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Interview with artist/designer Pete Bessent aka Purple Cactus

Matt Dunn sits down with with artist/designer Pete Bessent aka Purple Cactus for a GritFX Magazine interview…


First things first, can you share with the readers the secret origin of the name “Purple Cactus”? (I’m hoping it involves you being spiked by a radioactive cactus while on a college field trip).


Unfortunately it’s nowhere near as interesting as that, although I might start using that line at parties…

The real story behind the name is that there was a cool piece of graffiti, on a building very near my apartment when I lived in Berlin, that was a cactus with a sun behind it. It was in that apartment that I first started designing and when I needed to come up with a name for myself, this cactus popped into my head. My favourite colour is purple and the rest is history.


Well that’s the history of the name locked down, let’s talk about the history of the man behind it. How long have you been swimming in the murky waters of the art world, and what inspired you to dive into it in the first place?


I was a real late starter and for most of my life I didn’t think I had an artistic bone in my body. I couldn’t even draw a decent stick man and my painting skills were confined to the walls in my house and even then I always managed to get splashes on the windows. One day about 8 years ago I picked up a camera and discovered that I didn’t need to be able to draw to create art. Photography opened up a whole new world for me and I was soon editing my shots in photoshop, which then turned into photo manipulation. About 2 years ago I started playing with a program called Inkscape and found that with vectors I could endlessly fiddle around with lines and correct my multitude of mistakes. I haven’t looked back since. I still can’t draw or paint on real paper, my hands just don’t work that way but sit me infront of a computer and I can churn out stick men with the best of them!


As someone who spends every afternoon trying to wash all the ink/paint from under his fingernails I’m sometimes jealous of people who work in a purely digital platform.

So, let’s hit the “influences” road. What influences/inspires you in regards to the art you create yourself?


Ha ha! I was dreading this question. I am utterly rubbish at naming influences as far as the art world goes. I don’t spend a lot of time looking at art and when I do see something I like then that is about as far as it goes. I think to myself “ooh that’s groovy” and I might bookmark it if it’s online but that is as far as it goes. I do have many influences from the world of movies, cartoons and comics though. Basically anything sci-fi, fatasy or filled with zombies and I’m a fan. I adore retro styles, being a 70’s kid, I love that decade and the one before. Music is also a big part of my life and I couldn’t work without it. I guess that while I’m working I am influenced by what style of music I am listening to which could explain why I have so many unfinished designs that I can’t get back into working on. Maybe I need to start writing down what I was listening to when I started, so that I can get myself back in the right mood to carry on later.

Blimey O’Reiley I’ve just read that back and it’s dull as ditch water. You will have no readers left by the time I’ve finished…


That’s a good approach to have though. If an artist only ever looks to other artists for inspiration then they run the risk of their work relying too heavily on the same styles and themes. Music also plays a big part in my life so I’d be interested to hear about some of the music that does inspire you.

And after sharing those tidbits of information why don’t let you let the readers know what you’re currently working on.


I’m painting up a load of frames at the moment for a new line of framed mini prints and am looking into making wallets from upcycled comic books. I’m really excited about the wallets because they will be awesome if I can pull it off. I have another side to my personality and this comes out in my photography and I am in the planning stage of opening up another shop dedicated to this. I also want to start getting some of my huge list of design ideas created but I am going to need to invent some kind of time freeze ray so that there are enough hours in the day!

As far as long term plans go, I want to be able to make Purple Cactus into a viable business and make a comfortable living from it. I also want to do a wing suit flight but that is not particularly creative…


Sounds great. Let’s wrap up by covering all your online bases so people know where they can go to get their hands on your work.


Okey dokey…

Follow me on facebook to keep up to date with everything – https://www.facebook.com/purplecactusdesign
Etsy store (getting bigger every day) – http://www.etsy.com/shop/purplecactusdesign
Redbubble – http://www.redbubble.com/people/purplecactus/portfolio
Society6 – http://society6.com/purplecactus/prints

Matthew Dunn


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