Amelia’s Magazine | Top illustrator Quentin Blake shares 5 tips for creating great illustrations

Quentin Blake by Jenny Robins

Sketch of Quentin Blake at the Royal Festival Hall by Jenny Robins. All images below copyright Quentin Blake.

As one of the most iconic and respected artists of line drawing the world has ever seen, Quentin Blake is in a unique position to explore the possibilities of what can be done with drawing. And I think drawing is the key word here – as we were guided through examples of work that Blake has produced for galleries, hospitals, building projects and charities. Despite being recontextualised on walls, on giant billboards and awnings there was still no doubt that these were drawings not murals.

Quentine Blake - large scale printing

Awning to cover up building work at St Pancras Station.

The work originally done on a small scale on paper and then blown up to huge proportions or printed on transparent acetate to be transferred to walls, of course keeps that energy and spontaneity that makes them so very Quentin Blake. In this way he can hang on to his strong identity as an illustrator working in many contexts – providing an example for the exciting possibilities that new technology provides for illustrators – Blake says that illustration has ‘inherited what art used to do’ – to enhance and decorate and communicate informally.

Quentine Blake - maternity ward 2

Quentine Blake - Maternity ward 1

Work for a Maternity Ward

In looking at how his various projects have been matched and created for different medical and mental health locations – Blake also gave insight into both illustrators’ instinct for this kind of informal communication – and into the great therapeutic effects the right picture can have in times of stress and pain. Working primarily with the Nightingale Project which works to place music and pictures into hospitals, Quentin’s artworks can teach us a lot about how people are represented in pictures, and what effect that can have on the viewer, whether well or ill. Here’s what I took from this very interesting and informative talk:

* Authenticity and Spontaneity – although happy and eloquent in his analysis of his hospital work now, Blake was fast to point out that he did not plan them meticulously – several series he said came about by accident – and he almost never uses a visual reference – he makes his characters up as he goes along. He is a lesson to developing illustrators to trust their instincts as this is where your most vibrant work comes from.

Quentine Blake - swimming mental health

Work for an Adult Mental Heath Centre

* Fantasy – for a children’s hospital Blake drew fantastical creatures and creations interacting with sick or injured children and doctors – reframing the problems faced by his viewers in a safe and imaginary setting. This is another thing that illustration excels at – combatting the troubles of reality by providing fantastical parallels.

Quentin Blake  - children fantasy

Work for a Children’s Hospital with The Nightingale Project

* Metaphor – similarly Blake’s illustrations of old people climbing trees and getting up to unrealistic mischief for an elderly care centre, and his pictures of people swimming fully clothed for an adult mental health centre reframed the issues faced by his audience metaphorically. For Gordon Hospital, the swimming characters are clearly going about their business, interacting with swimming fish and animals and getting on with life despite being underwater – a perfect fit for mental health as they show ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances – but coping with them.

Quentine Blake - old people fantasy

Work for an Elderly Care Home

* Reality – In contrast the work produced for an eating disorders unit was totally based in reality. As the people who end up there have enough trouble with fantasy and distortion of facts, Quentin said a parallel universe was not useful here. Instead his characters in these pictures try on dresses, feed pigeons, interact with food but don’t focus on it. As always his characters feel real and identifiable.

Quentine Blake  - eating dissorders normal

Work for Vincent Square Eating Disorder Service.

* Agency – In another series for a maternity ward Blake painted more swimming figures – this time naked mothers and babies. As well as providing a calm and happy scene of what was soon to happen – the meeting of mother and child – these pictures illustrate something which is so important in Quentin Blake’s work – agency. These are naked female figures with their own agenda and their priority is connecting with their babies – in each picture the mother and child make eye contact and seem oblivious of the viewer. Unlike the images of naked women we are so used to both in modern media and classic art, there is no male gaze here at all – like all Blake’s characters they have their own believable life, their own agenda, which ultimately, is much more useful an example for any kind of viewer – much better to hold up a mirror of a full life than a posing subject. I think perhaps this is the real fact of what makes Blake’s work so satisfying. And this immediacy is what good illustration is really capable of.

Categories ,Advice, ,AOI, ,Association of Illustrators, ,drawing, ,Eating Disorders Unit, ,Gordon Hospital, ,illustration, ,Jenny Robins, ,Nightingale Project, ,Quentin Blake, ,review, ,Royal Festival Hall, ,St Pancras Station, ,Talk, ,Tell Me a Picture, ,Vincent Square Eating Disorder Service

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Amelia’s Magazine | New Designers 2013 Product Design Review: The Best Product Designers and More

Elizabeth Roberts product design
To round off my coverage of New Designers I’m going to introduce my random top selections from the product design colleges, as well as some stray surface design and some ace work from the One Year On room. Firstly, Lizzy Roberts at Camberwell College of Art was inspired by ways in which lives can be improved. She calls these curious objects Theraputty, and they are designed for use in Occupational Therapy to help those with poor dexterity to improve strength.

