Charlie Sutcliffe and Zubert Zoom
Born “where The Thames meets the sea”, Charlie Sutcliffe is a quirky and talented artist currently residing on the South Bank in London. His designs can be seen at spookernox.com, where the site sells prints and cards of his hand-drawn works. Charlie has been all over the world producing a huge variety of different forms of art for various clients, including Eidos/Sony, EMI and The Tate. In addition to this, Charlie also wrote children’s book Zubert, a charming story about a boy trying to a hide a group of animals from a hotel inspector, and is full of Charlie’s distinct and imaginative drawings.
Charlie found the time to have a quick chat with me about his career in the art world.
Tell me a bit about Spookernox
History: The Spookernox were originally called the Espelunca family. They left Portugal in the 1700’s and seeking a new life in the Americas they changed their name to Spelunca-Knox and finally to Spookernox. Their history is a rich tableau of failure and success. Returning to Europe in the last century, the name is now used as an umbrella for a variety of their activities within the arts, be it set design, customising games consoles, editorial illustration, children’s books, screen printing or making large scale murals.
How old where you when your first took an interest in art?
Like other people will tell you most likely, it’s not that I took an interest in art, but that I never stopped having an interest in it.
Did you study art at school?
I did my foundation in Hastings. It was a lot of fun. We had a lot of artistic freedom and the tutors were great. That was a high point.
Did you go any further, like studying Art at higher education?
I went to art school in London but I honestly don’t know how much I learnt. It seemed to be more of an excuse to have parties every night of the week. I did however learn to pot all the pool balls from the break which probably tells you how much time I spent studying. I think everyones experience of school/college is different so I wouldn’t like to rush to judgement, but if you have good tutors who will inspire, then you have won half the battle.
What skills do you think are most valued in the industry? Do you have any advice for any young artists who wish to achieve a similar level of success to you?
I think that the biggest trick is to keep on going…to not give up. More than that, I’m constantly having to teach myself new skills, processes et cetera. It is important to learn the basics (carpentry/CS etc). You also have to be tenacious. I’m working as an Art Director on a music videos at the moment. I had no idea that I would be doing that a year ago. Try not to turn work down. There is 48ft of work in Tate Modern of mine right now, but it wasn’t always like that, and try not to get typecast: if you only make pictures of trains made out of silver foil, that is all that people will ask you to do in the future – unless silver foil trains are all you want to do, in which case it’s fine!