Illustration – Front cover Of The Guardian Review ‘The Future Of Fairytales’
Tell us a little a bit about the process you take to create an illustration?
Ideas take up most of my energy. Once an idea is nailed then the rest of it is much easier! I spend a long time writing, brainstorming and coming up with different compositions. Once I have an idea, I draw lots of little thumbnails and start creating roughs. I go through sheets and sheets of printer paper doing my roughs. It’s probably a bit wasteful and sometimes the drawing might just last a few seconds but it takes a lot of drawing for me to get it right! The light box is my most valuable tool. I stick my rough down and draw and paint all the components of the image on different papers over the top. I draw and paint everything by hand and layer up my images a bit like a screen print on Photoshop. I like to to use spray paint, conte crayon, brushes, pens and an ink roller to get different textures. Everything is then scanned in and the colour changed digitally.
The use of computer has been a valuable input into my work as up until about three years ago I worked exclusively in black and white. Using photoshop helped me to play with colour and by giving myself very limited colour palettes I learnt to love it. I am now bringing what I learnt digitally back into hand-made paintings and prints.
Your image for ‘London Spaces and Place’ won first prize, what inspired your image for the exhibition?
I visited the Royal Observatory in Greenwich a couple of years ago for the first time. Walking around the grounds, it felt like a magical place with an amazing sense of ancient history, time and astronomy.
At the top of the hill by the Royal Observatory there is a magnificent view of Greenwich Park. You can see the stately white buildings of the Old Royal Naval College and behind them the skyline of London twinkling away in the distance. London at night is so exciting – you notice things you don’t see during the day – like restaurants that open up, or buildings lit up against the night sky.
I work from the top floor of a tall building and I love the sense of having a quiet oasis but also still being connected to the hustle and bustle of the city. I really enjoy the quiet, calm spaces where you can sit, reflect and take everything in. I imagined the woman in my picture to be doing just that and quietly getting on with her work.
Illustration – Thanksgiving Parade – Heart Website
How did your relationship begin with heart agency?
Since university, I had always admired Heart and their artists. They were a dream agency but I never really imagined I would ever get on their books. When I graduated from the Royal College of Art, I sent my work straight off to them. I cringe now as I was far from ready. But I got a very nice email back giving helpful, constructive advice to go and get some experience and build on my portfolio.
It took three years to figure out everything what with juggling part-time jobs, illustration and a move from London to Brighton. I started getting regular commissions from the New York Times and a couple of bigger commissions under my belt. I decided I would try again. There would be no harm in trying. I was amazed to get an interview. When they told me they were going to take me on, it was a bit embarrassing, as my eyes got all watery. I think, like any other illustrator out there, it had been a struggle and at times disheartening so to get that was a huge confidence boost.
Heart are a super friendly agency who really take care and look out for their artists. Working with them very much feels like a partnership. They have given me much needed critical feedback and I have worked closely with them to build up my portfolio. They have lots of wisdom and have given me much needed advice on which jobs to take on and sometimes which to turn down.
I am very happy I waited to get the agent I really wanted. I honestly think its best to wait or decide to have no agent at all rather than just settling for one that doesn’t put your best interests at heart as it could do more harm than good.
Illustration – New York Times – Couch Series
What’s the most important thing you have learnt about your career in the time you have been a professional Illustrator?
I have learnt that setting aside time to spend on personal work is very important to develop and grow as an artist. To stagnate or get too comfortable would be my worst nightmare. Taking risks and exploring new ideas have always paid off and feeds into my professional work.
What would be your dream project as an illustrator?
An illustrated non-fiction picture book. It sounds vague at the moment, but that’s because I need to brainstorm!
Illustration – New York Times Opinion Page ‘ Following Orders In Rwanda’
What’s next for you?
As well as taking on commercial briefs, I want to work on painting and printmaking. This has been something I have been aiming to do for a while and I am finally figuring out how I can make my work by hand and nothing beats the satisfaction. I feel that sometimes I can rely too much on the digital – its great for completing briefs with a quick turn around but I like to push myself and not get too comfortable.