Liverpool Sound City: Getintothis horses around with artist Gary McGarvey


His artwork is synonymous with the Liverpool culture and music scene in and around Liverpool, this week his pieces have been a part of the Screenadelica exhibition at the old Rapid Hardware store. Getintothis caught up with Gary ‘Horse’ McGarvey to find out what inspires him, how he became involved in the business and more importantly what’s on his jukebox.

Getintothis: Hey Gary, firstly introductions, you’re designs/posters are known throughout Liverpool give us a little insight into your background and how you got started?
Gary McGarvey: I’m from Donegal, moved to Liverpool seven years ago to study a HND in Warrington in graphic design and then carried onto John Moores to finish my studies.
While studying at John Moores, I worked in the Carling Academy and the Barfly and as part of the job meant meeting loads of bands and promoters so I decided it may be a good idea to take advantage of my situation and started replacing my course briefs with live briefs from promoters.
I had always wanted to get into music design, it just happened to work out very fortunate with the people I met that allowed me to.
When I finished the course I just carried on the same direction I was going, but then I could actually charge for my work and was able to make a living out of what I love doing. I share a studio with four DJs which is an interesting set up but when I do have to do a late night in there, it certainly keeps you awake! It also means that I have made contacts in the dance music world as well as the band scene.
Housed in the new Elevator Studios in Parliament street, there is a great creative buzz in there with design studios such as Burn Everything and Smiling Wolf based there too, as well as a whole hive of Liverpool bands.
Getintothis: Where do you draw your inspiration?
Gary McGarvey: Anything, everything and nothing. I do tend to come up with a lot of ideas when Im just about to go to sleep which often leads to sleep deprivation as i write my ideas down or do a quick sketch!
Things as simple as seeing a couple of colours together or something that happens in a day will inspire me.
I tend to start with one idea and then finish with something completely different, I don’t really plan the whole piece before I start, more just a collection of ideas that eventually work into one complete piece!
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Getintothis: Liverpool Sound City showcased your own exhibition – Screenadelica – tell us a little about that?
Gary McGarvey:: Screenadelica was a gig poster exhibition showcasing around 20 European artists and then up to 15 American artists in association with the Richard Goodall Gallery in Manchester.
Gig posters can often be neglected as an artform, events like this are to celebrate it and give artists a platform to show off their wares. The show will be open during the day, the four days of the festival so its definitely worth coming to town early if you are going to any Sound City shows and have a look.
Together with Sound City, we built up the exhibition in the space with the Shop Window Sessions which saw bands playing in the windows of Rapid every Saturday leading up to the exhibition.
I think it’s great that the space can be used for events like this rather than lying there closed and neglected!
This space will act as an installation too with a wallpaper design which I made using the names of the bands in black and white. This will be coloured in using markers and will grow over the weeks as the bands colour in a section each. We have some amazingly talented JMU students coming down to decorate the windows so the whole section of the building we are taking over will look great once we are ready to open.
Getintothis: Tell us about the creative process, do your designs relate to the music or do you sometimes work completely seperately? For example the haunting wood scene which you used for These New Puritans‘ gig seems to contrast their more industrial sound…
Gary McGarvey: When I get a job in, I usually have a listen to the band for a bit and then see what creative juices flow. I cant say I work in any conventional way at all, Im messy when I design. I get engrossed in what Im doing and hours will go by without realising while Im tinkering with how I want the poster to look. I working day usually consists of two stages for me, I start off in the studio from about 10 til 6 then head home and after I have a bite to eat, carry on working til about midnight – if im lucky!. I usually start jobs off great in the studio and finish them off best at home, always been the way!
For These New Puritans, when I started to listen to their music I got images of forests and almost war dances in the trees, the darkness of the music came through but I thought it had more to it than the industrial tag it had been given. I felt it had almost a deep rooted organic sound to it under the industrial sounds. I enjoy looking at all the different interpretations artists have of bands, people get different things from music.
Getintothis: Which artists (past and present) interest you? Is there anyone in Liverpool that excites you at present?
Gary McGarvey: I’m more interested in pieces of art/design rather than any particular artist really so thats a hard question for me to answer.
Effective Studio in Glasgow are turing out some great pieces at the minute, ‘I Love Dust’ have recently done some mega typographic pieces. In terms of older stuff – I have always been into Andy Warhol and Pop Art, Vaughan Olivers Type, Scott Hanson’s vintage look of his work. I have got into letterpress in a big way recently, I even bought an old press myself although I havent got around to setting it up as it gonna take up so much of my time once I get it going!
I love a lot of the work from Boxcar Press who also turn out some beautiful pieces using letterpress.
In Liverpool there are some great artists, Burns stuff is always great, I love the screen printed work by Tomo and I think Sean Wars has a great simplistic drawing which translates to posters so well.
Getintothis: Musically, who turns you on?
Gary McGarvey: Ever since working at the Barfly and Carling Academy for four years during university, I have seen far too many bland bands, more than any man should have to endure so I tend to become a music snob sometimes.

My favourite band is Acid Mothers Temple, I love noise music but my playlist can range anything from Tom Waits to Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Jaco Pastorius to Melvins, And So I Watch You From Afar to Can. Sunn O))) blew me away at the ATP Nightmare Before Christmas this year as did The Dirty Three.
Locally Mugstar, We came out like Tigers, Chrik, a.P.a.t.T, Monobrow all make me salivate!
The highlight of this years Sound City for me were The Phenomenal Handclap Band. They pure blew me away when I seen them in the Kazimier in March too. There were some other great bands playing, Holy Fuck, Errors, Blood Red Shoes, The Fall, LaFaro
Getintothis: You’re holding a celebrity dinner party, who are the first five guests (dead or alive) you post invites to?
Gary McGarvey: This has also stumped me, erm… Frank Zappa, Nick Cave, Audrey Tautou, John Cooper Clarke and the legend, Derek Davis.
Getintothis: Anything else to declare?
Gary McGarvey: I have a horrible fear of people brushing their teeth in front of me!
Stay tuned for your chance to win a selection of Gary McGarvey original prints featured in the Liverpool Sound City Screenadelica Exhibition. Meanwhile Gary’s prints will continue to be shown in coffee houses on Bold Street.