A really difficult question! Hopefully these 3 words: Attention to Detail
I have always wanted to do something creative; it’s been a bonus that I have been able to make a career out of it. I have been obsessed with drawing since childhood. I tried to turn every other lesson at school into my own secret art session whilst pretending to pay attention. This was to the detriment of other subjects!
I then felt I had found my ‘home’ at art college, then eventually onto illustration at degree level. It was fun as well as work. Despite a good grounding and an education in illustration, it’s still difficult to make a career of it, even if you might have talent or were the ‘best drawer’ at school.
After my formal education finished, I decided to start from scratch again. I produced a new portfolio of work which I then physically hawked around potential commissioners (mostly in London). It took a while to become established, but perseverance does pay off. To begin with, this was a bigger learning curve than any prior education. I was out of my comfort zone basically and had to learn fast as it was now my job!
Always with pencil/pen and paper, no matter how scribbly or rough to start with. I then refine any sketches to send to the client. I sometimes take my sketchbook to a café (if time permits) it can help to generate ideas in a different environment other than my desk. I prefer to work to music/radio or some background noise too.
I know it’s cliched but walking, birdwatching, just being in and around nature. I quite like a meander around a good museum or art gallery too! Other illustrators inspire me and in general art, film, music, reading and tuning into other creative work whatever it might be.
I am lucky enough to enjoy most of my work. Although I particularly like illustrating book reviews. These are usually a newspaper or magazine feature to review an upcoming novel. It can be easier when a client is specific about a brief but being given ‘free reign’ over ideas and concepts is more rewarding creatively. If the words are visual, then ideas flow and develop more freely.
Probably a feature on a ‘super mansion’ for The Evening Standard magazine. It involved illustrating a double page, cut-away view of the mansion with loads of detail and tiny figures interacting within the rooms. It was a combination of tech style architectural drawing with a bit of ‘Where’s Wally?’ thrown in. I have done quite a few storyboards too, these can be fun, but the deadlines are very short, and you often have to re-do the whole thing after all the clients have pitched in with suggestions!
I would have to say brush and gouache on paper. It is the most analogue part of my working process but can still be the most satisfying. It feels a bit like good tai chi if you get the brush flowing just right!
It’s literally a work in progress as I have just recently moved house!
All of it I really, favourite pencil/pens (yes, seriously - I know it sounds sad!), sketchbooks, PC, software such as photoshop, graphics tablet etc. I find it ridiculously hard to walk past an art shop or stationers without making an unnecessary purchase (I have still not used that adjustable set-square).
I do draw for pleasure, especially if travelling or just being somewhere inspiring away from home. I make observational (mostly landscapes) drawings in a moleskine sketchbook. These drawings are much more relaxed and sketchier than my commissioned work. It’s good to draw just for the sake of it at times. I sometimes make paintings on canvas too if I make the time for it.
I have lots of these, I can get a bit obsessional (I think this is a common trait amongst illustrators and creatives) with certain artists and illustrators for periods of time. I have always liked Peter Blake, Georges Remi aka Herge (Tin Tin) just the artwork though, I find the character Tin Tin a bit annoying! Van Gogh of course… Visually, Wes Anderson films are up there too (having recently seen ‘The French Dispatch’).
A cartoon of my 'working day'. The character is me and 'sort of' looks like me, albeit a bit younger.