The Perth Illustrators Redefining How We Understand Art
In Perth today - unheralded and unknown - there is a group of Illustrators who are quietly setting about attempting to redefine how we view the world, and the role that "art" plays within it. The group is known as the “Pensmiths” I was privileged to talk with these men and women to gleen exactly what they are trying to achieve, and why they are drawing Perth in a way most people have never seen it before.
“Pmac”, one of the group’s illustrators and the head writer told me that there structure is one that doesn’t hold recognised position; it allows everyone to feel like a leader.
“I am probably the leader really, but I don’t go around telling everyone about it. I feel like it’s nicer to just lie about it and say things like ‘there is not really one boss here’.”
Siuol, another of the groups gifted artists told me the key philosophy behind the Pensmiths.
“We really liked the smiths, and a lot of our drawings are with pens so we just put the two words together really and it was nice.”
(Me: “but why did you make this group?”)
“Oh well, that was because so many people are just going around and taking pictures of things for facebook or instagram, and I thought ‘Hell, they are really missing out on life!’ so I thought we could do this thing where we peel a layer back, and draw things so people then think drawing things is cool, when it is actually pretty hard. It makes you think about the world a lot more. I mean you look at it all and try and recreate it on a piece of paper and you realise ‘Fuck! I really can’t capture everything on this paper because the world is a myriad of amazing things and mundane things and really horrible things that are not actually very easy to draw’ and when you realise that you are a better person. When you take photo’s you are normally just thinking ‘Yeah that looks good, I am probably going to get laid with that image.’ ”
Everyone who has seen the illustrations by this group will know the profound text that accompanies the images. Sometimes the links seem obvious, whereas other times the text looks out of place or contrived. One of the group members off record told me
“I think it’s just Pmac trying to be intellectual, but often he doesn’t think enough about what he is doing.”
Another illustrator, Nehoc said
“Yeah, Nib is right. But it works into our philospophy of trying to make people think more as well. This way they need to try and really pay attention to the image and the text to find the link, or sometimes just the text to learn something interesting.”
Ivel and Tap, the other Pensmiths I spoke to added that although sometimes the illustrations may not be worthy of being likened to the greats of the art, they also hoped that their endeavours would allow everyone to feel comfortable enough to start drawing.
“Even if it just enables someone to feel like they won’t be judged for doing a doodle while you are in class, or on the phone, we would have done something good for the world.”