Hey man, could you introduce yourself for us? When and why did you start making art?
Hey! So my name is Alan Richardson, but some people might know me as my Instagram username Bloodkrowbastard. I’m from a tiny little rough village in the Northeast of England called Wheatley Hill; it’s an ex-mining village, the kind of place where a lot of dreams have died. It’s the same with a lot of the surrounding villages in County Durham though. Durham is just south of Newcastle and just North of Darlington where I work at Legacy Skate Store. I’ve been making art a lot longer than I’ve skated, I was super into comic books and superheroes as a kid so I used to just draw stuff like that all the time, it was the only thing that I was ever really good at in school.
My parents used to take me to our Village library too, where they had this massive shelf just full of comic books, from like every company, I would go even before I could read properly and just stare at the drawings for what felt like hours. They always used to take me and my sister to art galleries and old national trust houses as well. Like the kind of place just full old masters style paintings of the Lords of the manor or whatever, so I think interest was maybe peeked a bit by that too.
As to why I started making art. At first I really wanted to just make comic books, but then when I went to secondary school and found out how mad art actually is, and that I was doing well at it. It just seemed like the natural choice. I make artwork now to try and say something, maybe invoke a thought, that’s what art can be, almost like a weapon to say what you want and get where you want to be. Push your ideals into the face of the everyday normal human. Or not, they might think something totally different to what you see when you look at your own work.
How would you say your style has developed from then until now?
Well for one I never draw superheroes or comic stuff anymore! But I do still take influence from some artists. College and Uni were what really changed up my style, learning about different kinds of art, different movements, techniques and everything you should learn in full time education. I’m super into print making now, despite complaining about it none stop to my tutor in college Carol. Who was like the best tutor ever btw; shout out to Carol!
A lot of my artwork is sometimes autobiographical I think, I’m a pretty emotional person I feel like if I’m ever in a bad mood its written all over my face... It really comes from whatever is in my head at the time, which is a lot of shit. I never really think of a subject matter prior, other than when I’m sat down to do some commission work where someone has specifically asked me to make something. I can’t recall the exact quote but Ralph Steadman said something along the lines of “why make something if you know exactly what it’s going to turn out like.” I try to keep that in mind when I make something for my sketchbook drawings or a mono-print. Don’t think, just do. Like skating I guess. It’s also the reason I don’t make any realism art, I find it boring to see a perfect replica of life; where’s the sense of adventure? Life isn’t perfect so my work shouldn’t be either, it should be sketchy and have some stray paths, maybe some dark patches and the odd bit of light.
What's your preferred medium to work with? The images you sent over are using a couple of different ones right?
Really it’s just ink! But I use different inks for different methods. I tend to draw with fine liners in my sketchbook, then I sometimes use Indian inks on water colour paper, that’s for when I maybe get stuck and need to throw something around to get the mind going again, and finally I just use block printing inks for my linos and mono-prints. They all give different results and I pick the method often depending on feeling and what I really want to do. I won’t do it if it’s not going to be fun. There’s a little of everything in the stuff I sent over. Some linos, monos, sketchbook work and some free flowing inks. I’m into my screen printing in the shop at the minute too since it’s going pretty good.
Do you have any particular influences for your work? For me personally, I see a lot of similarities from comic artists such as Frank Miller or Mike Mignola, as well as the more oblique skate stuff.
You hit the nail on the head a little there, Mike Mignola is fucking sick! I just love the way he draws people and all those mad creatures from mythology and folklore. He is the master of black work, so steezy. Frank Miller is also very dope, his styles less blocky than Mignola’s I think, but his use of black is crazy, Sin City man, some mad images in there.
Neckface for the gnarly factor along with Todd Francis his work is so dope; I love how he can just poke fun at everything, mad genius. The Gonz! Of course you can’t talk skate art without mentioning the Gonz, I always like how Mark’s work isn’t perfect; it’s messy and weird. So many influences man, Jason Dill’s collage work for Fucking Awesome, like punk zines and stuff that’s what that makes me think of. FOS man too, the entirety of Heroin’s artwork is dope; I loved the series Enemy did for them, I had 2 of the Chet Childress boards back to back.
I also dig some contemporary artists like Ralph Steadman, Francis Bacon and Max Ernst. I also want to recommend watching “For no good reason” a documentary about Ralph Steadman, also a must watch for any Hunter S. Thompson fans, also read “Interviews with Francis Bacon” such a sick book; he says some mad shit about his art and life in there. Oh and look at “Une semaine de bonté” by Max Ernst it’s just a book of his collages but they’re all sick. I really dig this guy called Grady Gordon too his Instagram is @joaquindead he kind of got me into mono print again when I left Uni, his work is amazing, people should check him out.
German expressionism is another thing I like to look at, Otto Dix and Kathe Kollwitz lots of solid black and some mad imagery, lots of war art and lots of focus on people which is what I’m into.
One of the more striking aspects to your work is your use of colour, how do you decide when to add it?
I really have no idea man, that sounds really dumb but more often than not it just kind of happens. Sometimes I might do a mono-print then sit on it for time and then go back and paint and splatter some in with Indian inks. Like I did that with the artwork I made for a little show I put on myself after I left Uni, the pieces were all about emotions and I just sat on them for so long that in the end I thought they needed colour to push their points home. I often let my mono-prints tell me what they are; I have to sit on them for them to take full form. I can’t just name them willy-nilly.
