First of all can you introduce yourself to our audience and explain a little about your background/ career to date?
My name is Glyn Dillon… I’ve had a pretty varied career so far. I started out at the age of seventeen, drawing comics… my first few jobs were for 2000AD, the weekly comic that featured Judge Dredd. I then worked for Deadline magazine, home to Tank Girl, before moving on to work for DC comics. After about seven years I moved to London in an attempt to get into the film business. I started out storyboarding for film and TV commercials, I had ambitions to be a director and did actually manage to direct a few small things, but I also got into the world of concept art for film, working at Jim Henson’s studios in Camden. This was over a period of about fifteen years and during that time I was also trying to get film projects off the ground. Frustrated by the difficulty in getting things green lit, I decided to go back to the medium of comics, knowing that if I just patiently got on with it, I could just crack on and get something finished. That turned out to be ‘The Nao of Brown’, my first graphic novel, which went on to win some awards and get translated into a few different languages. However the process of making it left us in quite a bit of debt, so I had to get back to properly paid film work in order to get things back on track. Timing-wise I got really lucky and ended up as Chief Concept Artist in the costume dept. on ‘The Force Awakens’, which then led on to becoming the Co-Costume Designer alongside Dave Crossman, on both ‘Rogue One’ and ‘Solo’, the two stand alone Star Wars movies.
My brother, Steve Dillon, unexpectedly died while I was working on Solo… This turned out to be a catalyst for me to change direction. I questioned where I was, what I wanted etc. and realised what I really wanted was to paint, to be an artist like I’d imagined I would be when I was fifteen or sixteen. But before I could really get going on that, the opportunity to design the latest incarnation of Batman came along and I felt there was no way I could turn that down.
Covid hit after we’d started filming, so I was able to paint in my spare time… I’ve now got about thirteen large oil paintings finished, they're all to do with the relationship I have with my brother, and the process of grieving that followed his loss. This Oct is the five year anniversary of his death, so I’m hoping to put together an exhibition of the work around that time.
How has your comic and visual arts background shaped how you approach design?
A lot of concept artists these days work digitally, I still very much like to draw with pencil and paper… just shitty photocopy paper, nothing precious. I guess that comes from years of working that way. I do colour things digitally because it’s just so much faster, and for film work, it’s so much to do with how quickly you can produce things. I do occasionally work entirely in the computer, but for the most part I prefer to start out drawing, old school with paper and pencil.
What’s your process when it comes to creating?
Usually a bit of procrastination, mixed with researching and absorbing information, then big solid bursts of working, with loud music on or podcasts.
What is your connection to TWC & how did you cross paths with the brand?
I was fortunate to meet Adam Cameron when I worked on the first Kingsman film. I was doing costume concepts for Arianne Phillips who’s been a good friend since the nineties, when she was costume designer on the Tank Girl movie. She introduced us at the launch party of the Kingsman clothing range, which of course was held on Saville Row. Me and Adam hit it off, and when I saw what he was working on with TWC, I got excited and I think it was me who introduced him to Jamie Hewlett who I knew would also like what they were doing.
When building the aesthetics of characters for film, how does British utility/military and vintage inform your creations?
Very much so, Star Wars costumes especially have always been influenced by the military and utility. John Mollo the original costume designer on the first two films was a military expert, writing several books on the subject. I think he was able to create a very authentic feel by using recognisably down to earth, simple pieces… which worked so well with, and balanced out in some way, the more fantastical elements of the films. My co-designer Dave Crossman is also a military expert and I like to think it meant we had a similar balance and aesthetic to the original Ralph Mcquarrie and John Mollo combination.
We definitely researched lots of military and vintage pieces… Costume for film, for me, has to feel completely authentic. I take it very much as a compliment when the cosplayers tweet me to ask where we bought certain uniforms or pieces from... Because they presume they’re 'real' items. To me that means we did a good job.
And similarly with the latest Bat suit, which I don’t think I can talk about right now because it’s not out yet, but I think it would be okay to say I wanted it to feel like every part of it was functional in some way. I really wanted it to feel real.
What drew you to select the pieces that you chose to wear from TWC’s collection?
I chose the Navy Ripstop Deck Jacket because it’s very practical, it’s a great option for our varied British climate, and it’s light so it makes for a great top layer. I love the fact it’s made by Mackintosh, so it’s obviously of a high quality
Who/ or what has had the biggest influence on your work?
My brother Steve Dillon has been such a big influence and it's been quite a process to work through just what that means over these last five years, and where it leaves me, now that he’s gone.
I was six or seven when he started working professionally as a comic artist. I felt lucky to be living in the same house as a working artist that I could follow and learn from as I grew up. I learnt so much… Some bad habits too, but mostly it was him that introduced me to all the good stuff.
One day he came home, it wasn’t my birthday or anything, but he gave me a few gifts that turned out to be very important… The first was the hardback book ‘How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way’, and the second, a copy of the Star Wars novelisation of the film, which had a bunch of pages in the middle, with full colour stills from the film. I’d never heard of Star Wars at that point, but I was completely bewitched by the cover and the images in the middle of the book. I pored over those pictures day and night. I didn’t read the book, just looked at the pictures.
So by the age of seven I knew I wanted to draw comics or make Star Wars films.
Later, in my early teens I discovered Fine Art and for a while I thought I’d go to art college, get a BA, then an MA and go on to be a painter. But I only got as far as doing a General Art and Design course locally, instead of going to sixth form. But I didn’t even manage to finish that because, again via my brother, I met Jamie Hewlett (of Tank Girl and Gorillaz fame)… And he was the other big influence on my life and career. He was a few years older than me but really welcoming and friendly, so I packed in the art course and moved down to sunny Worthing on the south coast, where Jamie and Alan Martin (writer of Tank Girl) lived as well as a big group of like minded art student types… and we’ve been friends ever since, sharing flats and studio spaces along the way. He was very successful from quite a young age really… Being able to watch him go through all that meant I learnt loads. And of course I’m still learning all the time.
What do you feel creates great style for men?
I think it’s probably authenticity. “Great style for men…” could almost be any items of clothing… I’d say it’s mostly not really about the clothes, it’s much more about the person wearing them. If they really know who they are, and they’re comfortable within themselves, it’s that authenticity that makes whatever it is they’re wearing - 'great style'.
Do you have an ultimate/favourite item of clothing that you own?
This is a bit of a sore point. I had a 1940s dead stock council workers jacket, navy, which had the letters L.B.T.H stitched in red on the pocket, which stood for London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Each pocket had a little flash of yellow reinforced stitching, which was a detail I used over and over on everything in ‘Rogue One’. Sadly I left it on the luggage rack of a train, on the way up to see Alan who now lives in Berwick Upon Tweed. I tried the 'lost and found' but to no avail. Still gutted about that, cos I rarely lose things.
What would be your pick for one desert island album?
This is an impossible question. Choosing just one is ridiculously hard. But if I were forced, with a gun to my head, it would probably have to be David Bowie’s ‘Low’. Bowie looms large in our house, and our youngest got into him from a very early age, the greatest hits DVD was on constant rotation for several years. That’s calmed down a bit now. But I’ve always loved this album. It would have to be Bowie because it would very much remind me of my family and home... But this album in particular because it’s also when he looked the coolest… The Man Who Fell to Earth/Thin White Duke was the best of his haircuts.
Glyn's Book "The NAO of Brown"
Photography shot by Jonathan Pryce aka Garçon Jon.