When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator?
Drawing has always been my favourite thing to do and I’ve been doing it ever since I could hold a pencil. My uncle is a successful artist based in Iceland, and I’ve always watched him and admired the way he carved a career doing something he truly loved. This admiration inspired me no end and, after graduating with a first class BA honours degree in fashion promotion and illustration in 2009, I’m lucky enough to be able to say that I’m doing the same thing and loving every minute.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I always (and I mean always, wherever I go) carry a little notebook full of ideas that come to me and I have hundreds of websites and blogs bookmarked on my Mac. I look through these whenever I’m in need of a bit of inspiration. I look to graphic design, fashion, textiles and so on; I try not to look towards other illustrators too much because there’s a risk of being influenced. I feel I get much more original ideas when I look away from illustration – books and magazines of all kinds are the perfect source for me. I find that I can always glean some kind of idea from them. However, I’d say the person I’m drawing at the time is the biggest inspiration for that specific illustration. Whether I’m working from found images or on personal commissions, the most important part of my work is that I portray certain personality traits of the woman that I’m drawing and allow the viewer to get an insight into what she’s all about.
Which materials do you prefer to work with and why?
Derwent graphite pencils are by far my favourite pencils –usually 2B mixed in with a few others for depth. I’m a sucker for anything bright and shiny. I love fine liners, pens, biros and felt tips but nothing too messy, so I keep well clear of paints and anything else like that. I live by the motto ‘if you have colour, you should use it.’
Where do you live? Do you think your location has influenced your illustration style?
I currently live in Paris with my boyfriend. As a freelance, I’m very lucky to be able to move about, so when my partner got his job over here, I jumped at the chance of living in this beautiful city. It took me a while to adjust to French living, but it’s definitely grown on me and I love it here. Aside from Paris’s obvious beauty and inspirational fashion, culture and architecture, I also love how relaxed and sociable it is here, especially when the sun comes out at the weekends – all the parks and canals turn into gatherings and you can’t move for picnics and guitar players! However, I think it’s fair to say that, although Paris and its beauty inspires the style side of my illustrations, my Welsh heritage is something which I focus on more in my work. As a Welsh speaker I’m strongly influenced by old idioms and proverbs which aren’t widely used any more. Combining my modern style with these bygone phrases gives me so much scope to push the work in so many directions.
SHOP magazine publishes editions for many cities around the world. Where do you most like to visit?
Apart from going home to north Wales as much as I can, it has to be New York. Although I only visited for the first time last year, it’s somewhere which I’ve always known would captivate me, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The whole trip was a beautiful memory and I can’t wait to get back there soon.
What should SHOP readers not miss when they visit this city – and what are your shopping recommendations?
Although I was only there for a few weeks, I fast made up my mind on which my favourite areas were. I loved the bright lights and atmosphere in all the ‘touristy’ hot spots, but I’d say shopping and generally just wandering around the Lower East Side is the best way to spend a day in New York – Rivington Street especially. It’s rammed with brilliant fashion spots and I stumbled across some great book and magazine stores too. The Tenement Museum on Orchard Street had a great selection of books. I got to photograph so many girls around the Lower East Side. I just hope I get a bit of spare time to start drawing them soon!
How did you start when you were drawing the illustration of SHOP’s editor-in-chief and how did you arrive at the final illustration?
It was quite straightforward initially – I was given a photograph to work with, so there wasn’t too much tweaking involved. I drew the portrait in the style which I’m used to –pencil – then added the other elements, sticking to the colour palette.
Did it turn out as you expected?
The final piece was very different to my initial sketch. I’d wanted more colour in the illustration and I had hoped to add some cut-out elements but, after lots of discussions with SHOP magazine, we decided that sticking to the pencils and royal blue was more in keeping with what the magazine is all about.
What items will you never travel without?
My little notebook that I write all my ideas in; pens and pencils, just in case; my phone; lipstick, I think there are probably about 12 in the bottom of my bag; and Batiste dry shampoo – not sure how I made it to 26 without this stuff!
And finally, what would be your dream commission?
Without a doubt, to write and illustrate a series of guide books. I love my job and to combine it with travelling, which I also love, couldn’t really get much better.