Art & Design blog: Drawing and illustration

XETH talk to artist Rajesh Soni

Artist / designer:   Rajesh Soni
Article author:   Charlotte Bradford
Published:   Wed, 5 Oct 2016


Credit: Rajesh Soni, ‘On The Way To Play Music For Happiness’, Oil Painting

Rajesh Soni is an Indian artist living in Udaipur, Rajasthan where he manages Gallery One. He is well known for his hand painted digital photographs, sketching and drawing. Rajesh is the son of artist Lalit Soni and the grandson of Prabhu Lal Soni, who was once court photographer to the Maharana Sir Bhopal Singh of Mewar. The skills of hand-coloring photographs were passed down to Rajesh through the intermediary of his father.

Rajesh has also collaborated on various creative projects with American photographer and writer Waswo X. Waswo since 2007. Their joint work featured in the exhibition ‘A Studio in Rajasthan’ which toured India and led to further exhibitions throughout Europe. Their next joint exhibition, organised by Tasveer Gallery, is titled ‘Photowallah’ and opens on 8th October at Exhibition 320, Delhi.

At what age did you start to take an interest in the field you work in?

Since the age of 12 I have been interested in art because I saw my father panting. He was my first teacher.

What’s your proudest achievement so far?

I am so happy and lucky that I chose art in my life. I have been showing my work in countries including Italy, France, Germany and Switzerland. In India I got the chance to work with Waswo X. Waswo who is an American photographer living in Udaipur for the past 12 years. I work as a hand colourist for his black and white photos.


Credit: Rajesh Soni, ‘The Priest From Shiva Temple At Chandpol’, Oil Painting

What’s the most challenging aspect of your work?

It’s not easy being an artist and it’s not easy to find honest people who will support your work.

What are your top three favourite songs?

‘Beautiful’ by James Blunt, ‘Lean On’ ft. MO by Major Lazer & DJ Snake and ‘Anga La De’ from the Bollywood movie  Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela.


Credit: Rajesh Soni, ‘The Susses’ Series

What is your favourite art gallery and why?

I love my own art gallery, Gallery One Udaipur because each work is unique and different.

Name three creatives who have inspired you over the past 10 years?
Raja Ravi VarmaPablo Picasso and Salvador Dali


Credit: Rajesh Soni, ‘Old Shop Since My Childhood’, Original Sketch

Have you got any exciting projects coming up in the near future?
I am working on photoshoots about the lives of women and their amazing support.

If you weren’t an artist what other career would you have chosen?

What advice would you give to younger people who want to work in the creative industry?
Be happy and enjoy the moment. Don’t run after things!


Credit: Portrait Of The Artist Rajesh Soni

To see more of Rajesh Soni’s work, please visit his Instagram account; rajeshsoniudaipur

XETH meet animator & illustrator Hannah Jacobs

Artist / designer:   Hannah Jacobs
Article author:   Charlotte Bradford
Published:   Wed, 30 Mar 2016


Illustration: Hannah Jacobs

XETH: At what age did you start to take an interest in the field you work in?

HJ: If you ask anyone in animation how long they’ve been into animation, they’ll pretty much always tell you that it’s since they can remember, and I’m no exception.  I’ve always just loved drawing and loved watching cartoons. I was really into Garfield comics and Asterix and Oblix. The whole language of comics appealed to me so much…telling little stories through a series of pictures. I loved writing stories and loved drawing so it was a very natural progression into animation for me. I was definitely a fairly odd and obsessive little kid, so I think the process of animation really appealed to me – and still does.

X: What’s your proudest achievement so far?

HJ: I think making the list of one of Vimeo’s best vids of 2015. And more recently having a film accepted to Annecy Film Festival. It’s been an aim of mine to go there for so many years, let alone have something of mine screened there.


Animation: Hannah Jacobs

X: What’s the most challenging aspect of your work?

HJ: For me personally, it’s working  alone and at a computer for the majority of projects I work on.  And the sheer volume of hours that goes into making an animation. It really is all consuming and can start to drive you a little mad after a while! It’s kind of this really weird self torture you put yourself through, drawing 24 drawings for each second…but then seeing something you’ve created come to life is incredibly rewarding. Even if it did cost you your sanity and 6 months of your life!But I definitely work best bouncing ideas around with someone else and as cheesy as it sounds I always find so much inspiration in other creative people when I do get to collaborate with others in my field. So I think I’d like a little more of this going on.

