I visited Sholto & Hugo Id-ioms studio yesterday, a 4 storey Victorian house all ivy covered exterior and damp infested interior. This scheduled for demolition house has been their artistic base for the past 18 months and is now virtually a live gallery space which Hugo & Sholto work on round the clock until the demolition men come to smash it to the ground. I actually felt like I was attending a huge installation show as I wandered the empty landings, opening doors to a myriad of rooms where every inch of wall (and ceiling) space is covered with their distinctive work.
Let me take you on a photographic journey before asking Hugo & Sholto some obligatory questions.
Time for a little ‘good cop, bad cop’…
When did you both realise that you worked well together?
Sholto: We’ve been brothers for a good while now and despite the fact that Hugo is 6 years younger we’ve always got on pretty well together and working together was just a natural extension of that. We started out designing t-shirts for ourselves as a purely personal sideline and it has slowly spread from there. Perhaps, surprisingly, we don’t argue about art very much as I think we have somewhat similar thoughts on the issue – although we can get annoyed with each other about other topics, such as Hugo’s shocking time-keeping skills.
Hugo: I suppose it was never a conscious thing, we just started working together and only a few years later did we realise that we weren’t having any troubles and that the other person was actually helping the others ideas progress.
You both have different styles how would you describe them?
Sholto: I think I prefer clarity and neatness and Hugo favours a more sketchy looser style although there is a fair amount of overlap in our styles and techniques. I think our overall ethos is to use whatever resources and techniques we can use to get the job done and to the best standard manageable.
Hugo: Well, I’m pretty sure Sholto has some sort of OCD and has to have his neat lines whereas I like a bit of grunge. So for him stencils are an ideal solution and for me I just like throwing paint at anything. Although our styles are different our ethos is the same, which is essentially that we are Gonzo designers and whatever we can use to get the picture finished is the way its going to be
Are there only two brothers in your family and if there are 3 would a trio be workable?
Sholto: We have a third and older brother and theoretically it would definitely be a workable trio. He has some artistic muscle (although it’s rarely flexed) and his only problem would probably be working with his slightly unruly younger siblings. The main reason this hasn’t already come about is that he lives on the Isle of Man and has a good job and a family to worry about.
Hugo: As he has a family he can’t go galavanting around spraying the streets but we do use him from time to time as a springboard for ideas. Actually he is the best traditional artist out of the three of us, so say if we need a cat in a hat smoking a joint whilst jumping up and down on a pogo stick that’s who we ask.
What are you trying to express in your works?
Sholto: I think it really depends on what work you are looking at. We haven’t got any particular issues we focus on or try to shoehorn into every piece. I think we try to express a little humour and change our style as we see fit.
Hugo: My freedom to paint what I want. I don’t really think too much about the end game, I just like to do what I feel at the time which is why our work probably jumps around quite a bit because I am heavily influenced by what I’ve watched, seen, heard at that particular moment.
Generally how does your artistic process work, do you both input on a piece or does one start and then the other one add to it?
Sholto: If it’s a canvas commission it tends to be that we are both involved at the design stage until we have something we like and then one of us takes ownership of the piece to get the main bulk of the work done, then if necessary, the other one will chip in with whatever they think is missing and make amendments as necessary. This is especially useful if you get stuck or run out of steam as you can just pass it over to the other for some finishing moves.
With walls the design is similar to canvases but when it comes to executing it we tend to both have to chip in to make sure we get everything done as we’ve envisaged it. Sometimes we make things slightly difficult for ourselves by including elements that we’ve never tried before but frankly, I think that’s half the fun.
Hugo: It really depends! Sometimes we sit there and brainstorm an idea and sometimes I’ll go off and work on my own till I’m ready to show him what I’ve got but the one thing we both agree on is that nothing can go out till both of us agree that it’s good enough. This is good because we are both our biggest fans and worst critics.
Who are your influences?
Sholto: I think our Mum and Dad have been appreciable influences. My dad was an architect and my mum was a fashion designer so we have some creative pedigree although whether it’s missed a generation remains to be seen. I think rather than a particular person I am influenced by modern culture and what my brain manages to decipher from it all.
Hugo: If I started this I think I’d be here for the rest of my life naming things. If I had to boil it down I’d say it would be the things that I read and the things that I see which come from books, newspapers, comics, crappy tabloid magazines whatever is put in front of me. The people I see on the bus, walking around Brixton, the pub. Pretty much anywhere where I can find some humour (as I like to try and get a little something in a picture even if it is only for us to enjoy).
Can you ask yourself a question?
Sholto: You are clearly the better looking, talented and modest half of id-iom. How does this impact on your relationship with your brother?
It’s nice having someone else round even if he’s not always the best company. I think I’d get a bit lonely on my own. Plus he’s a constant source of unintentional amusement and sometime source of motivation.
Hugo: Now this is a tricky one do I have to answer it as well or don’t I?
Oooh!! Do I get funny or do I get serious? Questions, questions, questions!!!
The question I am going to go for is: tell me something I don’t know?
I am a gold weight watcher .
Thanks to Hugo & Sholto for the tour, the questions and the amusement factor!
Here are some direct links to the Brown Brothers: