Every artist's dream, and nightmare, is exposure. A show that ends being unviewed is a failure. An artist needs an audience to communicate with and to start a dialogue. Gerry Buxton, the artist behind Plane Clothing, does not have that problem. His works are printed on tee-shirts and worn by 100's of Londoners in the streets nowadays. I was able to meet him and ask the following questions:
1. Can you please tell us a bit about your background?
I studied for a Product Design degree in Edinburgh, although as I progressed through the course I realised I was more interested in illustrating and photography. During my studies I met a guy who ran an indie t-shirt label and it seamed like a really cool thing to do, so I resolved that after I graduated I would move to London and seek my fortune as a t-shirt designer!
Flight Path by Gerry Buxton
2. How did you get into designing prints for textiles?
Having moved to London I started working part time and designing t-shirt prints, when they were done I found a printer dusted off my credit card and had a whole lot printed up and got myself a stall on Camden market, these first shirts met with a mixed response. Although through the market I met lots of people and importantly I met a guy who was printing his own t-shirts. I started to share a studio with him in Brixton market (before it was gentrified!). This hands on experience of printing changed my approach to the design process and gave me a great insight into what works and what doesn't work as a t-shirt print.
3. Where do you get the inspiration from?
All of my illustrations are from photographs I've taken. I think the biggest influence has been London itself and the urban environment. Having moved down from Scotland one of the first things I noticed was all the planes. Every time you look up in London another plane is roaring overhead. I started to photograph them, trying to capture them as passed behind buildings, looking at how they interacted with the city, this is where the logo for the brand came from and coupled with my love of bad puns Plane Clothing was born. In the last couple of years the inspiration has been the buildings and the fabric of London itself. I wanted to tie in with London being hip for the Olympics so I chose London buildings, not the obvious tourist ones , but the ones that Londoners' identify with and use to navigate by. I love the brutalist buildings, the Barbican centre and the Trellick tower being two favourites.
Trellick by Gerry Buxton
4. How do you feel when you see one of your designs worn in the street?
It's always a buzz to see someone wearing one of my shirts out and about. What's funny is it seems that my friends spot them out and about more than I do (maybe I need to get out more!). My parents were in town a few weeks ago and accosted a guy wearing one of my shirts, I think mainly to explain why they were staring and pointing at him! I like the fact that they are all over the world, people sometimes post on the facebook page showing pics of them sporting their favourite tees in exotic locations, it's funny to think of all the places the t-shirts have been that I'll never visit!
5. What's your next step?
Next up is a series of illustrations from New York! My wife and I went there in the spring and took thousands of photographs of different places and people in the big apple, I've spent the last six months feverishly illustrating getting together a collection of 5 prints, each of which is a portrait of a different neighbourhood. All the illustrating should be done by the end of September and I'll be launching a kickstarter campaign in October to try and get the funding to launch all 5 at once.
Gerry's cityscapes are timeless and it reminds us of how much beauty we miss on our daily journeys in the city.