We first came across your name, but not your artwork, when you were buying cans from our store. It was only later on that we actually put your artwork to your name, after seeing some pieces of your work in the streets that appealed to us. Could you give us a bit of background on what brings you into the world of art and design?
I’ve always enjoyed art in some form, for as long as I can remember really. I used to look at cartoons in comics, or only the illustrations in books I can’t remember the name of. Anything around me that was hand drawn or made, I was into it. My dad was a carpenter and amazing at drawing. I’d watch him work a lot as a kid. He used to draw pictures of dinosaurs for me too, only with cheap felt tips, but I remember thinking they were so so good. I guess from then I always chased that interest and it eventually got me doodling on walls most of the time.
We really like the abstract nature of your work in the streets. It’s quite refreshing to see artwork appear in corners of the city without a really obvious message behind it. Could you tell us a little bit about your process and what is going on in some of your mural paintings?
Yeah, it’s nice you say that. I feel a lot of people expect some kind of definition or meaning behind everything today. Nobody can just accept something as it is, it must be understood, have a message, or have some kind of deep and interesting meaning to it. Most of my work is just self-expression, whatever that is.
I never plan my work. The painting will just happen, sometimes I don’t even like the outcomes, but that’s life. The most planning that goes in would be choosing colours. I feel no expectation in painting gives a much broader limitation to what you will make. There’s always room to fix things up if you’re unhappy or at times, some happy accidents will happen and they’ll look nicer than anything you’ve tried to do.
Your use of colour and mark-making in particular work very well together. Are you following any rules in terms of composition?
When I’m buying my own paint and colour schemes, I’ve always had no idea why I choose specific colours. I think I have a few favourites and then just use contrasting colours with them. I like my work to stand out, I feel large contrasts in shape and colour help with that. I’ve always had a natural eye for composition so I guess most mark-making works with that. I like alignment and parallel lines, This comes from my love for design and photography. Again though, no planning ensures the painting has an element of life to it, the marks are always pretty uniform but the composition is just thought up on the spot, If something is in one corner of the piece, I’ll try even it out with something similar the opposite corner.
Do you have any favourite materials to work with or processes that you particularly enjoy in your practice?
Spray paint will always be my favourite material. It’s available almost anywhere and can be applied to pretty much anything, perfect really. I do work with a lot of other mediums though, the most obscure being traditional printmaking. I do lots of silkscreen printing, linocuts, and variations of monoprints. I’ll then apply these skills to works on canvas, or to other works, like a large collage or any collaborations I might be working on.
Apart from the more personal work that we found in the streets, we noticed that you have also been doing commissioned murals too. These works also seem to afford you a lot of creative freedom. How do you go about keeping things creative and interesting for yourself while still meeting clients needs?
Because I don’t plan these pieces, clients often get a little stressed at this stage. Like, what if I paint something totally different to what they imagined? This is why I’ll always ask them to choose a colour scheme if they wish, this allows them control over something that even I don’t really have control over anyway. I can work with any colours really, it’s the shape and form that I enjoy working on most, colours just fill the gaps.
Why plan abstract work though? I think it defeats the object of it being abstract. For me making art must be satisfying in some way and plans and rules are just not satisfying to me at all. I’ll always try to get people on this kind of wavelength if they’re struggling with imagining how things will look. I have worked on more specific briefs though, like logo painting or painting digital typefaces. I can paint with brushes so traditional sign painting is something I’ve done before on request.
We also noticed from social media that you have been doing some projects with schools and the younger generation recently. Have you found these projects to be both fulfilling creatively and an interesting learning process?
Definitely, I think it’s so important to share knowledge, especially with the younger generation. When I grew up we actually got taught art in school, I’m pretty sure they don’t learn that now in the UK, which is sad, to be honest.
Art and other creative outlets gave me so much freedom growing up. Even now actually, so much joy and friendships come from painting or working on stuff together. I don’t actually know where I’d be without it, so yeah I like to give that back if I can.
Selfishly, it’s also so inspiring to work with younger people, they’re more interesting than adults, they have less controlled views on life, more free to express what they want rather than what they feel they should.
Kids will always see what you can’t as well. A section of shapes and colours in a painting could be anything to these kids, Cookie Monsters, koalas and suns got noticed last time I worked with kids. I intended on painting none of this of course aha. This is always inspiring or if not at least entertaining in some way.
We looked you up and found your website, lukepassey.co.uk, and it seems like you are doing more creative things than we originally knew about! There are lots of different types of design work on there. Could you tell us a little about your work for the music industry and your sleeve designs?
I’ve some good mates doing some cool stuff in the music world, producers, DJs, or promotors. I was always surrounded by this, always in clubs or at events growing up. So yeah, that work came through word of mouth really. I made a set of covers for my mate Joe Corfield back in 2017/18 which I enjoyed making, he makes super nice hip-hop instrumentals, have a listen if you get the chance. I’ve had the chance to make various posters for club nights as well. I’ll always use pre-made imagery in these, sections of paintings or prints are used to decorate a poster. Design work isn’t something I do much of nowadays, I think the painting took over a bit. I am always keen to work on good projects though.