RISING STAR: Paul Milne

The Bandwidth.com illustrator on the futility of art college, drawing caricatures and Sophie Ellis Bextor

Self portraitWho and what is Paul Milne?

I am an illustrator or artist, or something. People tell me that I am, so there must be some truth to it. I mainly just feel like some guy who really likes drawing pictures.

Were you an obsessive doodler at school?

I was, yes, to the extent that I still have nightmares where I can't find any room in my jotter to write down maths problems due to the ludicrous biro drawings all over the pages. Not that high school in any way scarred me for life, no.

Which artist or artwork do you look back on and think 'that's what made me want to be an artist'?

Hmmm... I wish there was some sort of highbrow answer, but it really all stems from just drawing all the time as a kid (mainly pictures of Transformers), and enjoying it immensely. It helped that other people seemed to think I was not bad at drawing, too, and encouraged me. So, erm, 'robots and being praised' might be what made me stick with doing art. That said, seeing the disturbingly slurky artwork by earlier Games Workshop artists like John Blanche and Ian Miller definitely set me off on an arty path in my teens.

Your work is anarchic, freakishly stylised, very like Ralph Steadman. Is he an influence?

He's not a conscious influence, though it has been mentioned by people before, and I am a fan of his work. I came to him pretty late, though, as I am a hideous philistine. It's fun to see unintentional similarities to other people's works, as it makes me feel like I must be doing something right, though sometimes that can be quite daunting, in a sort of 'Oh no! This person is a bit like me only much, much better!' sort of way.

You're obviously attracted by the horrific. What artists working in other fields get your pen's juices flowing?

Any time top comics/designer/art maverick Brendan McCarthy does anything, I swoon, then weep, then get my pens and pencils out and scribble furiously. I love him and his art book Swimini Purpose is the Holy Grail. Other than him, there's basically all the classic-era 2000AD comics artists (Kevin O'Neill, Steve Yeowell, Hicklenton etc) which I am catching up on in my old age as 2000AD terrified me as a youngster.

Did you attend art college, or are you self taught?

I'd say I am mainly self-taught, but I did get an animation degree from Edinburgh College of Art. Art collegeCaricature of Seamus Heaney was really good for honing life drawing skills, but other than that, the main lesson you learn as an art student is the importance of being able to waffle endlessly in an attempt to justify the time spent on your latest painting/sculpture/mixed-media disaster. This may also be known as 'bullshitting', and it is incredibly useful in the real world.

You're an accomplished caricaturist. I particularly like your Seamus Heaney. It's a difficult medium. Did it come naturally, or did it take a while to develop a particular style?

I think my caricature style came quite naturally as I've always had a fondness for grotesquery - the main hurdle I've had to try and overcome is a basic belief that caricaturing is an incredibly rude art, being based as it is on exaggerating features that the subject may be self-conscious about... I don't really have a problem doing this with regards to drawing famous people, but caricaturing real, actual humans can sometimes fill me with guilt and worry that they'll be hideously offended...

You also work with paint and collage. Is pen your missus, colour and texture your mistresses?

I think it's more that pen is my bestest pal, colour is my bestest pal's bestest pal (perhaps quite depressing that my bestest pal does not consider me his bestest pal) and texture is the pal who shows up now and again, and can equally improve or ruin everyone's fun.

I apologise for that making no sense at all. To answer your question: yes. I like using pen most of all, but sometimes colour and texture are pretty ace, too, and I like that they offer a different sort of challenge.

If you could have three cultural figures from throughout history round for dinner, who would they be and why?

I'd have Calista Flockhart round for dinner, as she apparently doesn't like to have her different foods touching each other, and so has it all on separate plates. I also have this 'fun quirk', and it would be nice to not have to explain to someone why this is the case.

PaintingJeff Goldblum, as he seems effortlessly charismatic, and should the conversation grow stilted he could wow us all with his peculiarly earnest sarcasm and skills as a jazz pianist.

And though he's not strictly a real figure from actual history, Blanka, the green man-beast from Street Fighter, as he seems like he'd have an interesting tale to tell, and there's some logical errors in his backstory that I'd like to quiz him on.

That was a very 90s-centric answer, I do apologise.

If you could wake up in the morning with a commission for a caricature in the inbox from anyone in the world, who would it be?

Perhaps Sophie Ellis Bextor. For some reason I have a mild obsession with her face, particularly when placed in the context of Lovecraftian terror. She has an interesting face. many-angled. And if she commissioned me to actually caricature her, I'd have a reason to do so, and I'd look less like a weirdo who just obsessively draws caricatures of Bextor for his own amusement.

Check out or commission Paul Milne via his website.

Lee Henry