Who? Art School Disco.

Aim? To be a visual online platform where a group of professional illustrators share their personal work. From collage to photography, creative styles are covered detailing a new theme every week.

With the aim being a platform for expressive illustration to take shape, these six individual illustrators really do have a unique set of styles to illustrate across. Let’s say hello to Katie Allen, Ben Phe, Ed J Brown, Simon Abbott, Johnny Ace and Kieron LeVine.

Nicola Manuel: Hello guys and girl, what a rather spiffing website you have! How did Art School Disco form itself to what we can see today?

Art School Disco: We met at University, and just clicked-­‐ as friends and artistically. Although our styles can often be very different, we all felt that our work not only complemented each other but we inspired one another too. We also love to work bloody hard, Art’s what we wanna do! None of this has changed and it was from this, the DISCO was born.

Ben Phe
Ben Phe

NM: How did you manage to set up your own site and how did you overcome problems when faced with them as a group?

ASD:  We use the Art School Disco blog to showcase the way we inspire each other. We live all over the UK, and hardly meet up, so it’s our very own online source of inspiration and motivation. It’s like a visual conversation between 6 like-­‐minded friends.


NM: Being heard in today’s society could be ever so slightly tricky. What do you find is the best way for people to be taught about the lovely website that you’ve created?

ASD: We like chatting to other awesome creative’s on websites like twitter and tumblr. Social media is rather awesome – the more you pour into it, the more you get out of it. Hopefully our genuine enthusiasm and love for illustration comes across.

Simon Abbott
Simon Abbott

NM: What have been the pros and cons of working together as a collective?

ASD: Well the pros are numerous; from sharing work and ideas, to a source for inspiration, critique, and support. We also like to exhibit work together. Group exhibitions are dead fun, and we can share the cost and responsibilities. There really aren’t any cons; we have never had any outrageous clashes!

Simon: Pros – getting to meet up under the pretence of ‘ideas meetings’ and exhibitions and having a good booze and chin wag. Cons – post exhibition hangover.

NM: Revolution, Tea – time, Drum and Space. These themes really are quite random but clearly have a time meaning to them. How do you come up with the ideas for the themes and what is the time span on when you set the theme as to when the illustration needs to be completed?

ASD: We started the blog using themes as ‘jumping off’ points to inspire an image. Each theme can be interpreted in many ways-­‐ we can find newspaper articles about the theme, tell stories about it, anything. We all pitch in with theme suggestions. Recently we have started using the blog to play ‘illustration tag’. We’re pretty laid back about the time scale, as it’s a platform to play with images and let off creative steam!

Johnny Ace
Johnny Ace


NM: How do you overcome the prospect of a theme, which you may find a little tricky to illustrate? There must be a time where your brain just doesn’t quite know what to illustrate.

ASD:That just comes down to general creative block, we all have our own individual ways to loosen those juices, take a walk, doodle, watch a program.

Ed: I read somewhere once that holding your breath can help.

Simon: If all else fails, do a drawing then find a tenuous way to link it to the theme afterwards! Is that cheating?

Johnny: I sometimes find if I’m really stuck, searching the word with google image can throw up lots of obscure ideas. When the block gets really bad I have been known to flick the random article button on wikipedia until an idea presents itself.

Kieron: Fall back on my usual sources of inspiration and finding a way to include animals. Creatures are my muses!
Benphe: Picasso said, ‘good artist copy, great artist steal’ so I tend to go on tumblr or pinterest and steal some ideas. I’m not saying Picasso thinks I’m a great artist, just that I steal ideas and think its ok.

Katie: I tend to look at some of my reference books, browse some flickr and tumblr, and have a chat to some of the ASD boys.

Kieron LeVine
Kieron LeVine


NM: If you weren’t all illustrating for Art School Disco, what would you be doing?

ASD: Illustrating as a part of Art School Disco really is just a part time thing so on an individual level we all have other things we get on with, jobs, girlfriends, husbands, highs, lows and plenty of rum.

Simon: I know I wouldn’t do half as much personal illustration if it wasn’t for ASD, the exhibitions and weekly themes always keep me drawing and smiling. I’d probably be in an office working through spreadsheets, banging my head on the desk in frustration.

Ed: I’m not really good at anything else and that does worry me! If I wasn’t trying to do something creative I guess I could see myself teaching.

Johnny: If I wasn’t illustrating with ASD I would probably still be working for the FBI. I’m much happier with ASD wanting to know more about what people put on their heads, faces or bodies historically and now.

Kieron: Pretty much what I do now – make hats, casually research headdresses and scrape cash together to buy unusual jewellery/adornments/curiosities. Basically just want to know more about what people put on their heads, faces or bodies historically and now.

Katie: I’d be very sad and have no satisfying outlet for my silly pictures

NM: Working as a collective there can be many different roles from the thinker, to the designer to the illustrator. As you all apply yourselves as the illustrators who is the main thinker and designer of the group?

Katie: We all have our own niche skills that we apply to the collective. It’s why we work so well! It also depends on what’s going on in our personal lives, projects, and work life – our roles tend to be pretty fluid and pick up the slack when we need to.

Katie Allen & Ed Brown

Time for those quick round questions guys… If I were to say a word to you (as follows), you’d say which word in response?


Ed: Blog

Simon: Friends

Johnny: Mind

Kieron: Community

Ben: Friends

Katie: Mateys


Ed: Communication

Simon: Drawing

Johnny: Fun

Kieron: Vision

Ben: Release

Katie: Everywhere



Simon: Facebook

Johnny: Future

Kieron: Expanse

Ben: Reference

Katie: Sprawling


Ed: Yes

Simon: Casserole

Johnny: Potato

Kieron:  Flavour

Ben:  Mastication

Katie: Tea


Ed: Hopefully

Simon: Robots

Johnny: Chrome

Kieron:  Extinction

Ben:  Money

Katie: Flying

As a visual platform they really do produce work which is of high quality.

To have a peek at what these creatives are upto from time to time then check out their website and twitter account. It goes to show that a variety of styles really does sit alongside each other really well, showcasing a unique set of talent to the max.

Thank you Ed, Simon, Johnny, Kieron, Ben and Katie you lovely bunch!  


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