Currently based in London, Chris Wharton is a graphic designer and illustrator with an eye for bold colour and shape.
With a portfolio brimming with work spanning from poster, book and logo design to rather more unusual concepts for origami heads, he's also tackled animations, perspex Halloween goodie bag treasures, and t-shirts inspired by Dads.
We thought we'd collar him for a chat, and Chris kindly obliged...
What have you been up to recently? And what you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on a series of promotional posters for a fine art photographer. The posters relate to his residency at Studio 1.1 Gallery and five exhibitions that he is currently working through during his time there.
The posters are sequential, and overlap forming a continuous five poster loop. The five posters are also colour co-ordinated and broken into CMYK and W, CMYK we are all aware of and relates to the printing process, the W is for white which represents the culmination of the five exhibitions. I am working on poster number three at the moment and am excited about seeing the printed result and lining it up with the previous two posters.
How did you get into graphic design?
I stumbled into graphic design in about 2005. I was working as a screen printing technician at a college, and was working with a lot of graphic design students; their work seemed to speak to me in a way that the fine art, sculpture and textile students work didn't. I took an evening class in Quark express and was beginning to explore vector illustration.
I was a confident screen printer and had been making T-shirts for years, always drawing and composing images, I just didn't know in which way to channel my energies. I talked with some tutors and students about courses and I applied and was accepted to study graphic design at Bath Spa University.
Looking back, my way of working lent itself to graphic design. I was interested in communicating directly with people through image and type. I think studying design formally was a natural progression.
Can you name any key influences or people who inspire you?
In terms of inspiration and influences there are plenty of graphic designers and illustrators I could nominate; Karlssonwilker, Yokoland, Brownjohn, Rand, Sanna Annukka, Girard, Cody Hudson to mention a few.
I also had some great lecturers which were supportive and encouraging in my formative student years. I think it's equally important to be interested in things outside of graphic design, which can inform and offer just as much inspiration.
Looking at your portfolio as a whole, although varied, it has quite a distinct theme running throughout in terms of bright colour and strong geometric shapes.
Why do you think this is?
I think it's difficult to view your own work objectively, and I've often wondered whether there are overriding themes to my work, so it's interesting to hear your appraisal.
I think as a graphic designer you implement certain methods and approaches to working which over time develop into a style, I think these are a combination of conscious choices and ambient influences.
Why I'm drawn to bright colours or geometric forms I'm not sure I can entirely explain, but I think I work in a simplistic manner, I try to convey ideas with minimal interference, and I think resorting to colour and geometric forms are a natural starting point.
Of all the projects you’ve completed, which ones have been the most fun, challenging, or even frustrating?
I think the project I have most enjoyed working on recently would have to be the Brasilia poster. I was invited by the Argentinian studio 'Brasilia Prima' to participate in an exhibition celebrating their studio's 5th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of Brasilia, with specific relation to the architect Oscar Niemeyer.
It was a project just for fun, with no constraints, and I was able to research and work at my own pace just taking my time playing around with various forms. It was a lot of fun, but sadly I couldn't fly out to Buenos Aires for the show.
I think any project can be a challenge, it's just a question of how you approach the brief, how you want to push and pull your response to the project.
Likewise, I think there is an element of frustration with most briefs, a constraint or production issue, and worst of all not being able to transfer the idea from imagination to reality, but projects wouldn't be half as interesting without some kind of frustration.
What would be your dream design commission? Is there anything you'd particularly like to tackle?
My dream commission would be something from the publishers Penguin. I think they have consistently rolled out high end design over the years both in terms of the formal quality of their design, commissioning illustrators and in-house book jacket design.
They have released some great collections and editions such as the 'English journeys', 'Great ideas' series, 'Penguin deluxe edition editions', 'My Penguin' collection and so many more; to be involved with Penguin would be a privilege.
if you weren't a graphic designer, what do you think would you be?
I think I would have been a carpenter. My father is one, and I always enjoyed watching him work. I like the idea of working with wood, and producing something bespoke.