Q&A with Icky Brothers

A collage of images, including the suburban review Issue 19 cover, a textured orange rectangle, and a black and white illustration of Icky Brothers. Icky's self-portrait shows them wearing dark rimmed glasses, a nose ring, a beanie or hat and a dark jumper. Icky's hair flares out from under the hat/beanie, and seems shorter at the front and longer than shoulder length curling over their shoulders from the back. They have rosy cheeks and a slightly poked out tongue.

ICKY BROTHERS was born in Bristol, UK and is currently living and working on unceded palawa land, lutruwita. They are a trans–nonbinary, multi-disciplinary artist best known for their analogue and illustrative drawings. Through fine-liners and paper they tell intricate stories of queer narratives inspired by nature, punk, mythology and pop culture. Icky has no formal training in the arts and is predominantly both self and peer taught. Though Icky largely focuses on illustrative work, they also practice as a ceramicist, comic artist, zine publisher and puppet-maker.

Mikayla Bamford, our Layout Editor, interviews Icky Brothers about their cover art for #19: Echo.

Your cover art, ‘The Void, July 2020’, is a bold and dynamic collision of nature and punk. How does working in analogue shape your illustrations before introducing colour? Is this a significant process to your practise?

I think I often make things harder for myself because I really don’t like drawing on a computer. To me, it doesn’t matter how good technology gets, I still think drawing with a pen on paper is a feeling that can’t be beaten, and it takes a certain patience. I feel like a lot of artists’ style is more beautiful when you can see the slight imperfections in line work, and that gets lost when you draw on a tablet or whatever. It does mean however, that I go backwards and forwards between scanning and making things print ready, but I usually only work in black and white so it’s worth it. This piece was a new exploration into digital colouring for me and I’m into how it came out, but I might invest in some analogue colour options to mess around with for future projects.

Your Instagram highlights your exploration of other mediums, a selection of not only your illustrations, but your ceramics and puppets as well. Do you see yourself in the future doing more work with these mediums?

I’ve been dabbling in ceramics for a few years now, but this is a practice I’m falling more and more in love with. I have this dream of being able to throw really giant pots and decorate them with my illustrations. Working with clay has been a great learning curve in relaxing my art in general. To become more ok with imperfections and embrace the chaos of the kiln. I’ve also been intrigued by puppets since I was a kid and started making some ceramic ones last year, but at the moment this is a project on the back-burner until I find some people to do shows with. Honestly, I’m interested in most art practices and often get obsessed with teaching myself new mediums until I go back to illustrating for a bit.

Where can TSR readers find your forthcoming works and projects?

I haven’t been very active outside of the social media bubble in a while, like exhibitions or collaborations, and I’m a bit rubbish at posting regularly on Instagram but that’s the best place to find some of the things I’m up to. @ickyickleston :)