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Q&A with ‘Picasso’ Griffiths - one of Britain’s top caricaturists

Graham 'Picasso' Griffiths is one of Britain’s top caricaturists. Graham teaches animation at the University of South Wales, sharing his experience and knowledge with students and preparing them for their future art careers.

Posted on Tuesday 26th June 2018

Graham is a highly experienced, versatile and talented animator, and has worked on numerous successful children’s television productions, including Super Ted, Shoe People, Under Milk Wood, Blue Peter and many more. Graham has also worked on illustrated books including “The Essential Guide to Children’s Parties” and Road Safety storybooks. He also co-designed Dewi Dragon the official mascot for the Rugby World Cup 1999.

We asked him the following questions to delve deeper into his work:

Where do you draw inspiration from for your work?

I draw my inspiration from everywhere around me. I look at everyday life, people and their surroundings including plants, nature and sounds. The world is a fascinating place, all of which provides excellent art content.

What are your favourite tools?

The favourite must be the humble pencil.

It’s immediate, I am always having ideas in my head and the best way to share them is to quickly put them down on paper.

Drawing with a pencil is like speaking a language, creating marks of various shades and thickness to express emotions.

How do you engage children in the activity?

I have conducted a variety of art workshops in schools. The most important lesson is teaching them to use their eyes. It’s not about physically showing them how to draw but more how to look and process what they can see.
I discuss with them how we are made of simple shapes like spheres, encouraging participation to create engagement and interest. I then get them to look at each other and talk about what differences they can see so they begin to appreciate the shape of the face and how they vary.

If this sows a small seed in their heads then we have success and who knows, maybe a future artist.

What are your top tips for teaching animation?

If someone is interested in learning the skill of animation my number one piece of advice would always be – get a sketch book and draw. Draw the people and objects around you, keep looking and keep drawing.

When it comes to creating your own characters – keep it simple. Play around with the shapes and proportions, explore, try things out, do not hold back and most of all have fun!

How have you developed your career and style? 

By working hard and building good relationships. No matter what I am doing, I always deliver on time and never let anyone down.

It’s important to be flexible and within your portfolio have a range of different categories of work. I choose to do things that I know I will enjoy.

How do you seek out opportunities?

Word of mouth is fantastic; it has a snowball effect. If you do a good job, word travels fast.

It’s strange, I get people calling me years after I may have produced some artwork and when I ask how they got my number, more often than not it turns out they have seen my details on a drawing. I don’t need to promote much nowadays as I have a very good reputation and am well known in my catchment area.

Social media is great for those who are starting up as you are able to share your work with the world.

Funniest moment when drawing?

I have funny moments all the time, every day, so many I wouldn’t know where to start! That is why I love my job so much.

Should art be funded more in schools?

Definitely. I can imagine school budgets are already tight and it must be difficult, but art is a vital component of a well-rounded education which every child deserves.

With thanks to Graham ‘Picasso’ Griffiths for working with us on this post. For more information visit his website. Graham also works closely with STAEDTLER UK to promote STAEDTLER Teacher’s Club and the World Kids Colouring Day competition.