X: What are your top three favourite songs?

HJ: Wow, that’s such a hard question! And I’m not sure I can answer it. But three songs that I love and are often found blasting out of my speakers are ‘This must be the Place’ by Talking Heads, ‘You Can Call me Al’ by Paul Simon and ‘Poem On The Underground Wall’ by Simon and Garfunkel. I don’t think those are very ‘cool’ choices though…sorry.


Illustration: Hannah Jacobs

X: What is your favourite London gallery and why?

HJ: I have to be honest and say I’m actually a terrible creative person in that I rarely go to galleries and exhibitions – but that’s mostly due to lack of time rather than out of choice. I’ve always loved the Hayward Gallery because they have brilliant exhibitions on and I have such fond memories of going there when I was little with my mum. I also absolutely love the Wellcome Collection as you just can’t fail to feel inspired after a visit there. On the whole I probably spend more time in museums over galleries…I find them so inspiring. The Grant Museum of Zoology is a particular favourite….creepy things in jars and skeletons of animals draped around… there are endless things to draw in there. Also a great place for a first date…

X: Name three creatives who have inspired you over the past 10 years?

HJ: Allison Schulnik, Michel Gondry and Matt Groening

X: Have you got any exciting projects coming up in the near future?

HJ: I’m currently working on another video for The School Of Life and developing a new kids cartoon for the BBC with one of my best buddies who is a writer, which is an absolute dream come true for me! It’s early days but still very exciting.


Animation: Hannah Jacobs

X: If you weren’t an animator/illustrator what other career would you have chosen?

HJ: Dog Farmer

X: What advice would you give to younger people who want to work in the creative industry?

HJ: My advice would be, stay true to your creative instincts and have conviction in what you’re doing. It can be a tough industry and I know it’s a bit of a cliché but I do genuinely feel that if you’re enjoying what you’re doing that is reflected in the work and other people tend to enjoy that too.


Illustration: Hannah Jacobs


Mark Perronet, founder of Atom Gallery

Artist / designer:   Mark Perronet
Article author:   Ricky Thakrar
Published:   Sat, 2 Jan 2016

Fear of the abstract

XETH: Your work spans printmaking, illustration, collage, typography – often in combination. Is there a particular medium or process that you associate yourself with over others?

Mark Perronet: Screen printing is definitely my drug of choice. I did screen printing at college many years ago, moved into photography for a long time, and now I am back to the screen.

I like to follow a process – a blank sheet of paper and a pencil would frighten me a lot.  I like the distances that screen printing brings between me and the paper, and the possibility of happy accidents when I am not trying to print an edition.

When one is printing an edition for someone else, the whole deal is to get every print the same, but when I am working on one of my own things, all that pressure is off, and I can do what I like and mess things up and sometimes it works… although, often it doesn’t, it has to be said!

Cowboy heroes (peacemaker)

XETH: Whilst you often poke fun at the greed or egoism that clouds people’s judgment, there’s a tone of understanding and humility, rather than pointing an accusative finger.  How carefully considered is that balance?

MP: I am basically a cynic, and think that a lot of people with vested interests are screwing everything up for all of us… nothing new there!  But I try not to think too much about things before I do them, or I can overthink and end up not doing anything – I am always a bit sorry when possibly a good idea disappears without doing anything about it.


XETH: You greatly vary the style and technique of your work depending on the format of the image at hand – posters, tattoos, comics, magazine covers… Relatively speaking, which do you feel is most important for you: the message or concept that you want to convey; the visual aesthetic of the individual piece, or; the format that you are reinterpreting?

MP: That’s a good question… I think all three, but probably the visual aesthetic is the most important, because unless it looks good, it’s not going to work on any level. In the past, I have got a certain way with an idea and thought, ‘this is very clever, and a good message, etc.’, but then realised that it was going to look shit – clever or not.

So, it’s nice to get all three working together, although tricky…  But I do think that more art nowadays should be trying to say something, rather than just look pretty.  There, I’ve said it.

Look Kids!

XETH: You chose to open your art gallery and set up studio in Finsbury Park. What was it that drew you to this part of London?

