Series of ‘Let’s Make Art’ books for children published by Laurence King Publishing
What first led you to becoming an illustrator?
Reading comics, going to comic conventions as a kid (I was that keen) and seeing copies of The New Yorker, Mad Magazine etc. Quite unusual, when you consider I was born in a small town near Edinburgh, to see that kind of work. I went to Art school in Dundee, which is famous for it’s comic publisher “DC Thomson Ltd” which produces the Beano and Dandy.
Hand drawn type plays a big part of your work, what do you think hand made gives that digital doesn’t and vice versa?
Hand drawn lettering has an emotive quality that perhaps digital does not. There is always a ‘person’ behind the lettering, a character, a personality. I would like to see more characters coming through the hand lettering used commercially. I think it’s starting to happen rather than copying what is ‘a fashionable look’. I was glancing through some teen fiction the other day and so many covers had the same hand lettering (by all different artists). That’s a shame, because like faces, each person’s personal signature is unique and we should celebrate that more.
Set of stamps for Royal Mail
You images are often playful and full of imagination, who or what inspires your work?
Lots of things inspire my work; literature, artists, designers. London is a huge influence on me. It’s an ever changing city, full of stimulus and energy. You live in the past, future and present all at once. I tap into that. You never really get to know all of London, so many things to discover on an almost daily basis. I love it.
Artists whom I have appreciated for a long time and who have influenced my work are; Saul Sternberg, Miro, Calder; Paul Rand; Eduardo Chillida and Dr Seuss. I think all of those artists employ ‘play’ in their work.
You’re an illustrator with Heart Agency, How do you feel being part of an agency has enhanced your practice?
It’s great to have that support on the larger commissions. I’ve been with them a long time, so they’re like family.
The images of your studio on your website are full of playful images, is important to you to experiment with your work?
I play and experiment as part of my practise. I love working with materials, physical materials. I like standing up whilst working. We spend too long sitting down staring at a screen and I include myself in that accusation. All my ideas are made off screen, all my experimenting and joy come from my play desk, not screen desk. It’s important to make mistakes, not clean everything up all the time.
Work in progress for signage system D&AD Awards 2015
You have taught along side your illustrator career. Have any of your experiences in teaching inspired your own work?
I have not taught for a long time, since having kids actually. I don’t have the time unfortunately as juggling a family and career is time challenging. I used to teach at Camberwell College of Art and The Royal College of Art. I really enjoyed being around students and I miss not knowing what excites them and what they are looking at to inspire them. I had to keep on my toes at that level of teaching too and it helped me make sure I was up to date on what was happening in the city and arts in general. It was fascinating to see trends develop and grow in art school from an early stage. I remember certain MA shows at the RCA; the early work of Åbäke; Kerr/Noble; Hyperkit just to name a few for example. Many folks could not understand their work, was it graphics? Film? I just remember thinking it was great and the fact that I did not fully grasp it was a good and right thing!
Poster for Typographic Circle lecture