VA: Inkygoodness appears to be taking over the world, tell us more about yourselves!

IG: Michelle and I started Inkygoodness in 2008, and the idea was built on a passion for illustration and character design, developed during our degree courses and lots of trips to exhibitions and creative events over the last few years. The initiative started off as a small exhibition showing just our own work back in 2008, and quickly evolved into group shows with our friends and other like-minded creatives.

Our aim is to showcase new and emerging talent in this discipline alongside more established artists working in the field, offering a unique oppotunity for networking and collaboration. To date we have hosted events and exhibitions in Bristol, Birmingham, London, Manchester & Berlin respectively, showcasing work by a growing collection of artists from around the world. Berlin is our first international exhibition and we are very proud!

VA: Your Character Totem project is a great and definately unique concept, who came up with the idea?

IG: Having organised several group exhibitions which have been presented as ‘gallery’ shows, we were itching to do something a little bit different for the next Inkygoodness project. Pitching to Pictoplasma was our sole aim, but we knew we had to think outside the box to secure a spot on the Character Walk! The idea of doing an installation had been playing our minds for a while, and we liked the idea of customising objects or cut-outs.

We also wanted to create a show that would be fun to do, and of course incorporating character design, which is central to the Pictoplasma event. Uniting these elements gave birth to the Character Totem concept!

VA: How did it feel to get the call to say you had made the character walk tour?

IG: Absolutely amazing. We received the e-mail on the evening of our Dreamboat exhibition opening, and it was really hard keeping it a secret!! Up until that point we hadn’t seriously considered how we were going to deliver the project, so whilst we were incredibly excited, we were also freaking out a little bit!

VA: How did you find Pictoplasma? Can you explain what the show is to those who may not have had the chance to go yet?

IG: It was about 6 years ago, I had recently moved to London and I was trawling through the collection of illustration and character design books in my University library, and I think I just stumbled across one of the first editions of the Pictoplasma Character Book and instantly fell in love with the idea. I think after that I googled Pictoplasma and found the site and read about the festival and knew immediately that I had to go!!

VA: How do you choose who you guys work with?

IG: Since the beginning I have always picked artists that inspire me, whose work I love and admire. I am a huge fan of characer design and illustration, especially the recent surge in tactile illustrations composed of cut-outs, paper and random objects. Most of the artists we work with are illustrators or character designers, and have a strong hand-made aesthetic to their work.

Flickr and twitter are surprising sources of information for new artists on the scene, and of course I pick up a lot of industry magazines, blogs and exhibition invitations which offer the perfect opportunity to find new artists. We also receive a ton of submissions throughout the year, and we hand pick the best ones.

VA: Who were your highlights this year?

IG: Meeting so many talented artists and sharing a beer with them was pretty cool, I loved Ryan Quincy’s exhibition of paintings – it’s exactly the sort of thing I enjoy. It was great to see Mc Bess again, and catch up with friends like Louise Evans (Felt Mistress). The Character Walk was a little hit and miss, but the Crim Collective produced one of the best exhibitions with their ‘Mechanicalism’ concept – inspired by vinyl toy culture and the popularity of collectable characters.

VA: Who are your all time favourite characters?

IG: I am a huge fan of Gary Baseman’s work, and have a number of his Qee toys, I also love Felt Mistress plushies (though I can’t afford to buy them yet!) – I’m not a massive collector, but I do love cartoons – Cartman is probably one of my favourites!

Photography courtesy of Guy WJ Mayfield
Interview by Fran Pearce

The follow up show will be coming to Birmingham, scheduled for the We Are Birmingham space in June. Keep an eye on Inkygoodness and Inkygoodness on Facebook for future details!