July 9, 2015

In spite of what you may think, you’re not too old or too cool to have imaginary friends. Imaginary friends are better than real friends, when you think about it. They always find your jokes funny and look however you want them to. When was the last time you had a real friend with googly eyes and tentacles? And when was the last time an imaginary friend borrowed your last tenner and never paid it back?

The brilliantly-named Cosmic Nuggets is an illustrator-turned-sculptor based in rural Scotland, with something of a speciality in creatures of the imaginary kind. Working across a wide range of mediums, Mr Nuggets has been causing quite a stir with his fantastical beings that blend relatable and alien features to create something startling, beautiful and fun. We caught up with the Cosmic man himself, to find out more.

UO: Okay, let’s start at the top. Cosmic Nuggets. Where does the moniker come from, and why do you work under a pseudonym?

Cosmic Nuggets was invented as a channel to create and show the inner madness! I have always been into drawing aliens and sci-fi fantasy things but didn’t really feel like it was connected to me as a person, if that makes any sense. When I started to produce work as Cosmic Nuggets it felt much more intuitive and enjoyable. I enjoy that distance: I could be anyone or anything, which has allowed me a great freedom. I worked under my human name for so long that I started to feel a bit restrained- as if I couldn’t try new things because there was always an association with a real person.

UO: How did you become an artist?

I have always LOVED creating things. I remember being a crazy kid and just drawing a lot, playing with my Lego and Star Wars toys, making up my own adventure stories… If there was a tape player or recorder I would mess with them to create my own mix tapes and fantasy radio shows. I have always had a deep pleasure in creating “art”. Later on I had formal art college training, including a master’s degree in digital art. I really don’t think it was necessary for being an artist, although it definitely helps to justify what I’m doing. I started to find the whole “business” of art totally frustrating. This led to me going back to how I felt as a kid and just drawing fun, stupid things with googly eyes and tentacle arms. I find that way of working much more creative and I really feel like an artist again!

UO: Why are you drawn to making creatures?

I love the idea that we see faces in things, and if we do there is a sudden connection. If I see a log with two knots which look like eyes I can even imagine how its ‘human-like’ nature could be, and I’m constantly playing with faces on the weirdest creature shapes. I hope people can see my work and get a feeling from them, even if it’s just a laugh or quick smile.

UO: Do you imagine these beings as having a life outside of your work?

I think about that often! Yes, I imagine them all like that. I love the idea of creating a universe with many different species. Someone once asked me if I feel like a god of the creatures I create. I thought about that for a minute and then said, ‘No, I actually feel like they are gods!’ One day I would love to explore how I can get them all together and see them all interacting with one another, a hypothetical future project. Like Tamagotchi but way cooler and no feeding or death issues. Just to observe. Like the hologram chess game in Star Wars.

UO: You seem to create stuff in a whole lot of different mediums. Do you think that artists are sometimes too limited by sticking to one medium?

Definitely! I can’t understand any artist that always works with the same medium. I get that if you only work in one way that eventually you might become a master of that technique, but for me I just get an idea which could be a totally new technique, I then have to try and realise it! I find that endlessly challenging and fun. It’s also a great way to learn new things, which in turn also leads me to new ideas. It’s the only way I can work.

UO: What mediums are you most excited about working with at the moment? Are there any you’re hoping to try and work in?

At the moment I’m really excited about working with ceramics. I’ve been working with the Scottish Sculpture Workshop to try and learn how to create a series of slip cast sculptures. It’s been a challenge, but I’m slowly starting to get my head around the process. I love how natural it feels, essentially working with mud, I can’t get enough of that! Besides the ceramics stuff I dabbled with working with bronze,] which I hope to continue soon, and also just drawing on sticks and stones which I’ve found. I’ve been developing a series which involves painting on rocks to make them resemble these weird futuristic/pre-historic mobile phones.

UO: What do you do for inspiration?

I’m always inspired it seems. I think if am ever feeling low on inspiration I just have to ride my bike in nature, for some reason that makes my mind wander and start to consider new ideas- my work is based on nature in many ways. Besides that I’m very inspired by the work of other artists. My mind is constantly blown by the skill and imagination of artists around at the moment, there’s so many kickin’ it! I just have to spend an hour or so flicking through art blogs or have a look at Tumblr and I’m totally inspired.