I thought it was about time I published a little Q and A, as from time to time I get asked questions about my work and experience of the illustration industry. I've compiled a list of some of the most common questions I get asked below, and I've also answered some of these questions and a few more in my FAQ Stories on Instagram.
This post ended up being really long so I've broken it into two parts. In this post I'll be answering questions about how I make my work and my creative influences. If you have any questions please let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them in part two!
What materials/software do you use?
When I work digitally I use a combination of software including Procreate on the iPad, Photoshop, and occasionally Illustrator. I also use a Wacom bamboo tablet when I'm not using the iPad. I wrote a post about these earlier in the year which you can read here. When I'm working on personal pieces or in my sketchbook I use traditional media, I talk about some of my favourites here.
How do you make your work? What is your process?
My process has evolved over time and continues to do so. How I make work is also sometimes dependant on the project, but for commercial clients, I work pretty much entirely digitally.
I normally begin by doing some very loose idea/thumbnail sketches using pencil and paper. I work from scans of these in procreate, mainly because I prefer that to starting with an empty screen! However the Procreate sketch will normally end up looking nothing like the thumbnail. This new sketch is the conceptual/compositional 'rough' which I send to the client for feedback (some examples here) before I move on to the final artwork.
From there I 'build' the image using a combination of Photoshop and Procreate. Using the rough (sketch) as a guide, I draw shapes either with the pen tool (Photoshop) or the monoline brush in Procreate (great for smooth curves!) I add texture and details in Procreate or Photoshop using a combination of Kyle Webster's digital brushes and a few I've created myself (scans of paper for example).
How did you find your 'style'?
'Style' is a tricky thing for me to define as I think it is constantly evolving, and that this is probably true for many illustrators. I also think it's difficult to identify style in your own work as it's hard to be objective! The biggest influence on the 'look' of my work came from when I started using more digital processes, and this also allowed me a lot more freedom to experiment.
I think my social media profile pictures from the last eight years do quite a good job at demonstrating how my illustration style (and my hairstyle!) has changed.
Who or what inspires you creatively?
I don't think it's something tangible. I don't go searching for inspiration, and I think like most people it's accumulative. I take a lot of photos of things I find interesting; interiors, unusual buildings, shop signs, packaging. My favourite pieces of work to make are busy scenes with lots going on, and as a child I loved really detailed illustrations in books so I think this has been an influence.
I'm very nostalgic and I collect things – picture books, old advertising pencils, figurines, postcards, erasers… I think looking through these things also inspires me.
Some people who I think do/did great stuff (in no particular order): Tove Jansson, Martin Parr, Raymond Briggs, Alison Bechdel, David Hockney, Robert Opie, Miroslav Sasek, Lorraine Fox, Abram Games, Shirley Hughes, Mary Blair, Peter Blake, Carson Ellis.
Thanks for reading! I'll be following this up with part two of my FAQ where I'll be answering questions about the business side of illustration and the steps I take to get commissions so please stay tuned!