Liv Stevens Pocket shelf
I like the concept of a Pocket Shelf, by Liv Stevens – store all your unsightly stuff and save the surface for cherished objects.

Rosie Holman Cardiff School of Art
It seems odd that Cardiff School of Art and Design chose to show work by their surface pattern designers at part two of New Designers, but they must have had their reasons. Tucked away at the back of a room full of architectural models I discovered some lovely displays. Rosie Holman used a mid century colour palette to hand stamp a mix of organic designs inspired by the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford.

Louise Webber Cardiff School of Art
I loved Louise Webber‘s laser cut wood inlays featuring animals and plant life, but sadly you’ll have to make do with one slightly out of focus photo, as I can’t find her work anywhere online.

Joanne King Cardiff school of art
Joanne King was inspired by the Art Deco period in her creation of fabrics and wallpaper in a variety of textures, including silks and rich velvet. She envisages these designs in commercial interiors such as hotels and bars.

Lulu & Luca
Over in the One Year On room it was nice to see a familiar display of simple yet elegant textiles designs from Lulu & Luca, who were last spotted in Spitalfields Market.

Decorative lampshades by Josie Shenoy in #oneyearon
These decorative lampshades are by Josie Shenoy, who applies her delicate mirrored illustrations to a host of interiors and stationary products.

Katherina Manolessou hedgehog gardening bakers dozen
I spotted this print of a hedgehog mowing the lawn by Katherina Manolessou at the AOI stand; it was created as part of a project called Baker’s Dozen.

Pot handles by Aidan Blaik at edinburgh napier - productdesign
I’m not one to obsess over the small aspects of kitchenware design, but I can’t resist this exploration of pot handles by Aidan Blaik at Edinburgh Napier.

recycled glass lights from Brenda Curry at birmingham city
And I love these recycled glass lights from Brenda Curry at Birmingham City University.

Patchwork quilt by Joshua Barnes of Brighton
This patchwork quilt comes with an integrated app to help children in hospital, by Joshua Barnes of Brighton University.

Eloisa Henderson-Figueroa
Also at Brighton, product designer Eloisa Henderson-Figueroa had created an intriguing steel tree with magnetic balls, to be added and removed with children to initiate conversation.

ceramics by Alex Allday at loughborough uni
And finally, to round off my reviews of the 2013 New Designers shows, these pretty patterned ceramics by Alex Allday at Loughborough University are clearly inspired by the intricate designs of plant cells.

Here’s hoping many of the designers that I have discovered go on to long and illustrious creative careers!

Categories ,2013, ,Aidan Blaik, ,Alex Allday, ,AOI, ,Art Deco, ,Baker’s Dozen, ,Birmingham City University, ,Brenda Curry, ,Brighton University, ,Camberwell College of Art, ,Camberwell College of Arts, ,Cardiff School of Art and Design, ,Edinburgh Napier, ,Eloisa Henderson-Figueroa, ,Joanne King, ,Joshua Barnes, ,Josie Shenoy, ,Katherina Manolessou, ,Liv Stevens, ,Lizzy Roberts, ,Loughborough University, ,Louise Webber, ,Lulu & Luca, ,New Designers, ,One Year On, ,Pitt Rivers, ,Pocket Shelf, ,Product Design, ,review, ,Spitalfields Market, ,surface design, ,Theraputty

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Amelia’s Magazine | Pointillism on the Isle of Wight: An interview with illustrator Sara Netherway

V Westwood by Sara Netherway
Vivienne Westwood.

Contributing illustrator Sara Netherway is based in the beautiful Isle of Wight. Here she reveals her methods and inspiration.

WIP by Sara Netherway
You initially trained in fine art, how did you then make the move across into product and surface design?
After college I came back to the Isle of Wight and looked for a creative job. I worked in design studios on the Island as a graphic designer including one with a local printing company. Designing logos, brochures, magazines, signage and other print mainly for customers around the South of England I learnt on the job and worked on a wide variety of briefs. There was a company on the Island looking for a product/surface pattern designer to create for Woolworths, BHS and Laura Ashley. I applied with a mixed Fine Art/Graphic Design portfolio and after a test brief, they took me on. The company designed and manufactured products from Childrens to Homeware and Lighting. Their studio was based on the Island and I joined a small team as a product/surface pattern designer. It was a great experience working on a wide range of products but unfortunately when the recession happened the company had to close the studio I worked in. I found I was able to tailor myself to different briefs and styles, which was useful, but my portfolio was a mixture of work and I felt all over the place. It’s a work in progress, but I feel a lot more comfortable about my portfolio now.

WIP2 by Sara Netherway
Monkey by Sara Netherway
Your technique is almost pointillist – how did you come across this method and why do you like it so much?
My work’s influenced by art through history and printing methods (along with other things in my environment). I grew up in a house stuffed with many different kinds of books, including a beautiful collection of Folio Society. My grandfather was a compositor for the Eastern Daily Press and I think that’s where my dad’s love of print came from. Among other books I cherished, were ones about Aubrey Beardsley for his use of contrasts in his illustrations and decorative detailing. I use pen dotting for creating portraits because I find it the easiest was to create form, I feel confident when I create a face that way. I get drawn into the hypnotic repetition of the mark making though and it feels like therapy sometimes!

