We’re very active on social media, especially on Instagram with updates to the official feed for @TheJournalix but also my own feed of ideas and inspirations – which is where I stumbled across the amazing art of Beth Simpson and her shop It’s Dark In There! It’s an eclectic mix of designs using musical heroes and other pop cultural references with an undertone of dark comedy as inspiration printed on cushions, bath mats, face masks, etc. exactly as the name suggests. We reached out and talked all about Alan Partridge, Prince and serial killers… Be sure to check out her shop at https://www.redbubble.com/people/itsdarkinthere/shop
Have you always been arty?
Yes, I’ve always been arty. The first thing I remember drawing was the Mr Men. I was obsessed with them. Then in senior school I used to draw pictures of Iron Maiden album covers and sell them for 50p each. This covered the cost of my bag of chips with scraps chippy dinner.
Where did you study?
I studied Art History at the Cleveland College of Art & Design, then went into doing a degree in Graphic Design at Northumbria University.
What made you decide to open your own shop?
I made the decision to open my Instagram page & RedBubble shop, simply because I have so much digital artwork literally sat doing nothing, because I sit and draw most days… so I thought… balls to it, I’ll stick it online and see if anyone likes it… and some people do. YEAY.
IT’S DARK IN THERE
How would you describe your style?
Honestly, I’ve no idea. I see a lot of my graphic design elements shine through, and my love for the macabre, and my love of dark humour, but if I had to describe it, I’d generally just say it’s eclectic.
Where does the name come from?
The name ‘it’s dark in there’ pretty much came from me introducing the content of my art… ‘cause it can get ruddy ‘dark in there’(!)
You’re a big fan of the comedy of Steve Coogan and Caroline Aherne, what is it about Manchester or Northerners that makes us so fucking hilarious?
Music, comedy & horror are my main three sources of inspiration. My love and adoration for Steve Coogan and Caroline Aherne, the king and queen of comedy. Their material, their shows are just treasure troves of inspiration for artwork. I could happily just draw / create work based on their shows. I can watch an episode of, let’s say for instance, Mid Morning Matters, I’ll pick up on a line… and that’s it, the seeds of a new artwork.
Quotes are something I love doing, it gives me a chance to apply some hand rendered lettering to my images. I’ve a big love of all things typography.
Have you heard Alan Partridge’s new podcast yet?
I’ve just started listening to From the Oasthouse. The podcasts are an open door for ideas, because there’s no visual…. It’s a blank canvas just waiting for some artwork. So I’ve a feeling I’m gonna have a few artworks to be conceived through that.
Your prints of Prince are so cool, is he a hero of yours?
Prince is a huge inspiration to me. HUGE. I’ve been obsessed with the man since I was 13… My Prince work is purely self indulgent. I’d buy all my own Prince swag. Cover the house in it. Sleep in it, bath in it, cook in it. Cracking.
Do you actually celebrate Christmas all year round?
No… But I would if I could. I plan it all year round and think about it all year round. September is where the magic creeps in though… I start with the Christmas candles… tease my way towards getting all the Christmas shit out the loft, which usually happens in November.
Saying that, it’s September now and I downloaded a compilation of 70s Christmas adverts from YouTube and thumbed through my Delia Christmas recipe book yesterday.
My claim to fame is appearing on Kirsty’s handmade Christmas on Channel 4 in 2018. I was in the cake making category. I lost haha… But by doing that, I’m now forever immortalised in the vaults of Channel 4s Christmas vaults, so in a sense – I WON! Honestly, who doesn’t love Christmas… apart from the turkey.
I’m currently working on a Christmas collection. I’m repurposing old vinyl Christmas singles covers (Wham, Wizard, Elton John) tarting them up ready for Christmas 2020.
What kit/software do you use?
To create my art I use Procreate, photoshop, illustrator & indesign. The iPad Pro is where I start. Everytime. I’ll do rough sketches, play with composition, colour … then once I’ve got all of this down, I move over to illustrator to polish things up ready for print.
Have recent months been difficult or inspiring when it comes to your work?
I’ve found the last 6 months pretty inspiring. It’s given me time to just create, create create. It’s completely therapeutic. At the beginning, I was a news junkie. Watched Sky News all day long… like watching a car crash on loop… Depressing. So instead of watching the news all day, I’d watch things that made me laugh, not stress… so Coogan & Aherne were my medicine… Them and a whole load of shit horror movies. I’m the type of person who can get up at 6am and watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre with a coffee and a crumpet.
WE’RE NOT WORTHY
What makes somebody worthy of inclusion?
That’s easy. They have to fit one of 2 criteria. 1: they’ve gotta be piss your pants funny or 2: deep/interesting/ominous… oh and I just thought of a 3rd criteria… Christmas. If it’s festive I’m all over it.
Do you take commissions?
Occasionally. Funnily enough, most of my serial killer portraits are commissions. Now somebody doesn’t buy matching Fred & Rose, because they ‘like’ Fred & Rose… it’s because they find them fascinating. Unable to imagine the workings of their minds… it’s a bizarre and scary thing. Many people have a fascination with serial killers and the macabre.
What is the most popular item?
Since I opened my shop, it’s been interesting to see what’s drawn attention, and likewise what hasn’t. My most popular design is the image of Prince which pleases me massively. It gives me reason to do more.
— The Journalix (@thejournalix) September 17, 2020
What are your plans for the future?
To carry on creating and to get my Christmas trees up.
THE “IT’S DARK IN THERE” PLAYLIST
For more arty farty goodness celebrating all that is creative, clever and good for the world – follow this link: www.thejournalix.com/tag/art