BIG RAT .STUDIO

kOOLKATWARNER INTERVIEW

AS ONE OF OUR 6 SHOWS IN ‘6 WEEKS: IMPOSSIBLE POP UPS’ SERIES, WE SPOKE TO ALEX WARNER (AKA KOOLKATWARNER) ABOUT THEIR WORK. VIEW ALEX’S SHOW HERE.

I SUPPOSE THE FIRST THING TO ASK IS WHO YOU ARE! TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU DO (GENERALLY AND AS AN ARTIST).

MY NAME IS KOOLKATWARNER BIRTH NAME ALEX WARNER AND I AM AN ARTIST/MAKER THAT WORKS IN PRIMARY COLOURS. I’M ORIGINALLY FROM SOUTH LONDON BUT I AM NOW BASED IN GLASGOW AS I AM A GRADUATE OF THE CLASS OF COVID-19. I STUDIED PHOTOGRAPHY BUT ALSO LIKE TO DRAW, PAINT, MAKE ZINES, MAKE CRAPPY MUSIC AND CLAY SCULPTURES. ALL BASED AROUND THE THEMES OF BRITISH CONSUMERISM, SPORT AND THE URBAN LANDSCAPE AND USING THE SAME 3 COLOURS THOUGHT MY WORK RED, YELLOW AND BLUE.

THERE ARE SEVERAL THEMES IN THIS SHOW THAT ARE ALL RELATED TO EACH OTHER; NOSTALGIA, BOYHOOD, BRITISHNESS AND CONSUMERISM. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THESE THINGS THAT DRAWS YOU TO THEM? WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO DO THIS SHOW ABOUT THEM?

YEAH THERE ARE SEVERAL DIFFERENT THEMES THAT GO THROUGHOUT WORK IN THIS SHOW, AND WHAT DREW ME TO THESE THEMES WHERE THE COLOURS AND THE IMPACT IN WHICH THEY HAVE TO MODERN DAY CONSUMERISM ESPECIALLY BRITISH CONSUMERISM, WITH REFERENCES TO BOOKER AND MACHINE MART. THE IDEAS OF NOSTALGIA AND BOYHOOD THAT SPAN OFF SOME OF THESE DRAWINGS COME FROM THE SAME LOOK AND AESTHETIC THAT THE FELT TIP PENS GIVE OF THEMSELVES WITH THAT SCRIBBLY, SCRATCHY, NON- SYMMETRICAL LOOK ABOUT THE DRAWINGS AS LITTLE ALEX WOULD OF DONE BACK IN 2000 AND WHENEVER. A LOT OF THE PRIMARY RESOURCES THAT I BASED MY DRAWINGS OFF I FOUND EITHER THROUGH THE INTERNET OR IN CATALOGUES IN MY ROOM THAT I FOUND DURING LOCKDOWN.

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THEIR RELATION TO EACH OTHER E.G. BRITISH CONSUMERISM OR FOOTBALL AND NAFFNESS? (I’M ESPECIALLY INTERESTED IN HOW BOYHOOD RELATES TO THE OTHERS – IS THIS A CASE OF HAVING GROWN UP IN THE 2000S OR DO YOU THINK THERE IS SOMETHING INHERENTLY CHILDISH ABOUT THAT/THIS PERIOD?)

THE DRAWINGS WORK IN RELATION TO EACH OTHER AS THEY ARE SIMPLY THINGS THAT I PERSONALLY LIKE AND I ENJOY THE ORIGINAL LOOK AND AESTHETIC OF , HOWEVER I WANTED TO THEN MANIPULATE THIS THROUGH MY OWN DRAWING STYLE AND TECHNIQUE OF FELT TIP PENS TO THEN ALTER THE ORIGINAL LOOK OF THEM AND WANTING PEOPLE TO HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOUR AND NOSTALGIA WHEN LOOKING AT THESE DRAWINGS.

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE REASON FELT-TIPS AND PRIMARY COLOURS WERE SO INTERESTING TO YOU AS TOOLS OF EXPRESSION?

