Paul Bower: Interview

Paul Bower

Paul Bower is one of the Pocko originals who’s been with us since the very beginning,  and still hangs around. We like him for that, and we hope you like him too. After all these years, we’ve finally decided to do a little interview with Paul and really get inside that noggin of his. But first, a little blurb…

Paul’s signature style balances between candy-floss characters, raw text and razor-sharp wit. His technique is varied but always packs a punch, using a range of lino-cut prints, acrylic paint, ballpoint pen, paper-cuts, stenciling and collage to create his pieces.  He’ll use pretty much anything, but not cheese. Paul never draws with cheese.


Besides illustrating, what would you rather do with your time?

What do you mean?

What’s your best joke?

Why do girls wear make-up and perfume?… Because they are ugly and they smell.

Who is your hero? 

Jim Henson

Who is your nemesis?

I thought it was Bill Nighy but I asked him if he’d been following me around and he said “no”.

What’s your biggest fear?

Snakes. I’ve blacked out just seeing one on tv.

When last did you shave? 

My neck? Every day. My face? Every 5 years. Don’t ask about the rest.

What is your most exciting childhood memory?

Setting the village laundarette on fire. (Only kidding, that was Michael Sharp… Allegedly).

What excites you right now?

What colour to paint my new flat. The previous tenant left cigarette tar running down the walls and ceiling so I’m trying to find a colour that works well with brown… (pink might work). I also  like the idea of painting it all in blackboard paint so I can draw anywhere I like, there must be a perfectly good reason not to but I can’t think of one.

What have been your personal and professional crowning achievements?

Getting rid of all my stammers and twitches (most of them at least). Winning a V&A Award. Getting this far, my way without being stopped yet for being silly or stupid.  

You seem to express an explicit contempt for certain popular icons and trends. Please expand on this contempt.

I think contempt is a bit strong… No, you’re right, it is contempt. Short-arsed-no-necked Bono (his real name) is self explanatory I think. I just hate it when people get a bit big for their boots and start believing there own hype and everybody kissing there arses. I wouldn’t mind so much if people such as Bono, Coldplay, Gordon Ramsey, Chavercrombie & Fitch etc were in some way interesting, but I don’t  think we should champion things that are mediocre, middle-England, middle-aged and middle-of-the road. There is so much better stuff out there but people seem to make do with this naff stuff.

Much of your personal work embodies a particular “bitter-sweet” dichotomy – a play between naive inquisitiveness and schoolboy cheekiness. Take your characters for example: they appear to be adorable, friendly and unthreatening little creatures you could snuggle up next to, but upon closer inspection they are in-fact brutally honest and cerebral mutants, whose razor-sharp delivery leave a sassy, sarcastic sting. In short, they express feelings that most of us would love to say, but could never muster the courage to do so. Would this be an accurate analysis of your work, or yourself as a character? Do you find it difficult to tame this character when working commercially?

I am totally flattered. That is exactly how I hope things come across some times. I just think that humour is a good way to get things across. I am a Yorkshire man and I love the way things get done back home, there is no fannying about but there is a lot of fun. I’m surprised people in London aren’t more like this. I’m more surprised that people actually put up with me.

Which mood period are you in now: pink or red? Why these two colours, and will there ever be another one?

I think I am in a pink mood. Apparently I have synesthesia, which I thought everybody had, and it could explain a few things.  But yes, there are more colours. Have you heard of the rainbow?

A monster lives underneath your bed. Can you describe him for us?

He would be a very thin monster as I sleep on a mattress on the floor, but at least that explains the smell of wee I’ve noticed lately. I would love him to be sweetums from the muppets.

What does Pocko mean to you?

To me Pocko is this really cool, sassy kid who knows his/her own way of doing things and knows where they’re going but still tries out new stuff, getting things done in a way different to everyone else. He/she doesn’t sweat the small stuff and totally knows how to have fun. Even better than being in the Redhand Gang.

Berlin, Bears and Refugees