AOI Interview with William Grill

William Grill graduated with a BA (Hons) at University College Falmouth and published his debut book, Shackleton’s Journey, with Flying Eye Books in 2014. Grill’s main interest lies in narrative illustration where he uses the natural world to inspire his artwork. His use of coloured pencils, layers of shading and work in relief printmaking all contribute towards the evocative and atmospheric illustrations that are so unique to his style. In 2014 Grill won the AOI (Association of Illustration) Illustration Award for New Talent. His book was also a winner of The New York Times Best Illustrated Books, 2014.

How would you describe your work in 4 words?

Hand drawn, colourful, naïve, cheerful.

What challenges do you face in your practice and how do you overcome these bumps? 

Drawings not looking as good as I’d like and running out of ideas. The best solution to both is to get an outside opinion, and to literally get outside and do something active. Problems are easier to fix after a break, other people can spot things you miss and ideas usually come when you’re not forcing it.

Which practitioners do you admire the most or have influenced you in your career?

Saul Steinberg, Lorenzo Mattotti, Edward Bawden and Raymond Briggs.

What are the biggest differences in creating comics for adults than for children?

I suppose with children’s books there are more limitations on content, however when I make books I don’t really have an audience in mind. You see adults are picking up children’s books for their own pleasure now so I think the gap might be closing a little.

What do you consider has been the key to your prolific career?

Luck! Apart from that, being focused on what I want to make and working in sketchbooks (almost) everyday.

Then there’s the non-creative side of things – pricing, agreements, accounts, rights, business. What advice do you give to Illustrators to keep on top of these trickier bits?

Never decide on a price straight away, always tell the client you will get back to them with your fee later. I joined the AOI when I graduated and that helped with pricing and agreements etc, after that I was lucky to get an agent. Talking to other illustrators a little further down the road should help too. You learn as you go along though and unfortunately people do take advantage of that!

Which do you consider to be your most exciting project to date and why?

Making ‘The Wolves of Currumpaw’ with Flying Eye Books as it was a dream project for me, it’s amazing when your allowed to immerse yourself in something you love. I traveled around New Mexico for a month, camping out each night, drawing wolves and landscapes.

What’s next in the pipeline?

A third book with Flying Eye Books, subject matter TBC! Currently on the lookout for something that will compliment the previous two books, hopefully something set in the jungle!

What is the future of illustration?

I do hope print doesn’t die but I see animation becoming bigger and bigger as time goes on.


12th September 2017
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