Brighton is a place renowned for its creative vibrancy. With its beaches perfectly suited to LSD-induced comedowns and punk-induced crustiness, the city’s creative scene, be it musical or visual, is a vibrant one. In the first of our profiles of the visual artists who contribute to Astral Noize, we thought we’d highlight Brighton-based visual artist Oli Melville, the man behind the striking pointillistic impression that appears on the cover of Issue 4.
What other creative ventures are you involved in outside of illustration?
Yeah, I am pretty busy with creative stuff. I am In two bands, one called Aerosol Jesus where I do vocals, and I play drums in a band called Pascagoula. I also try my hand at music videos, I did one for the awesome TORPOR and Human Leather. I also ran a YouTube podcast called Criminally Underrated Music. I was lucky enough to have some amazing guests like Oxbow, for example.
What do you take inspiration and influence from?
This is a question I have been thinking a lot about recently. It’s a very hard one to answer. I get a lot of my inspiration from lines, I don’t know if that makes much sense but I love shapes and making them come to life.
Which artists, visual or otherwise influence your work?
My illustration work is influenced a lot by my dad Tom Melville. He has been an artist since before I was breathing and I’ve been around it all of my life. I grew up with his work all around the house. He has a very unique style of classical and abstract. I love people like Picasso and Salvador Dali, those works are sometimes very otherworldly. I am also influenced by Tommy Hampshire (Diddums Doodles). Tommy is someone I look up to as his attention to detail is amazing! His work definitely pushes mine as he just gets better and better every time I see his work.
What can you tell us about the cover you did for Astral Noize issue 4? What does it depict? What techniques and processes went into its creation?
I really wanted to push myself for this cover. I call it ‘Portals’ because I visualised a combination of otherworldly things and for the centre, I looked at a lot of really old Halloween photographs before people started dressing like sexy cats, maids, nurses and Heath Ledger’s Joker. The old photos are mega creepy and they just look amazing. The technique is the same I use in most of my work which is dots, dots and a few more dots. I love to draw sharp lines and fill in the rest. I get an immense amount of satisfaction from doing this even though it takes at least a week to finish.
Are you trained as an artist or is it something you just picked up?
No, I’m not trained as an artist, I am self-taught. I started doing pointillism as a coping mechanism for my depression. I would sit for four-to-six hours doing these drawings. A counsellor a few years ago suggested I was hiding from my thoughts, but I really don’t see it like that as I find it therapeutic, especially when it goes right!
Is there a specific piece of output you’re most proud of?
I am most proud of this cover, in all honesty. It came out far better than I thought and as I said before I really pushed myself to make sure it was worthy of the Astral Noize magazine!
How does your environment influence you creatively?
Well being on my own for long periods of time, this stuff really helps take my mind off the stresses of everyday life. I would like to create more work but I am conscious of only doing it when it feels right.
See more of Oli’s work here.
Pick up Astral Noize issue 4 featuring Oli’s awesome cover design here.