But at the same time I sometimes start with colour if I’m just using the Indian ink, just get a load on a brush and smash it down on the page and then start from there. But again more often than not there isn’t a lot of thought gone into it, it just happens. I get everything ready quick and just do; I work really, really fast in comparison to some artists I think. It gives a more natural feel to the work.
Recurring throughout your work is the skull image; can you tell us where this comes from?
Well I like drawing faces a lot; I have a love/hate relationship with humans as a whole. In the way that I love to draw people, but as much as they fascinate me, I fucking hate them hahah. Only as a collective though, individually I know a lot of sick people who I would go the extra mile for, and I know they would for me. So I think skulls just come from there, I draw faces, skulls are the basis of a face, the face behind faces. They are rawer and the same, less defining features for people to pick at. That and death, it’s a representative of death. The only thing you can’t really deny in life, it’s the only one single thing we can say for sure will happen to us when we’re born. I dunno man, maybe it’s just because I like skulls and shit, I was a right wimp as a kid and was fucking scared of everything horror related. And since I shied away when I was younger maybe it’s why that kind of imagery interests me now. When I was a teenager and I first got into skateboarding I also got into punk too, so the skull comes up a lot in artwork in and around that culture too.
Explaining art work is so weird because just like skating it’s so subjective, someone reading this that doesn’t dig what I’m doing might just think I’m a right ballbag. Others might get it. Regardless you can’t please everyone. I’ve been doing art my whole life, and I think you need to be able to talk about your work if you want be an artist. Have some ideas, instead of just saying you did it because…. Or else you’re just drawing or painting without purpose. More just a form of recording and invoking an idea.
Alot of your work could be described as skate art, what are you trying to convey through that? And how would you say being a skateboarder has influenced your work?
Oh man thats heavy! I dunno if my artwork is skate art sometimes. It’s not like I ever really draw skateboarding, I like to do skateboarding. Not mulling on a drawing of it for like hours only for it to not look as good as I want. Kind of sounds like my tricks actually ha.
I just have that skate attitude with my artwork, like if you don’t like it fuck you. You’ll like something else, I don’t care. Like I said before it’s subjective. People might not see my work as “skate art” but what really is it? Does it have to be of skateboarding, does it have to be on hardware, can it be on clothes, does it have to be in a legit SOS skateshop, is it skate art because I skateboard, or because I have the skate mentality. Because I know people who skateboard and make art but they are in no way a skateboarder in my eyes. Like you can’t just say you are something in skateboarding you have to give back all those hours of enjoyment skateboarding has given to you before you can get the recognition from the community and your peers. Which I think is a good thing too, it gives you something to aspire to, you can’t just jump in on our thing without paying your dues. Skateboarding owes me nothing, I owe it everything! And hopefully through my art I can give back a bit. That’s why I have so much time for Legacy, Ronny has given so much and if I can help him to continue to contribute in any way, I will.
As far as how it’s influenced, skateboarding just took over after a point, everything I made I found me saying to myself, “what if this was on a Death skateboard or a Heroin board”, or like “damn I’d love to do work with Anti-Hero!” and every time I pick up that pen or pencil that’s what drives me, the hope and dream to do work with companies that have given so much to me in terms of enjoyment. Maybe I can make something that I’ll be stoked on and a kid might be stoked on, maybe enough to not even skate that board and hang it instead. I think that’s how skateboarding has influenced me the most, to want to be a part of the community.
Do you have a particular creative process you need/like to adhere to when creating? Something as simple as making a tea, getting snacks etc?
I don’t think so no. I just have to make work when the feeling is there. If I don’t have that fire in me to do it I won’t produce work on the level I should be. I work very spontaneously, often just on my bedroom floor where I can get a good view over the work, unless I’m screen printing then it’s in the studio at Legacy and I have everything exactly where it needs to be in order to not cross contaminate or dirty products, etc. I also do work just hanging out with my friends; it can be quite therapeutic to cut out a lino print for a few hours, just concentrating on getting those marks right while you chat some shit. When I work in my sketch book I often do this thing where I try not to take my pen of the page, that kind of gets me to just do instead of overthinking it. That’s maybe my biggest habit right now; I have loads of sketchbooks full of designs like that.
I know you've done some commission work for Legacy, have you worked on anything else for anyone or got anything in the pipeline?
Yeah I work at Legacy screen printing all our tees in house and come up with new designs with Ron. I just had my first full design come out actually, our “Fight” graphic. It’s a lino print of some guy getting socked right in the face; I made the print and all of the clothes in the shop by hand. That was the sickest feeling to have that come out. Since I left Uni in 2015 I put on my own show, I’ve done some commissions for some small businesses and mainly just helped out the shop. But that’s where I want to be most.
As far as things for the future I’m starting my own business; it’s called Pollution Boy printing co. which will launch in the coming months to early next year. It’s all about hand-made and DIY, really bespoke stuff working closely with my clients as opposed to just uploading a photo to a website and picking from pre-sets for an overpriced product that was machine made in a factory. I want to be able to make and print stuff for other people while also making and selling my own work. I’m also going to be using it to give back to skateboarding, in any way I can come up with. That’s what it’s all about. That and to give myself a better career other than shitty part-time jobs while I’m not in Legacy. I’m not in it to make loads of money, bottom line I just want to be happy, make some cool art and fucking skate! This world can eat you up if you’re not careful; so many people just become a casualty to life itself, especially skateboarders, we all know the stories. I’m trying my best to not let that happen. I’m trying to do something with my life. It might not even work but at least I can say I tried it.
Fight graphic for Legacy Skatestore