The Guardian Review: ’10 ‘grammar rules’ it’s OK to break (sometimes)’
What was your key motivation in becoming an Illustrator?
It’s probably more to do with personality, following what I enjoy, and a bit of circumstance than a single conscious decision.
CTC Magazine: ‘The campaign trail – make space for cyclists’
What are the first three things steps you take when a commissioner approaches you for a project?
1. Start thinking and roughing out ideas.
2. Stop getting carried away and get the practicalities sorted out! Talk to the client regarding fees, usage and deadlines. Clarify any uncertain points in the brief and compare my interpretation of the brief to the client’s. Consider how the image(s) are to be realised in terms of medium and format.
3. Go for a walk/run/bike ride (if there’s time, as I might not be leaving the desk for a while) to clarify my thoughts on the brief. Then get to work!
You produce vector based work and traditional pen and ink illustrations for a variety of clients. How has this range in approaches benefited you as an Illustrator?
These two styles allow me to work on very different kinds of projects with different types of clients. I think the challenge of meeting such a variety of briefs has made me into a more rounded and versatile illustrator. Technically I enjoy the contrast between the two mediums, they are almost complete opposites. Pen and ink would always be my preference – the appeal is its energy and expressiveness, and that it sometimes feels a bit out of control, whereas vector demands a steadier and more considered style of working, it’s almost hypnotic. I’ve also been drawing some projects digitally recently (usually ones that require a quick turnaround) which makes for an interesting combination of the two.
From a practical point of view, this is a very difficult industry to make a living in, so offering two styles has been useful to broaden my potential client base.
Personal work (screen print) ‘Beetle #4’
What importance do you put on your own personal body of work and how does this influence your commissioned work?
It’s all personal to some degree! The benefit of self initiated work is that it allows a space to try out completely different styles and themes, which I currently do with my work as a printmaker (adamgaleprints.com). Obviously with commissioned work you have to show a certain amount of consistency for your clients and for the benefit of a coherent portfolio. Every piece of work will always inform the next in some way though, regardless of whether it’s personal or commissioned. Seeing my work change is one of the main reasons I have for keeping at it.
When are images stronger than words?
Images can summarise and contain a complicated range of emotions, viewpoints and aspects of a story or argument in a very immediate way, whilst still being open to interpretation and re-interpretation. Whether or not that makes them stronger I couldn’t say… more personal, maybe.
Who and what keeps you inspired?
Working keeps me in a receptive state of mind where almost anything, colours, shapes, sounds, movement, family, personalities, conversations, stories, can be inspiring.