Mutated-Views! An Interview with Russell Taysom (Punk Illustrator)

Hey Guys! This is first of many interviews with awesome people from the scene that Lockjaw love!

This week we interview RUSSELL TAYSOM Punk rocker and illustrator from London.

1. Hey Russell cheers for your time on top of the super cool designs above ;). Could you give a quick intro for the readers?

I’m an illustrator doing punk influenced stuff. I watched a lot of TV as a child so there is a lot of 80s and 90s pop culture in my art. I’m from Hereford and am living in London . I do a zines, t-shirt designs, record sleeves and gig posters. I’m 31, vegetarian, my favourite TV programme is Rocko’s modern life and my favourite computer game is Paperboy 2.

2. How did you get into drawing?

I drew a lot as a kid. I’d read these disney magazines and then have all these ideas for comics which were sort of the same but I more gorey. When we were in the third year of primary school we had to draw a story for the first years and mine was banned. It was about a robber blowing up a policeman.
I was pretty lazy and unpopular at primary school and shit at sport so I was lonely and drawing was my escape. Also because I was fairly clever but didn’t do any work my teachers hated me so doing art was the one time I got positive attention. Then when we went to secondary school I saw some older kid had drawn Guns’n’Roses and his picture had got put up on the wall and I was like “I love Guns ‘n’ Roses and I want my picture up on the wall” and then I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

3. Do you do anything else other than illustration such as graphic design and art direction?

Yeah i do some zines, ones called Flabby Dagger and I do it with my friend Charlie Mellors. We get all different artists to do stuff for it so I suppose we’re the art directors! I’d definitely like to work as an art director for a magazine in the future. I love looking at other peoples illustration so it seems like pretty much the perfect job.

4.  What are your main influences to draw?

It’s just a way to express my ideas and tastes. I’ve done a few things, when i went to University first I was doing painting and not drawing at all. Then I dropped out and did illustration but was really much more interested in doing bands and music. Now drawings really the thing I think about the most, I’m more excited about illustrators I really like these days than bands I love which is totally weird for me because when I studied illustration I didn’t like any illustrators and all I cared about was bands. I always do things in some idiotic backwards way but I hope ultimately it’ll make the stuff I do more interesting because it definitely hasn’t made life easy. The stupid thing is that drawing was my first interest, i should have just stuck to the plan.

5. What is your creative process?

Sometimes I’ll have some idea that’ll just come to me fully formed and I’ll scribble it down really roughly in biro. Then I’ll redraw it a load of times on layout paper until I’m happy with it then scan it and colour it with photoshop. Other times I’ll have no idea to start with and will just sit and draw and see what comes out. When I draw comics I’ll often not know where it’s leading and just draw frames till it reaches some sort of conclusion or stupid gag or just end it at the bottom of a page even if the story hasn’t really reached a natural end.

6. Do you prefer working to brief or using your own ideas?

I like working to a brief if it’s cool. It can make you do stuff you wouldn’t normally draw and stop you from being complacent. It’s also really fantastic when people say just draw whatever because you know they trust you to come up with something good.

7. You’ve mentioned you’ve started out designing punk posters. Which bands and other music inspires you?

Yeah, they weren’t that great but it was a fun thing to do. To start with I wasn’t in a band and just wanted to be involved so I’d do flyers. Everyone who wasn’t in a band would do something like take photos or put the nights on or make bootleg t-shirts for the local bands. Then when I got in a band I still really liked doing flyers so I carried on.
I’m lucky now cus there’s a lot of great bands that play near where I live. There’s a couple of local bands I think are really excellent, one called Mean Bikini play garage punk stuff, another called Milky Onions who play kind of 70s rock.
Back in Hereford there was one gig a week at best so I am still really excited to be able to see live bands any night of the week. I like mostly punk and metal but also some electro stuff like Suicide and The Human League, bits of 60s rock and lots of lo-fi indie.


8. Your now based in Hackney do you find it an inspiring place to live, with the plethora of street art in east?

Yeah I like living East, there’s a lot of like minded people around. I’m not crazy about street art. I love the idea of it, people just painting their environment but I’m much more into toilet graffiti where it’s crude statements and badly drawn cocks than really skilled stuff. Even the term street art annoys me, it seems to me to be a phrase to justify graffiti to people it shouldn’t be justifying anything to.

