A true creative force of nature, Phil’s work is very evidently rooted in the skate scene, but there’s a humour and wry playfulness at work that is universal, he’s whether designing board graphics for Crayon Skateboards or working on t-shirt and cover art designs for brands and bands.Characters and satirical slogans also figure strongly. We’re massive fans here at Looking Sideways, and it was great to catch up and find out more about his roots as a skater and creative inspirations as an artist.

Phil’s huge wall piece for the new Urban Outfitters Store in Nottingham

It seems like you’ve been involved in the Cardiff skate scene for years. How long have you been skating and how did you get into it?

I’ve been involved with the Cardiff skate scene for quite a few years now. I grew up skateboarding in my home town of Penarth just outside of Cardiff from the age of about eight years old back in the late eighties.

I fell out of riding my board around twelve then got back in to it again at the age of fifteen. I’ve been riding on and off ever since then. A lot more off these days though unfortunately. When I was younger I was always buying boards from the oldest independent skate shop in South Wales, City Surf, where I took a full time position at the shop back in 2004. I have worked on and off there for the last seven years where I made good friends with all the local riders. Matthew ‘ Dykie ‘ Ryan, who runs Crayon Skateboards, gave me my first break when he wanted to use one of my illustrations for a board back in 2008. I have also been responsible for all the illustrations for the Cardiff Skateboard Club website over the past few years thanks to Jim O.

How much of an influence does skating have on your work? Seems to figure pretty highly.

Skateboarding has a huge influence on my work but so does my love for music. I used to play bass in a band when I was younger which totally changed my outlook on life. I don’t play anymore, but I like to pick up my guitar now and again in the same way as I like to go out riding my board. Both are gathering dust as we speak as I’m too busy scribbling haha. I’m more of a running man than a riding man these days.

There’s a lot of humour in your work, and your work is very accomplished. How would you describe it to someone who’d never seen it?

I would describe my illustrations as characteristic with a sense of humour. A lot of my work is based on fixed shapes, bold colours and strong lines.

Practise Makes Perfect screen print – exclusively available through the Looking Sideways shop

You use words, captions and slogans quite a lot in your work and there’s a lot of satire in what you do. What tends to come first when you’re coming up with ideas? The words or the image?

The words and captions in my work come from silly ideas in my head. I can come up with a character illustration, and spend the next five hours just thinking about what the caption should be. Other times, I know what I want the caption to be so I spend the whole day working on the illustration. I draw with a graphics tablet using photoshop. I can’t get on with illustrator. I also draw a lot with fine pen and paper, and always write down ideas for future scribbles, when I’m out and about the place.

What’s your proudest achievement as an artist?

I think the proudest achievement has to be when Crayon released my first deck graphic a few years back. It’s something I have always wanted to achieve as an artist. Thanks to Dykie for giving me that opportunity. Also getting an email from The Washington Post asking to use one of my illustrations for a cover story was another big high.

Phil at Work

Music also seems pretty big. Art/music/skating often go hand in hand. If you had to choose only doing one from now on – art, skating or listening to music – which would you choose?

Yeah those three things totally go hand in hand with each other. Especially punk rock and skateboarding. Fugazi are one of my all time favourite bands. If I had to chose doing one for the rest of my life I don’t think I could make a decision between listening to music and art.

Any main influences? Do you own any artwork?

My main influences would be music and skateboarding obviously, family and friends and my girlfriend Beth – if it wasn’t for her doing a graphics degree a few years back I wouldn’t have got back into drawing. If I had to say an artist inspires me I would probably say David Shrigley. The guy is a genius. Unfortunately I don’t own any artwork but I have started collecting skateboards.

What ambitions do you have an artist?

My main ambition is to keep on drawing and painting and being as creative as possible. It’s something I work hard at personally and I really enjoy doing it on a daily basis. I would love to one day travel the world doing it.