-- David Farrier
Creating 100 drawings in 100 days seems like a daunting prospect, especially when you have a full time job and two kids.
But 33-year-old illustrator Rob Turvey got stuck into the project 73 days ago, and hasn’t looked back.
When you consider his drawings are less scribbles and more standalone pieces of art, then the whole thing becomes even more mesmerizing.
Turvey’s illustrations have been spreading on social media recently, so I thought it was time to talk to the Glenfield local about his art, the Bible and modifying joysticks for Street Fighter.
I met you through the art and design you did for the band Great North. How did that come about?
I've known both Hayden and Rachel [Great North] for years, even before Great North was formed. Occasionally they needed some posters and I'd always be happy to help out. However, it wasn't until last year that I really decided to take those small projects more seriously. Rather than just 'get them done', I approached each poster as a chance to push myself a little. Do something less familiar, try something new and work towards something that wasn't just information on paper, but a piece of art – that was hopefully modern and beautiful.
The posters were looking good and always well received. With each new poster I'd aim to better the last, and over time they started gathering a bit of attention. In my mind at least, I had kind of become the 'Great North Poster Guy' – and so I guess Hayden felt it natural for me to create the album artwork. Such responsibility was extremely stressful, and I was filled with a lot of self doubt – but we got it done, and I'm happy with the result.
The 100 Days Project – why did you decide to do that? Boredom? Wanting to push yourself? Fame? Fortune?
A friend at work had signed up to crochet 100 original designs and encouraged me to participate as well. I figured it would be a bit of fun, so joined up. At that point I don't think I realised just how long 100 days actually is. I enjoy illustrating and have always wanted to explore it more to discover my own style, but without external pressures I find days/months/years fly by with art never being produced. I saw this project as a way to force me to produce work. It pulls me away from the TV and gets me drawing. At first I thought I'd use it as a way to experiment with different mediums. But with time pressures and the desire to produce nice looking stuff, I've mostly stuck with what I know. Fame was never really a motivation, but having so many friends and strangers appreciate my work has been very encouraging – and somewhat humbling.
You focus on animals – what's the reason for that? I see a quote from the Bible on the 100DaysProject page – "God made the wild animals according to their kinds…" is it based on that, or are you just bloody good at drawing animals?
Originally I had said I'd draw 100 hands, as I thought that would improve my drawing skills. However, after a trip to the bathroom, I decided I wanted something more emotional/melancholy. I had enjoyed drawing the Great North animals, so went with that. There's also a lot of variation with animals, so I knew the subject could remain interesting over the 100 days. The Bible quote doesn't really relate, but I guess it does stress the fact that I'm not God, I'm not perfect – and neither is my work. Also, using Bible quotes has the tendency to make things appear more important than they might actually be.
When are you drawing these? You have a full time job?
I have a full time job and a family, so the drawings are often done late at night. I've still managed to have a bit of a life, but I don't stay out late. I've also had other commitments which I've had to work around. For about two weeks in which I was busy, I would draw using just a black Sharpie during my lunch break...
Take me through some technical things – how are you creating them? Pen and pencil? Tablet? Photoshop? I don’t understand!
For the most part I illustrate using a Wacom tablet in Photoshop. I have also played around with other mediums such as the Sharpies and even spray paint, but Photoshop is forgiving and less messy. I feel comfortable with it and means I can get the work done quickly – even if it does sometimes feel like cheating compared to traditional methods.
What's the feedback been like? Do people get in touch?
The feedback has been very positive. I post daily on my Facebook page, and people are always very encouraging. I kept a record of how many friends I had before the project, expecting people to 'unfriend' me due the posts, but to my surprise the number has actually gone up. Strangers also occasionally compliment my work on the 100 Days Site and my 'Behance' page has been getting a bit of attention too.
What's the plan when you reach 100? Please tell me you are going to have an exhibition?
After day 100 I'll have a night out, without the stress of deciding what to draw when I get home. It will be magical. Then, alongside 89 other talented people, I'll be participating in the Auckland 100 Days Project exhibition (run by Emma Rogan, the '100 Days Project' creator). After that I'll look into producing some prints, incase people want to buy a few. The project has really helped me find my style and figure out what works and what doesn't. With this experience I'd like to continue to create more complete works, and maybe look into having an exhibition myself next year? But that's a bit of a dream at the moment.
What's your output normally for your art? Hobby? Band cover art? Commercial stuff?
Normally I only illustrate when Great North needs a new poster. I love those guys and want to support them any way I can. Other than that, I occasionally build and modify joysticks for fighting games (Street Fighter) and also arcade machines. This year I also did a tiny bit of stage acting – which was fun. I like to stay busy creating stuff. But this is always balanced with my responsibilities of being a Dad.
I don't really do any commercial stuff. Although it would probably be great for my portfolio, I don't enjoy the complications and expectations that come with the exchange of money. But at the same time, I don't want art to be undervalued by not giving it a dollar value. It's a tricky thing, which is why I've probably avoided it in the past.