When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator?
I have never wanted to be anything else other than an artist – I knew from a very early age. My parents encouraged me to do what I loved, which was drawing. I hated school, but loved art school. I grew up in an environment of creating, and I have been doing it since I was 16 in one discipline or another, which is now over half of my life. I can’t imagine doing anything else. What I love about being an illustrator is that every day is different, and I haven’t once not wanted to go to work.
Where do the ideas for your illustrations come from?
Everything is an inspiration. I love music and it has a massive influence on my work. If I am working with headphones on in particular, it really affects how I draw and the colour palette that I choose. I create playlists for jobs and I listen to only that for the period of the job. Art, films, design, typography: it all works its way into my projects. It might a small detail from a Kandinsky painting, say, which I try to recreate in an illustration – but, of course, it will always change and turn into something different, something new.
Which materials do you prefer to work with and why? Do you have a favourite pen or paper?
Everything starts in my sketchbook. I love sketchbooks; I have ever since my student days. My sketchbooks of choice at the moment are a Magma sketchbook for design and art direction created by Studio8 and a Bindewerk sketchpad. Once I’m happy with the sketch, I put it together digitally. I really enjoy the freedom the computer gives; there is nothing I can’t create as long as I can imagine it. I use a carpenter’s pencil in the sketchbook, which I sharpen by hand to create a calligraphy-style tip, which gives a great result, and Rotring pens for filling in and finishing off. For the computer I use a Wacom Intuos 4, Mac Book Pro and Thunderbolt screen.
What attracted you to where you live? Do you think your location has influenced your style?
I live in Dorset, having moved here from London about seven years ago. I’m not sure if it has had an effect on how my work looks, but it does have an effect on how I work. I used to do most of my illustrations in the evening, because I was working at a photographic studio during the day, but now I work from about 7.30am. Mornings in the country are fantastic – everything is loud and alive – whereas evenings in the city are far more interesting. London doesn’t seem to wake up until after 4pm; it’s quite the opposite in the country.
You illustrated the cover for the autumn/winter 2013/14 issue of SHOP Stockholm; do you know Stockholm well? Do you have any great memories of travelling there?
I don’t know it, but it’s impossible to work in any facet of design and not be inspired by Scandinavia! My partner and I are great fans of travelling, especially by train. We are planning to travel to Scandinavia by ferry through the fjords and then get the train across Norway and into Sweden and Denmark, so hopefully I’ll get to Stockholm soon.
Where did you start when designing the cover for SHOP Stockholm?
I have been a massive fan of SHOP for a while and of the work done by Studio8 and now Design by ST, so it was a dream commission for me when it came in from my agent Handsome Frank. I started with the architecture on the horizon and the main model on the catwalk. I knew pretty much straight away the rough composition that I wanted, and that part came together pretty quickly. From then on it was just a matter of adding the detail and making sure all the elements were perfect. I strive for perfection in all of my work; I hate to look back on any of it with disappointment. I want to be able to put it on my wall and not have to take it down in a month’s time.
Did it turn out the way you expected?
It turned out exactly how I wanted it. Getting the perspective right on the two side catwalks and the models was challenging. I needed to get the size and angle of the smaller models just right so as not to distract from the main model. The best parts for me were the city on the horizon and the scarf – I’m really pleased with how they turned out.
What should SHOP readers not miss when they visit your home town?
Sherborne, where I live, has two castles and an abbey, which are worth a look. We also have one of the best real ale pubs around, the Digby Tap. It has three private schools – one for boys, one for girls, plus the international college – which give the place a vibrancy in term time that you wouldn’t normally expect to find in a small Dorset town. We are 40 minutes away from Bridport, which has an excellent Saturday street market and great cafés and bars, and we are only 30 to 40 minutes from the Dorset coast, which is beautiful. Seatown is one of my favourite places to go; it has a great pub called the Anchor Inn right on the beachfront.
Which five items will you never travel without?
Sketchbook, pens/pencils, iPhone, a good book – Murakami’s 1Q84 at the moment – and Beats by Dre headphones.
And finally, what would be your dream commission?
This is getting tricky. I have been lucky enough to have had most of my dream commissions, including this one! Advertising jobs are great for obvious reasons, but maybe something that allowed me to travel or live in another country while working on it? I am a big fan of Port magazine at the moment as well (hint, hint …)