If you’ve been struggling to imagine what it would look like if a spaceship filled with alien plant life collided with a comic store and a paint factory, wonder no longer. Energetic and whimsical, illustrator Dominic Kesterton’s fantastical 2D universe of writhing patterns, psychedelic colors, digitally rendered forms, and abstract, geometric figures are both evocative and abstract in equal measure.
Kesterton originally began his studies at Edinburgh’s College of Art by painting, which accounts for the expressive marks that feature so prominently in his portfolio. But when he saw the kind of detailed patterns you can make with simple pen and paper, he swapped out his brushes for a more pared-back toolkit.
Now, three years after graduating, Kesterton works for clients in the illustration world, like publisher Nobrow and London’s South East Print Studio. Yet his abstract, snaking patterns are also well-suited for printing on fabric and clothing, and the young illustrator has also produced designs for the likes of Lazy Oaf, Converse, and Harvest Skateboards.
For his most recent Lazy Oaf project, a landscape twists and cracks like an ancient piece of pottery overgrown with tropical wildlife across an oversized shirt. The brief was, very simply, to draw something “FUN,” which stood for Fun, Ugly, but Nice. “I drew an abstract sprawl of the shapes and gestures that often come up in my work,” says Kesterton. “I love drawing stuff like that; it’s therapeutic.” This kind of catharsis applies to his zine projects, too, which he considers pure, “unfiltered slices of people’s minds, a sensible way to compile ideas.”
Kesterton’s most recent zine emerged from a need for some kind of mental outlet. “I was feeling sort of clogged up and wanted to push out a lot of these drawings,” he explains. The final publication, called Peeler, is published in South Korea by the small press, Corners. It’s a series of drawings laid out stream-of-consciousness-style: balls, bricks, apples, hands, and flowers meander through the Risograph-printed pages, toppling and colliding in a paper maze. Whether it’s personal wanderings in the form of a zine, or bold graphic prints for apparel, Kesterton’s use of line conveys mental energy and lucid thought processes.