The Art of Iceberg

If you’ve already bought a copy, you’ll know Honest’s latest book, Paul Kavanagh’s joyful Iceberg, isn’t only full of searing, brilliant writing, but that it also includes illustrations – an Honest first. These linocut gems (and the wonderful cover) are all by London-based artist Alex Chilvers. We asked Alex about his work on Iceberg, the artists who inspire him, and just what is so special about Northern towns.

Did ideas for how to illustrate Iceberg come easily to you?
Alex Chilvers: The ideas for how to illustrate Iceberg came very easily to me. The book is very descriptive and creates lots of very interesting visuals to work from. In each of the three sections in the book, the main characters keep moving into different environments which evokes diverse emotions. This gave me lots of visuals to work from.

The images in Iceberg are linocuts – what is it about this printmaking method you like? How do you feel it aligns with Iceberg?
AC: I like the way that any printmaking method seems to really enhance an image. I like linocuts as you get a very bold image. They’re great for black and white images and you get that handmade effect which I thought would work well with the spontaneity of the book.

A lot of your work focuses on cities, city-dwellers. What do you find so appealing about such subjects?
AC: I like to capture little snapshots of people’s lives. Big cities can be so busy, I think some people don’t always realise their surroundings. I like to draw things that go unnoticed or express them in a different way. There’s so much going on in a city like London that there’s always something or someone interesting around the next corner.


Do you have much experience with dreary Northern towns?
AC: I grew up in Grimsby on the North East coast. I really like it when I read about Northern towns. Although they’re usually described as being dreary they are great places. I thought that Iceberg really captured the sense of the Northern town and Don and Phoebe’s escape was something I could really relate to.

Which artists are the most important influences on your work?
AC: I’ve been a huge fan of the artist and illustrator Aldous Eveleigh since he taught me life drawing at university. His work is great and always inspires me to do more drawing and see things differently.

More of Alex’s work can be found at his website. He comes with a hearty Honest recommendation.

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