Our exciting new feature, ‘Meet the Maker’, focuses on individual artists, designers and generally creative peeps, finding out what helps to float their boat.
“My work is experimental and playful, not constrained by a single discipline.”
First up is award-winning artist Richard Levine, whose invaluable input helped Seabirds design and create our logo. Richard is a very patient man; you can see this quality reflected in his artwork, over and over again in the painstaking, minute attention to detail in his pieces. He spent weeks teaching me how to use Illustrator, a fiendishly complicated computer drawing programme for someone more comfortable with pencil and paper. Without Richard I would certainly be in need of a wig by now, and the logo would be a piece of cr*p. Erm, not very good at all.
When we met yesterday, in a little café tucked away from the busyness that is Brighton seafront, I asked Richard to talk to me about his work. For someone who describes themselves as primarily a “graphic artist”, it’s hardly surprising that he cites his primary influences as the “OP” (Optical) artists of the 60s and 70s, think Bridget Riley and Viktor Vasarely. He was also inspired by vintage Disney animation from the 20s and 30s - Mickey Mouse remains his first love (sorry Alisa). What is more unlikely however, is his admiration for some of the “Old Masters”, such as Holbein. We also chatted about Van Gogh for some time and Richard explained that he aims to combine all his inspirations into one, single whole – a completely new genre if you like. He says It’s like throwing everything into a bucket, shaking it up and seeing what comes out.”
He begins by mixing pattern and colour in hundreds of different combinations and then applies this to a 3D form, such as a dog. “I chose dogs because everyone recognises their form.” My mission is that you should be able to recognize what the image is, but as a completely new thing, a new idea.”
This summer Richard won Judges’ Choice award in the Castle Fine Arts Summer Exhibition. “I see this as a real breakthrough – to be included as one of the twenty finalists was amazing enough but to win outright, well, it hasn’t really sunk in yet to be honest.” Even though he’s had exhibitions in the USA, Japan and Europe, and has had work commissioned- his portrait of Richard the Third presently hangs in the Offices of Leicester City Council, he feels like winning this award takes him to the next level. Although, still exhilarated by his recent recognition, Richard remains his usual down to earth self – “You can’t please everyone, you’ve just got to do what you like yourself.” Happily, for Richard though, other people like it too. Check out more of Richard's incredible work here https://richardlevine.bigcartel.com/products
So next we turned to talking about sea swimming, which Richard began this April, inspired by seeing some our Seabirds photos which we’d posted online. He thought that it looked like a lot of fun and had been wanting to get in the sea for some time; 15 years to be precise. His first “swim” lasted exactly 1 minute – he knows this because he gave his son a stopwatch to time him. The second day he managed 2 minutes and was up to 12 minutes by the end of April. You might be thinking that this sounds much more like some kind of endurance test than anything else, but Richard explained that he had never experienced such a “serotonin feed-back” either during or after any other form of exercise (he should know, he’s tried them all: running, walking, cycling, yoga, Pilates, the gym, I could go on). He likes the way that it makes him feel more grounded and immediately brings him back into his body, particularly as he spends a lot of time alone with his thoughts, while he is working. It sets him up for the day and makes him feel as though he has accomplished something. He’s now, by his own admission, completely addicted and a day without a dip, is definitely lacking. Richard is now utterly convinced of the restorative benefits of the sea. As are we.