As part of an ongoing series of interviews, AMP recently caught up with Peter Mahoney to find out a bit more about the artist and his work.
42 years young
Thanks for sparing the time to chat with us today. How did you initially hear about AMP?
First off, thank you…it’s great to be here… love what you’ve done with the place, nice to see you’ve finally got some of my pieces on the wall.
To be absolutely honest, my memory is a little foggy on this, but I think I was searching posters for JAWS (a film I’m obsessed with), and I’m pretty sure it was Flore Maquin’s amazing art that I found via Google images… your SEO’s up to snuff at least.
What is your background? Did you always want to be an artist/illustrator?
Not always. Initially… yes. There was an assumption sure, because it’s what I excelled at and came naturally that I’d end up doing something creative I s’pose? I chose design however, over illustration, in my late teens. Despite this, Illustrating always reared its head and was never too far away. I always… always went back to it. I started to freelance for a time (a highlight was a contract with Conde Nast), but then I had to grow up and focus on my day job. I ultimately had a hiatus from illustration for what lasted about seven years and only started in earnest again about 14 months or so ago… It’s been an amazing journey since returning.
What did you always draw as a kid?
Spidey and Michael Jackson… but again, my love of movies found it’s way into my art very early on. Star Wars, Gremlins, Back To The Future, Universal Monsters, Ghostbusters.… I guess not much has changed.
Peter Mahoney – Illustrated guide to E.T
Peter Mahoney – JAWS
How would you describe your style?
I have two very distinct styles, one errs on the side of caricature and is more cartoony. The other is a more, what I guess could be described as traditional. I’m not big on hyper-realism in my work, I never strive for it, it doesn’t interest me. We’re surrounded by reality, my art is an escape from that, I never want to slavishly recreate an existing image. I’m far more interested in producing what I like to consider to be more of a truthful interpretation and representation of a subject, not always 100% accurate – but honestly illustrative, graphical and hopefully… iconic.
How do you approach a project? Sketch first or straight to the computer?
A thumbnail sketch. Then references, I use a ton of references. Then maybe a secondary sketch. Then onto the computer. I never spend too long on a sketch, because if I do, I always feel that the piece is done… even though it isn’t.
Which tools/applications do you use on a daily basis?
Adobe Creative suite. My slave and my master.
Is there anything you don’t like to draw?
Buildings. Boring. No offence buildings, but come on…
Which stage of your work do you enjoy the most?
That depends. That initial idea, that spark that gets the fire going is amazing. There’s always a point during the process in which all hope is lost and I hate the World… But then inevitably you continue to work on it and there’s this magical point when you’ve got it by the balls and it’s FINALLY starting to come together… That’s incredible.
Do you have a piece of work you’re most proud of?
There are two pieces that I think are the best representations on my two styles – my JAWS piece and my Mucha inspired Alien / Ripley piece.
Who would you say has been or currently is your inspiration?
Saul Bass made me want to be a designer, Drew Struzan made me want to be an illustrator. Not very original I know, but true. Now? That’s so hard because there’s so many out there, seems every day I discover someone else who makes me want to raise my game.
Saul Bass – Spartacus
Drew Struzan – Back to the Future
If you could collaborate with anyone on a project, who would it be with and why?
The dream would be to work with Spielberg on anything, I’d grout his bathroom, he’s my hero. I do have a (slightly) more realistic goal and that would be to do a cover for the lovely people over at Empire Magazine, I’ve loved that mag forever. Of course a Critereon / Arrow cover would also be pretty amazing.
Do you own any AMPs (ALTERNATIVE MOVIE POSTERS)? If so, which ones, and do you have a favourite?
I own a limited edition “An American Werewolf in London” print by Tim Doyle which is awesome. I also have signed pieces by my good friends Mark Raats and Brian C. Roll. My absolute fave however is my original Craig Deakes’ “Bride Of Frankenstein” (another annoyingly gifted artist friend of mine).
What would you say are your top 3 movies and why?
JAWS is my go to, but this question is impossible to answer. Can I cheat and do directors? Spielberg, Carpenter, Bava. There. No… wait! Cos I’ve missed out James Whale, Scorsese, Landis, Dante and Kurosawa… This is too hard. Terence Fisher, The Coens… I give up… Hitchcock! See? I refuse to get involved in these mind games.
What would you say are your top 3 books/novels and why?
I love Stephen King’s “The Green Mile”. I read it as it came out in serial form back in the summer of ’96. I have incredibly fond memories of that time in my life and that book is intrinsically tied to that period, plus it’s a bloody good read. Terry Pratchett’s “Night Watch” is probably my fave by him, out of a library of incredibly witty and imaginative work. Finally, now I know it’s not technically a novel but it would be amiss of me not to mention Leonard Maltin’s “Movie Guide”. I religiously bought that book every year for over a decade until the internet pretty much rendered it pointless.
Peter Mahoney – Ghostbusters
Peter Mahoney – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Any projects for 2019 you can tell us about?
I want to continue to push my Mucha series into new areas and carry on with the more humorous pieces that people very positively respond to (I think humour is very important). Expect bigger things for me this year as I really want to up my game in terms of AMPs… However, I tend to keep my cards close to my chest on upcoming pieces. In fact, I rarely share WIP’s with anyone other than my six year old daughter (my wife never wants to see anything until it’s finished)…She has a great eye. In fact, she has two.
Do you have any projects that never saw the light of day you can share with us?
Yes! Before the aforementioned offspring arrived and turned everything upside down (in the best way possible), I was working on a book about Spielberg. An illustrated guide to his films… A lot of cool pieces that I’m really proud of came out of that project. It was an unusual style I adopted, one that I’ve never really seen anyone else use – maybe for good reason!… ha! Hopefully I’ll go back to it eventually.
Peter Mahoney – Illustrated guide to Indiana Jones
Peter Mahoney – IT
What are your thoughts on alternative movie art? Is it here to stay?
I love that it harkens back to an era that for a little while there looked like it was going to be lost forever, to the dreaded floating-head Photoshopped posters. That said, I’m not one of those people who hates Photoshopped posters outright, because there’s some amazing stuff done in that area now too. As for the longevity? As long as there are creative film fans out there who can wield a brush, pen or a pencil, it’s never going away. The important thing is to give these people a forum, a stage on which to showcase their work. You guys are obviously a huge part of that. So, y’know… CHEERS!
Are you open to commissions at the moment?
Yes, and bathroom grouting (as long as you’re the most successful movie director of all time).
Where is the best place for people to view or buy your work?