Popshot Magazine Editorial by Sara Netherway
Popshot Magazine Editorial by Sara Netherway.

Where are you based and what does your work environment look like/sound like?
I grew up on the Island in one of the Victorian seaside towns, it’s a beautiful place to live and bring up the kids. Currently I’ve taken over the dining room of our Victorian house, except for Christmas when I have to temporarily move into the kitchen, it works pretty well.

Kusama by Sara Netherway
Kusama by Sara Netherway.

You have an illustrious client list: how have you found your employers or have they found you, and if so how?
I’ve tried to get on as many portfolio hosting sites as I can find! I’ve been incredibly lucky so far that I’ve mostly been found through these and my website.

Island by Sara Netherway
What is your favourite kind of image to work on and why?
I’m just very thankful that I get to make images! My favourite kind are when a brief goes well and the client is happy.

Vivienne Westwood Red Label by Sara Netherway
Vivienne Westwood Red Label LFW by Sara Netherway
Vivienne Westwood Red Label LFW by Sara Netherway.

As a member of the AOI what have you found most helpful about this organisation?
I have found the AOI invaluable for advice, particularly about contracts and portfolio surgeries. They’re friendly and professional, and working freelance it’s great to have them there when you need help.

Fable by Sara Netherway 2
Fable by Sara Netherway.

Where can we find more of your work for sale, and do you have any particularly interesting projects in the pipeline?
Currently I’m working towards a solo show of prints and drawings in May at Shed in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight which I’m excited about. I’m also selling prints on my site www.saranetherway.co.uk that I keep updated with new work.

Categories ,AOI, ,Bembridge, ,Eastern Daily Press, ,Folio Society, ,interview, ,isle of wight, ,Pointillism, ,Popshot Magazine, ,Sara Netherway, ,Shed

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Amelia’s Magazine | Serco Prize for Illustration 2014: Call for Entries

Anne Wilson for London Transport Museum Serco prize
Illustration by 2011 winner Anne Wilson.

I am really excited to announce that I will be one of the judges for the 2014 Serco Prize for Illustration. You’ve only got a few weeks left to submit your work, but I urge you to give it a go – there’s always a very high standard to choose from and the best are shown in an exhibition at the London Transport Museum. Here’s our reviews of the prize artworks from 2010 and 2011, and below is all the official information you need to know: I look forward to seeing your entries!

London Transport Museum, in partnership with the Association of Illustrators (AOI), is delighted to announce that submissions are now welcome for the Serco Prize for Illustration 2014. This year the theme is London Stories.

London Transport Museum Serco prize2012
Illustrations by 2012 prize winners: Finn Clark, Christopher King and Guy Roberts.

‘Across the ages, London has produced and inspired countless stories. Fictitious or real characters and events in this amazing city have always held fascination, from the anecdotal urban myth to grand tales of historic legend. The aim of the competition is to attract artwork for display that is colourful, inspiring and celebrates a vibrant, multi-layered London.

Visually capture a well-known or lesser known narrative in a single image; all stories, current or historical, real or fictional, which feature this amazing city are welcome – your imagination is the limit. Stories could be those seen in a film or play, heard in poetry or music, read in literature or an urban myth. Impress the jury with your illustrated interpretation of a London story and be in with a chance of having your work displayed at the famous London Transport Museum and winning the top prize.’

London Transport Museum Serco_Anne-Wilson_2011
The winning image from Anne Wilson in 2011.

Prizes will be awarded in three levels:
First prize: £2000 and display of image on a LTM poster
Second prize: £1000
Third prize: £750

There is also the possibility that your shortlisted image will be featured on merchandise sold in the museum shop.

The competition is open to illustrators and students of illustration throughout the world. The top 50 entries selected by a panel of judges will be displayed in an exhibition at London Transport Museum that will open Friday 14 February and run until Sunday 6 April. The winners will be announced at a private award ceremony on the evening of Thursday 13 February. Make sure you read the terms and conditions on the website before you enter.

The deadline for entries is Sunday 3 November 2013.

Other judges include renowned illustrator Brian Grimwood, Libby Hamilton from Templar Publishing, Neil McFarland from UsTwo and Michael Walton from the London Transport Museum.

Categories ,2014, ,Amelia Gregory, ,Anne Wilson, ,AOI, ,Association of Illustrators Award, ,Brian Grimwood, ,Call for Entries, ,Christopher King, ,Finn Clark, ,Guy Roberts, ,Judge, ,Libby Hamilton, ,London Transport Museum, ,Neil McFarland, ,Serco Prize for Illustration, ,Templar Publishing

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Amelia’s Magazine | Making Great Illustration, by Derek Brazell and Jo Davies: Book Review

Making Great Illustration cover
Released just in time to make the perfect gift for an illustrator this Christmas: the excellent new book from AOI gurus Derek Brazell and Jo Davies. Making Great Illustration is a big squarish yellow affair with a careful choice of scratchy type on the cover, thereby avoiding the need to pick any one illustration as a defining image of the volume. Inside the pair have picked out some best examples of illustrators working on a variety of different types of projects, including fiction, decorative, children’s, editorial, typographical, fashion (hurrah) and political (very timely).

