As I strolled around the town total strangers were urging me not to miss out on the drawings in St Michael’s House.
Once you have seen the work of Will Hughes it is easy to understand what all the fuss was about and why the judges honoured him with first prize and the chance to stage his own exhibition this year.
Obviously the 23-year-old art graduate was pretty chuffed to have his work endorsed with such an accolade and he has been thrilled by the feedback he received.
“It was fantastic and I was really happy at the response to my drawings. Now my challenge is to produce a great body of work for this year’s festival. I want it to be special,” he said.
Will was brought up in Melbourne and went to school at Chellaston before heading off to Loughborough for an art foundation course and then Manchester Met for his degree.
Faced with a choice of getting a job as a designer or illustrator or trying his luck as an artist he chose the latter.
“I had two options and I preferred the second – as the instigator of my own work instead of working to a brief from someone else. I just decided I have to take the risk and go for it,” he said.
So now the young artist is working from a shared studio in Manchester on a series of drawings in his contemporary minimalist style in pencil.
His monochrome art is created with a mixture of shading and blending and clever use of the eraser.
In his teenage years he was influenced by drawings in Warhammer comics and the graffiti in films such as Wild Style and Beat Street.
“I used to spend hours drawing and was really into graffiti and contemporary illustration. I had an aptitude for it and it seemed the logical progression to study art.
“I am interested in the history of drawing as a medium and fascinated by its use as a form of communication.”
To give his work a truly contemporary edge Will is using YouTube images as his inspiration and he is currently working on a lunar series with drawings of an astronaut floating in space and of a rocket launch already underway.