Talking trash with Tinhead

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"Badger" by Tinhead

Being of the print ilk, there's little we relish more than the results of pencil-on-paper activity, so the latest "pop-up" exhibition to grace East London's Red Gallery on Rivington Street was a sure fire hit at the Esquire offices.

The second offering from the capital's Tilt Collective, the show features work from sculptor, illustrator and street artist "Wreckage"; socially astute photography from Charlie Koolhaas (daughter of Dutch starchitect, Rem Koolhaas) and graphical prints from Lee Washington. The undisputed star of the show however is Tinhead, the Oxford-based illustrator behind the cover of hit Foals album, Antidote.

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We caught up with Tinhead as he prepared for his latest show and talked omlettes, nightwolves and Ukrainian billionaires.

Tilt is now on at Red Gallery, Rivington Street, EC2 and will remain on show until July 4.

ESQUIRE: How did you come to work with Foals? Are they tricky clients to please?

TINHEAD: I first came to work with Foals thanks to my friendship with Jack and Walter, who play the drums and bass in the band. I studied with them both around 5 years ago, and it was through them that I met Yannis, the vocalist.

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Yannis and I spend hours developing concepts; he has an idea and I’ll expand on it, then we'll sit on it like a pair of hens. Though we’ll often end up with something completely off the boil, and like a pair of bad mother hens, we let the egg crack. But destruction is sometimes needed to create good things - sometimes to make an omelette you gotta break a few eggs. I like eggs.

The latest Foals album is a mishmash of everyone’s work though, with a lot less of mine. That said, I’ve produced all the art for the singles - and all the merchandise. I’ll be showing a lot of the unused work at the upcoming "Tilt" exhibition.

ESQ: What’s next for Tinhead?

TH: Well, I’m currently printing shirts. I’m planning on starting a British-based clothing company with a close friend Will Jarrett. We’re going to call it RACEPLAIN.

I also want to make some short films, but as I know only one filmmaker Dave Ma (who creates the videos for Foals), so I’ll have to bully him into doing it with me. Apart from that I’d like to go to LA, check out the porn circuit and possibly get into advertising. Although I need help getting my work out there, I want people to see it and appreciate it.

That said, maybe I’d like to do some public art, you know, for the Olympics. I’d like some Ukrainian billionaire to give me a load of money so I can create a lasting monument as much of my work is quite quick, recyclable and produced on mass. It’d be good to build a spaceship or something.

I’m also putting together an illustration annual with a friend of mine PRINCEY (he’d do the writing). He’s an insane alcoholic but with some of the naivety and brilliance of Oliver Reed.

ESQ: How did you come to be included in "Tilt"?

TH: I put on a show at the headquarters of Anorak PR in London. I left much of the work up in an attempt to brighten up their meeting room and to display some of the stuff I've had shoved away under the bed. I met the people from Tilt there and I was lucky enough to be included in their latest show, which has a black and white theme. It’s a bit odd for me as my work tends to be quite colourful, but I’m like a Chameleon. I can adapt.

ESQ: Tell us about the work you’ve got on show.

TH: You’ll just have to come and see wont you! It will feature plenty of as yet unpublished work, altered especially for the show. It’s going to be a mismatch of corruption - I think it might be more subtle than the work people have seen thus far, but I don’t really know until I start putting the space together. I might make it look like a temple.

E: you seen interest in your work increase with the growing success of Foals?

TH: Absolutely. It’s given me plenty of opportunities to promote myself and it’s a nice format to work on - plus new material is constantly required so my portfolio is always under the scrutiny of the music media. Sometimes it feels a little out of my control, as I have to bow to certain pressures. But in all the work and ideas usually come together nicely.

Also, working with Foals is a bit like being part of a family or a gang. Everything’s produced in-house, we do it all together – it’s not like someone in America is putting all this shit together and we don’t even know them.

In short, I’m going to keep growing whether there’s interest in me or not, and then I’m going to disappear into the woods and you’ll never see me again - like a nightwolf yeti-man

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