I started drawing again. Originally quick illustrations akin to mid-century animation, which evolved into more meticulous, time-intensive, slightly tedious drawings. There wasn't really a transition between media and technique. But certain themes of other-worldly creatures have remained constant.

How did you end up in London?
I finished art school and went travelling with a friend. After a few months trekking through non-English speaking countries, it was comforting to get to London, so we decided to stay a bit longer than planned.
Tell us a bit your piece "The Pineapple," your first print with us?
I liked the idea of a skull embedded in a pineapple - kinda evil and absurd at the same time. But it was one of those drawings that had been in my sketchbook for a while yet always seemed too silly to actually invest the time in drawing up properly. At the beginning of 2015 I had to get some pieces together for a show and being short on time and ideas, I decided to draw it up. As is often the case it's sometimes good to have your hand forced when it comes to ideas. Some ideas just seem stupid until you have to make them reality. But I think that's what helps make it an unpredictable image.

Nick's first print with us, "The Pineapple."
What exactly does your moniker "Showchicken" mean?
I used to have a girlfriend who cut her own hair. The results looking like the bizarre plumage of show chickens - so the term was floating about. At the time I was drawing obese chickens and wanted to put them on a website to show the world. Showchicken.com seemed like an ironic, yet natural choice for a domain name. I never intended it to become a moniker.

The characters in your work seem to have social structure with the skulls being at the top or even deities... Would this be an accurate interpretation?  If so could your describe this?
I don't think too much about who these characters are. And I'm not really keen on explaining them. I'm always disappointed when artists explain their own work - it's like the mysterious and interesting knots you think up in your head about an image are being untied and laid before you like equations. I think it's more interesting for people to decipher things themselves. I like other people's interpretation of my work. That said, social hierarchy is important and I like how these structures develop over several drawings. It started with bird-frogs harvesting fish innards. Now they're carrying skulls carved out of fruit. I'm kind of interested to see what happens next.

What influences your work, currently, the most?  What was the last thing that sparked an idea?
Walking. Wandering though museums. Natural history. Reference books. Film scenes. Discovering new music helps your brain vibrate. Ideas seem to evolve out of random sketching - usually after influences have had time to filter down, ferment, and digest. It's difficult to pinpoint a spark - I think I see something interesting and then a half decent idea arrives a week later. The last thing that sparked an idea was the CT scans of a mummified crocodile from ancient Egypt. But so far, nothing has been committed to paper.
What does 2016 look like for you?
Not sure. 2014 was mental with exhibition work. So I took things a bit easier in 2015. I think 2016 is about working hard again. Hopefully more exhibition work. More paint.
Check out Nick's prints with us here.