INTERVIEW | ‘Business or pleasure’ at Coningsby Gallery London


Multi-talented designer/illustrator…and all around lovely artist John Slade chats about his creative process and new solo show ‘Business or Pleasure’ open now

Hide Your Toy’s mega dynamic frontman/artist John Slade is back in the big smoke. This time…exploring business and pleasure in a new solo exhibition at Coningsby Gallery, using and repurposing previously rejected elements from his commercial projects into a bold graphic series of works.

Over the years Slade’s fine and flippant signature has taken on many forms. The Irish artist dabbling in multiple disciplines, ranging from designing menswear for Lazy Oaf, to putting his stamp on collaborations with super brands such as Nike and Colette (to name but a few), all whilst keeping up with packed schedule of gallery shows.

For ‘Business or Pleasure’ John playfully addresses the tension between his dual creative personalties and how each dictate the stylistic outcome of his art; whether producing pieces for “the man” vs. a personal uninhibited approach. Piles of unwanted digital off cuts are reworked, reorganised, and subtly overlaid with established corporate iconography and motifs. The result…a series of strong, busy and bright paintings layered with high gloss epoxy resin.

I was lucky enough to sneak a few minutes with John before the opening to chat about his process, whale songs among other things and what we can expect to see from the show.


Business or Pleasure open’s in London this week at Coningsby Gallery, what can we expect? 
JOHN SLADE: A set of glossy paintings and some drawings. The paintings for this current show have mostly been composed in adobe illustrator so they carry the recognisable black outline through to the finished piece. Using a mix of printers laminate which removes a recognisable touch, as well as the resin, I’ve made everything very graphic. Because these processes are all being used outside of they’re normal function, the pieces end up looking like they were made by an old machine or something.

Speaking about your process is there someone or something in particular that inspired your style as an artist? 
I think technique informs everything.

You have a background as a graphic designer. Does that play a part in influencing your work?
In terms of approach yes, It gets me to the start. After that process takes over.

What’s your studio like? Do you listen to music when your working? 
It’s a tidy mess, I keep the computer away. Always listening to music, internet radio, records, mini disk, phone,
I will listen to anything. I Like WFMU, NTS, DUBLAB, Whale etc.

You work with a variety of techniques. Is there one you that comes more natural?
Depends on what I’m doing really, digital is great because it’s so quick, but it changes the parameters for failure and makes it easier and quicker to achieve the picture in your head. Whereas painting and drawing leave a lot more ‘on the field’ That’s kind of the way it works for me. Sometimes its nice to know what to anticipate from the outcome and sometimes I’d rather not.

Your output of work is dynamic to say the least! You’ve designed for fashion labels, t-shirts, big brands, then had your fair share of gallery shows. Is there one that’s closer to your heart than others, or more challenging to produce work for? 
Again it’s all kind of subjective, they all have the potential to be more or less challenging. My interest evolves quite quickly so sometimes I’m forced back a bit, but that’s okay too.  I nearly always find something I missed previously…

H.Y.T.’s studio was established in 2009 as an avenue for your highly successful commercial work. You’ve since worked with a lot of pretty fantastic brands. Is there an artist, label, company still left that would be a dream collaboration?
Nasa. Love to do an official patch or a graphic for a space shape. Or even a painting for a meeting room or something.

You’ve recently’ish’ moved back to Ireland. When your back in London where’s the first place or a favourite place you go?
Friends, pubs, galleries… and Uniqlo.

You always have so much on the go! What else is in the works? Can you give any hints on whats coming up next?
I’ve got a movie poster, some editorial work, a group show in Germany, something in September and plenty of T-shirts and some books in-between…. I’m owed some screen printing time in south London too actually….

H.Y.T ‘Business or Pleasure’

On Now – 22nd May 2016

Coningsby Gallery | 30 Tottenham Street



Words by Tracy Kawalik and John Slade
Photos courtesy of Hide Your Toys

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