Featured Artist: Milkshake and Fries

Milkshake and Fries a multi style husband and wife illustration studio.

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When did you first become interested in art?

Mat – I drew a lot as a kid but growing up never thought about what I
was going to do for a career.  Turned out to be the only skillset I had
to work with really.
Stace – When I met Mat.

How would you describe your design style?

Varied.  We work in a whole bunch of different styles in the studio but
the Milkshake and Fries Pin Ups are obviously just us having fun with
retro pin ups and line work.  It started out as just one illustration
(the waitress) and kind of ballooned from there.  Turned out to be
really popular.
Aside from these we do a lot of commercial illustration and tightly
briefed projects, so it’s great to do something lighter and just focus
on making an expressive character.  They’ve brought us quite a few
commissions in from ad agencies and the like, but it’s great to be able
to make something just for us.

What inspires you?

I guess most artists are the same this about this, and inspiration comes
from really varied sources.  For the pin-ups it’s usually something like
an attitude or expression rather than any specific pose or time-period
we’re going for.  I guess the pin up tradition (style) overlays all
that, but mainly it’s about getting a particular fun emotion or vibe across.

What is your favourite piece in your collection?

Mat – The barbarian girl pin up.
Stace – The witch on broom pin up.

Is there any artistic talent in your family?
Mat- Growing up there was no one I knew working in visual arts.  I
collected a lot of art books though.  Illustrators like Tony Di’terlizzi
and Jon Foster were like Art Heros working in an amazing very far off
field.  I was fortunate to be encouraged to follow my interests.

Stace – Same regarding family.  Nobody directly involved in visual
arts.  Mat dragged me into it by showing me lots of pre raphaelite and
art nouveau work.

What is the journey you take to produce your work?

Stace – It changes by project but the usual process is that we fire
ideas off each other, Mat does inks, I do the colours.

What made you want to be a part of Art Rookie?

We’ve been members of a few print on demand sites for a while, but were
really excited to find one that was UK based.  Sometimes it seems that
everything for freelancers is aimed to and for the US. It’s great to be
able to focus on something close to home.

When you’re not creating masterpieces what do you enjoy doing?

We both work full time in the studio here, and things are pretty hectic
right now.  When we get spare time it’s a case of switching everything
off and pushing that Hygge stereotype.  Walking with our labs.  Eating
homemade food.  Growing fruit. Keeping chickens.  Books.  Nothing crazy
exciting like paragliding i’m afraid.  Just appreciating those spare
minutes in the day.  Ok, with the odd netflix binge in there too.

Have you faced any struggles getting your work noticed?

Stace – Yes!  It was really hard work to get to this stage (both of us
working full time on this).  Getting a good client base as an
illustrator takes a lot of time and persistence.

Mat – You have to really want it.  I mean, not just ‘that’d be nice’ but
‘that’s all I can do’.  It’s not like wanting to be a dentist or a
programmer.  Those are really challenging paths but however steep it
gets there’s still a path there.  Any art career is like being dumped
out of a lifeboat.  Keep your eye on the shore, swim really hard, keep
your head above water.  I think that’s the main thing – just wanting it
badly on a gut level. From practical standpoint there’s lots more I
guess: Give clients more than they expect.  Never let people take
advantage of you. Get enjoyment out of work and learning new skills, not
money. Hope you meet an understanding partner.  It became 100 times
easier once Stace could come and work with me too.  Two people can
juggle projects, clients and promotion on a much more professional level
and firing ideas off each other is much more creative than just rattling
around in one brain.

Where would we find you hanging out in the UK?

We live high up in the welsh valleys in an small stone house. Usually
just above cloud level.  We’re lucky enough to be on the border of a
national park.  It’s all mist and witchcraft out here but we were never
big on cities, so that’s fine.

What makes British talent different than elsewhere?

Stace – It’s a smaller pool of artists, but there’s a lot of great
quality there.  Perhaps it’s just harder to be noticed or something, so
the field gets limited, but when a British illustrator pops up on
instagram,etc it’s usually good work.

Mat – British art has a long history in both fine art and illustration,
and there’s this focus on craft and skill that sort of seeps in from all
these past movements.  It’s like if you go for visual arts as a career
you’ve got this giant shadow of people like William Morris hanging over
your shoulder so kind of feel you should – you know -take it seriously.
I’m not saying that British artists are part of some glorious chain of
art history… all countries have amazing artists in their past… but
theres definately a bit of bloody-minded victorian work ethic that keeps
UK artists plugging away at ‘getting it right’ not just getting it sold.

What are your plans for 2017?

Keep things going!  We’ve been really fortunate to get some amazing
clients this year.  Mat was working self employed before this, but as a
company we are a year old now, and have reached the point we can start
branching out, putting some of our personal work out there as well as
working for others.   You can see our work at http://matthew-britton.com
and there’s all the usual social links there if people are curious to
see what’s actually going on in the studio.  (A lot of that is food and
labradors mind).  There’s a backlog of work we’re uploading to Artrookie
right now, and a bunch more things in development.

Shop and discover Milkshake and Fries here – www.artrookie.co.uk/MilkshakeandFries

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