Let's Go Through the Keyhole with Zeroten

Let's Go Through the Keyhole with Zeroten

Posted by: Jerry

Welcome to Lazy Oaf’s Through the Keyhole where we delve into the lives and studios of some of our favourite creatives. This month we got the East London Overground to New Cross to discover the life and loves of illustrator and artist Zeroten.

The Oaf team have been following artist Zeroten for sometime now so when we were on the hunt for new drawing talent to take part in this years Drawing Club, he was top of the list. Agreeing to take part, he came along on the night and created a masterpiece of masterpieces filling a wall with mini portraits illustrated in inks and water colours - see here.

Wales born Zeroten uniquely combines collage with hand drawings to create dream-like narrative scenes and illustrations of people. Working in small sketch books, each page is filled with a completed design ready to be framed and hung on a wall. Since graduating from university in 2008, his artwork has filled the pages of Bearded and Amelia's Magazine to name a few and has featured in exhibitions and promotional graphics.

We caught up with Zeroten in his studio, or rather a dining room table, located in his flat in New Cross and we were certainly in for a treat. With character ornaments on every mantelpiece and a broad collection of taxidermy, we weren't short of photo opportunities. Read below to find out about new zine projects, a habit for hoarding and peanut butter on toast.

Where did the name Zeroten derive from?

I stole the name from 'The Last Futurist Exhibition' 0.10 from 1915. They spoke about it in a lecture in my second year of university and I jotted it down simply because I thought of it as a nice word to say.

What is keeping you busy at the moment?

Apart from constantly complaining about the heat and London's bus service I'm busy on plans for two zines of my own, one collaborative zine with Joe Baglow and some artwork for fashion label The Rodnik Band.

How would you describe the space that you work in?

It looks a bit like someone's grandmothers house. Full of fake flowers, taxidermy and Royal Family memorabilia.

In what ways do you think your creative space effects your design process? Would you say it was more of a distraction or inspiration?

I would say  that for me it is an inspiration. There is so much stuff to see that it's perfect for daydreaming. Lots of things I find and bring home I later reference in my work. I'm only really distracted if the Antiques Roadshow is on.

Is there one picture up on your wall at the moment that keeps catching your eye?

Unfortunately, I have lots of items and ornaments in my flat but I only have three pictures on my walls. One of roses, one of a gentleman from a past century and one of the queen. None are particularly very eye catching.

You were one of the live drawers in our Drawing Club event, your wall looked amazing, can you tell us a bit more about it?

Thank you. Well, I'm not used to working on such a big scale so contemplating what I could do was making me lose sleep. So I thought I would overcome my slight apprehension by making small things, but lots of them. I often think of Peter Blake's message of 'create images of things you like' and I love Portrait Miniatures, so I made a whole wall of them.

What is your most treasured possession?

I collect so many things that is really hard to say. Taxidermy, silly ornaments, royal commemorative ceramics, lorgnettes, fanzines. I'm a compulsive hoarder. At the moment I would probably say that my most treasured possession is the tiny, dead terrapin that was a recent birthday gift from my parents. It's so delicate. I like to look at it's tiny, sleepy face through a magnifying glass.

What has inspired your designs recently?

I'm currently very interested in the little cartoon characters you get on sweet wrappers and pizza take away leaflets and what not, so I keep bringing them home at the moment. Also, as a big fan of William Burroughs, I'm very interested in his and Brion Gysin's idea of the Dreamachine. I'm very keen to build one to see if it could enhance my creative thinking and aid my work.

Are you enjoying anyone else’s work?

I recently bought a postcard by Zoe Taylor in a book shop in Charing Cross which I love. I never usually buy postcards because I can't think of what to do with them, but I had to make an exception on finding this. And another mention for Joe Baglow because I'm interested in what he is creating.

When you were younger what did you dream of being when you grew up?

I always wanted to be an artist, from as long as I could remember, although I did go through a few other phases, like wanting to be an archaeologist or a labourer. I briefly thought I could become a make up artist, but I was horrified to find out that I would more than likely have to do ladies make up. I just wanted to create fake wounds.

Where is your favourite place to hangout?

It's probably Margam Park in my home town in Wales. It has a castle, forestry and animals. I have to escape London and go there at least once a month or I think I'll probably lose my marbles. In London, it's anywhere that has a pool table.

What snack/beverage is keeping you going in your studio at the moment?

I have one snack that has been my staple snack for about 4 years which is coffee and peanut butter on toast. It's either that or red wine.

What is your dream holiday destination?

Somewhere cold with a castle, cafes and book shops.

That is quite a taxidermy collection you have there, tell us a bit more about it.

The first piece of taxidermy I got was the mounted badgers head that was bought for me as a gift a number of years ago. Since then I have collected many more oddities, most of which come from Marrakech. My mother and sister travel there often and purchase gifts for me from Witch Doctors and other interesting characters. It's like they are fuelling a strange addiction.

To see more of Zeroten's work you can visit his site at www.zeroten.net