When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator?
Probably when I was about eight or nine at primary school. We used to write and draw a picture about what we did at the weekend. I used to love the drawing bit much more than the writing. I’d have my pencil case with my trusty felt tips and I was off – sometimes I even got a gold star.
Where do the ideas for your illustrations come from? I get a lot of my inspiration from the hedgerow and fields and the changing seasons when I’m walking my dog, Earl. Books, music and places I’ve travelled to abroad and visited here in the UK are sources, too.
Which materials do you prefer to work with and why? Do you have a favourite pen or paper?
I love paper, of course! All paper is good, but I do like a nice fresh piece of 300g white paper – so many possibilities …
What attracted you to where you live? Do you think it’s influenced your style?
I live on the southern edge of Manchester, half in suburbia and half in the countryside. It’s a great city, so friendly with lots going on, and the countryside that surrounds it is very diverse and easy to access.
You illustrated the cover for the autumn/winter 2013/14 issue of SHOP Stuttgart; do you know the destination well? Do you have any great memories of travelling there?
I’ve never been to Stuttgart, or even Germany, I’m sorry to say. I’d love to go though. The German countryside looks fantastic and I’d love to visit the Black Forest.
Where did you start when designing the cover for SHOP Stuttgart?
My starting point was the snowflake shape. I have a fantastic book with multitudes of photos of snowflakes taken in the early part of the 20th century; the shape I used is an amalgamation of several. I then looked up some winter clothing styles relevant to the brief, and chose some paper colours and textures. I wanted to build up the illustration in layers so it was just a matter of working out what would work in each layer, which I did on tracing paper. Then I started cutting and assembling the elements.
Did it turn out the way you expected?
Yes I think it did in the end. It’s always challenging taking it from the 2D drawing to the 2.5D of the final artwork. I always envisage how I’ll make the elements in my head, but sometimes it doesn’t work out when I start to construct. I really liked making the women’s boots and bags – but then they are my favourite things in real life.
What should SHOP readers not miss when they visit your home town?
When in Manchester, you should definitely visit the Northern Quarter, which has loads of great independent shops and bars. There are great museums and art galleries, too; I love the Manchester Art Gallery and the Museum of Science and Industry(MOSI), and the Imperial War Museum North is fantastic both inside and out. There are lots of National Trust sites around as well. I live near Dunham Massey which is great for spotting deer.
What’s always in your bag?
Glasses (sun and reading), notebook, pencil, phone and headphones – if I’m on my own I like to have a soundtrack to walk around to.
And finally, what would be your dream commission?
I’d like to illustrate a whole children’s book with an animation spin off.