Felt tip portraits of friends and performers. It’s short and it’s sweet.
Although not a founding member, Julian Smith has been involved with Sink the Pink, the latest subculture to match the New Romantic’s fervent energy, for the best part of 6 years; “I’m bad with remembering years and dates”, he says, “I’ve been with them for quite a while, working on London events and various festival gigs. I hope to convey that showing off, letting your hair down, dancing and dressing up can be a positive thing. Also a political thing. I hope to show that it can broaden our minds. I am a hedonist and I enjoy it, I can’t work and be sensible all the time. It just doesn’t work for me”.
Julian Smith is, in his own words, an arty gay guy in East London; “There’s loads of us”, he notes. “The sketches are currently a hobby. I want to draw a lot of my friends and East London characters, but it may expand to celebrities. I’m just drawing and not thinking about it too much at the moment. I love fashion, costume and art galleries, and because of that I can see this as something I would like to pursue further. Perhaps sell a few prints or something? Eventually. Maybe even have an exhibition or a little book”.
Working with felt pens and strong colour, it’s the “scratchy childish feel” that’s the driving force behind each creation. “I also like the limited range of colours and want a certain unsophistication”, he adds. “Strong, contrasty colours is very me. I like Punkish, analogue graphics. It’s my character”. But there is still an air of sophistication. There’s a familiar sensibility to the illustrations and it’s eccentric. It’s fun. His style has a liberal attitude, however it is a style that is also complicated and diplomatic. Through using a naive medium, a hark to simpler days, Julian Smith captures personality in his drawings.
There’s a haunting quality as the eyes stare deep into yours, despite having only worked from photographs on a computer screen; “But I have just started going to life drawing classes, which is very exciting. I literally haven’t drawn like this for years and years. It’s really nice to rediscover that I can. I think I’d forgotten”. Thinking about portraiture as a focus, Julian Smith likes to capture a likeness; “I started drawing again because I had some time on my hands while on holiday for a few days at my parents. I’m a fan of these people, my subjects. I have a respect for them, and I admire them. I want to continue to be creative this year. More drawings, more shows. But I am going to have a long holiday in September and October. I’m very much looking forward to seeing some friends who are dotted around the world. As much as I love it, I need a break from the way I live my life in London. It’s necessary”.
Gender is a hot topic for many at the moment, including Noctis Magazine with the release of our latest issue. It’s both relevant and controversial. “It’s quite exciting that lines are blurring”, Julian Smith says, questioning his thoughts on gender in society.
“Barriers are being broken and minds are expanding. But, you know, at the same time I completely happy for men to be men, and women to be women. I’m just certain that most of us must have a bit of both. I identify as male, but I like to feel and explore sections of my feminine character through drag. I am open to the feminine side and I do not suppress it… The boxes we put our children in through conditioning can be damaging later in life though. If you force your children to act a certain way when it is not matched to how they feel inside, they are always going to feel a sense of inadequacy or failure. Open up those boxes”.