Making Great Illustration intro
Making Great Illustration tanya ling
Making Great Illustration rob ryan
What’s really nice is the concentration on personal studio practice, with the authors visiting the featured artists in their studios. Whilst it’s improbable that you will like all the work in this book (I don’t) this ensures that for any burgeoning illustrator or intrigued long time practitioner there is still plenty to learn. Of particular note are the chapters on fashion illustrators Tanya Ling and David Downton – perfect for fans of ACOFI.

Making Great Illustration Hvass Hannibal
Making Great Illustration catalina estrada
Of course no contemporary illustration book would be complete without a section devoted to wonderboy Rob Ryan, who is single handedly responsible for the world’s reignited love of paper-cutting, and it’s also nice to see the work of Hvass&Hannibal, who’ve long seduced me with their colourful abstract artworks. Catalina Estrada is the famed Spanish illustrator who has successfully made a cross over into fashion textile design and you are bound to discover some exciting new artists: for me this included the bold perspectives of late starter Yuko Shimizu and the evocative children’s illustration of Kitty Crowther.

Making Great Illustration yuko
Making Great Illustration kitty crowther
Amongst some of the newer upstarts you will also find the legendary Ralph Steadman and the doyen of children’s publishing, Quentin Blake. Ah, memories of childhood.

Making Great Illustration is a must buy book for anyone who wants to learn more about illustration, created with great attention to detail by insiders who are immersed in this wonderful world. Read more on the dedicated Making Great Illustration website. The book is published by A & C Black, part of Bloomsbury Publishing. If you like the sound of this don’t forget to check in with my two illustration books Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration and Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, both of which feature the personal work practice of a whole host of up and coming illustrators.

Categories ,A & C Black, ,ACOFI, ,Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration, ,Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, ,AOI, ,Association of Illustrators, ,Bloomsbury Publishing, ,book, ,Catalina Estrada, ,David Downton, ,Derek Brazell, ,Fashion Illustration, ,Hvass & Hannibal, ,Hvass&Hannibal, ,illustration, ,Jo Davies, ,Kitty Crowther, ,Making Great Illustration, ,Quentin Blake, ,Ralph Steadman, ,review, ,Tanya Ling, ,Yuko Shimizu

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Amelia’s Magazine | Making Great Illustration, by Derek Brazell and Jo Davies: Book Review

Making Great Illustration cover
Released just in time to make the perfect gift for an illustrator this Christmas: the excellent new book from AOI gurus Derek Brazell and Jo Davies. Making Great Illustration is a big squarish yellow affair with a careful choice of scratchy type on the cover, thereby avoiding the need to pick any one illustration as a defining image of the volume. Inside the pair have picked out some best examples of illustrators working on a variety of different types of projects, including fiction, decorative, children’s, editorial, typographical, fashion (hurrah) and political (very timely).

Making Great Illustration intro
Making Great Illustration tanya ling
Making Great Illustration rob ryan
What’s really nice is the concentration on personal studio practice, with the authors visiting the featured artists in their studios. Whilst it’s improbable that you will like all the work in this book (I don’t) this ensures that for any burgeoning illustrator or intrigued long time practitioner there is still plenty to learn. Of particular note are the chapters on fashion illustrators Tanya Ling and David Downton – perfect for fans of ACOFI.

Making Great Illustration Hvass Hannibal
Making Great Illustration catalina estrada
Of course no contemporary illustration book would be complete without a section devoted to wonderboy Rob Ryan, who is single handedly responsible for the world’s reignited love of paper-cutting, and it’s also nice to see the work of Hvass&Hannibal, who’ve long seduced me with their colourful abstract artworks. Catalina Estrada is the famed Spanish illustrator who has successfully made a cross over into fashion textile design and you are bound to discover some exciting new artists: for me this included the bold perspectives of late starter Yuko Shimizu and the evocative children’s illustration of Kitty Crowther.

Making Great Illustration yuko
Making Great Illustration kitty crowther
Amongst some of the newer upstarts you will also find the legendary Ralph Steadman and the doyen of children’s publishing, Quentin Blake. Ah, memories of childhood.

Making Great Illustration is a must buy book for anyone who wants to learn more about illustration, created with great attention to detail by insiders who are immersed in this wonderful world. Read more on the dedicated Making Great Illustration website. The book is published by A & C Black, part of Bloomsbury Publishing. If you like the sound of this don’t forget to check in with my two illustration books Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration and Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, both of which feature the personal work practice of a whole host of up and coming illustrators.