MP: I did my Art Foundation at Middlesex Polytechnic when it was based in Crouch End, and stayed on at the Wood Green site to study Fine Art.  Since then, I’ve always lived in north London – Wood Green, Bounds Green, East Finchley, Islington, and then Finsbury Park.  The printing business was outgrowing what I could do at home, and I noticed the empty shop on Stroud Green Road, just ten minutes from where I live.


XETH interviews Charlotte Keates

Artist / designer:   Charlotte Keates
Article author:   Charlotte Bradford
Published:   Thu, 30 Jul 2015


Portrait of the artist

Charlotte Keates is a London based-artist who has exhibited throughout the UK. Graduating with a BA First Class Honours Degree in Fine Art from Falmouth University, Keates’ work is currently represented by The Porthminster St Ives , The Project Gallery Arundel & Arusha Gallery Edinburgh.

Born in 1990 in Somerset,Keates aims to create intriguing and surprisingly illusionary interiors inspired by 1960’s and 70’s classical architecture. The landscape and sea with swimming pools and birch trees consistently feature in her work.

At what age did you start to take an interest in the field you work in?

I’ve always loved to draw. From my primary school days I could always be found with a pad of paper and pencil wherever I was. I know that sounds like a cliche but it is completely true. Drawing has always been so important to my practise and I think it wasn’t until my foundation year at University that I really discovered painting. I had a fantastic tutor; Simon Averill, and with much encouragement I decided then that I wanted to be a painter


The Retreat, Charlotte Keates

What are your top three favourite songs?

A difficult question. I always have to have something on in the background whilst painting which means I’m happy listening to a wide variety of music. I’m really not overly fussy about music.

What is your favourite London gallery and why?

 I think I’d opt for Tate Britain. If ever I’m in need of inspiration or motivation you’ll always find me there. Their permanent collection being the main reason. Having said that, I love the architecture at The Royal Academy and the feel of the space; architecture and interiors playing such a key role in my paintings.I’m always really interested in the relationship between gallery space and artwork.  The Hayward Gallery also uses their space really well and shows some fantastic work.


Atelier, Charlotte Keates

Name three creatives who have inspired you over the past 10 years?

Dexter Dalwood, a painter whose collage-like paintings have fascinating concepts and conspiracy theories surrounding them.  Mamma Andersson, a Swedish artist whose paintings are truly beautiful. I was lucky enough to attend her Private View at The Stephen Friedman Gallery in London a couple of years ago. And of course David Hockney; his early works, in particular the 60’s and 70’s.


Have you got any exciting commissions/exhibitions/projects happening or coming up?

Yes, lots and lots of exciting things over the next year!

Having just exhibited a collection of work at The Porthminster Gallery – St Ives, another selection of work at the Affordable Art Fair Hampstead with Arusha Gallery – Edinburgh, plus a big commission for a London-based Interior Designer. My painting life is very lively and somewhat challenging.

I also have works showing in both the Summer Shows at The Gatehouse Gallery – Guernsey, and The Project Gallery – Arundel. It’s so important for me to keep inspired and see new places, having just been to Cairo and Greece. I am very excited to see what I paint next. When painting after a short trip to Iceland earlier this year, I really started to notice certain elements finding their way into my work.

Plus, ahead of me too is the planning for exhibitions of my work at Arts Fairs in Manchester and Liverpool, along with the Affordable Art Fair Battersea in the Autumn.


If you weren’t involved in the creative industry what other career path might you have chosen? 

I’m really not too sure. Everything that I think of seems to be creative in one way or another. My immediate thought tends to lean towards possibly Architecture or Interior Architecture.


Portrait of the artist

For further information about the artist, please visit their website


Michael Chance on launch of Mercer Chance art gallery, London

Artist / designer:   Michael Chance
Article author:   Ricky Thakrar
Published:   Thu, 16 Oct 2014

Lapetus Transition Zone - Monotype, 76x54cm

Michael, you explore far-away worlds in much of your artwork. Is this primarily fantasy or is there a more scientific interest in the extra-terrestrial?

It’s science fiction, certainly, but not sci-fi. Depicting a foreign environment allows more freedom to play with the image outside conventional notions of landscape. The fact that many of them could appear to be earthly environments is testament to the variety of our earth… or perhaps it’s rather the sign of an earth-bound imagination.

