The frustration had been building and now it simmers gently, threatening to fizz and rush up over the pan. My boss is a nice guy, but the way he claps his hands, as if to giddy me into action before a command is starting to trigger irrational rage.
The six-month spell after graduation has been tough in a creative sense. With a decent job in the book store, I have my full time wage and a colleague I get along well with, but another of the extras that comes with full time work is mental fatigue and it’s hampering my ability to think of anything other than reading in bed by the time I get home at night.
One afternoon, the usual batch of damages comes down and it kills me again. Bin them. Never under any circumstances take them. But why? That’s wasteful! Company policy: sackable offence. It’s shit but it’s the way it is, we’re just as pissed off about it as you are. By now, I was becoming reckless, questioning a lot more than I should and moaning too much. My soul was trying to get out of the building on a daily basis. The job was fine, but I was becoming desperate to make headway in a creative career. Anyway, on the trolley, there’s a nice Jamie Oliver book. Jamie’s Dinners. There’s barely more than a nick on the dust jacket and some of the food looks intense. I’m not having it. My colleague is upstairs, so following protocol I take it to the skip with another book, drop them complete with a calculated fumble and kick the Oliver one underneath as I retrieve the decoy.
After work, I sidle by and pick it up, saving it from pulp. Then I’m gone. My intentions were to cook from it, but on the walk home, fully intending to select a recipe, I’m distracted by the illustrations. They’re so simple. But they smack me in the face. They scream at me with their sexy naivety. Suddenly I feel like it’s incredibly trendy to cook. Maybe it is; Oliver is on telly after all. But there’s a bigger picture here. These illustrations have found the faulty stop valve, repaired it and the toilet flushes, a monster exit, unblocking something unholy that had replaced tutorial guidance.
For too long, complexity had a way of creeping back into my drawing style, the way I created the vision I had for a final with fear and frozen mind when my sketches were almost climbing off the page because they were alive and unshackled has proven a hard habit to break. Seeing this book published, printed beautifully and flying off the shelves in the shop has driven home a crucial message: complexity does not always equal success. You know the way a parent will walk straight to the hyper-realistic oil painting in the gallery whilst you try to keep your mind together after seeing an unmade bed? Well, you’re both right and you’re both wrong. For six months I had forgotten that there are no rules. If I want to leave my ink lines unfinished, then I can. Lucinda Rogers, Ralph Steadman, David Shrigley. They all inspired me throughout university in their unique way, but this moment feels pivotal. On this revelatory walk home, reading a technically stolen cookbook, Marion Deuchars’ stunning illustrations make up for the loss of higher education by reminding me that any artistic style is as valid as the next, as long as it successfully meets the brief. Her work packs zest, passion and soul. When I get home, I warm up some beans, pop in two slices of toast and get out my inks.
Marion Deuchars joins me to share her journey as an illustrator and author on episode 89 of the Arrest All Mimics: Creative Innovation Podcast, which you can hear now at http://soundcloud.com/arrestallmimics/ep89