28.12.2011, Words by Charlie Jones

Introducing Pencil Face

Text: Meg Sharp

Pencil Face, or Joe, sorts his LPs into rainbow order, thinks computers deserve smashing up with a hammer and his “ears have a boner” listening to White Denim. This very modest and sarcastic Bristolian illustrator is responsible for Ras G’s ‘Down 2 Earth’ artwork and illustrations born straight from his genius. His Pencil Face Flickr is full of doodle gems and magazine work. I caught up with him to find out about his background and inspiration, plus check out his work below.

Where did you grow up?

Born in Bournemouth, grew up in Guildford, but Bristol is home now. And I’m glad – the west is the best.

How would you describe your work?

Half-arsed? All the illustrators and designers I admire seem to be able to consistently fire out intricate and beautifully rendered pieces, whereas I get bored at around the 30-minute mark so move on to something else. I’m deffo happiest when banging out a bunch or rough and daft pencil drawings… sit me in front of a computer to tweak things digitally and I get urges to smash everything up with a big hammer! I plan to do more screen printing, though.

How did you get involved with RAMP?

As I remember it was Tom from RAMP started sending me emails shortly after I graduated from my illustration degree (2006?). I’ve been lucky enough to design a bunch of CD and vinyl releases for RAMP for artists that I probably would have bought in the shops anyway, so it’s been exciting getting to hear advance bits and bobs from some of my favourite producers. I think the first thing I did was the KANKICK – ‘Serious Business This’ CD (wot no vinyl?) which was very exciting because at the time I was picking up everything he put out regardless.

What were your favourite music artists to do artwork for?

It’s been interesting getting feedback from all of them. If I had to choose it’s got to be THE ZETLAND PLAYERS – as they’re mates of mine. I think I’ve probably got more copies of their 45 at home in a box than actually sold!


I spend the majority of my free time watching strange and/or crappy films from the 60-80’s and looking for strange and crappy old records… So that must seep in somewhere! Artwork-wise: The Nobrow lot, The Kramer’s Ergot lot, about a million illustrators and artists i’ve come across on Flickr and David Hockney’s amazing pencil drawings.

Can you explain the concept behind the Ras G artwork?

I did some stupid drawings and the feedback I got back was basically: “This is rubbish, try and think like Sun Ra.” I’m not sure I managed to attain that kind of higher state of consciousness, but I did photocopy a bunch of space books at the library.

Anything exciting coming up for you in the future?

Myself and 7 other bros and brosephines are putting on an exhibition at Centre Space Gallery, Bristol at the end of Feb 2012: HINTERLAND. I’m looking forward to getting back into concentrating on personal work for this one…loads of big pencil drawings and some screenprints I reckon.

What music is really inspiring you at the moment?

I buy a lot of old records so my tastes seem to change and morph often, from Glam 45s to 80s hip hop and all in between. I always check anything that the Finders Keepers/ B-Music guys have a hand in – so many killer releases, and I hear about a whole world of stuff from all the generous knowledge-sharing that goes on over at Very Good Plus – surely one of the most powerful brain-trusts about old records on the internet! I make a lot of mixes to listen to whilst cycling. The latest is of yacht rock, AOR groovez and smooth 80s funk: Pencil Face’s mixcloud POW!
Shamefully I struggle to keep up with much new music due to constantly scouring record shops for old gear. My ears have a boner for WHITE DENIM though… they just keep getting better with each album!

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