It’s been a few years now since I started following Geo Law on behance.net. Ever since I saw his 1st piece, I was hooked. His fluent line flow, and humorous murals, are just constant joy and inspiration source for me. I define Geo, as a markers mural artist, and a very good one, in my opinion. It is no accident that he got to work on walls in places like Facebook, Microsoft, Dunkin’ Donuts and many more.
Even before starting this humble blog, I wanted to pick his brain and know what makes him tick. How is he able to create his fun murals? What’s his work process?
I approached Geo a few weeks ago, and asked him if he would be willing to answer a few questions for the blog. I discovered a really nice person that was more than happy to comply.
Check out this short Q&A interview session with him below, and some of his works of course. Enjoy.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
“I’m inspired by a lot of things, mainly comic book art, video games, good electronic music and hip hop, animation, street wear, etc. I find inspiration in any type of visual culture, especially when I visit busy cities and places such as London, Lisbon, Manchester etc. A lot of my references come from Japanese art and popular art, from anime such as Cowboy Bebop to the artist Hokusai. I like the works of KAWS, Takashi Murakami and comic artists such as Mike Mignola and Paul Pope. I could forever list the things that inspire my drawings and use of colour, I’m a bit of a sponge in that respect, I like collecting books, posters, stickers and magazines for constant nearby inspiration. Anything that has a pop to its visuals I will collect or make note of using Pinterest as a means to organise my magpie like tendencies.”
How did you get into mural drawing?
“I’d say watching artist, Jon Burgerman deliver a lecture at my university at Nottingham Trent introduced me to the world of mural drawing. Before then I never really thought that you could be paid to draw onto a wall. My vision as an illustrator was slightly stunted until I saw Burgerman pull up some slides of his office murals, from that day on, I wanted to do the same but with my own twist. To start off I tried my hand with live art at events in bars, mainly doodling and painting on to big wooden boards in front of people with the aim of completing them before the end of the night. From then on, I built up a following and a portfolio of work and eventually I was asked by a graphic design company in Sheffield to produce a mural in their break room. Once that job was finished, more work followed from word of mouth. Over time my style developed and I feel it still is, which each mural piece I discover something new, a new way to hold the pen, or draw a character.”
What is your work process for creating a mural?
“I always start off by chatting to the client and finding out what they would like in their mural. A lot of the times there are different stories and visual devices the client want in the artwork, to represent their company or staff. Once I piece together a sketch I always warn the client that on the day, the final artwork may look different as I prefer to work on the fly and not copy from a sketch. I tend to memorise the basic idea and write down a list of things that need to be put into the artwork. I don’t use pencils to mark out the artwork before hand because I feel it slows down the flow of work and I hate tracing over lines, again it just feels a bit slow and laboured. I find it faster and fun, to work on the fly and let the work flow. In some ways I turn the whole process into a bit of a show if people are around watching me simply doodle straight onto the wall. I always get asked “what happens if you make a mistake” and I always tell them, I just have to really concentrate and make sure I don’t. It sounds silly, but the pressure I put on myself keeps me focused. If I do smudge or make a really bad mistake, then there’s always a way to turn the mistake into something… normally it’s a blob or something!”
What material do you use?
“I tend to use only Posca pens but sometimes if I want to cover a larger area with a block of colour I use matt emulsion paint. Quite simply the posca pens are perfect for me, the nibs are chiseled but they break down over time and become softer, which allows for ink to flow through the pen easier. I’ve developed a way of using the pens where I can twist my arm and body into shape to make sure I get the curves I want, it’s taken years of practice to draw as fast I can right now.”
You have some great and cute repeated elements and characters – do they have special meaning?
“A lot of my characters are referenced from old Disney and Studio Ghibli characters, I like using them in my work to set a fun tone throughout. I like to draw one specific type of character which to some people looks either like a bear, a cat or a dog, but its characteristics are solely based on all 3 of those creatures and my favourite childhood character, Totoro of Studio Ghibli. I like the idea of giant cuddly characters that tower over the smaller ones in my artwork, I like to use Totoro as a point of reference here as a super friendly and all knowing creature. My work does border on fantasy, nonsense and the whimsical”
What is your most loved piece you did, as a mural artist?
“I find it hard to pick out a favourite piece, but I did have a lot of fun working on the Facebook office murals, as well as the work I produced for the Leeds General Infirmary. Each mural project is special to me in different ways because of the brief, the client or the way I tackle them, I particularly like the murals where a lot of my personality is put into the artwork with various visual references to superheroes, cartoon characters and objects etc. A lot of clients encourage me to place objects and characters suggested by them too and I enjoy this type of subtle collaboration, after all when I produce a mural, I’m producing it for other people not for me. If I’m being paid to produce such work, I see it as their property, just with my mark on it.”
Somewhere you would like to draw, but didn’t get a chance to, yet?
“I’d love to draw for a sports brand like Nike or produce something for Cartoon Network’s office. I suppose working for big names and brands is always a bit of a career ambition of mine, just to see how far I can push my style of work. I like the idea of my work reaching a wide audience, I suppose most illustrators and artists will have an ounce of egotistical ambition and curiosity. But I’d would also like to draw in front of children and show them the fun you can have with drawing, even if you don’t think you’re good at it, it can be fun just make marks on a surface.”
Do you have a philosophy you live by, in regards to your art?
“My philosophy is quite simple, in that I’m comfortable with my work representing me and hopefully leaving an impression with people. From looking at picture books and admiring other artist’s work from a young age, I’ve always wanted my work to leave its mark on people who would go on to create their own work. In my professional practice, I believe that the work should always reflect the client’s/ commissioner’s requirements, after all they are paying for it, but I do draw a line if they require me to work beyond my style too much or if their suggestions clash with my morals and ideology. But a lot of the time I’m happy to keep my practice as a balance of expression and a service for those who wish for my illustration work to deliver their message.”
How can people get in touch with you, or commission a job?
I would really like to thank Geo for sparing his precious time to answer the question. I’m sure that he has lots of fruitful years ahead of him, and I hope that he will get to fulfil all of his desires soon. Keep on the great work.
You can check out some more of his works below. They are so great, that I had to sneak in some more of them.