What was your key motivation in becoming an illustrator?
I always had a knack for drawing, doodling and painting but somehow I knew I didn’t want to be a fine artist as I thought of them as something from the past; I was interested but didn’t consider it to be something people do anymore. Illustrators, however, seemed like real people making art that inhabits the world I lived in, my parents friend Jim was a designer so he knew illustrators working in London and told me that it was potentially something I could become.
What was your first break as an illustrator?
My first job was an advert for Lynx deodorant with BBH that showed guys caught in compromising situations by their doting girlfriends. I’d made a folio mostly of original work done directly onto photographic prints of textures and colours and I’d started scanning the drawings to reproduce them, which lead me to use Photoshop to layer them on the computer. I’d been taking this folio around the magazines and agencies for a while and surprisingly something about the irreverent humour and the fact that I was representative of the target audience meant they thought I’d be a good fit for the job, although I obviously needed supervision as they got me to work in house at the agency on it for about a month.
How do you maintain an ongoing stream of work?
I’ve reached the stage where the work comes to me through a mixture of repeat clients, word of mouth recommendations, Peepshows website, my online portfolio and my agent Bernstein and Andriulli. Sometimes a write up in an online site like ‘Its Nice That’ will send a flurry of work through, but I have a fairly constant stream of work and every job I do is also something that potential clients will see, so I have to make sure to always do the best work I can.
Buddies – Swamp Creature
What importance do you put on your own personal body of work and how does this influence your commissioned work?
It’s very important as it helps me keep the work my own and steers the direction of my commercial work. It helps maintain my interest and enjoyment in drawing and I also look on it as practice in the same way that you need to practice a musical instrument. For the last couple of years I’ve been building up to writing and drawing a graphic novel published by Nobrow that I’m currently half way through, which has meant that I had to retrain myself to draw so that I could maintain characters and story lines, which is a vey different approach to working on single images. It’s taken a lot of thought and practice to build up the chops to work on a lengthy book and also to write the story and dialogue and I’m glad that I waited until now to attempt it as all the pieces fell into place and I’ve really enjoyed doing it.
What do you find beneficial about working as part of Peepshow Collective?
Peepshow started as a group of friends and became a way to publicise and exhibit our work as a group and gradually it developed into a company and studio. There are financial advantages to being part of a group ie. shared costs, but more importantly it helps to feel that you’re not on your own and have colleagues that you can work with and rely on.
How do you work against and push your boundaries in your illustration work?
I’ve got a lot better at drawing from my imagination recently by simplifying my style and I’ve found that working in a comic book format has opened lots of doors for me to express ideas that I couldn’t have otherwise and has also pushed me into doing more involved publishing projects that take more time but are also more satisfying. I still use sketchbooks a lot, which get a bit sparse when I’m busy but fill up again when I get a minute or go on holiday. I also keep notes of ideas in my iPhone as it’s always in my pocket whenever I think of something and I can refer to it when I’m stuck for ideas.
Who and what keeps you inspired?
My wife Chrissie is also an illustrator so we talk a lot about what inspires us and we sometimes take working holidays together. However, I find that if I spend too much time looking at other illustrator’s work it can be a bit of a hindrance so I try to take my inspiration from other places such as music or comedy.