David Shrigley was born in 1968 in Macclesfield (UK) and currently lives and works in Brighton. After studying Art and Design at Leicester Polytechnic in 1987, he moved to Glasgow to study Environmental Art at the Glasgow School of Art until 1991. His studies in Glasgow highlighted the importance of context in public art, so Shrigley's early work revealed with astute commentary, the bad examples in our urban environment.
David Shrigley's art is tainted with a black, acidic humor that highlights the absurdity of our everyday fears and problems. Shrigley is a multidisciplinary artist. His work consists of sculptures, videos, "public interventions", photography, and books. However, he is best known for his drawings, which, with their deliberate crudeness and childishness, and often wrapped in darkly comic observations about adult life, are instantly identifiable as his own. With doodles, uneven lettering and bizarre, sometimes nonsensical messages, his work exudes an unhinged joy that is addictive. He celebrates the mundanity of the everyday, focusing on creating something refreshingly familiar. As well as being exhibited in art galleries, his drawings appear in a variety of more commercial formats such as magazines, T-shirts, album covers or greeting cards.
Shrigley has his own point of view and is not afraid to show it with conviction. He works loosely and improvisationally: "It's not the kind of drawing where you're trying to get the eyes in the right place, you're just trying to tell someone something in the most direct way possible," he explains. "My work is halfway between calligraphy and drawing. But there are also certain rules to what I do, like I don't allow myself to redraw or anything like that, and it just is what it is." His work laughs at life cheekily and disguised as humor; a style that has worldwide recognition. Words play an important role in Shrigley's work. He is interested in how text and image are interpreted together, especially when combined in witty or conflicting ways. Works that satirize the conventions of the contemporary art world, of which Shrigley is well aware he is a part.
Shrigley's wry humor extends to his sculptural works, in which he has even worked with taxidermy. In I'm Dead (2010), a stuffed dog stands on its hind legs holding a sign declaring that it is dead. The artist is interested in the use of signs and public notices as a way of disconcerting the viewer. Despite the comical nature of many of his works, they are often backed by a darker subject matter. Shrigley may be poking fun at the way museums display stuffed animals as if they were alive, or perhaps referring to protesters carrying placards as a way of publicly displaying messages of discontent. Like many of Shrigley's works, at its core it poses a simple and surprising moral conundrum: whether or not should we laugh at death.
In 2003 he directed the music video for the famous band Blur for their album "Good Song", and in 2007 he made a collaborative album titled "Worried Noodles", in which he worked with several musicians to interpret his texts as lyrics. Shrigley also began regularly contributing vignettes to The Guardian in 2005.
Between 2012 and 2014, he produced mostly black-and-white drawings of his trademark cartoonish characters and snippets of writing. In 2013, a retrospective was dedicated to him at the Hayward Gallery in London and in the same year he was nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize. In 2016, he was commissioned to install the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square in the form of a monumental bronze sculpture raising a disproportionately large thumb, in keeping with the spirit of his deadpan humor. In 2015, color again took over his drawings, until the present day.
From 2015 to 2018, Shrigley's exhibition Lose Your Mind, organized by the British Council, traveled to six countries and showcased works in a variety of media, including ceramics and mixed media sculptural installations and found object pieces. Other notable solo exhibitions include Do Not Touch the Worms at Copenhagen Contemporary, Denmark (2020); Exhibition of Inflatable Swan Things at Spritmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden (2018) and David Shrigley: Life and Life Drawing at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia (2014).
In January 2020 he was awarded the decoration of Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire or OBE.