Peter Strain

Freelance Illustrator.

What was your key motivation in becoming an illustrator?

I’ve always drawn and had a desire to create images but my main motivation was to make work that represented something. The thing I love about illustration is the potential to work on a variety of different subject matter – the possibility to interpret current news stories, cultural matters, political issues, film or music. Each new piece of work presents a new challenge.


What was your first break as an illustrator?

It would have to be when I won the AOI Critics Choice award in 2011. The piece was called ‘Trying to Poke a Hole in the World’ and I began working on it once I left University as a part of a series of self initiated projects. These focused on trying to experiment with different drawing techniques and typography in an effort to create a style that was more unique to me.

Having someone like Bonnie Greer select my work gave me such self confidence in my ability – not only to create illustrations but to make work that could resonate with people on deeper levels.

How do you feel being part of an agent as a freelance illustrator has helped with your work to date?

It’s great to have the support of an agent promoting & protecting your work and has allowed me to work with numerous clients I potentially may never have worked with otherwise.

I think that having a little buffer between the illustrator and the client is a brilliant thing as well. It means that potentially awkward issues regarding fees, licenses etc are dealt with by them leaving the client & illustrator to simply discuss everything on the creative side.

Shaun of the dead

What importance do you put on your own personal body of work and how does this influence your commissioned work?

The personal work and experimentation is really important. The self generated work allows you to refine your style and try to hopefully create your own unique visual & voice.

Commissions can sometimes have a rigid structure so having self directed work keeps you excited and allows you to explore certain compositions, tones and themes without restrictions. I’ve found that the experiments I’ve made within my personal work are more often than not the elements that clients pick up upon and enjoy most.

The Jealous Man

You are renowned for your image and text relationship within your work, but which piece of work have you completed which you feel says the most about you as a person?

I have a fairly new piece of personal work called ‘Pretend.’ It’s all about the kind of things you try to be when your are late teens/early adult – making mistakes while trying to find your feet, dealing with varying levels of confidence and the excitement & confusion of major decisions.

Time to Pretend

When a commissioner contacts you with a piece of work, what are the first three stages you take?

Um for a more open job I initially research into the main themes of the brief from pulling things online or going to the library – just trying to get a moment of inspiration. I’ll sometimes refer back to some of my more experimental work to see if there are any good unused ideas or visual metaphors that might be useful for the new job.

If I have the time I work on other things or watch movies while having the brief in the back of my mind allowing these new influences seep in to help mould the new ideas. Once I’ve settled on a few ideas I try to check around to see if anything too similar has been done before before I continue.

The next stage would be creating roughs using very simple sketches and collage to try find the right composition for myself and then fix these up to make them presentable to the client.

7th March 2014

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