What was your key motivation in becoming an illustrator?
I always drew at school, making comics, cartoons and painting, I ended up studying graphic design and after Art college I got a job as a graphic designer – I did it for four years during which time I realized that I’d been trying to solve each design brief illustratively, I was then motivated by the autonomy that being a freelance illustrator would provide. I didn’t want to spend my days working for a corporate company working on the same kind of things and it seemed to fall in from there.
What was your first break as an illustrator?
I’d been working as a designer in-house at Cartoon Network for four years and moonlighting for companies like MTV and Nickelodeon, I found myself an agent and did a few freelance jobs and saved up enough money to pay the rent for a few months before quitting my full time job to become a full time illustrator. My four year stint at Cartoon Network grounded me and taught me a lot about working to deadlines and answering briefs, also, I barely knew how to turn on a computer when I started so that was a bit of a crash course too!
Alex Horne – Monsieur Butterfly
What are the processes behind your Illustrations? Do you use hand drawn doodles, sketchbooks, written words, digital experimentation?
It depends on the brief I suppose, I usually have to work to tight deadlines and find that I need to go with my first instincts. On a brief I rarely get a lot of time for lots of sketching and playing, so I tend to develop ideas as I go. It also helps to doodle a lot and keep sketchbooks to jot ideas down in and sometimes they find their way into my work.
You’ve been producing GIFs to animate some of your illustrations. Do you see clients using more moving image, even in traditional fields such as online editorial?
Yes… My incredibly basic animation skills are limited to 3 frame gifs! I’ve done a few projects recently that have been ‘gifed’ for online editorial…I made some dancing characters for the Guardian Guide that we’re then animated for the website. When I first started working as an illustrator I thought that the industry would be killed by the digital world but didn’t realize that it just meant there would be infinite more content needed to fill endless websites and social media outlets. Great!
The Guardian Guide
What importance do you put on your own personal body of work and how does this influence your commissioned work?
A lot! I wish I had more time to do more of the personal things I like doing. Clients want to see your creativity, so if you make fun stuff for yourself it will inspire a client to commission you. If you don’t do your own stuff you end up just photocopying yourself and that’s boring. Making your own art is what feeds into the commercial stuff until hopefully the lines are blurred and you enjoy each commission as much as you can. Drawing pictures for a living should be fun and is fun and I don’t think there should be huge separation between personal work and commissioned work, they should feed into each other.
Who and what keeps you inspired?
I keep myself inspired! I’m interested in lots of things and read a lot and look at lots of art and talk to friends.