Simanion: Let the Work Sing to You!

Sugar High
Back to the artist series, I seriously think that there are so many talented yet understated artists out there who deserve a lot more recognition. That’s one of the reasons why our blog started featuring their works and statements – our way to show some support and spread the words, hopefully a little bit wider and further. One of these days we can proudly say ‘hey, you know that really famous photographer/3D artist/pixel artist/graphic designer/doll-maker/watercolour-painter? We discovered them first, here, at our blog! (well, sort of)’.

Simon, a 22-year-old student from Sydney is definitely one of them. When I first wrote him, guess what he replied me? These lovely words: ‘Thank you very much. I'd love to be on your blog! I checked it out and it's evident that you put a lot of effort and love into your posts, and treat the content with respect - it would be an honour’ – they made me smile for days. Needless to say again Simon, the honour and pleasure are all ours! Now enjoy his awesome artwork:

The Windmilllion Time Bubble
Hey, my name is Simon - artist alias: Simanion - and I'm a 22 year old student from Sydney. I guess I'm a blend of artist, illustrator and designer, depending on how I feel on the day. I'm currently midway through a Masters in Graphic Design, where I've held a particular interest in illustrative typography. Most of my artworks have been created as personal projects and not related to my studies with Graphic Design, but now through typography I've managed to find a way to combine my personal work with my degree.

My illustration work is usually quite stylized, and yeah I guess you could say there's a cartoon-like element in there. You could describe many as psychedelic, surreal, whimsical, organic and expressive, but always with a prominent element of control. They're often detailed and precise, or a combination of those qualities with shades of chaos. I like to use humour and absurdity as well. Pieces range between full blown colour works, black and white and selective colour schemes. Having said all that, they're pretty eclectic. I try to create completely different works each time and really challenge my imagination, but there'll always be a personal style that emerges through.

I almost always work by hand. I'm not good starting out drawing in Photoshop or Illustrator, it's not intuitive for me. Artworks are started without a real plan, and are pretty much just flukes! Experiments that somehow went right. That said, most of my illustrations are drawings - even when they're watercolour paintings, I feel like I'm drawing with paint or exploring textures within a drawing.

Sometimes I'll lightly outline something in pencil, which I will then detail with watercolour or trace more accurately with pen. That's the most planning I do, when I have a specific image I want to get down - or if there are certain stylistic restrictions for example with typography works. But other than that, all my black and white pen works were drawn straight on blank paper without any planning, and often I'll look at a drawing from different angles, turning the paper around and deciding I like the shape better upsidedown. So something that starts as a whale could evolve into a funky bottle and then into an abstract mountain and then a bizarre bird creature (I'm always turning things into birds..), and so what you end up with is a conglomeration of ideas that if done carefully can be completely unique and unexpected but also organic and informed by the process itself. 

Moon - Process
It Was The Moon That Stole My Slumber (finished)
I've grown to love typography in all its forms, and it's definitely gained a lot of mainstream attention in recent years. I still need to do a lot more typography work; I've got heaps to learn. But as for what I've done so far, I generally start by hand, on paper, whether it ends up digital or not. To get a completely hand drawn type piece perfect, it takes a lot more time than if it's done digitally. Once you make a mark, that's it - there's no Ctrl Z, and spacing has to be perfect. Most of my type stuff is a blend of traditional and digital procedures, and it moves from being a drawing/construction to an arrangement or composition. 

B-Sides type doodles
B-Sides & Rarities (finished)
There are some recurring implicit themes: escapism, imagination, the surreal, the absurd, sleep/insomnia. It seems a lot of my work can be seen as being related to sleep, either through depicting dreamlike images or the feelings associated with insomnia. This is probably because I often start a work late at night, and will go for hours and hours. I don't have any great desire to depict the real world. Even if I was painting an ordinary bowl of fruit, it would end up with some sort of twist - like I'd switch the colours around, or put eyes in the fruit. Themes or concepts often come to me while I'm creating the piece. It sounds silly, but often I'll have no idea what it is I'm drawing and there'll be a point where I'll need to stop and look at what I've done to try to figure out what it means/wants to say/wants to be. There's a lot of staring in silence involved. Once that's figured out, I'll spend the time necessary to illustrate it. So the execution is quite controlled and meticulous, but the themes and ideas themselves are pretty fluid and spontaneous.

I guess I like that there's always the attempt to be original, and I try not to ever repeat myself or get creatively complacent. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I don't rush my work or put something out there if I'm not entirely satisfied with it. I like that my work seems to be imbued with a sense of personality through style, even when it's abstract. 

Let There Be Jellyfish
The Food Chain
I often wish I could let go a bit and not be so obsessive about every line being exactly as I want it to be. I'd definitely get more art done. My artwork can look contrived and feel claustrophobic and too contained sometimes. There's little room for human error, which can be beautiful and warm - I can't draw in a naive style well. At the same time I'm not good with realism, and humans are the worst! So my actual skills are very mediocre. I'd like to be able to do non-stylised portraits or landscapes well. I also work almost exclusively on a small scale which I have to break out of - I'd love to be able to do giant paintings the size of a walls, or paint the side of a building.

Honestly, my dream project would be to publish a book of illustrations, possibly in a narrative style like Shaun Tan's "The Arrival" (which is incredible inspiration). Or something large scale like I mentioned - painting a building, or making a huge surreal sculpture and plonking it in the middle of the city.

An art teacher told me I had to let my work sing to me, meaning not to force something in a particular direction but let it inform its own creation. I thought that was great, and now that's what I do every time :)

The artists who inspire me are: Yoko D'holbachie - Japanese pop surrealist who creates wonderful monsters. Her colours are fantastic. Shaun Tan - Chinese/Australian illustrator who blends nostalgic real world imagery with magical and surreal creatures. Really beautiful. And last but not least, Studio Ghibli - not an artist, strictly speaking, but I'm heavily influenced by the attention to detail and imagination in films such as "Howl's Moving Castle" and "Spirited Away".

Thank you Simon.



M. said...

Your drawings are INSANELY detailed O_O OMG!

Anonymous said...

Aww I LOVE your artist interviews! They indeed deserve to be much better known x

Anonymous said...

Simon, your works sing to me ;)

Hien said...

I would highly recommend all of you to view Simon's works at full scale (click on the images) - superb stuff!

T.H. said...

Your colourful graphics brighten up my weekend significantly xx

Anonymous said...

You should definitely do more typos!!! LOVE them!!!!

C.M. said...

The Food Chain and the Jellyfish are wonderfully weird <3

Anonymous said...

Utterly beautiful!

T.R. said...

Aww I love your introduction, the email bit is so sweet, Simon sounds like the kindest guy ever ;)

April said...

Simon - your work definitely sings to me! Beautifully so!

Diana said...

I love the opposition of precision and whimsy...

Kate said...

Ive always known you as a great artist. I remember thinking that even when you were just copying 'snake' comics in the fourth grade. I hope one day you get the acclaim you deserve; at least enough to allow you to continue doing what you love.

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