While our genders, religions, sexual orientations, politics and tattoo preferences may separate us, one thing remains the same—we all have a skeleton. Brighton-based artist Will Blood has used this concept as the driving force for his art by transforming popular cartoon characters into bone-ified masterpieces. From treasured Disney characters to Nickelodeon’s finest to the always-entertaining Simpsons gang, Blood has left no stone in the toon world unturned. His work invites the child within to come alive and makes us excited to see who he’s going to put into an illustrative x-ray next. We caught up with Blood between sketch sessions to uncover the origins of his Bare Bones series and reveal what’s going on beneath the surface of this internationally recognized illustrator.
When did you develop your love for art?
I’ve been obsessed with art since an early age. As a child, I collected tropical insects and arachnids—which gave me my first subject matter. I always loved classification illustrations in my books.
Did you go to art school?
I didn't study art. I spent the ages of 15 through 25 pursuing music and I wanted to be a rockstar. I found that I enjoyed creating the merchandise and artwork more than the music, so I slowly moved my focus back to art.
How did you develop your signature style and how has it evolved over time?
I find old work every now and then, and I have a good giggle. It's important to want to be better. My art has evolved pretty organically over time, as my tastes and inspirations have changed.
What inspired your “Book of Bare Bones” series?
I originally started the series in 2013 for a local art show. The first skeletons I did were the two main characters from “Adventure Time.” It was very popular, so I kept on doing them. Then, when I hit 50, I released “The Book of Bare Bones,” and that's where the name for the series came from.
Who are some of your favorite characters to paint and why?
Any of the older, weirder ones—like Ren and Stimpy or Rat Fink. I guess they speak to me more and are closer to my generation.
What’s your favorite design that you’ve created for a band or company?
I did an album cover for This Is Hell many years ago for their album “Black Mass.” It was the Statue of Liberty wrapped in snakes with loads of fun little details. That was cool and my first big record design that went on vinyl. I miss doing stuff for bands, but I don't miss what a pain in the ass most of them are.
If you animated an episode of “The Simpsons” in your style, what would it be about?
It would probably be about death or something else suitably dark. It would probably end up being a cross between “The League of Gentlemen” and “Ren & Stimpy.”
What are your favorite bones in the human body to illustrate and why?
I’m a big fan of illustrating hands, ribs and skulls. Spines can fuck off, because they’re a pain in the ass.
Many of your pieces allude to Keith Haring. What about his style inspires you?
I think he was the first artist I encountered who could make huge statements with the simplest of drawings. His bold lines and use of body language could speak a thousand words. I went to his “The Political Line” show in Paris and it blew me away.
What art mediums work best for your style?
Spray paint and acrylic markers. I love getting that contrast of wild uncontrolled splatter and then perfect lines over the top. Chaos and order in balance!
When you’re not creating art, what are you doing?
Looking after my son, spending time with my girlfriend, reading books, drinking beer, learning how to handstand, walking in the woods and laughing at humans.
How has the pandemic impacted your creativity and productivity?
It's been fine, if I'm being honest. I think most artists are trained in the art of isolation and prefer it. I've never had an issue with productivity or creative blocks (touches wood).
What’s up next?
World domination! Hopefully, I’ll get to pick back up everything that Corona cancelled. I was meant to have several shows worldwide this year that fell through with travel bans. I want to make it over to Asia, Australia, Canada and the USA. Also, I hope to reschedule my show “Dead Nostalgic,” which was due to open the week after lockdown was announced in London.