University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Artist Focus: Eden Clifton

We know the last few months have been weird to say the least, but despite the uncertainty of the world at the moment, here at Artist Focus we want to use our platform to create a space where up and coming artists can talk about their art, their obsessions, and everything in between. For the first Artist Focus article of this year, I wanted to select an artist whose work reflected the vibrancy and colourful vibes of Brighton, and who better to do this than Eden Clifton? 

Eden, a creative and illustrator studying at Brighton University loves to draw on any surface she can find. From dishes, to tote-bags and even earrings, Eden is constantly transforming objects into art. Her style, which can only be described as explosively colourful often features lively characters that play with geometry. For this feature, I chatted to her about her childhood, her sources of inspiration and her artistic trajectory.

When did you start drawing? 

I started drawing when I was around four years old. According to my mum, I was always a tortured artist. She would often find me ripping out all my sketch books and creating a paper ball pile on the floor, which I still do now.

I would draw little animals with huge personalities. The first drawing I remember was a sheep in a hat and some dapper glasses, which I even made into a t-shirt. I was around age ten, hilarious.

When did you know you wanted to do this for a living?

My whole life I have always been drawn (excuse the pun) to anything hands-on and creative. During my teens, my behaviour wasn’t great, and I struggled a lot at school as I had no passion or drive for my classes. One day, my mum grounded me, took away my phone and handed me a decoupage kit. I never went back to that behaviour again, which made my parents realise that I needed to pour my energy into art.

I then decided to apply for Fine Art at GCSE and at College I studied Photography, Fine Art and Textiles. It was very intense and it took a lot of work, and often it made me feel like everything I was producing wasn’t really my style. Eventually I applied to an Art foundation course in Brighton, where my tutor guided me and told me I should go down the illustration route. I never had considered that, but I realised straight away this was the work I was creating in my personal time anyway. 

I have always been drawn to art therapy which is something I am still considering studying after University. However, over the summer I quit my part-time job and started selling all my work online, which has done better than I could ever imagined. So, I think over the past few months, I’m steering more towards doing illustration as a fulltime job, as I’m getting daily feedback which has really boosted my confidence! 

How do you gather inspiration for new pieces?

Mostly, I try to stay away from being inspired too much on other people’s work, as this can subconsciously lead me into creating similar things. Instead, I gather inspiration from nature, experiences, thoughts and the nightly vivid dreams I have. But mostly it’s how I am feeling that day or what I want to feel like.

A lot of your artwork features human figures, is there a specific reason for this?

I think about this a lot, and I think the majority of my pieces are almost like my alter ego. Each character in my drawings has something that resonates with myself or with someone I know or love.

How did you manage to find your niche illustration style?

This has taken me many years of exploration. I started by drawing people with enhanced facial features, and I just went from there. Today I’m quite happy with my own visual language, which I would describe as simple but fun. I’ve also made peace with the idea that my style can be as divisive as Marmite: some people find the eyes too scary! 

You work in a variety of formats (ceramics, jewellery, prints), does your creative process change depending on the medium?

My designing process, which is mainly freehand, doesn’t necessarily change throughout the different mediums. The techniques, however, vary a lot. 

I often draw whatever comes to my mind –I think that my fingers have a mind of their own. Sometimes I will start with a sketch of a design, and I just change it up. Other times, I’ll have a late-night thought, a little poem, or a sentence in my head, and I turn it into a drawing. 

Have you got any upcoming projects that you’re looking forward to?

At the moment, I’ve been working on my earrings and my online shop, investing into new products with the money I’ve been making. I will also be starting ceramic throwing lessons soon, which is very exciting! 

My short-term plans would be getting my own studio, turning my illustration into a full-time job, and working on commissioned pieces. My long-term goal would be to open an art shop selling my own and showcasing other young creative’s work. That’s the dream.

What places in Brighton inspire you to create?

I live in the centre of Brighton town, so literally everywhere around me is inspiring. The people, the shops, the parks and the food! 

To see more of Eden’s work:

Website: https://edenclifton.com/

Instagram: @eden_clifton

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