Our final Q&A of the year is with the brilliant, A Guy Called Minty, where we have an in-depth chat about all things design, his inspirations and how hard work and a bit of luck got him to the place he is at today. Enjoy…
Evening Minty, how are you?
‘ello mate, all good thanks, can’t complain.
For those who may not know could you give us the background to A Guy Called Minty and your work to date?
An Artist with a unique style I suppose my works mainly concentrate on music, film and football (sub)culture, with other iconic sporting moments too.
Where did the name come from?
The ‘A guy called’ part was from the famous track – Voodoo ray – by a guy called Gerald. I thought the style of name was pretty cool. The Minty part came from back in about 2000, a friend set a hotmail address for me ‘mikiemint@‘ so could keep in contact an ex-girlfriend who moved to OZ. This was all pre-Facebook, Twitter and Instagram which seems a different world then. Anyway, boys in work caught wind of this email and started calling me minty… mint this mint that… it stuck. So, A Guy called Minty was born.
What inspires you?
Things that inspire me? A lot, I think. For my work there’s a lot of iconic images out there that I’ve scrolled through and saved, and photo snapped and just could not wait to start to work on. From classic film scenes to moments in a band’s career. You know, the split second moments caught on camera. Even a sporting moment, majority football but not always, those kinds of images. Music, music has got a lot to answer for in my work, from waking up on in the morning some form of music will be on. So, music is a big inspiration to just hearing it and getting me to work and start the day.
You have paved a very successful career out of your art – best job in the world?
Thanks, yeah, it’s got to be when it doesn’t feel like a job. Been in my own studio for over a year now so feels it’s more like a job if that makes sense. I dived into going self-employed on a wing and prayer, a bit of luck and hard work always help.
What’s the design you’re most proud of to date and why?
Probably the Adi Ladi, it took about half an hour to create, yet it’s a design that most of my followers relate to, especially the trainer collectors etc. It was the first vinyl figure to be produced and sell out too, so got a lot of love for the design.
Did you ever think your designs would lead to clothing and other merchandise?
I’ve been into clothing side of things growing up for a long time, from wearing Burberry down the city in the 90s after doing a flying visit to the factory in Treorchy or CP down the local. It was always around.
Went to art college in 96 doing an art foundation course for a year to get into uni and do graphic design degree. I ended up staying in college another year to do fashion and textiles, and a tutor (can’t remember) her name, thought my work was so heavily fashioned inspired that it was worth giving it another year on the F&T course. I did, it was a good decision! With influences from Issy Myake, Ralph Lauren, Vivian Westwood to name a few, my sketch books were riddled with their designs. With having Woodies shop on your doorstep that stocked the best brands, clothing was always part of my thinking anyway.
I finished the course, was all ready for uni, then the enrolled date was the same day as the boys were going to Tenerife for two weeks for a 21st. So, you can imagine which I chose ha…. (I’ve told that story a few times). 9 years later working in a bank and making a lot of lifelong friends, being made redundant got me back in the game… well the illustration anyway.
A GUY CALLED MINTY came about 2011 when I started introducing Tees, Sweatshirts and Polos with my own branding, and that was it. A few pieces here and there over the years has led to sporting it all with the New Side project “Mintropolis”. Again, going back to the merchandise side of AGCM it never ever started like that, I hand painted original casual Characters on 60cm x 40cm canvases originally. With the wife telling me “That will never sell” the pressure was on haha!
eBay was the main store and few sales and Facebook plugging it started picking up momentum, I quickly found the trend that just selling canvases was not the only option to make ends meet, pin badges were a big hit after painting the roses many times. Selling prints was good source of income along with the whole Manchester scene, then with a little help with the roses reforming it just took off.
How has COVID affected you and the brand?
I feared the worst to be honest, like everyone I else didn’t know what to expect. Especially when the government announced the furlough scheme…. (I couldn’t get furlough or any grants to be honest which is another story). It did a cross my mind a few times that money will be tight for everyone especially my loyal band of followers and would think twice about buying some new Merch from me.
