The inimitable Simon Drew was the very first artist we worked with to licence designs for our mugs over thirty years ago. Since then, we've reproduced over three hundred of his wonderful illustrations on mugs. We caught up with Simon to find out a bit more about his creative process and how he comes up with his signature brand of offbeat, witty designs, as well as what he's working on at the moment.
Hi Simon. Where are you chatting to us from this morning?
I am chatting with you from my gallery in Dartmouth, where we all have a six day week from 9 to 5!
That sounds exhausting! You must drink lots of coffee to keep you all going?
I drink tea, never coffee! Never had a cup of coffee in my life.
You were the first artist we worked with to put licensed artwork on mugs. Can you tell us a little bit more about how that came about? What encouraged you to want to put your artwork on mugs.
We have now had hundreds of mug designs from Mclaggan. It all started in Harrogate at a trade fair in 1985 or so. My wife, Caroline, was organising our stand at the fair with cards we don't remember now. She was approached by Camille from Mclaggan to put our designs on mugs. I, who was back in Dartmouth, was initially grumpy about this as I thought they wouldn't have the execution I wanted. I was proved to be very wrong when I saw how brilliantly the images could be reproduced. One of the first designs was Puffin Nuffin which is still very popular.
You’re a self-described humourist and your artwork often involves a play on words or funny witticism. Where do your best ideas come from?
The ideas for the drawings come from anywhere and everywhere, but the only trick is to write ideas down straight away or they disappear. A good play on words isn't good enough on its own: it needs to be married up with a good image. I then let the idea ferment in a notebook and see whether it still seems a good idea in months to come. Sometimes years.
"I let the idea ferment in a notebook and see whether it still seems a good idea in months to come. Sometimes years."
You’ve produced hundreds of great pieces over the years. Do you have any favourites?
My favourite will always be the newest one, as long as I think it works.
Where are you ideas brought to life? Do you create your art at your gallery, or do you have a separate studio to work from?
I work in the gallery in the day and in a small studio at home during evenings. I probably get more done at home.
We’ve been putting your artwork on mugs for a while now. If you’re anything like us, you’ll have amassed quite a large collection. What’s your favourite mug for your morning cuppa?
I don't use a mug with my own designs very often. My favourite is a Mclaggan mug with Francis Bacon's Figures at the Base of the Crucifixion.
Can you tell us about anything you’re currently working on?
At the moment I'm working on turning the Camel Mile Tea design into a tea towel. It would make a great accompaniment to the teapot.
Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Simon. It's been a pleasure. We can’t wait to see what else you come up with in the future.