Categories ,A & C Black, ,ACOFI, ,Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration, ,Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, ,AOI, ,Association of Illustrators, ,Bloomsbury Publishing, ,book, ,Catalina Estrada, ,David Downton, ,Derek Brazell, ,Fashion Illustration, ,Hvass & Hannibal, ,Hvass&Hannibal, ,illustration, ,Jo Davies, ,Kitty Crowther, ,Making Great Illustration, ,Quentin Blake, ,Ralph Steadman, ,review, ,Tanya Ling, ,Yuko Shimizu

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Amelia’s Magazine | Becoming A Successful Illustrator: An interview with illustrator, publisher and author Derek Brazell

Understanding Illustration_cover_dancing bear

Illustration guru Derek Brazell has an awesome amount of projects on the go – as well as being a successful illustrator in his own right he also works for the Association of Illustrators, publishes the illustration industry bible Varoom, and has recently co-written three essential books about illustration. His first book with collaborator and cohort Jo Davies was Making Great Illustration, (read our review right here), and below he introduces his two most recent publications – Becoming A Successful Illustrator and Understanding Illustration. Read on, and glean some essential advice…

Derek Brazell_portrait

Last year you published Becoming A Successful Illustrator. Why do you think it is so important for illustrators to know more about the business? Do you think it is an especially difficult industry to work in and if so why?
It seems all creative industries can be an initial struggle to get established in, and tenacity and loads of enthusiasm are really important. Co-author, Jo Davies and I wanted to help illustrators get a grip on the side of the business which isn’t the artwork side. If you want to be an illustrator, you also want to make some income from creating artwork, and that means having an understanding of the industry so you can thrive within it. Just having an artistic talent isn’t always enough. So we cover topics in the book including Illustration and the world of work; Working for clients; The art of self-promotion; Getting your work seen; Securing work; Finance and legalities and added in an activities section covering Understanding fees, Promotional strategy, Skills audit, Where to work and Costing commissions.

For this book, Jo and I wanted to combine our varied experiences in the illustration world, both as illustrators since the 1980’s, and myself through a thorough understanding of copyright, licensing and negotiating and Jo’s longstanding teaching experience as professor of illustration at Plymouth University – our ‘insider’ knowledge. We knew we wanted to combine strong, contemporary visuals with solid advice, coupled with first hand quotes from illustrators from across a range of experience – newer artists as well as more established ones. This turned out to be a successful approach to illuminating illustration business, and gives the book a unique voice and visual style.

Becoming a Successful Illustrator cover

How did you decide upon the illustrators that were commissioned for inclusion in the book?
We were keen to break up the chapters in a visual way, and the best solution to that was to commission five illustrators to create a piece around the number of the chapter they were asked to illustrate. It was important that they all looked different, with varied approaches to their artwork, so both Jo and I went back to our research and selected illustrators we liked and then discussed our long list. Some had been taught by Jo at Plymouth University and others were people whose work we generally admired.

BASI_Spread_104-105

What is the single most important thing an illustrator should know before embarking on a new piece of work for a client?
The brief is ultimately the most important element of a commission, as that is what starts off the creative process. And even if it’s a fairly open brief, it’s important to know the parameters of a job. But a close second is what rights are being requested from you by the client, and does the fee you’re asking reflect those rights accurately?

Understanding Illustration_Audrey Niff

Understanding Illustration is a sumptuous volume that was published this year and focuses on the work of a selection of illustrators. How did you choose the ones included and was it difficult choice?
Jo and I spent ages deciding who we thought would best suit Understanding Illustration. There are four sections covering Traditional Uses, Documentary, Message and Off the Printed Page, and we wanted each image to reveal something about the subject in the 21st Century, whether demonstrating the power of illustration to communicate (such as Luba Lukova highlighting social issues and Veronica Lawlor exposing the neglect after the New Orleans flooding disaster), revealing the breath of subjects it deals with, examining the way that illustration functions across a diversity of platform and reflecting on the way that artists create.

So we took a long list and got ruthless with who we thought would really demonstrate the points we were raising with each of the four sections. It meant we ended up with a wonderful diversity of projects: Emma Houlston’s seven foot high monsters for Mulberry fashion house catwalk show, Jan Pienkowski’s delightful silhouette fairy tale images, Victor Ambrus’ battle drawings for Time Team and Richard Johnson’s reportage sketches from Afghanistan.

Understanding Illustration_Message

Can you tell us a bit more about the project?
With Understanding Illustration we wanted to provide a snapshot of what is happening with illustration at this time internationally and emphasise that illustration continues to be powerful – culturally, politically and commercially. And also that the individual illustrator is still important and valued in the creation of imagery, that illustration contributes to other fields of knowledge, working as it does with science, history, conservation, and that it is a vast and evolving subject, constantly re-defining itself, in fascinating ways. So showing amazing work, but also the thinking behind each project.

Understanding Illustration_KristjanaW

What has been your favourite project to work on recently and why?
I feel really passionate about illustration, it’s great to continue to be immersed in that world, so all projects involved with it are enjoyable. Jo and I organized a launch event for Understanding Illustration at Foyles bookstore earlier in the year, and that was great to work on. We invited Sara Fanelli and George Butler, who are both in the book, to speak on the projects we’d featured, and they were really entertaining speakers. Illustrators are so often really nice, generous people.

