Joseph Furlong, the artist behind the nickname Joefur, is a prime example of a surreal cartoonist. An impressive creative guy of the British art scene, Joefur’s spotlight was lit well for his freehand line art skills and active participation in Live Art performances. His involvement in Minesweeper Collective as co-director turned him into a visionary artist. With undeniable love for the art, Joefur is the type of artist who knows what style he wants, does what it takes to get it, and quickly outdo it.
What makes you busy now?
The Minesweeper project in Deptford which I co-founded and co-run with the collective. It’s a renovated war boat made of a crew that met while we were exhibiting in Squatland and doing other projects. It’s a 1950s ex-military boat that we renovated and turned into a screen printing studio in 2012. We host workshops and open access Art-Lab meet up for artists to come to. We run gallery events in our space the Undercurrents Gallery at The Birds Nest in Deptford, SE London. It’s a lot of non-creative work though, but our crew is sound and we are doing good things. It’s a community-based project which has taken many forms in the past. Other than that, I draw designs for bands and DJs mainly in London, Brighton, and Bristol. I also organise exhibitions with Minesweeper and new group gallery project ‘Reshape’. I have written a story for a graphic novel which I am trying to complete to little avail. I try to spend a lot of time with friends and family. I’m generally out at weekends.
What is your idea of a great art?
Something which is timeless, pure expression, and wasn’t made to order. Art and design are very different things which I notice gets very blurred in way people see creative things nowadays with social media; it’s all kind of lumped into one. But, it’s great that people who are isolated from art scenes can see it and get inspired (even though it’s a nightmare to run when you are the one uploading the work!)
How long have you been doing your craft, and how did you start doing them?
I’ve been drawing a lot since I was a young kid and can’t remember not having it as an option to do with my time. People in primary school said I was good so I kept doing it. I remember wanting to be a cartoon animator but that died a bit when the animation I saw switched to computerised characters because I didn’t understand it! I got into surreal drawing at about 17 and have been focused on progressing that ever since. I can self-organise, produce, and progress it without having to rely on anyone else basically. It’s very honest because it reflects you. If you are working hard it exists, and you’re proud of it. If not, it doesn’t and it’s lazy-looking and pisses you off to look at. For me, it’s a bit of a mission that keeps me out of trouble and makes me and others happy. So I’m glad I practised so much at a young age. I make a modest living (combined with very cheap living). I didn’t study art but I’m considering studying animation perhaps in the future.
How would you describe your style and technique in illustration?
Open to interpretation. I’m trying to hit a middle ground between surrealism and realism with my cartoon style and have as much fun as possible doing it. I wanted to develop my own style. People can tell when it’s me nowadays, which makes it worthwhile. I admit, I’m not too good at defining my work or why I do it, but find it very interesting when others do and say all different things.
What’s your goal as an artist?
Be socially relevant and enjoy it until I die without letting it make me a bitter twisted freak who no one wants to talk to for very long.
What will you give up for world peace?
With different things going on, what else do you want to learn and how do you want your art style to grow?
I want to learn to master 5D virtual reality art exhibition curation when it comes around. I want to learn to start this graphic novel too, and manage my time better. I want to keep and develop the same style, but put it into different formats and stay as current with technology as possible.
Let’s talk about your secret walls experience. How was it?
Loads of fun and I’m very happy to be involved! I’ve always gone to see it and had ambitions to enter. It’s a great way to meet other artists. Even though it is competitive in structure, everyone’s in it together. It’s intense though—90 minutes isn’t long!
Your favorite british moment
That time when Lord Fauntleroy tripped over the hedgehog on the furrow and dropped his crumpet into his tea.
Your favorite drink to celebrate an occasion
Guinness or Rum. I got pretty into Mezcal in Mexico though, so that would be up there but hard to find here.
Three countries you want to visit for leisure and art inspiration
I want to go to Iceland, Colombia, Brazil, China, and Japan in the next 5 years to paint murals and do art shows.
How would you describe the art movement in united kingdom?
I’m no art historian sadly, but I don’t see an art movement in UK at this time. To be honest, I think I am focussing on the social benefits of art when I look at it objectively. It’s very powerful at connecting with people you don’t know, and defining certain moments in time, as well as potentially blowing intellectual’s minds in galleries. I see lots of individual artists trying to make their way inside a predetermined construct on how work should be exhibited. There will always be people debating contemporary art and its relevance in art history, which is great for humanity but makes some very talented people feel that what they are doing is somewhat worthless at the same time. The Street Art movement has had an all-inclusive nature which I liked a lot. I think there has been a great push to promote collective work, and I think that a real push to create active networks run by artists themselves would be a great step to create a relevant movement for the future. I don’t want to complain too much though because art by nature is confusing, but it needs balls as well as skill to be important I think.
See more works from Joefur: