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I¹m a London based illustrator/designer working in Adobe illustrator & draw my inspiration from humour, retro graphics & contemporary culture. My clients include: Arena, BBC, British Council, British Airways, Computer Arts Magazine, FHM, Maxim, Orange, Sunday Times & Tescos.

I'm also currently deputy chairman of the Association of Illustrators.

When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?

I was always a prolific drawer when I was a kid, but didn't consider being an illustrator until I was 17. Originally I was planning on pursuing Biochemistry & horticulture, & was studying A level Biology & Chemistry, & also A level art just for fun, but as all the art lessons were timetabled against Biology I had to fight the school to be allowed to do it. I ended up doing A level art course in my own time & only went to 3 art lessons in 2 years! Anyway, failed my Chemistry end of year exam miserably & wasn't really enjoying it anymore. I realised I was not cut out for it, & as I spent all my time drawing, art college beckoned.

Who or what inspires you?

Comics were my big love as a kid, especially 2000AD, & that fired my imagination & inspired me to draw.

Things that inspire me, in no particular order: Edward Hopper, comics, 2000AD/Judge Dredd, pulp fiction covers, sci-fi, Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, robot toys, retro 50's/60's/70's advertising & graphics, architecture, animation, film, Mad magazine...

Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?

I went to art college, first to Bournemouth & Poole College of Art & Design for a 1 year foundation course. Then Anglia Polytechnic University (now Anglia Ruskin University) in Cambridge for my degree.

How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?

I try to keep progressing my work by doing self initiated projects & using them to experiment with new ideas & techniques.

I've also been contributing to various exhibitions & projects this year, including the InkThis "Dreams & Nightmares" exhibition & My Brand Project

Doing shows & projects gives me interesting briefs to work on with complete creative freedom!

What are some of your current projects?

I've recently completed a 2m x 5m Interactive environmental display for the new Lightbox Museum & Gallery in Woking, UK, designed by Marks Barfield, creators of the London Eye. It's been a huge & involved project with lots of design problems to solve, & very challenging working actual size on the most detailed piece I've ever done.

Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?

The Change the World 9 to 5 book cover for We Are What We Do has to be one of my favourites recently. A fun project that stretched me creatively. I've also adapted the cover for the Irish edition's cover & for a pull out poster for the German Edition.

The cover was also showed as a 3m x 5m wall installation at Dermalogica's flagship London Kensington store earlier this year.

Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?

Animation & film are on the agenda when I find the time. It seems like a natural progression.

Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?

Try to get your work seen by as many people as possible & never be afraid to show people your work. You maybe the best designer/ illustrator in the world, but if no one sees your work, you won't get commissioned.

Perseverance. It can take quite some time to get really established.

Join the Association of Illustrators (AOI). They're constantly campaigning to protect all illustrators rights, & if you need advice on pricing commissions, contracts, promotion, etc, it really pays to get help from the experts.

What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?

For me illustration is about communication & entertainment, so if a piece gets the message across in an original & entertaining way, it's been a success.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?

Get the work/life balance right. It can be difficult being freelance, as often with the work, it's all at once or not at all. Having a studio has help me with that as I can shut the door at night & go home. Also working in a studio environment means you get to see people regularly & avoid the isolation of working at home.

Working on other projects outside of commissions keeps me fresh too, whether that's self initiated projects, exhibitions, or just for fun.

Finish this sentence. "If I weren't a designer/illustrator I would have been a..."

Biochemist striving to create the first animal/vegetable hybrid. No wait, I think I've draw that at some point...

And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?

Battlestar Galactica. It's in a league of it's own.


Bill Ferguson said...

I enjoyed this article thanks for the pointers. You have made a newby freelance illustrator very happy and informed.

Unknown said...

dude, this is great =)

sbackl said...

This actually reminds me of a couple of things such as the sims and simpsons, as a gamer I have a PS3 and have just expanded out by buying the argos wii fit and as I have played and seen lots of games I see this kind of inspiration in some really popular formats, it is great work and I wish I had this kind of talent.

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