Anything I sell is not essential just a trend, but with everybody in lockdown and homebound, my first thoughts/concerns couldn’t be further from the truth! Along with quick thinking from doing the NHS illustration with the superman logo, it just blew up. I’ve donated a lot of money over the years, when Sir Cap Tom Moore raised that incredible amount, a pin was a no brainer, raising over £10k for his JustGiving was pretty good. Then the key workers came along and blew up again and I couldn’t cope to be fair but wouldn’t admit it. As we were still in lockdown and sometimes you’ve got to take the work whilst it’s there.
As quick as the work was coming in it could just as quick STOP, so plugging away with quick illustrations in what was going on in the world was bring in new customers who never heard or seen my work before. Things like the Trump drinking bleach sketch, people relate and like to think most of the work I do is with a bit of humour too…
How have you been keeping busy and positive?
Work and my family will always keep me busy; I don’t like negativity. I don’t see no point in it all. If you’re a constant negative or a moaner about all things trivial in life, that more often than not you can’t control, then I’m getting a million miles away from you. So being positive in everyday life just makes things easier. Especially in the day and age we live with covid a constant in all our lives.
What interests do you have outside of AGCM?
It’s not all work here in Minty HQ, were quite an active family. Outside of work it’s just second nature to keep fit. Growing up playing 5 aside twice a week was the norm. Then I got entered to do a half marathon in 2009, first one out the way, I got the bug for it. A ton of half marathons later, one of the boys entered a full Ironman in Tenby 2018… So, while he was training me and a couple other boys joined in, and that was that. Triathlon mode, the bane of my life, and not a cheap sport either. I won’t bore you with the ins and outs, but even being a half decent runner, the training was another level, it’s a buzz.
Who are your favourite designers and why?
There isn’t just one. Again, can spend a fair few minutes exploring on Instagram hash tagging a certain artist or style or technique, which leads on to some amazing finds and talent out there, not all have the following they deserve, and some I think how on earth have they got that kind of following with that amount of engagement. I have a bit love/hate relationship for Instagram as the algorithm will always bewilder me, like everyone I suppose.
The engagement is huge on socials at the moment, posting the right image at the right time is a mystery, shadow banning and all the rest of it. I try to get in the loop with the ins and outs of the whole Instagram and how they police it etc. without paying through the nose for it.
So, to answer your question I haven’t got one artist that I’d say he/she’s the one, I get inspired by all kinds of work to be honest.
What advice can you give to anyone wanting to channel their creativity but unsure where to start?
This is a question I see in my DMs on Insta a lot, I will always take the time to answer if I can, all I can say with the social media world as it is at the moment, is there’s a lot of inspiration out there.
If you believe in something you’re passionate about, then go for it. If you’ve got a creative side get drawing pencil to paper, get ideas down, open an Insta account and start plugging. If you want to go digital and can afford to get an iPad Pro / Apple Pencil, then getting drawing, practising on PROCREATE – probably the best app out there. But don’t think it will do the drawing / artwork for you, a lot of practice and hours and hours spent has got me a style I have today, always looking to improve.
What life lessons have you learnt from running your own brand?
Never take anything for granted, ever! Especially with commissioned work. I’ve taken on a lot of commissions over the years, 100s and 100s, and about just as many are unpaid invoices…. (don’t worry I don’t start any commission until an invoice is paid.) People’s circumstances change & they no longer want the work done, which is absolutely fine. So, I never live to what I think is coming in (£). As I’ve had Barry Garry & Larry asking work here and there…
Like this blog, your work is inspired by fashion, film, music and sport – has any one of those provided you with the biggest inspiration for your work?
They all work together hand in hand so no one has inspired me, they’ve all helped creating the artist I am today. A journey if you like…
Favourite film, TV show and band of all time?
Gotta be Sopranos, Beatles, I go back to a lot of films from when I was growing up, again I couldn’t put one as a favourite.
Where’s the craziest place you have seen your work?
Romania, Indonesia & few times in Brazil too, mental…
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Coming up to the end of the year, the Vinyl figures have proved a success apart from the time they take to produce, hopefully there will be 2 new figures for 2022…
Finally, can you summarise AGCM in only 3 words…
NEVER GIVE UP.