Discovering Paul Revie’s Etsy shop, paulofnavarone, was a special moment in time. I’ve tried explaining the appeal of his artwork to friends and strangers alike, and each time I’ve been greeted with the same blank expressions. Upon seeing his work, however, every single person has been as tickled as I was. This is the handmade equivalent of an “I guess you had to be there” moment — a stroke of genius, impossible to explain without losing its magic, that can only be experienced with your own eyes.
The inner workings of dangerous animals, silhouettes on what his mother was, and the floating texts of a larger, never to be completed epic… this is not something one should ever attempt to portray with words alone. Turning instead to artistic rendering, Paul’s works are comprised of vinyl on glass with vintage maps, illustrations or collages behind. The exciting part is that, while each piece is replicable, the limited edition backgrounds make them individual.
Tell us a wee bit about yourself.
Hi, I’m Paul, I’m 33 and I’m a Glasgow designer/maker. I like to make dark, silly or bizarre little works. I went to Glasgow School of Art and I’ve worked as an industrial engraver and signwriter for 9 years. Now I’m trying to get back to designing and making things for fun.
How did you begin your foray into the world of creating art?
I was always drawing. My cousin and I would scribble these large, rambling, mountainside forts dotted with machine gun posts and speared heads, stick men, bombers and gunboats. Early on it was already looking like an army career or an artistic one.
Educate us on your artistic methods: What’s the physical process like and why do you love it?
Pieces usually evolve out of dreamt-up little stories or predicaments. If I’m making a box frame then the physical process is similar to screenprinting, only without the paint. Instead it’s effectively the stencil that’s the finished piece; the image is cut in micro-thin vinyl and the negative of the image is peeled away, or “weeded.” What is left gets adhered to glass and put in front of vintage maps, illustrations or collages. It can be quite cathartic and relaxing, like any handmade process, but it can also be persnickety and soul destroying if you make a big mistake.
The box frames are made in quite an industrial way. I’m an engraver as well as a signwriter, as the two industries usually go hand in hand. Engraving machines are perfect for making little things. Everyone should have one.
What inspires you?
Short stories. The amazing Ogdred Weary (a.k.a. Edward Gorey). Anybody who can paint, because I can’t paint for toffee.
What’s the deal with your self-published newspaper, The Bungo Torch?
I used to work for a small Southside newspaper, where I drew the cartoon strip. At the time they still did the final layout by physically cutting and pasting the assembled articles. They had all the desktop publishing software, of course, but they only used it to a point and then did it the old fashioned way. They would sit around trying to jigsaw everything in and see which looked best. A nice touch, I think.
By making my own underground newspaper and making up all the news I can control everything! As the sole employee I have quickly risen to editor in only a few short years — that’s almost unheard of in the news game. I do everything, from the horoscopes to the adverts to the main story. I print it all out on a black and white laser printer. The house reeks of toner. Then I assemble all the pages, staple it on a saddle stapler and fold it. There is a pile of 600 sitting in the bedroom driving my girlfriend nuts. Anybody can send off for the offers or the products, it’s all real. I give away the latest issue with each sale. I have not yet received a Pulitzer; I can only assume there has been an oversight.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Not much. How embarrassing. You’ve uncovered a glaring void. I think I’ll need to get out more.
What does an average day in the life of paulofnavarone entail?
I get up at 9:15. Eat a lot of toast and tea. Then I make stuff for a shop or little exhibition or Etsy or whatever is happening next, with background sound from movies like The Odd Couple, The Big Lebowski, old Humphrey Bogart films, maybe something French. Check the bank account. Cry. When the lady of the house gets back in around 7 we have dinner. She works as an art therapist — an amazing job. More TV, though more like endless Frasier. For her there’s something comforting about watching the same stuff over and over. Maybe some more making. Bedtime varies.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Hmm. Sorry, Amity, it’s not handmade. (Hand painted, maybe, but I do cherish it most.) It’s an old porcelain Japanese fish with a wide mouth for holding soap. It was my granny’s. She was a compulsive clean freak with a big heart. It is the perfect mix of quirkiness, beauty and memory wrapped up in an object.
Do you have any advice for artists starting out in their career?
I would say if you use a process that involves machinery or equipment, try to own those as soon as possible rather than renting, outsourcing or borrowing. The more you can make everything in-house, the better. This keeps everything under your own control, which is important for your own growing confidence and the quality of the product. Save a lot of money when you can because there’ll be large lean periods.
An artist or designer also leads a more seamless life than other jobs; it is very rarely a 9 to 5. This can be a burden and a blessing. If you are struggling with the blurred edges, analyse what time of day you function at best and exploit it, be it 3 a.m. when everyone’s in bed and the birds are just starting to tweet or at bright midday when everything is underway. And finish things well. The end is important in all things.
Name your top 5 Etsy sellers…
Many thanks to Paul for taking part! Check out his wonderful work in the Seller’s Items below.