FP Meets Joe Melhuish for the Footpatrol Utopia Collection

Not only did the Bone Soda Phonox residency deliver memories of some unforgettable nights out, it also offered inspiration for our latest apparel collection. Some of you may remember those crazy line up assets we’ve been sharing over the last few weeks, bold, eye-catching and all the rest, we tap into the mind of Joe Melhuish for our Utopia collection.

Working in animation and graphic illustration, Joe reworked the iconic Footpatrol gas mask and bar logo for his very own unique take which see’s his 3D visuals take charge.

We sit down with Joe as he takes us through his inspirations, his love of music and gives us a demonstration of how he goes about creating his artwork.

Footpatrol: Hey Joseph!  We start off all of our interviews here at Footpatrol with the simple question of how are you? 

Joe Melhuish: Great – exhausted. I have a habit of accepting far too much work but equally refusing to concede on social plans, it’s something I’m trying to get better at. 

FP: For people who don’t know who you are, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do? 

JM: I’m a digital artist, illustrator and animation director based here in London. I’ve made work for clients like Nike, Apple, Island Records, Adult Swim, Spotify and The New York Times. I use a VR headset to made all my work in 3d and I’d describe my work as acid soaked blown-out characters that works around themes of fashion, pop culture and self expression. 

FP: So when did your love for DJing all start for you?

JM: Probably around age 18 I began learning but I was in bands as a drummer before then so I just considered it another way to be playing music I loved.

FP: You also have your own monthly appearance on Hackney’s own Subtle Radio, how did this opportunity come about? 

JM: I had a mix series I’d been running already and was looking for someone who’d host a radio version, I hit them up and they said go for it.

FP: We have also seen your ‘Return to the Dance’ mixes on soundcloud, how do you think that your music you play reflects your own identity? 

JM: I try to play a mix of music that, whilst it sits firmly on the dancefloor, has a strangeness, or a playfulness to it. There is a music scene in Lisbon that originates in Angola, they make music called Kuduro, Tarraxinha and Tarraxho, I play lots of this on the show – particularly from the label Príncipe in Lisbon there is a very experimental sound to it. I love the way it’s highly percussive but the beats roll out of control, slipping into feeling off beat or like it’s collapsing, it’s usually underproduced in a way that has a lot of energy, and it can be extremely melodic or brutally minimal. I did a record cover for a compilation this year with 99 Ginger, featuring one of my favourite artists from Príncipe; Dj Lycox. Worth listening to, in my humble opinion. 

All this to say; I love music that feels loose, rhythmic, playful, colourful – and I think those are qualities in my work too.

FP: Let’s get into the artistic side of things, when did you first get into animation?

JM: Easily around age 10-11? I used to make animations on Powerpoint with my friends, eventually my dad bought me an educational copy of Flash Mx for I think around £90 and I spent the next 5 years or so making animations on that. 

FP: What is it about VR that makes it so different to other art forms?

JM: It’s a great tool, it lets me draw in 3D as I would in my sketchbook. You can be really loose and free without having to think about any of the limitations of 3d.

FP: If there is any, who is the main inspiration when it comes to your visual artwork? 

JM: Probably too many to mention, I don’t have a singular main inspiration and of course it shifts over the years but I take photos of things I see around all the time, I love going to art museums and getting inspired by people I never heard of. I’ve sampled ideas from everything from hieronymus bosch, insects I saw running around in mexico, little statues of horses in cultural heritage museums to old fashion magazines, Dark souls games, the countryside where I grew up in Wiltshire. I just try to join dots between things and keep an open mind. 

FP: You worked on the flyer artwork for our Bone Soda events at Phonox London, could you talk us through the creative process behind this piece?

JM: Sure. I had some back and forth with the Bone Soda guys on a few different ideas, I was looking a lot at medieval images of demons, and strangely enough motorbike stunts, so we sort of combined the two. For the main poster I referenced a very old painting I saw of the devil in a Mexican art gallery with an open mouth. From there I model everything in VR before moving to cinema 4d for animation and texturing. There was a lot of intense sculpting on this project but in particular I’m very happy with how the main poster came out.

FP: For our younger audience here at Footpatrol, what advice would you give to individuals trying to make it in the creative industry?

JM: Keep making work, don’t lose motivation. Honestly if you keep pushing stuff out and seeking opportunities eventually something will work, I’ve made hundreds and hundreds of works, whilst I was at art school and in the 5 years following I was nearly constantly making and uploading work without much in the way of success. Persistence is the only guarantee of anything I guess, but also look after yourself and don’t be too hard on yourself, a lot of stuff just isn’t in your control, I can’t tell you how many things “almost” happened for me only to fall apart at the last minute. 

FP: To finish off we would like to thank you so much for the interview. Is there anything you would like to share with the Footpatrol friends and family? That could be anything from getting people excited about something, a message of positivity, whatever you like.

JM: Look after your health and make art that you enjoy creating!

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