Other-worldly artist Pete Fowler is always poking his foot through the supernatural door.
“I read books on dinosaurs when I was a kid, the search for Bigfoot and the search for the giant snake and I was like ‘wow!’ My imagination just span out,” says artist Pete Fowler as he sits downstairs in HUCK’s 71a gallery in East London.
He’s here helping set up the Looking Sideways exhibition, a celebration of art inspired by boardsports. His contribution to the show, in a break from style, is reminiscent of a screenprinted sticker you could find on the deck of any teen at Southbank. “One of the things I really liked about skateboarding was the graphics, I like the boldness of skate graphics and I think maybe I wanted to sort of reference that. [...] I miss skateboarding, every single day and I think it’s kind of as much to do with the people and everything around it as it is with skateboarding itself.” he explains, while popping his safari lenses up and down inbetween sentences.
It’s a little disconcerting, but it fits with the man. From the painting to the early toy sculptures and his Monsterism island toy creation, everything he does oozes a Pete Fowler cool.
A welshman by birth, the forty-four-year-old artist is now based out of a studio in Brick Lane, London but is, by his own admission, constantly on the move – creatively speaking that is. He’s taken on many different mediums throughout his career, and is currently preparing for a cross-stitch embroidery exhibition that’s hitting London this August. “It’s doing stuff that turns me on right now,” he explains – a justification he uses repeatedly throughout our conversation.
“It’s kind of just like playing really,” says Pete of a passion that he;s able to call his career. “I know a lot of artists who just grump all the time, it’s like, ‘you may not be making a lot of money right now, but you should jump out of bed in the morning.’ I know I do. It’s good work, let’s do it!”
Pete’s probably best known for his Monsterism work, which encompassed his early sculptures, the comic series, paintings, music and, of course, the toys. “I was approached at a show of my sculptures in Japan and asked if I wanted to make toys, which was a no brainer for me. I wanted these toys to look the same as my sculptures but I wanted them to be affordable.” but, as is his depth of imagination, he created unique back stories for each of the characters, that intertwined and fed back into the idea of the Monsterism island.
“It was a vehicle for this world that I created. That’s something that I enjoy almost more than the objects is the story behind them, I like each one to have a back story that makes sense,” he says, before going on to talk enthusiatically about his love for the unknown, science and UFOs.
It doesn’t come as a surprise, his work as always seemed to have one foot through that supernatural door. You won’t catch him looking through that door though. Says Pete: “Mankind is on a mission to explain everything, just don’t! The more we know, the less we know.”