MY DESIGN SPACE
We go behind the scenes with artist Will Barras in his two London work spaces: his flat and his studio
Artist Will Barras discusses the pros and cons of his two work spaces: his flat and studio, and talks about the essential materials he needs to create
Artist, illustrator and animation director Will Barras has two different places that he can work from, depending on how he’s feeling, or how cold it is. At the moment he’s enjoying staying warm working from his flat in east London, which is particularly handy as his days are sometimes cut short by the school run.
“I have a big room to work in, lots of tea and I often stick Netflix on in the background,” says Birmingham-born Barras, who moved to Bristol to study graphic design, and became one of a new crop of young artists working within the city’s world-renowned street art scene. “It’s comfortable, and I’ve got all my stuff around me,” he continues. “But I can get easily distracted with picking bits of fluff off the carpet, so if I need to paint a lot or make a mess, or I’m going stir crazy, I brave the cold and go to my studio around the corner.”
Barras keeps his studio as empty as possible, so that he has nothing else to do there except work. He shares the space with four other designers and illustrators, “It’s great there when I get into it,” he says.
He’s normally surrounded by a lot of different pens, pencils markers and brushes (1). “I like having all this stuff around. Sometimes I make marks or textures, which I photograph. This process often takes me to new things.” Barras has owned his easel (2) for many years. It’s like an old friend, he says. “I’ve made a lot of paintings with it now. I may get tired, but I think it’s probably better to paint standing up.”
Like his pens and pencils, a stack of good watercolour paper
(3) can usually be found in Barras’ studio. He normally chooses Saunders Waterford hot press, citing its smooth quality and ability to hold a lot of liquid as preferable for his work. “It’s a nice surface to work with and I also don’t have to over-work things, so I can just rattle though it,” he explains.
These days, his illustration projects usually cross over into painting, and Barras is increasingly finding himself photographing objects with his SLR camera (4) to work into the images. “The painting (5) currently on my easel is record sleeve artwork for Juice Aleem, a rapper from Birmingham, on a record label called Gamma Proforma,” adds Barras. “The album is called VooduStarchild. It’s a collage of African fabrics, which I’ve painted over in acrylic and oil paint.”
Will Barras was a founding member of street art collective Scrawl – his narrative-driven compositions and flowing line work appreared in Scrawl’s 1999 book. He has exhibited and performed live painting throughout Europe, the US and Asia. www.willbarras.com