Interview with Good Wives and Warriors

Good Wives and Warriors is the creative partnership of Becky Bolton and Louise Chappell, who met while studying at the Glasgow School of Art. Right now the creative duo is based in London but the young ladies have traveled the world to paint mandalas, collaborate with design companies, think about the cosmos, cover walls and furniture with paintings or simply exhibit their illustrations.

0smallcockrocket2.jpgsmalllcockrocket1.jpgCock- Rocket, Buenos Aires, August 2009

Their work has been features in countless magazines and books. Right now, you can see Good Wives and Warriors work their magic on tv ads and billboards glorifying gigantic bottles of vodka and next month they will participate to Glitch Fiction, a collective exhibition part of the Paris Design Week.

In the very unlikely case that these two find themselves idle, they’ll get busy making portray of the mysterious individuals who send them spam. Or answering interviews…

SMAlllaIMG_0398.jpgAbsolut Blank, July 2011

0smallllcckkkkperuperu.jpgbbbcuuuuuuuu6sco2.jpgCock-of-the-Rock’ (Rupicola Peruviana), Cusco, Peru, August 2008

osnallillustrationwww.jpgYoung Illustrator Award (Illustrative), Zurich, October 2008

The work of Good Wives and Warriors is identifiable and iconic. you have managed to developed a very strong, very personal style that doesn’t seem to be repetitive nor comfortable. Do you feel that this is only a strength and not a curse sometimes? For example, when clients expect you to stick to to what you are known for and you would rather feel like deviating and surprising them?

We feel very much that our practice is divided into commercial work and our art work. Clients rarely want a surprise or to take a risk. They will have asked us because they like our style and will probably want something very much in the mold of what we do, which is fine. This is why it’s really important for us to continue doing our own projects as we can make new and exciting work where we have total freedom and no restrictions.

leonareadoryourgay.jpgSpam Senders Volume 4, March 2010

lorriehymendestroy.jpgSpam Senders Volume 4, March 2010

GWaW is Becky Bolton and Louise Chappell. You seem to work very closely together but could someone who knows you well be capable of identifying who did what in a painting or an illustration? Like it would happen for example if either of you was more in charge of colours and the other of drawing the general outlines. Or do you work in such symbiosis that the end result is completely seamless even to you? How do you manage that?

When we first started working on our wall paintings together there were definitely separate areas or styles. We would have our own roles and you could probably tell the sections apart. Now we do work fairly seamlessly, and share the roles pretty evenly. We feel like GWAW is a separate entity rather than the work of two individuals. Sometimes looking back on work we’ve done and we have no idea who did which bit, especially if one of us did the original drawing and then the other did a re-draw.

Ideally we would always both work on the same drawing but that is not always possible. Our wall paintings however are always done together. Communication is the key to being able to work together well but we can second guess each other now, especially when we’re painting. We seem to instinctively know who is doing which bit, so I suppose it is a bit of a weird symbiotic relationship!

suenos_highres3.jpgMandala San Miguel, Casa de Suenos, SanMiguel de Allende,Mexico, December 2010

smallGWAW_bloombed_lowres.jpgHotel Bloom, Brussels, March 2008

What happened to the car you painted for the Rover Renaissance Experiment? Did somebody buy it? Is it still in use today?

It’s actually sitting outside our studio with a flat tire! It was done in collaboration with a Bulgarian designer called Valentin Vodev who was converting the engine to an electric one. It was his car and he’s left the country. We do see people taking photos of it so hopefully some people are still enjoying it being there! We’d like to be able to cut the roof off, fill it with earth and make a garden but I don’t know if we’d still be able to get a parking permit for it! 

0smlllus_car.jpg0SMLARover_car.jpgRover Renaissance, Sunbury Workshops Open Studios – London Design Week, September 2010

You are known for murals and illustrations, yet you also venture into the 3D world. Is that something you would like to do more and more in the future?

Yes, definitely! That’s the way forward for us, but we both find it quite difficult to work in 3D. Some people’s brains just don’t seem to work so well in 3D and we fall into that category! This always makes it a little hard when we are making a complicated structure, like the Bucky Ball or the geodesic dome. We love working on to a 3D shape but find the construction a challenge! I suppose that’s why it is good for us to make our work on 3D objects that already exist, like the car or the collaboration we did with Pirwi in Mexico, where we drew and painted directly onto the furniture that they had designed and made.

0smallllpirwiii.jpgWood Worm Holes & the Forest of Phloem, Limited edition furniture range with PIRWI, December 2010

Good Wives and Warriors is going to participate to the exhibition Glitch Fiction in Paris during the Design Week. You are going to show The Dimension Dome, “an installation inviting the audience to consider both the microcosm and the macrocosm.” What will it be like exactly? How will you communicate this experience to the public?
Is the Dome going to be the same as the one you exhibited at the Manchester Science Festival?

We will be showing the dome that we made for the Manchester Science Festival but we’ll be giving it a fresh coat of paint for Paris.

It is a geodesic dome made out of cardboard. The viewer can stand inside and be surrounded by our paintings which are intended to represent the universe! We like the idea of trying to visually represent that which cannot be represented, creating painted worlds inside worlds, multi-verses, black holes and trying to represent the ‘Theory of Everything’. It is this paradox between these incredible and often incomprehensible ideas, and us attempting to make a mini experience for people, which in its contradiction and implausibility takes on it’s own life. We want people to make the imaginative leap into the realm of theoretical Physics by being able to share the experience of attempting to visualize these mindboggling and eye opening theories. But we acknowledge that we are doing it in a pretty glib and visual manner, trying to make a work that is still beautiful and fun.

With the dome we are using imagery from the microcosm and the macrocosm, interpreting references from the subatomic level juxtaposed with elements from the largest scale on a Universal level. We are fusing these visuals, creating links and patterns, with ourselves being the middle point of the system, attempting to summarize the cosmos.

0SMALLdome1.jpgdome2_insidepink.jpgThe Dimension Dome at the Manchester Science Festival 2010. Images by: Yohanna Alkladiou

Do you have any advice to young designers who would like to be as successful as you are?

The secret is to not give up. We’ve been doing this for a good few years and it has only been recently that we feel we have had successes! Also, we always tried to get involved in as many shows as we could, mainly by organizing them ourselves, so we could be associated with and exhibit alongside with other artists that we admired. Saying ‘yes’ to things is the best way to go as you never know what opportunities will arise!

Thanks Becky and Louise!

If you’re in Paris, don’t miss Cosmos Retablos, part of Glitch Fiction, a collective exhibition curated by Nelly Ben-Hayoun.The show will be held at the Cité de la Mode et du Design during Paris Design Week, 12-18 Sept. 2011.