Belle Mellor


Voter Apathy- Editorial illustration for the Guardian



As well as creating narrative within your illustration, you animate your images, such as you animation Sleep With The Fishes, what appeals to you about moving image?

There is a kind of magic in bringing your characters to life, and seeing possibilities that might not be there with a still image. Sometimes it feels like acting for the shy, and it can be very absorbing getting in character and figuring out where the action can go. I find it a big challenge too, as there is so much to consider, with the narrative, transitions, sound, editing and so on. Animation can transport you into a lovely dreamlike state on a good day, and be utterly frustrating or tedious on another!

From animation can be a long process, you have also worked a lot within the editorial field where deadlines are faster, how do you adapt you work to fit different ways of working?

It is very different- I consider myself a speedy illustrator, but a rather slow animator! I love animating traditionally, but I’ve had to look for different ways of doing things to be commercially viable with varying degrees of success! It’s something I’m still working on, as I would like to develop the animation side of things further.

I do love the immediacy and conciseness of editorial jobs, and that they come and go in the space of a few hours. They are an adrenaline filled sprint, unlike an animation marathon that requires so much endurance, stamina (not always my natural elements!).

Oxford Street pollution- Editorial illustration for the Guardian 

What keeps you inspired? 

I think it changes all the time. It might be strong feelings that need an outlet, and drawing is a good medium. At other times I find that being taught something new (creative writing and storyboarding being the most recent example) really helps me to find some new perspectives. Sometimes it could seeing people who are passionate and creating a little world for themselves, whether it be an illustrator, a street theatre group or a town eccentric- It’s good to be reminded not to stop dreaming! If I feel tired or directionless, sea swims and running can bring me out of it, and help stoke flagging enthusiasm!

You have a very distinct style within your work, do you think it important to find your voice as an artist?

I’m ambivalent on this one. On the one hand I enjoy having a personal language with which to express ideas, and I do think there can be an integrity to it. On the other hand it can be limiting, and I sometimes long to make some dramatic leaps without becoming too much of a creative magpie! 

How do you ensure the right message comes across when illustrating an editorial article?

I tend to send at least 3 or 4 ideas to the art director, so they can select the angle they think works best with the article. Sometimes one is clearly stronger than the others, but I’m often surprised by the idea they go for. When deadlines are tight, I have to work quite instinctively, so I’m quite happy to hand the choice over, as it’ll only be weeks later that I have enough distance to be able to tell whether the image answered the brief well or not!

Climate change- Editorial illustration for the Guardian

As well as commissioned work how important do you think personal work is?

I do think it’s important. It’s great to work without constraints sometimes, and I think it does feed back into and enrich commercial work in the end too. I go through phases when I produce quite a lot, and fallow patches when I wonder if I’ll ever do anything creative again! I have a very slow burn personal animation project in the pipeline at the moment, and I need to discipline myself to actually finish it! 

13th March 2015

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