A fantastic Australian illustrator who has recently appeared on our radar is Mr Sean Morris. We couldn’t help being drawn to his bizarrely amusing imagery and crude subject matter so thought we’d find out what the hell goes on inside his head before we head to his show ‘Killer Abs Will Kill You’ in a few weeks time.
So Sean Morris, for those who don’t know, could you introduce yourself?
I’m a picture drawer from Perth, which is a haunted cowboy beach town in Western Australia.
Your work is both comical and sometimes crude, what inspires you to create images in this style?
There’s this small part of my brain which comes alive when I watch trash TV at 2am, or when I walk past someone in the street with an amazing rats tail or home-made tattoos. It’s the part that makes me want to shave my facial hair into flames and hang out at the worst suburban shopping mall in the world. I usually manage to repress that shit, but when I start drawing it completely takes over.
You’ve just finished a show in New York and are on your way over to the UK soon, do you find that your work is received as well by audiences outside of your native Australia?
Yeah it seems to be. Actually after the last couple of years of embracing more trash-culture influences, it’s almost received better in places like New York than at home… I guess ’cause a lot of those influences come from the States. In Australia you grow up surrounded by so much lowest-common denominator American media… it’s this weird thing that’s really familiar but still distant. And that familiarity is based mostly on cheap stereotypes, which are what I like to play with! But it’s all affectionate – I really do think spandex and Baywatch are awesome. I’m actually looking forward to traveling more overseas in the near future, just so I can get a better idea of how people look at and sum up Australia, and make some work out of that.
You’ll also be launching your zine ‘Killer Abs will Kill You’ at the upcoming show in the UK. Tell us about the process of making it and what we can expect to see inside.
I wanted to make a white trash workout book, set in a radioactive swamp gym. It’s dedicated to Jane Fonda, Denise Austin and Mr Universe-era Arnold Schwarzenegger. I put it together with an excellent London-based designer named Jon Shaw. It’s the most stuff I’ve ever made on one theme, and the first time in a while that I’ve tried to make anything with any sort of sequence to it. I don’t know how successful I was, but I definitely drew a lot of neck veins and sweatbands and denim cutoffs. Even some underboob. So if you like that sort thing, maybe you should buy it. There’s a free poster inside that I made of Hulk Hogan and seven mean girls hanging at the beach at midnight.
Kid Zoom is a fan of your work and has said “Sean Morris is an Australian Hero. His works define an alternative narrative of Australian and Low-Culture. The worlds he creates are a saturated reality that I find repulsive and beautiful because it’s all too familiar.” Which must be great to hear, are there any artists who you admire or who have inspired your work?
For sure. I have mega respect for the ‘Zoom, on a creative level obviously, but he also has this insane drive and has shown the rest of us small city art rats that it can be done and done huge. Him and other Perth guys like Daek and Kyle Hughes-Odgers have definitely had the most impact on me as an artist so far.
Recent inspirations… Broken Fingaz from Israel, Ugly Americans, Jack Hudson and old Jim Phillips graphics.
What’s next after your show?
Big, big paintings. And I’d really like to have my own TV show.
Is there anything else the world should know about you?
I don’t go to the gym. Ever.
For more on Sean Morris please visit illsean.com and to see his work pop down to the ‘Killer Abs Will Kill You’ exhibition and zine launch at Beach London on the 18th August where you’ll be able to pick up your very own super limited edition A3 risograph print and 28 page zine from an edition of 200.