Understanding Illustration_EmmaH

How does your collaboration with Jo Davies work?
Jo’s often come up with the concept for a book, and then we brainstorm it, spending time on the structure and what’s required and how a reader will approach it. We don’t think people start our books at the beginning and go methodically through, but more probably dip in and out – so it’s got to function well in both contexts. Once we know what we’re doing we divide texts up and write them separately but then send them back and forth for comments – and that seems to work well. Sometimes when I read them back I can’t remember if I did them or Jo did! Unless I interviewed a certain artist, of course. Jo’s great fun to work with as she has a fantastically positive attitude and a really sharp mind.

Understanding Illustration 1

Why do you think that illustration continues to be such an important medium today, and what can it contribute to the visual landscape that perhaps a photograph cannot? 
Illustration has a unique ability to explain a concept and illuminate an idea, but also to be less literal than a photograph, although obviously both disciplines can blur together and produce amazing artwork. Illustration brings so many personal voices to the table, something that possibly is more challenging to create in photography.

Understanding Illustration-2

As well a working at the AOI you also publish Varoom magazine, how do you split your time between these two outlets?
Varoom takes up a substantial amount of my time at the AOI, and it’s great working with editor, John O’Reilly, whom I liaise with over themes and content (plus proof reading and liaising with the designers and printer). I also write as one of the magazine’s contributing editors on Reportage illustration. I feel proud of the depth of writing on illustration in Varoom, and believe it gives a fantastic interrogative platform to the art form. The rest of my time at the AOI is involved with working with other visual artists’ rights organisations including the British Copyright Council on protecting illustrators rights, which are always under threat, running the illustration research network, VaroomLab (we’re holding a conference called Interpretation with Arts University Bournemouth in September), supporting the membership department, and lots of other things!

BASI_spread_KanittaM

How on earth do you churn out the volume of work that you create? What is your secret to such large scale productivity? I am in awe…
It’s exhausting! Doing a full time job and writing complement each other fairly well, as they’re different areas for me, but we wrote Becoming A Successful Illustrator and Understanding Illustration at the same time, for two different publishers, AVA and A&C Black (subsequently AVA was bought by Bloomsbury, so they ended up under the same publishers’ imprints). That meant sidelining my social life for quite some time. Friends were moaning I never saw them for a year, and culture took a back seat. But I’m back having some fun again now.

What other projects do you have lined up and what are you most looking forward to doing during the rest of 2014?
Jo and I have continued promoting our three books (they were all recently featured in Pick Me Up fair’s bookstore) but currently I’m taking a rest from writing books and doing more artwork for myself – working on decorative tiles (on cardboard) and I’ve started a project on trees, my favourite growing things. Something where I can paint a few leaves and think ‘Yep, done some art today’.

Categories ,A&C Black, ,AOI, ,Association of Illustrators, ,Author, ,AVA, ,Becoming A Successful Illustrator, ,Bloomsbury, ,Costing commissions, ,Derek Brazell, ,documentary, ,Emma Houlston, ,George Butler, ,illustration, ,interview, ,Jan Pienkowski, ,Jo Davies, ,John O’Reilly, ,Luba Lukova, ,Making Great Illustration, ,Message and Off the Printed Page, ,Pick Me Up, ,Plymouth University, ,Promotional strategy, ,Richard Johnson, ,Sara Fanelli, ,Skills audit, ,The art of self-promotion; Getting your work seen; Securing work; Finance and legalities, ,Traditional Uses, ,Understanding fees, ,Understanding Illustration, ,Varoom, ,VaroomLab, ,Veronica Lawlor, ,Victor Ambrus, ,Where to work

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Josh Patterson: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featured artist.

Josh_Patterson
Birmingham City University graduate Josh Patterson creates intense fantastical images in a distinctive colour palette that immediately caught my eye at New Designers this year. His artwork for Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion was inspired by the super pretty Wilderness Festival, but will surely appeal to festival lovers anywhere. I am also super pleased to announce that Josh is creating the cover for my book… and it’s already looking absolutely fabulous.

Josh_Patterson
You’ve already done exceptionally well for a graduate, how did Birmingham City Uni set you up for your career?
BCU was a great place for me to go to. The course and facilities on campus were top notch; although, I almost wish I had made more use of them during my time there. As I’m sure with most creative courses, the tutors really push you to extend the boundaries of your creative thinking. But what I found really useful about BCU was their focus on preparing us for what the industry would be like. With talks from the AOI, agents and top illustrators, I think the majority of my year left with the necessary knowledge to do well in this competitive industry.

