We're very happy to have had the super friendly and always hilarious New York based artist Al Murphy join us for our latest Artist Interview Series.
In our latest catch up, Al runs us through a typical day at work, describes his 'borderline OCD' habits, and describes life in London, Berlin and New York.
Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in Holyhead, an island off Anglesey in North Wales but raised in York in the north of England. I now live in Brooklyn, New York.
When did you first get into illustrating?
As a vocation, when I graduated from Liverpool Art School in 1999, but I can vividly recall copying the cover of Rainbow's 'Rising' album by Ken Kelly when I was 8, so really I think it all started there.
What's a typical day for you?
My girlfriend will scoff at this, but I try to get up at 6.30am every day to minimise the time difference between my working day here in the US and the UK where most of my work comes from. My studio is about seven blocks away from my apartment so I head over there after breakfast and spend the first couple of hours replying to emails, paying bills and all that crap.
Then I select a playlist for the day, put my headphones on and draw until around 6pm. Never later. I can't seem to draw after that. My brain seems to switch over from 'Draw' to TV/booze/fried chicken.
What inspires or influences your work?
I think I'm more inspired by my surroundings than I am artwork. I love New York and the energy here, it's very upbeat and I think that's had an influence on me - maybe not the content or style of my work but certainly my work flow. Artistically, I'm probably more influenced by music than I am illustration because I can't draw without music playing.
Have any of those influences changed over time?
My surroundings have changed - prior to New York I was living in London and then Berlin. Both great places but both very different from New York, Berlin especially. I'm very susceptible to the black hole of procrastination and Berlin's cheaper rent meant I was able to do less work and spend my days drinking coffee and cycling around pretending to be David Bowie.
I think I probably pissed away 18 months doing this. So New York is good for me because everyone is working so hard here to keep their heads above water, the energy sort of drags you along. Music wise, there is no change here - I'm still mainly listening to crusty old men with beards playing songs about the bad old days.
If you could work with any client, who would it be?
Neil Young. I'd like to design his next album cover. I'm not sure my style would fit but while we're in the realm of fantasy, let's go with that.
Who is an artist (dead or alive) you would love to collaborate with?
Dead: Charles M. Schulz, alive: Matt Groening.
What kinds of projects are you currently working on?
I'm working with my pals at Adapted on a kid's alphabet app which is a lot of fun. This is something I'd like to get more into - apps and animation. I've got a couple of kid's books up my sleeve too, but I've been talking about this for ages so who knows when I'll ever actually get around to doing them.
And then I'm continually doing a selection of editorial and advertising jobs which keep the wolves from the door. It's not cool to admit it, but I enjoy the corporate jobs. I like the problem solving aspect of answering a brief within a tight deadline.
"I like the problem solving aspect of answering a brief within a tight deadline."
Ideally, where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
In a huge mansion made out of marshmallows and bathing in a bath full of 100 dollar bills.
Do you prefer routine and structure or spontaneity in your work life?
I couldn't be less spontaneous. I'm borderline OCD. Up at the same time every day. Same breakfast. Lunch at the same time. A coffee and a chocolate bar at 3pm. I may as well wear a suit and a bowler hat and move around like a robot as if I'm in a Pink Floyd video for a song about being a cog in the machine.
What piece of advice do you wish you were told earlier?
It's more a question of which piece of advice do I wish I'd heeded earlier. I had very good tutors at art school who were always trying to encourage me and told me to work harder and take more risks while I was a student. I did neither. It worked out in the end but I could have got there about ten years quicker if I'd listened to them.
Right now I'm listening to… I like Kurt Vile's new one, 'Wakin On A Pretty Daze'. Good for the summer. My illustrator buddy Kevin Waldron sends me loads of old obscure albums and I'm very much enjoying one by a guy called FJ McMahon called 'Spirit Of The Golden Juice' at the moment, another good one for the summer.
My favourite TV show is… I'm strongly tempted to lie here in an attempt to make myself sound cool but I can't bring myself to do it so I'll go with the honest, tragic truth: I like all that bullshit reality crap - The Apprentice, Masterchef and rubbish like that. It's total nonsense and I love it.
The last good movie I saw was… I don't know if I could describe it as good, but the fourteen year old boy in me very much enjoyed Spring Breakers.
I hate it when… I can't finish all my breakfast cereal. It's like the day has begun with minor defeat.
After a long hard days work I like to… My sister works in a hospital and does 24 hour shifts - so I'd need to ask her about a hard days work. I draw pictures of fruit with smiley faces on them whilst eating Reese's Pieces and consider myself hard done by if the internet drops out and prevents me checking Facebook. I've got it pretty easy.
If I wasn't doing this I'd be… Waiting tables at a fancy hotel. I used to do it when I was student and I loved it. I still silver serve myself my own dinner sometimes, just to relive the good old days.