When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator?
When I was a kid I always wanted to be an artist; from about the age of eight I used to redesign the covers of my computer games. I didn’t really know that that was ‘design’, I just always enjoyed it. Then I realised I could do it for the rest of my life if I wanted, and here I am! I’m sure I’ll be doing it well into my old age, too.
Where do the ideas for your illustrations come from?
I’m inspired by music – it’s a large part of my life and also my work. Being able to play music is just as rewarding for me as drawing. I’m also inspired by nature and science, literature and different cultures.
Which materials do you prefer to work with and why? Do you have a favourite pen or paper?
I really like to mix things. I love the tactility of different mediums, from paint to paper craft, ink to pencil. My true love is print in various forms; I’m always experimenting with it, whether it be through old inkjets or screen-printing to lino and collage.
What attracted you to where you live? Do you think your location has influenced your style?
I live in the UK. I was born here and still live in the town where I grew up: Huddersfield in West Yorkshire. I do think the industrial heritage of the town has influenced my work; the large number of Victorian factories and mills, all very geometric and graphic, contrast well with the rolling hills of Yorkshire and the beautiful countryside.
You illustrated the cover for SHOP Hamburg for autumn/winter 2013/14; do you know Hamburg well? Do you have any great memories of travelling there?
I’ve been to Germany but not Hamburg. I’m an avid traveller, though, and try to get away as much as I can, so would love to visit. Its architecture looks beautiful, as does the fish market and docks. I quite like the hustle and bustle of docks and watching the ships coming and going.
Where did you start when designing the cover for SHOP Hamburg?
I began with the coverline, which was originally ‘rising above the rest’, and the idea of shops and individual boutiques being literally handpicked. I then tried to introduce different elements and worked with a lot of positive and negative space to create the design.
Did it turn out the way you expected?
I think it gets across everything that I wanted: the mix of buildings, the interplay of the hands and the different elements that make Hamburg what it is. The challenge was getting everything to work together without looking like there was too much happening. I think colour helped; originally I wanted the piece to be black and white, but it was a little too sharp and needed softening.
You also illustrated the cover for the Russian-language SHOP Germany magazine; what can you tell us about that?
The Germany cover was a really nice one to work on as it had to show the seven major cities, which was tricky as I wanted to get across the modernity of Germany as well as the heritage. I created a grid system within which I picked out some of the major landmarks of each city and in the centre a nod to what they had to offer in the way of shopping. The whole piece came together really well; it showcased the individual cities, but also represented Germany as a whole.
What should SHOP readers not miss when they visit your home area?
If you’re ever in Huddersfield, or West Yorkshire in general, I would visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. West Yorkshire has become known as the sculpture capital of Europe; we have the Hepworth Gallery, too, and there are a lot of interesting things happening. If you want to shop, you should visit Leeds and its grand arcades, the Corn Exchange and Victoria Quarter – oh, and it also has the largest new shopping mall in Europe in the centre of the city. There is currently a real buzz about the city, with smaller boutiques and food markets popping up everywhere.
Which five items will you never travel without?
Notebook (lined), sketchbook, camera, various pens and pencils and my iPhone.
And finally, what would your dream commission be?
Something that gets sent into space would be really cool.