Josh_Patterson
What awards have you won?
I won two awards at the Lara Vis Com Awards ceremony this year. The first was called, ‘The Illustration Award’ and was sponsored by the AOI. I believe this was to go to the most promising new illustrator, so that was very encouraging! The prize for this was a 3-month internship with the AOI. But I’ll talk more about that a bit later. The second award was the ‘Illustration Using Print Award’ – which was sponsored by Nobrow. The prize for this one was a portfolio review with Sam Arthur, the Managing Director and Founder of Nobrow. This was a great opportunity to get some professional advise on my work, and being a huge fan of Nobrow myself, it was great to simply have a one on one chat with him.

Josh_Patterson
How have you found commissions for work to date?
The majority of my commissions at the moment have been from people/companies contacting me via email. Most of them having stumbled across my website or seen my stuff advertised on various social media sites. I’ve actually just been approached by an architectural company in Guatemala, Mexico – about potentially doing some illustrations for an up and coming project they’re working on. I guess that goes to show the power of the Internet and social media in today’s society! However, I do still send out samples to magazines and newspapers – that’s how I got the Computer Arts job.

Josh_Patterson
What inspires your style and colour palette?
Anything and everything really… I try to document the inspirational things I see, whether it’s a quick sketch or taking a photo. Usually the latter if I’m on the move! For example, I was on the train the other day and noticed the colours in the pattern on the floor so I whipped my phone out and started snapping away. I did get a few strange looks mind you… I try to keep up to date with what is current in the industry and see how I can interpret certain aesthetics or concepts in my own way. I’ve always enjoyed drawing people with small heads and elongated figures as I find this almost adds personality to the characters in my drawings yet, allows me to maintain a strange sense of anonymity throughout an illustration.

Josh_Patterson
How do you create your artworks?
I’ll sketch the roughs and scan them into Adobe Illustrator. Once the vector drawing is built up on a grayscale I’ll start to think about a colour scheme for the illustration. I like working in grayscale initially as this allows me to establish the correct tone and shading in an image. It also makes it easier when working with gradients too. After all this I superimpose the textures into the final coloured illustration.

Josh_Patterson
What kind of atmosphere best suits you when working?
At the moment I work in my studio from home. I’m pretty content working by myself as it allows me to get my head down without there being too many distractions. However, I think I’ll be looking to rent a studio space soon, preferably one that is shared with other creatives as I appreciate getting other peoples inputs on my works in progress. I really enjoy freelancing as I can work to my own schedule, which is a real privilege of the job. I also love the fact I get to listen to music all day, as this is another thing I’m immensely passionate about. But, it is probably one of my biggest distractions when trying to work. I find myself forever trawling through the deepest reaches of Spotify discovering new music and making new playlists.

Josh_Patterson
How did you come up with the idea for your colouring book illustration?
My submission was inspired by a recent trip to Wilderness Festival. I was so captivated by the atmosphere there that I was looking for any excuse to illustrate it, so this brief was perfect! I’ve made the illustrations slightly personal by highlighting particular events that my friends and I got up to while we were there… So there may be a few private jokes in there! In an attempt to capture a sense of the chaotic nightlife I’ve experimented with a slightly more vibrant colour palette to what I usually use. I’ve juxtaposed this chaos with the tranquil scenes of boats in the (hot-tub surrounded) lake and people doing yoga: in order to represent a genuine feel for the festival.

Josh_Patterson
What have you been doing at the AOI?
For the past three months as well as working on freelance projects, I’ve also been interning with the AOI and assisting the awards manager in curating the World Illustration Awards exhibition. This has been an amazing and invaluable experience for me – especially at this stage in my career. I’ve met some awesome people, made some great connections and learnt a lot about the industry during this time. They’ve helped me out massively when it comes to accepting commissions and pricing my work as well. I would highly recommend to any illustrator (new or experienced) to consider becoming a member as it will only make you more knowledgeable of the industry, thus making you much more professional as a creative.

Josh_Patterson
I hear you have a few other projects on the go, can you tell us more about them?
I’ve just finished a project for a company called RM2, who specialize in employee share schemes for private companies. They’re in the process of writing a book about their industry and asked me to illustrate the front cover – which unfortunately I can’t share with you as the book hasn’t been published yet! I also produced a series of 4 illustrations to accompany certain headings on their website. I pretty much had free reign when it came to thinking up the concepts behind this project. However, I was restricted with the colour scheme, as they wanted it to more or less match the colours of their logo. I sometimes enjoy working with colour restrictions as it encourages me to focus on other elements of an illustration and I’ll often produce an outcome with a much more interesting composition or perspective.

I’ve also just closed on a deal with a company called Bramwell Brown to produce a series of three different clock designs for them. I’m very excited to get started on this project, as I’ve not done any illustration to this kind of format before. The clocks are really cool as well; they have illustrations that rotate inside them, with a section that shows certain parts of the image relative to what the weather is like that day. They have various other themed ones as well but are interested in me creating a London styled one. And have, again, given me free reign on the concepts for the other two. So I’m very excited to get started on this one!

You can find the stunning work of Josh Patterson in Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion, available from Kickstarter soon.

