George Heaven teams up with Converse through the Made By You campaign to show us his illustrating abilities and quirky intelligence.
Stepping into George Heaven’s pop-up debut of Strange World Press was exactly as advertised – it was strange. Monsters spewing out liquids and creepy men starring at a woman with three breasts covered the walls of the event. DIY monster foot figures and aroma scent sticks around the room giving the whole scene a quirky out of this world aura. I had to bustle through crowds of people discussing how amazing the illustrations are to ask George “do you know who George is?”. Resembling a very tall Ed Sheeran, George Heaven seemed very proud of his amazing work. Just having published Strange World Press Volume 1 at the young age of 24, the professional illustrator has a keen eye for unusual design and ideas, inspired by the very strange world we live in – ‘Celebrate the strange’.
Vol. 1 features fuzzy characters and bizarre situations, and although they seem to have come entirely from one’s imagination, a reality does protrude outside of the frame too. Narrated by snappy verse and comical speech-boxes, Strange World Press will delight your need for discovering something new – a different take on our everyday lives.
He’s one of the Local Creatives represented by the Converse Made by You campaign, and this continued support of creatives is one of the reasons we come across talented people like George. We spoke about how it’s helped him kickstart his career and both agreed on the importance of searching around for unknown creatives and shine light on their work. Let’s shine some of that light on Volume 2, eh George?
Why did you choose to take on the project? How do you feel Converse’s attitudes match up to your working style?
I guess Converse tries to be rock n roll and they have an independent vibe. I guess I’ve kind of got an independent nature to my work. I work for myself, I don’t work for anybody else. I want to do what I want to do – I guess that’s kind of the rock n roll attitude or what they are trying to convey with their brand. Because everyone wears Converse but they are still sort of cool. Just because everyone wears them it hasn’t become uncool to have them – it’s still cool to wear them even though they are popular.
And how does that reflect to your work?
I guess because I am doing what I want to do and although it might not be really commercially viable or popular there are still people that like it and people that are getting into it and all the rest of it, y’know?
And you’re a converse fan! Favorite converses in your shoe rack?
Just the classic black and white ones.
What new dimension does Strange World Press bring to the creative spirit?
It’s not pretentious and it’s not trying to be anything other than what it is. I want it to be what I want to do in illustration format and I want to put out my artwork that I think is really cool and I want to put out other people’s artwork that I think is cool but these aren’t always artists that are really popular – they are just artists that are doing what they love and what they think is cool. I think what I would bring is a sort of independent kind of ‘fuck you’ rock ‘n’ roll sort of like… doesn’t matter if we aren’t making any money or if it’s not popular or commercially acceptable, we’re just going to do it and enjoy it because that’s what it’s there for.
Yeah if you worry too much about the commercial aspect of it you will lose creativity.
Yeah, exactly. If you’re trying to make loads of money you are going to end up drawing like the next guy because that’s what’s popular at the moment. Whereas if you just do what you want to do, first of all you can carry on doing it longer because you know you’re enjoying it, and secondly it will fulfill you more, so you’ll get more from it personally. And I think people will realize that you really believe in it, so they will believe in it too.
You have an amazing imagination and your illustrations are crazy. Do you think that one-day your love for gore and horror might translate into video or movie making?
I’ve done some storyboarding work because I am quite into comics but it’s been for sort of quite boring, bread and butter kind of things. But I like movies, I like horror movies, I watch loads of horror movies. My little brother and I have made one called ‘Forrest Stump’, like ‘Forrest Gump’ but ‘Stump’. It’s about a guy who gets his head chopped off. It’s very short, like two minutes, so we made that and then we made a sequel as well, which is really cool and gory. It’s about D.I.Y, and about having fun. I’ve got big ideas for ‘Forrest Stump 3’.
How have you mixed everyday life and your imagination in Strange World Volume 1? What components are from reality and what’s imagination?
I think there’s a lot of weird shit to see when you go out. Go out to the supermarket, especially where I’m from – Woking – it’s a real suburban, when you go to the supermarket and go in with an open-mind, you see some weird shit. I think people in general are really strange and there’s a lot of strange stuff to see and if you take some of it and maybe twist it. If you see a woman who looks like she’s got three legs just draw some more boobs on her or whatever and it kind of comes from that. Seeing weird stuff in the every-day sort of setting and just expand on it. I have a weird imagination I guess. Just doesn’t pay the bills.
When did you get into illustrating? What made you pick up the pencil and paper?
I got into it maybe when I went to uni, but I was always drawing as a kid. I was always doodling when I was at school and doodling when I was at college and then carried on. At first I wanted to do music because I wanted to be a rock-star at one point, I wanted to be a skateboarder at one point as well but that never really worked out but I just realized I was good at it. But it’s been since leaving university where I did illustration, which was fun and everything, but I didn’t really realise how fun drawing could be until I left uni and just started doing what I wanted. And now I realise that what I wanted to draw was boobs and violence and all that kind of stuff and I guess I’ve always watched sci-fi and horror so I just want to keep on doing that kind of thing.
What’s your absolute favorite thing to draw?
At the moment it’s skeletons and skulls. So I’m going back to sort of 1997 when I first saw Nightmare before Christmas and stuff like that. I just got an obsession with drawing skeletons and skulls and monsters and things so I’m kind of reverting back to when I was that age.
So the Made By You campaign is doing some amazing things by celebrating core creative such as yourself. What do you think is so important about identifying up and coming talents?
I guess it’s aim is to make people that are maybe slightly less well known or a little bit underground or people that are sort of less in the limelight, getting them a bit of attention.
And do you think it’s extremely important to go searching for these creatives?
I think so. There’s nothing worse than unrealised talent. If Converse are getting these people seen more then that can only be a good thing you know?
With the help of Converse where do you see Strange World Press in a few years time? What do you hope to achieve?
Loads of stuff. I guess you have to take it step by step but the next thing I want to do is Volume Two which is going to be a comic book on teenage mischief and that’s going to be really dirty. And then I want to do some more t-shirts and get more artists on board. So get like maybe ten different artists to work on the second one. And also, if I can, I want to pay people to do it as well. That’s something that I get really annoyed with – people going “Will you do this?” for no money. I’ll have to be one of those people because I’m not sure if I am going to make as much money as I’d like to from this initial thing but I’d like to be able to give back something to these artists. I want to find people that I think are wicked and make it into like a big family almost. And then I want to get a proper studio to work in and invite people around and eventually I want to have a little shop and sell stuff.
What do you love most about the creative world?
The creative world as a whole I find a little bit sort of like everyone is in each other’s pockets. Everyone’s looking at what everyone else is doing. There are many copycats who are all doing the same thing. I think it’s cool when you get to know everyone and get to know what’s going on and the scene as a whole is kind of cool – loads of people doing what they enjoy. So what isn’t cool about that?
So are there more downsides to it?
Yeah I guess the downside is everyone is competing. Because it’s such a closed market everyone is trying to get that big job and I find that can be stifling. And that encourages the wrong sort of mentality. I think when you step away from the industry side of it and you sit down and think “well what do I want to draw, what do I want to do” and it may not be popular or cool at that time but if you carry on doing it someone is going to see it and go “that’s sick”.
Words: Marianna Mukhametzyanova