Becky Dinnage of Ludicrous Prints is a remarkably talented illustrator and surface designer, infusing her fantastical designs with incredible detail despite her imperfect eyesight. Here she shares her story and her jungle reef artwork for Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion.
I first encountered you as graduate from the surface pattern design course at LCC, what have you been up to since then?
I started work as a graphic designer shortly after graduating, with a designer I had interned with during my degree. I loved being in such a creative challenging environment until health issues meant I had to stop. I learnt so much about how the design world worked, and how to run a small design company – which made me all the more determined to work for myself.
How would you describe your style, and how does your love of pattern infuse your illustrations?
I’ve always loved pattern and found that I couldn’t let it go as I moved from working with textiles to paper. I would describe my illustrative style as intricate, slightly surreal and kind of quirky! I find if I don’t fill my drawings with a ludicrous amount of detailed patterns and doodles I can’t connect with my work… I want it to be crammed with interesting things that people keep discovering every time they view it.
What have been your biggest challenges in producing work as an illustrator?
My biggest challenge in producing illustrations has been my vision. I developed an eye condition just before university and have since had to have my cornea replaced. This set me back quite a bit and unfortunately didn’t help improve my sight. I am now partially sighted but awaiting a special contact lens which I am hoping will give me my eyes back!! It’s been an interesting journey, my illustrative style being so intricate and battling with my vision; there are days where my eyes want to hide away behind my sunglasses but I know I have to keep pushing to get where I want to be.
What other jobs keep you going?
Alongside illustrating I work part time in a Ceramic Painting studio. Most of our customers are kids and I love working with them, they’re so fun and imaginative and extremely inspiring, so every day at work is just one big creative bubble of joy! It’s also a great job to give my eyes a rest, which makes me fresh for my days off to illustrate.
You have already produced a series of images for an adult colouring book, how did you get this commission?
A few months back I showed my designs at a local Pop Up Art Gallery and the Senior Editorial Director of a well known book company was there (incognito of course) and we got to chatting about how my work would look great in a colouring book, something I had always wanted to do. We exchanged details and it went from there. It was such a fun project, and I would love to work on my own intricately detailed colouring book in the future. I completely believe in putting yourself out there and talking to everyone, you never know who they are or what they could bring to your life!
What kind of landscapes inspire you the most?
Anywhere with water is an inspiration to me; I am happiest when I’m near the sea, or by a lake or meandering along the side of a stream. I love the force water brings to completely change a landscape, its look, the emotions, the colour. A little while ago we bought a camper van, and it completely changed my life. I adored being out in the wild amongst nature, discovering new places that we could ‘live in’ for a day or two before moving on to the next adventure. It bought out the ancestral gypsy in me.
Where did you get the idea for your jungle reef seascape?
With my desire to be close to water, I set out to create my own pattern-filled, bold and graphic underwater jungle, full of all my favourite rainbow colours and quirky and imaginative shapes and animals. I’ve been inspired by the Great Barrier Reef and London Aquarium, that are both filled to the brim with unusual magical creatures. With my poor vision I’m sensitive to light, and enjoy the night, the stars and the moon… and how these connect so importantly to our oceans to keep them moving and growing. All hand drawn, I’ve created a repeat pattern out of the image that should flow horizontally like the ocean currents around earth.
What are your biggest hopes for the future?
I want to start my shop, selling my prints and products, and to expand my brand. I hope I can continue to be creative for the rest of my life, it’s what keeps me happy and is all I can think of being. I would love to work on more commercial briefs and projects, as they shake up my imagination and push me out of my comfort zone, into a more challenging exciting world.
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