My name is Frank Morris and I am currently trying to juggle an American & English Literature degree with making my way as a young artist and illustrator. My course requires me to spend hours and hours reading, but I try to spend as much free time possible on drawing and developing my craft. Unfortunately I am not really one of those people who can constantly create work, but instead I patiently wait for the wave of inspiration to come my way, then desperately work as much as possible while that creative energy is still there.
Previous to coming to UEA I completed an Art Foundation at London College of Communication and my original plan was to go on and do a degree in Illustration or Graphic Design. Although my university had incredible facilities, I ended up feeling artistically stagnated and realised that I enjoyed self initiated projects more than being directed by a course syllabus and decided to apply to the subject I enjoyed most at A level, which was English.
When I went on my first visit to Norwich I was a bit apprehensive as to what I may find; remembering numerous rumours and jokes I had got from friends back in London. But, as soon as I got into town I was pleasantly surprised, not just at how beautiful Norwich was with its cobbled streets and Cathedrals but also at how many art galleries and independent creative shops there were. Coming from a big city like London, I had found it difficult to find opportunities to show my work and stand out, but being a young creative in Norwich throws up loads of opportunities. At the moment I currently have two prints selling at Moosey Art gallery down on Bridewell Alley and some tote bags featuring one of my designs in Dandy Horse coffee house down on Magdalen Street. If I was in London it is unlikely that I would have been able to share my work and get myself out there as much as I have done so far in Norwich.
My style of illustration has evolved from hours and hours of doodling as a young kid. I have always taken an interest in art and have been lucky enough to be inspired by numerous members of my family who are very artistic; especially my sister who is an incredible natural drawer and my great aunt who is an artist. My illustration style started properly taking form when I discovered the joys of drawing with fine black pens and realised the wonderful detail one is able to give to a piece if you have time and patience. As a young child I was I was fascinated by trying to add as much detail to a drawing as possible. When I was around twelve I used to take a super fine line pen, hold a magnifying glass in my other hand and spend hours drawing, adding as much detail as possible and not looking at the piece through normal vision until it was done – (this is something I would recommend anyone to try out, it is really fun). As I’ve grown older my skill has increased, but the obsessive nature I had when I was much younger is still a major part of my work. It can take me no longer than an hour to draw the outline of my illustrations, but over a week to fill in the intricate details; when doing this I feel intensely peaceful and happy, it isw a form of meditation for me.
I am inspired by many things and try to be as observant as possible in all of my surroundings. One theme that seems to come up a lot in my work is animals – often sporting dapper attire. I feel like nature is like an endless pool of inspiration – the amount of beauty and variety one can get from it means that I’ll always have something to draw. I am also really interested in 1950’s American style and take a lot of inspiration from that too. I was fortunate enough to have worked for over a year in my parents’ shop selling vintage glasses and as a result have a useful memory bank of wonderful frames. These vary from beautiful 20’s off round tortoise shell effect “ancient librarian with long beard” glasses to extraverted 80’s Hip Hop Cazal sunglasses, which I can lend to my illustrated characters as I see fit. Recently, I have also gone through a significant transition in my life from a medium rare steak loving meat eater to a plant-loving Vegan. This has given me a sense of direction and drive that I feel will heavily influence my work from now on and was the direct inspiration for my most recent piece shown in the ‘Oppression – The Artists Speak’ exhibition at the end of last month.
This week I have received an email approving my application for a £500 grant from the UEA Enterprise Centre. This money will go towards launching a t-shirt range that will feature my designs and share the message of compassion and love to all earthlings that Veganism promotes. 10% of the profits will go to an animal charity of my choice, which will give me a chance to give back a little to the creatures that have inspired me to create my work. This is the main project that I am working on at the moment, although I am looking to do numerous collaboration projects in the near future as well.