9. When I look at your art Ed “Big Daddy” Roth the creator of Rat Fink comes to mind, and also Jimbo Philips the Santa Cruz artist, have either of these guys been an influence at all?

Yeah those guys are brilliant. Ed Roth especially. Rat Fink is such a brilliant character, I love his eyes and his expressions so much. He’s always really intense.

10. You have a great use of bold colour in your illustration where does the inspiration for this come from?

I love colour, the more the better. I used to turn the colour up on my TV so it was totally over saturated and even the most boring programmes would suddenly look amazing. My love of colour comes from cartoons and comics and also from sweet wrappers and packaging. Living in England life can be a bit grey, we need some intense colours in our art to make up for the lack of sunshine.

11. Which other artists inspire you?

Robery Crumb is the best! Dan Clowes is amazing too, Joe Coleman who is a painter who does really intricate pictures that look sort of like fairground art but about his parents and serial killers. Mike Judge , Mike Diana who is an underground comic artist who does stuff about satan and child abuse, George Bazelitz who is a painter who does really messy expressive paintings, Pushwagner , Derrick Riggs who did all the Iron Maiden artwork until Bruce left the first time also Viz, old 2000ad, Walt Disney, there are so many!

12. There seems to be a Mutant vibe to a lot of your work, where does this come from?

Troma! My friend lent me ‘Class Of Nuke Em High’ when I was younger and it just blew my mind. It ‘s like the cheapest, trashiest thing ever. It made you think “I could make a film” in the same way punk music makes you think “I could start a band and it would be cool”. Also going back further than that I loved all the He-Man villains who were just a bunch of mutants in cages so a lot of the stuff I do now is inspired by things I was into when i was 8.

13. A lot of your work is character based where do you get your character ideas from?

When I’m out i always look at people not really my environment. When i have to put characters into a scene or setting it’s always more of struggle and I have to go out and get some reference but I can draw an unlimited amount of weirdos floating around in nothingness.

14. Who are your favorite artists of the moment?

Rob Amos, Paul Arscott are both amazing comic artists and do this comic called Eyeball, Dan Bowden does these cool screen prints in Brighton, Betty Black is an amazing artist who does fetish girls eating hamburgers and stuff. Tom Cherril who’s a guy who lives in the hills outside Hereford and does all kinds of weird and amazing work. This guy called Christopher Wright who does really amazing gig posters, Kyle Platts who did a comic called Mega Skull and also did the Boneyards tape artwork. It seems like an excellent time for illustration, there is so much great stuff out there at the moment and I think bands are starting to of back to using illustration just because there is so much cool stuff out there.

15. Whats your favorite piece you’ve done?

I did a poster of all my favourite WWF wrestlers from when I was a kid that I’m really proud of. It ended up taking forever because I got really into reading about them all and their tragic lives. They all got worked to death, took too many steroids and too much cocaine and died of heart attacks. If you’ve seen the film The Wrestler, that’s pretty much the life story of every wrestler I used to watch on TV.

16. You work a lot with music and musicians are you in a band at all what do you play?

Yeah at the moment I’m doing a thing called Bogus Pipeline where I’m playing everything. I did a song last year for it which was an experiment because previously I’d always been in bands with people and it came out ok but the new stuff is much screamier and more noisy. I’ve got a new song coming out on a compilation on Soft Bodies Records later this year and I’m making a video for it with my friend Lee Greatorex.

17. Whats next on the agenda have you got any exciting projects or exhibitions lined up in 2013?

Lots of things I’m excited about coming up. I’m doing a thing at Pick Me Up with the Illustration Collective called Hero Of Switzerland and we also have a book we’ve made together. I’m doing a record cover for Love Buzzard and have an illustration in this card project run by Ammo magazine called Poop Deck for which there is an exhibition for that in April. I have some work in my friend’s comic called Deth Leper which I’m thrilled about as I love the other artists involved and something in the new Mail Me Art book. Cargo Collective are putting out a book with 4 pieces of work I did which are a bit darker and more personal than my usual stuff and all the other artists in that are really great. We’re doing the new issue of Flabby Dagger later this year which is sex themed and should be total filth. I’m also doing some work for Aorta Burst who show strange but awesome films at the Roxy Bar and do a monthly zine.

Go check out Russell’s work at and keep an eye on our Art + Words Section for prints and zines from Russell and Friends!

Till Next Time.