Interview: Illustrator Arley Byrne

Interview: Illustrator Arley Byrne

Halifax based illustrator, Arley Byrne, talks to us about his love for the nostalgia around football and how he annoyed a lot of Man United fans by drawing Fergie in a Man City shirt.

There’s a lot of illustration with football and the culture that surrounds it  at its heart, these days. Lots of varied styles all with something to say about either their favourite player or looking to record that memorable moment.

One of those such illustrators is 25 year old Arley Byrne. Not afraid to cut through the noise with his approach, Arley is one of those illustrators that you can’t help but view his work and raise a smile.

We caught up with the man to find out a little bit more about him and what’s behind his work.

[B2B] So, Arley – whereabouts are you from?

[AB] I’m from Halifax, the pride of West Yorkshire.

[B2B] We can’t talk to you and not ask about who you support?…

[AB] I'm a Yorkshire Scouser - you know, one of those fans that shouldn't support a team 'cos you're not "from round 'ere".

My dad took me to a couple of games when I was a kid. The minute I saw Robbie Fowler, tight black curls, plaster on the beak & blackout boots I was hooked. Funnily enough I took an even bigger liking to loveable giant Emile Heskey.

I've always been football mad though, I'll watch anything & I'll wear any shirt (as long as they're not another English side - although I've been tempted by Arsenal's lovely back catalogue at times!)

[B2B] How long have you been illustrating for now?

[AB] I started last year just before the World Cup. My Laptop is falling apart & I was given an old Wacom drawing pad for free but it's all good.

[B2B] Where do you get your inspiration from ahead of starting a new piece?

[AB] I've always been interested in the aesthetic side of Football - kits, boots, obscure strikers, fan culture & colours. Illustration just seemed the best way for me to express & create something to fuel my obsession. 

Nostalgia is something we all feel fondly of when talking about Football and this is something that drives my work.

There are also some highly talented people within the small corner of Football culture Social media at the moment & their work also inspires me - whether this is print, illustration, articles or clothing.

[B2B] What is it that you love so much about illustrating footballers?

[AB] It has to be the Nostalgia. 

I recently drew Edgar Davids & I was smiling the whole way through. Sad, I know, but Edgar Davids, 'init.

There's always something to create - there's virtually a game on every evening now & I'm sure we have all noticed some of the reactive work from illustrators (Cc: Reuben Dangoor) & the conversations it can lead to (mostly positive - although I did get SLAUGHTERED for drawing Fergie in a MCFC shirt). 

[B2B] Do you have a favourite piece of work to date?

[AB] I'll have to say Eric Cantona having a swift pint in Altrincham's finest bar Libero. That seemed to be the illustration that opened a few more doors for me. It's bittersweet really being a Liverpool fan. Denis Irwin even had a picture with a framed copy - Nice guy but I don't think he really gave a shit about the drawing to be honest.



[B2B] Have you a particular piece of work that has gone a bit crazy across social media?

[AB] The Fergie/Man City shirt rattled a few cages & so did the Moise Kean/Juve image.

I think the image I created of Sterling following his hat-trick against the Czech Republic gained the most positive reaction.

He's been a fantastic role model both on & off the pitch this season.

[AB] The guys over at Libero are launching a couple of their own IPA's to commemorate 20 years of United's treble & City's promotion - I have designed the badges for the beers so that should come to light over the next few weeks.

I had a couple of T shirts launched with the good people at Art of Football a few weeks ago too so keeping grounded with that.

Other than that I'm hoping to get stuck into some Women's World Cup themed illustrations when I get the time - I also juggle my illustration work alongside a full time job in the world famous NHS.

[B2B] Do you have a dream project that you have your sights on?

[AB] I've never really thought of this! Every time something new comes through I consider it a dream because I never thought I would be lucky enough to push my work anywhere to be honest! If Robbie Fowler ever contacted me to produce an A2 portrait of him, tight black curls, plaster on the beak... then yes, I suppose I may then have peaked.

[B2B] Consider that dream project commissioned!

You can view more and purchase some of Arley’s work here.

Images: Copyright Arley Bryne
Instagram: @_yelradoodles



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