A FEW QUESTIONS I GET ASKED...
What's your educational background?
I went though all the usual routes of education - GCSE, A-Level, Art Foundation, then I got myself a first class Hons degree when I specialised in Fashion Promotion & Illustration at Ravensbourne, London.
Had you always wanted to be an artist growing up?
Drawing has always been a big part of what I am and what I've wanted to become. My uncle's a successful illustrator based in Reykjavik, Iceland and since I was little I've always watched what he does in awe. It was seeing him that really taught me that it was possible to have a career doing what you love.
Where do you gather your inspiration from?
As well as ALWAYS carrying a little note book full of ideas that come to me, I have hundreds of websites and blogs bookmarked on my mac and I look through these whenever I'm in need of a bit of inspiration. But it's not the websites and blogs of illustrators that I really turn to when I'm trying to come up with my next illustration - Instead I look to graphic design, fashion, textiles etc, because I feel I get much more original ideas when I look away from illustration. Books and magazines(all kinds) are my favourite source though, I find that I can always gleam some kind of idea out of them.
What materials do you use for you illustrations?
All kinds of things. My studio looks like the inside of a school girls pencil case. It's full of pencils, felt tips, coloured paper, highlighters, markers, crayons etc. What I use really depends on the girl I'm drawing and what she's wearing, but I always stick to Derwent pencils for the graphite elements.
The majority of your illustrations are women, do you have models that you use or are these girls you have made up?
My illustrations are mix of reality and my imagination. Working from photo reference, I can modify existing photos by combining them with my own photography in order alter the composition, clothing, expressions, style and gestures etc. I studied fashion promotion and illustration as a degree, and because of this, my work is very fashion/trend orientated, so I'm a sucker for photographing cool looking girls when I'm out and about - I do this as often as possible, so I have thousands of photos of girls, but I also work heavily from what I imagine the girl could look like, I like to think this keeps my work looking fresh.
Do you have anything to say to other creative minds?
If it's advice you're looking for, then I'd say just try your very hardest, always, and don't take criticism to heart - try and use it to your advantage and learn from feedback you get. Don't be afraid of negative comments when you're starting out - not everyone will like what you do and to be honest, it would be boring if we all liked the same things! Listen to the feedback you get, and build from that..And remember that no one likes a show off :)
In nearly every piece you do, there is a 3d object in it, can you tell us about this?I just felt that just the drawing wasn't enough anymore, there's so many illustrators out there and I wanted to give my work a bit of an identity, so I started playing with different dimensions. I like making stuff and this was a way of combining these made items with my drawings...and I never looked back.
What do you do with the artwork when you have finished it?Almost all the images are framed up, exhibited and sold in galleries. You can see details of my latest exhibitions on my website.
Do you use any software to create your work?--if so what do you use?
My illustrations are a digital-free zone. Well pretty much anyway. I photograph them then they're done and edit them, but only the basics to make them website worthy etc, but I don't change the image at all, that's all done with a pencil, rubber and my fingers.
What inspires each of your illustrations?
Everything really, but I'd say the subject I'm drawing is the biggest inspiration for the illustration. Whether I'm working from found images, or on personal commissions, for me, the most important part of my work is that I portray certain personality traits of the girl that I'm drawing and allow the viewer to get an insight of what she's all about. I draw these girls because they lure me in for some reason, and I want the person looking at the picture to feel the same way. If you're going to tell a story, I believe you should tell it right.
In the illustrations with words, do you come up with the quotes and type?
The Welsh words I've used are all old phrases and idioms that I researched. I'm a Welsh speaker, so for me it was important to incorporate this into my work somehow, a way to sort of look back at my heritage. The English text I use is all words and sayings that I just conjure up or come accross. I carry a notebook everywhere, so whenever I see, hear or think of nice things I make a note of them, then mash bits together and get scribbling when it's illustration time.
What is your way of solving a creative block?
I really don't think you can beat a walk - getting away from the problem for a while seems to help me fix it.
What is it about girls that draw you to them as subjects for your work?
To be honest, (and I'm sure half the population would disagree with me) I just think they're aesthetically nicer to look at!! From a fashion illustrators point of view, there are so many elements to consider when your drawing girls (the hair, make-up, clothing, poses etc etc) - it's almost limitless, whereas I just feel there aren't as many variants when it comes to guys. I often get asked if I'm a lesbian, but nowp I'm not, I'm just much more comfortable putting pencil to paper when I know the outcome will be a woman.
Do you have a process you use? Rituals you do before embarking on a new illustration?
I'm a list person, so everything do is written down and meticulously planned. My to-do lists are epic. I can't work without noise either, so I always have something playing in the background.
How long on average does an illustration take?
It depends really. I tend to work on them in stages. I'll draw the main illustration in pencil, then go back to it and add the colour, prints etc, then add any 3D elements. This way it stays fresh - I can go back to it and still see things that need changing/developing, to be honest it's hard to know when to stop. It can vary hugely depending on the style, complexity and size of the piece, but they can take me anything up to a week to complete.
You seem to use a lot of colour in your work, what inspires you to do this?
The brighter the better if you ask me. If you have colour, I believe you should use it.
Several of your works include paper manipulation, and an element of playing with the perceived depth of your chosen materials- paper and pencil. What draws you to working in this restricted but incredibly classic palette? I always tend to use a combination of techniques in each of my illustrations, it's just a style which has evolved over time I guess. I've always wanted to find new ways to try to bring my pictures to life and I feel like this is the best way for me to do that. I like combining the different dimensions - it's fun to make and hopefully fun to look at too. I don't take my work too seriously, which makes mixing my detailed pencil drawings and all these childlike materials and techniques easy. My work is all quite playful and I enjoy trying out new materials and techniques so I'd like to think that no two pieces are never really the same. Some of the materials I use are felt tips, markers, inks, pencils, coloured pencils, watercolours, and crayons - all the fun stuff! I then try combining these with different methods depending on the subject that I'm drawing.