Categories ,#ameliasccc, ,Adobe Illustrator, ,Adult Coloring Book, ,Adult Colouring Book, ,Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion, ,AOI, ,Birmingham City University, ,Bramwell Brown, ,Coloring, ,Coloring Book, ,Colouring, ,Colouring Book, ,Computer Arts, ,Illustration Using Print Award, ,interview, ,Josh Patterson, ,Kickstarter, ,Lara Vis Com Awards, ,Nobrow, ,RM2, ,The Illustration Award, ,Wilderness Festival, ,World Illustration Awards

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Ignacia Ruiz: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featured artist.

Ignacia Ruiz
Ignacia Ruiz was born near the Andes but has chosen London as her home. Since graduation from her degree she’s had a packed schedule, featuring in numerous exhibitions but happily finding time to produce some artwork for Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion too.

ignacia Ruiz Portrait
What has prompted your lifelong obsession with greenhouses and plants in general?
I think it started with the very first place I lived in. There was a small greenhouse in the centre of the house and I can remember being about 4 years old and going in to water plants with my mum. It always seemed like the most magical place! I think that has remained my impression ever since. Being from the city and surrounded mostly by buildings has made me see plants and greenery as a precious thing.

Ignacia Ruiz
Ignacia Ruiz
You love to sketch on location – how did you set about capturing the hothouse atmosphere of the greenhouse?
For me it was getting the mix of the delicate architecture of the steel frame and glass against the organic structural shapes of the plants themselves. The tropical heat of the greenhouse hopefully comes across on the vivid colours of the plants in the drawings!

Ignacia Ruiz
What was the best bit about growing up in Santiago de Chile?
Weirdly enough I think it was probably the topography of it. You can drive from the city to the seaside in an hour to have a swim and later drive up the snowy mountains all in the same day. The variety of landscapes is lovely. My favourite thing in Santiago is seeing the Andes mountains at sunset. The snow turns red and orange and you can see the beauty of them in stark contrast with the glass and steel of the buildings.

Ignacia Ruiz
Why did you pick London for your study?
Initially I was only coming to London for maybe a year, but a lot happened in that time and I felt like it was the right place for me. I then applied to do the Graphic Design and Illustration BA at Central Saint Martins and got offered a place. That’s when I decided I wanted to stay here and try to develop my career. It’s been going well ever since!

Ignacia Ruiz
How do you translate your location sketches into finished works of art and what is the process?
My sketches are usually very fast and loose, so I like to have finished work that retains some of that quality. I have found that with print methods like linocut and woodcut I can emulate the drawing pen with the chisel. I guess it’s the same idea, just a different tool. I love playing with negative space and the bold flat colour you get with relief printing. I also like the imperfections of the print that relate to the initial rough sketch. I’m not a perfectionist printmaker at all!

Ignacia Ruiz
I believe you’ve just completed a residency in Italy – can you tell us more about this?
Yes, I was very lucky to have been asked by the print studio Opificio della Rosa to come and work in an artist book. I decided to make a reportage project of the area the studio is located in, the Conca Valley. I travelled around with my sketchbook documenting the people and places I encountered. Later I returned to the studio to turn the drawings into woodcuts. It is an ongoing project that will be finished and published in 2016.

Ignacia Ruiz
How did you get the commission to illustrate a Penguin book and what was the process of producing your final artwork?
One of Penguin‘s art editors came to our second year illustration exhibition and liked some of the work I was exhibiting. We kept in touch until finally she said she had a project that would suit my work. It was a book about the planning and logistics of the Crusades. I was so excited, especially since all the research consisted in looking at beautiful period illuminations and films depicting the Crusades. The artwork went through several roughs before it was approved by Penguin and was finally rendered in a woodcut style with thick black outline and very little colour.

Ignacia Ruiz
Can you tell us more about the recent exhibitions you have taken part in?
There has been a few this year apart from my degree show. I had a piece in the AOI’s Places and Spaces exhibition at the London Transport Museum, I did a cover for Alice in Wonderland which was featured at the YCN Student Awards at the Barbican Centre, I had a project about depicting boxers training in a gym in Islington featured in the Reportager Award at the UWE in Bristol and my City linocuts series appeared at the Cheltenham Illustration Awards. It’s been a busy year!

Ignacia Ruiz
What next, will you stay in London and if so why?
I have some commissions and teaching jobs on at the moment so London feels like the right place to be. We shall see what the future brings!

You will be able to own your very own copy of Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featuring the work of Ignacia and many others… just make sure you grab your book once my Kickstarter campaign launches in a few weeks time.

Categories ,#ameliasccc, ,Adult Coloring Book, ,Adult Colouring Book, ,Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion, ,AOI, ,Central Saint Martins, ,Cheltenham Illustration Awards, ,Coloring, ,Colouring, ,Conca Valley, ,Crusades, ,Ignacia Ruiz, ,illustation, ,Kickstarter, ,linocut, ,London Transport Museum, ,Opificio della Rosa, ,Penguin, ,Places and Spaces, ,Reportager Award, ,Santiago de Chile, ,woodcut, ,YCN Student Awards

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