Titan North Polar SAR map - monotype, chine colle, quill pen, 50x36cm

Your most distinctive work mixes soft media such as charcoal and graphite with structure in the form of graphs, technical annotation, architectural studies and cartography… what has influenced this combination?

In an artwork I try to express the totality of my interest in a certain place, which begins with a powerful aesthetic feeling, but may include conceptual information displayable only in graphical form or text. I try to never use graphs or data purely for effect, they are always rooted in real figures or have particular fixed meanings within my own narrative. I want everything to be readable at close range, whilst resolving to a more simple tonal impression from a distance.

I studied Peter Greenaway’s films at university and love how his use of layered image, geometry and text allows for an expansion in the possibilities of cinematic representation. The arrangement of and interplay between each element is deeply thoughtful yet also absurd, self-parodying.

St Paul's Distortion - Charcoal, graphite, 110x124cm

Whilst you studied at The Prince’s Drawing School, London, and much of your work is rooted in its disciplines, you also have a more romantic streak, producing Turner-esque landscapes in oil.  How do you relate to both?

The Drawing School is often misconceived as a reactionary return to old-fashioned academic values. In fact my experience on The Drawing Year opened me up to draw with much more freedom and really made me question all my assumptions about what constituted good drawing. After the course I felt able to meaningfully connect and combine my printmaking, drawing and painting practices in a fluid continuum.

Turner is a huge influence. He was a maverick, talented and sensitive as he was head-strong, he had the perfect balance between schooling and rebellion. He shows landscape as if witnessing a series of phase transitions; liquid, gas, earth and plasma intermixing, each struggling free from its conventional confines, interchangeable, unified in chaotic change.

Tintern - Oil on board, 152x122cm

Your new gallery, opening in Hoxton on 24th October 2014, will function as an open studio allowing members of the public to watch the artistic process in action. How do you think this will affect the work that you produce?

Well, thankfully I can close the curtain so I don’t have to be peered at all the time, especially when I’m doing unintentionally ‘arty’ chin-scratching poses! But it does mean that people will be able to come into our studio on certain days and see a variety of work, finished and in progress, and see it in the context of its making, which can be much more interesting that an impersonal blank gallery wall.

We both paint and draw outdoors a lot too, so we’re not going to be stuck in a fishbowl. I don’t think that being visible will affect my work in style or approach, I think I have some fairly unshakeable interests and principles to work by at the moment.

As well as yourself and co-founder Rachel Mercer using the space as a studio, you intend to exhibit the work of others.  How will your exhibitions compare to what’s on offer elsewhere in London?

We  want to exhibit work that is built upon a foundation of observation, contemplation and practised use of the artist’s medium, without imposing any restraints for the sake of commercial appeal.

I suppose I see a widening gulf between two extremes: private commercial ‘artefact’ or ‘investment’ art, and publicly-funded ‘experience’ or ‘engagement’ art. Both exist in an institutional context and are subject to certain restrictions and pressures, both are essentially outward looking and driven by novelty.  Representational art is criticised as ‘not enough’, ‘boring’, ‘conservative’; whilst conceptual art is equally bad-mouthed as ‘charlatanism’, ‘pretentious’, ‘inaccessible’.

This situation is ill-fitting for the artist who looks inward, making art not for the market, but to satisfy her interests, sensitively filtering her experiences and observations, searching for meaning that is deeply personal, yet universally resonant. I would describe this as a poetic approach.

Many blockbuster installation pieces make much of their anti-capitalist credentials by claiming that they are transitory; information, not product. However, they are consumed without much true contemplation; they are middle-class cosmopolitan fun fairs which do not last long in the memory, beyond the Monday morning cultural brag session. Further, they are often materially expensive and ecologically wasteful.

I used to feel completely anti-product, anti-selling-work, but I’ve come to realise that if you create something unique, soulful, made from humble materials, that will outlast you many times over and continue to provide pleasure and provoke thought throughout its lifetime at an un-inflated price – that is a true gift.

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Michael Chance on launch of Mercer Chance art gallery, London

Michael, you explore far-away worlds in much of your artwork. Is this primarily fantasy or is there a more scientific interest in the extra-terrestrial? It’s science fiction, certainly, but not sci-fi. Depicting a foreign environment […]

Sculpture by Anna Gillespie

I do have a repeat experience, when confronted with supreme beauty, that it would be ok to die