Trump and Boris have saved Michelle Thompson busy the previous couple of years; we’re certain the collage artist will stay inundated even when a type of two gents is now leaving the world stage.
Saffron Walden-based Michelle has been working efficiently in publishing, editorial and design since graduating from The Royal College of Art in 1996, changing into acclaimed for her mixture of discovered supplies with painted, drawn and printed components.
For her early commissions, Michelle remembers faxing a pencil sketch to the shopper, earlier than working in collage and personally hand-delivering the paintings. Nowadays, most of her commissioned work is created fully digitally, with Michelle scanning within the collage components and working in Photoshop.
Books, magazines, packaging, pictures, postcards and different printed ephemera make up these components, cut-up and reassembled photos from latest historical past which replicate up to date themes and widespread tradition. You’ll have seen her cowl work on The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, or through her collaborations with influential British designer Vaughan Oliver. Her purchasers in the meantime have included the Royal Mail, BBC, Reebok, The Vagina Museum and extra.
See? Trump is not so important in spite of everything. And the occasions of 2020 have not been too detrimental to Michelle’s workload both, as we discover out on this interview with the inventive.
Hi Michelle, what have you ever been working on currently? And it is lockdown once more: how did the primary one deal with you professionally?
I’m at present working with an animation studio in Atlanta in addition to political items for The Guardian US and the Evening Standard.
At the beginning, the lockdown was scary because the commissioned work appeared to cease, but it surely gave me the time I had at all times moaned about not having. So I concentrated on my very own work and promoting collages and prints.
I at all times really feel that the non-public and commissioned work feed one another, so quickly the commissioned work picked up.
You have been a part of the RA’s Summer Exhibition this yr. What did you show, and was being a part of the RA a longtime dream for you?
My Red Dress collage was proven. I’ve utilized twice earlier than and received through to the subsequent spherical, however by no means the ultimate present.
It was nice to get this piece in because it’s on the again of considered one of my grandad’s sketchbooks. He died final yr at 99, so I had just a little cry because it felt like we each received in.
How lengthy does it take you to make a chunk from begin to end? And how do you choose supplies and piece them collectively?
If I’m working digitally, it may well take just a few hours, particularly with a fast newspaper deadline. If I’m working in collage, once more it may well take just a few hours, however typically the items lie getting dusty for weeks earlier than I decide to sticking them down.
What themes and colors do you get pleasure from working inside your private work?
Red and pink on every little thing! With my collage work, I like not having a theme; the collages make themselves. It’s nice not having any constraints, so I do precisely what I would like.
Which items of yours do individuals actually reply to? Is it often the political ones?
I discover I’ve two forms of followers: ones who admire color and texture, they have a tendency to purchase my collage and print work. Then the political work is mostly appreciated by individuals in my trade and illustration commissioners.
Boris and Trump maintain me busy; the political items began after I labored on a Boris Johnson cowl for the Sunday Times. I’ve since labored with newspapers like The Washington Post, Politico, New Statesman and the Evening Standard, to call just a few.
Who are the best influences on your type?
I’ve at all times cherished the work of Joseph Beuys and Rauschenberg, however I additionally love homes and interiors, and typically I really feel Instagram is a superb affect.
How has your type modified through the years?
I’ve at all times cherished minimal summary work, so firstly, I did a whole lot of guide jackets, however as I discovered find out how to use Photoshop, my work grew to become extra narrative. This pushed me extra into editorial work, which I really like. I thrive on a fast deadline as I work higher with just a few jobs on on the identical time.
Your work tends to deal with collective reminiscence. How do you suppose we are going to keep in mind this unusual period we’re residing in?
I believe we have been through so many alternative phases of lockdown and coronavirus that our recollections maintain altering. Making banana bread and sitting within the sizzling solar appears a really distant reminiscence. Personally, we did a whole lot of adorning and shopping for artwork in addition to consuming…
We’ve all had totally different lockdowns, however I do suppose we are going to do not forget that we do care about our communities. It was additionally attention-grabbing to see how artwork grew to become so vital, helped by the Artist Support Pledge.
What tasks would you prefer to strive subsequent?
I’m at all times ready for a excessive profile promoting job, and in fact, a New Yorker cowl!