„Skateboarding is my muse.“ says Phil Hackett, talented freelance illustrator and skateboarder from Great Britain. He created a series of T-shirts, underwear, socks and skate decks for the actual Horsefeathers collection. How did he get to the art? And would he describes himself as an artist who skateboards or rather as a skateboarder who creates? You’ll find out in the interview!
Hello Phil, first of all, can you please introduce yourself briefly?
My name's Phil Hackett. I'm 38 years old. I live and work in Burton on Trent, UK. I've been making a living as a freelance illustrator for the past 14 years.
How would you describe your art in one sentence?
Bright, fun, colourful, verging on the surreal at times, frequently features skateboards.
Have you always been that child who sketches all the time in school, or you got to drawing later?
I've been drawing for as long as I can remember. My mum still has drawings of mine from when I was 3 years old. I used to get into trouble all the time in school for doodling and drawing all over my textbooks!
Phil with his artworks
Exhibition (source: Instagram @hackettillustration)
When did you reach to the point that you realized : „Okey, I want to make living out of this“?
I studied at the Hereford School of Art and Design, where I did my degree in illustration. It was during the first few weeks there that we were introduced to practicing illustrators, who were published in newspapers, magazines and books. I knew at that point that I wanted to do the same. I'd grown up wanting to be a painter or similar, but as soon as I was introduced to the world of commercial illustration I knew what I wanted my career to be.
Despite of being an artist, you are also a skateboarder. Would you describe yourself as an artist who skateboards or rather as a skateboarder who creates?
Definitely an artist who skateboards - I used to skate every day when I was younger, but I don't get to skate much at all these days. Work often gets in the way, and my body isn't as supple as it used to be!
Skateboarding figures in many of your works. Is it your favourite theme and the main source of your inspiration? Or what else do inspires you?
Skateboarding is my muse. I've only been doing skateboard-related illustrations for the past 3 or so years. Prior to that I was just doing commissions for books, magazines etc (which I still do - these are my main income). I did a little skateboard-based illustration one day, just for fun. I put it on my instagram and it took off! So that persuaded me to do more. It's great to have a theme to thoroughly explore through illustration, and being a skateboarder, and having extensive knowledge of the skateboarding world, skateboards are an obvious choice for me.
Toy Machine (source: Instagram @hackettillustration)
Wrigley's skatemint (source: Instagram @hackettillustration)
Shredit Card (source: Instagram @hackettillustration)
Is there something else that you love to do when you are currently not creating or skateboarding?
I like to cycle, listen to cricket on the radio, cook, read and go to the pub. Not that exciting!
Let’s come to your cooperation with Horsefeathers. It contains T-shirts, mens underwear, socks and skateboard decks. Why did you choose pickles as an attribute in this collaboration?
I'd already done a pickles-related illustration, and the designer from Horsefeathers approached me asking for something similar. We discussed what would look good on a skateboard deck, and also how a repeating pattern could work for socks etc. I think it works well as it's something a bit different and quirky.
What are you currently working on and what your visions for the future are?
I'm currently working on a few different projects, the main one being a series of posters for a large skateboard shoe company. In the future I'd like to have a few more exhibitions (I've exhibited in the UK, Spain and Italy over the past 3 years). I'd also like to publish my 5th volume of skateboard illustrations.
Is there something that you would pass on to beginning artists?
Don't try and emulate what is fashionable or current in terms of art/illustration. Fashions come and go. Try and work out your own visual language, one that is unique to yourself.
Lastly, I got three quick questions for you:
1. Creating freely for yourself OR custom creating with specific theme
A bit of both! It's nice to have total freedom to work on whatever I want, but it's also good to be given a brief that steers my away from my usual themes - helps me flex my creative muscles.
2. Drawing on paper OR digital drawing
Drawing on paper - all my illustrations start their lives as fineliner/ink drawings on paper. I then scan them into Photoshop to colour them in. I tried a drawing tablet and didn't get on with it at all!
3. Street skateboarding OR skatepark riding
Definitely street. When I grew up skateboarding, there were hardly any ramps or skateparks near where we lived, so we grew up skating the streets. Due to that, I've always had a closer affinity to street skating.
Phil, thank you for the interview and wish you all the best!
You can check out Phil's artworks on his website https://hackettillustration.com/ or on his Instagram