OF COURSE! DURING LOCKDOWN A LOT OF MY USUAL TOOLS I WOULD’VE USED TO MAKE WORK WERE LOCKED AWAY IN MY UNI STUDIOS. AND SO IVE HAD TO USE WHAT I HAVE IN MY BEDROOM. TO KEEP DRAWING AND MAKING AND USE WHAT I COULD BUY FROM ESSENTIAL SHOPS. ONE OF THOSE ESSENTIAL SHOPS THAT WAS OPEN THE WHOLE TIME THROUGHOUT LOCKDOWN (AND GOD BLESS THEIR STAFF) WAS POUND LAND! AND LUCKILY I WAS ABLE TO STILL BUY THESE PENS WHEN I RAN OUT OR THEY RAN OUT ON ME. PRIMARY COLOURS ARE AN ESSENTIAL PART OF MY WORK AND BEING AS PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING I MAKE AND DO WILL BE TO DO WITH THOSE THREE COLOURS RED, YELLOW AND BLUE! THESE  COLOURS ARE USED NOT ONLY THROUGHOUT MY WORK AND DRAWINGS BUT ARE USED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD IN SIGNAGE, REPRESENTATION, AND STATUS. THESE THREE COLOURS HAVE SO MANY DIFFERENT MEANINGS BEHIND THEM THAT WHEN ALTERING THE PLACEMENT OF THESE COLOURS IT DOESN’T MATTER, WHAT ONLY MATTERS IS THE WAY THEY ARE USED. FOR EXAMPLE THE COLOUR RED IS USED FOR DANGER SIGNS AND WARNING LOGOS HOWEVER THE COLOUR RED IS ALSO USED FOR STRAWBERRY FLAVOURED SWEETS AND SEEN THROUGHOUT FAST FOOD PACKAGING. THIS IS WHAT MAKES ME OBSESSED WITH THESE THREE COLOURS AND MAKES ME WANT TO EXPLORE DIFFERENT WAYS AND TECHNIQUES IN WHICH TO MAKE WORK USING THESE THREE COLOURS TIME AND TIME AGAIN IN DIFFERENT SCENARIOS AND METHODS OF MAKING.

DO YOU THINK HUMOR IS IMPORTANT TO ART? HOW DOES IT FEATURE IN THE WORK YOU DO?

ABSOLUTELY, I BELIEVE HUMOR SHOULD BE A BIG PART IN ART IN GENERAL! IF IT’S FUN FOR YOU TO MAKE THE WORK WHY CAN’T THE WORK BE FUN-NY TO LOOK AT. WITHOUT SOUNDING WANKY , ART IS MEANT TO SPARK EMOTIONS AND FEELINGS SO WHY CAN’T ONE OF THOSE FEELINGS BE A FUNNY FEELING THAT MAKES YOU GIGGLE. I TRY TO ADD HUMOROUS ASPECTS TO MY WORK IN MY OWN WAY BUT YOU CAN’T TELL PEOPLE TO LAUGH YOUR OWN JOKES, YOU JUST HAVE TO WAIT FOR THEM TO GET IT AND IF THEY DON’T THAT’S OK!

WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS I.E. HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO DRAW AND HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT DRAWING IT?

GOOD QUESTION! I AM DRAWN TO A LOT OF DIFFERENT IMAGERY AND THEMES AND I WOULD SEE SOMETHING I VISUALLY LIKE OR SOMETHING NOSTALGIC OR SOMETHING I KNOW PEOPLE COULD RELATE TO. I WOULD THEN ATTEMPT TO DRAW A SERIES OR RANGE OF THOSE THINGS SO THAT I END UP WITH A COLLECTION OF SEVERAL DRAWINGS AND THEN DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT THERE ANY GOOD. I GO ABOUT DRAWING IT SIMPLY WITH A BANGING PLAYLIST OR ALBUM, A CUP OF TEA, SOME PAPER AND MASKING TAPE AND A FRESH PACK OF FELT TIP POUND LAND PENS!

DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER SOURCES OF INSPIRATION (ANYTHING; FILM, MUSIC, ARTISTS, TV, ETC.)?

I HAVE MANY OTHER SOURCES OF INSPIRATION ESPECIALLY AND CLEARLY THOUGH FILMS, MUSIC AND POPULAR CULTURE.

And AS LOCKDOWN HAS LOCKED US ALL DOWN, WE HAVE BEEN PUSHED TO EITHER MAKE WORK FOR THE INTERNET OR PUT WORK ON THE INTERNET AND I HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO SO MANY NEW ARTISTS AND CREATIVES IS I NEVER WOULD OF! I TAKE A LOT OF INSPIRATION FROM MY SURROUNDINGS AND FROM THE URBAN LANDSCAPE WHICH IS BRITISH CITIES LIKE GLASGOW AND LONDON. AND TAKE A LOT OF INSPIRATION FROM THE MUNDANE AND EVERY DAY GRAFT OF WHAT LIFE IS. I ALSO TAKE A LOT OF INSPIRATION FROM MY FRIENDS AND OTHER CREATIVES AND MAKERS AROUND ME AS I AM VERY LUCKY TO HAVE SO MANY AMAZING PEOPLE IN MY LIFE.

HAVE YOU, AND BY EXTENSION YOUR ART, CHANGED/ RESPONDED TO THE PANDEMIC, IF YOU HAVE AT ALL?

THIS YEAR WAS MEANT TO BE SUCH A BIG YEAR FOR SO MANY OF US! AND UNFORTUNATELY, DUE TO THINGS NO ONE EVER WOULD’VE GUESSED OR HAD CONTROL OVER, PLANS AND PROJECTS HAVE HAD TO OF BEEN CUT, CHANGED AND ALTERED. NONE OF US COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING AND NONE OF US COULD HAVE KNOWN ANY BETTER AND OF DEALT WITH IT BUT WE HAVE TO COUNT OURSELVES LUCKY THAT WE STILL HAVE THOSE OPPORTUNITIES WHEN WE DID AND WE STILL ALWAYS WILL! I’VE BEEN MAKING AS MUCH AS I CAN WITH THE  

I’VE BEEN MAKING AND EXPERIMENTING WITH MANY DIFFERENT NEWFOUND INTERESTS HAVE EVEN STARTED MAKING MUSIC USING THE LOOP PEDAL, A CRAPPY MICROPHONE, A BASS GUITAR AND SHIT KEYBOARDS AND I’VE BEEN HAVING SO MUCH FUN WITH IT! I’VE ALSO MADE MAJORITY OF THESE DRAWINGS YOU CAN SEE IN THE SHOW!

WHAT ARE YOU UP TO NOW? DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING PLANNED AFTER THIS SHOW? HOW SHOULD PEOPLE KEEP UP TO DATE WITH WHAT YOU’RE DOING?

I AM CURRENTLY STILL LIVING AND WORKING IN THE GREAT CITY THAT IS GLASGOW, I AM VERY LUCKY TO HAVE LANDED MYSELF A WEE STUDIO AND SO I PLAN TO KEEP MAKING AND CREATING AS WELL AS TRYING TO WORK WITH PEOPLE AND FRIENDS AND TRY TO SALVAGE WHAT’S LEFT OF A DEGREE SHOW THAT NEVER HAPPENED. I’VE MADE A SNAZZY LOOKING WEBSITE IN LOCKDOWN AND HAVE ALSO GOT AN INSTAGRAM PAGE WHICH ARE BOTH LINKED RIGHT HERE:

@KOOLKATWARNER WWW.KOOLKATWARNER.COM

I WANNA THANK MOLLY AND ELLIOT OF BIG RAT STUDIO FOR SUPPORTING MY WORK AND FOR LIKING MY CRAPPY DRAWINGS AND ALSO WANNA THANK MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY FOR ALSO SUPPORTING ME DURING THESE WEIRD WEIRD TIMES. GOD BLESS, WASH YOUR HANDS, BLACK LIVES MATTER, END HOTEL DETENTION AND BUN BORIS.

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