On the morning of the Blisters 2014 show in which Belfast born Carrickfergus raised Peter Strain exhibits his work. People of Print talks exclusively with the AOI Award winning Illustrator about his design up bringing, the Belfast design scene, the key themes his work explores and more importantly he picks out his favourite Wes Anderson film.
1. Where were you born?
Belfast but I grew up in a town called Carrickfergus – around 10 miles from Belfast
2. What is your design/illustration background, how did you get to where you are now?
I went to the University of Ulster Belfast and studied Visual Communication, which at the time was very graphic design orientated. It wasn’t until my placement year with Whitenoise studios that I realised I wanted to explore illustration. I wasn’t really excelling at more traditional forms of Graphic Design but during my time there I was exposed to so many different lo-fi forms of illustration and image making that really inspired me. This really freed me up to experiment with drawing, collage and type.
3. What is the design scene like in Belfast?
The Design Scene is great with a lot of great work being made, however there isn’t really a market for illustration here. Illustration jobs tend to be handled by design agencies in house and only on a rare occasion are they outsourced to freelancers. There does seem to a shift towards recognising illustration as a separate specialised skill, in fact the University of Ulster Art College has split off its previous ‘Visual Communication’ course into 2 separate modules ‘Graphic design’ and ‘Illustration’
4. How would you describe your style and the themes your work explores?
A lot of my personal work is based around people looking back and accessing their lives. So I suppose themes of love, regret, and mortality. I never really thought about it in great detail- I suppose telling a story through a single image is important to me and mixing in typography allows me to do that. I do a lot of pop culture influenced work as well because I just love music and film. Sometimes I use these influences for more humorous/ satirical work and at other times they help inform some of the more personal or serious projects.
5. What has been your most rewarding project to date?
I actually think it is one of the most recent shows I’ve been involved in –Print Club London’s BLISTERS SHOW. The great thing about this show was that you had free reign on what you could create based on any song/band. This allowed me freedom to make the kind of work I’ve been wanting to make for some time. I chose to focus my piece around a moment described in The National song ‘Pink Rabbits.
6. Do you have any plans to put on another film poster show like your ‘Admit One’ exhibition?
Even though I am still creating a lot of them for a few clients, I don’t have any plans at the minute to have another film poster themed show. I’ve an idea for a show but it won’t be to do with movies… I don’t think so anyway ha.
7. For those who don’t know you are appearing in the Blisters 2014 show, are there any secret projects that you are working on that you can tell us about in a cryptic way?
haha no I’m afraid not. You can take that as either I can’t say or I’m just not doing anything…
8. And finally what is your favourite Wes Anderson Film?
Oh tough one. It’s probably still Rushmore.