Illustrator Interview: Elly Walton

Illustrator Interview: Elly Walton

Ikon Images

Describe your work in three words

Wonky, fun, figurative

How did you get started in illustration? Did you always want to be an artist?

Like many, I was into drawing and creativity from a young age and given enough encouragement to improve. It seemed a natural progression to do a creative subject at university and via a slightly convoluted career path, I eventually pursued my first love of drawing and went full time as an illustrator. It took a bit of a leap to leave a job as an art director to become self-employed but despite the inevitable ups and downs, it’s a career that I love to my bones

Lots of people working from home
People cooperating to complete jigsaw puzzle

How do you approach a new illustration, where do you start?

Usually with the client brief, which can be a requirement for a specific drawing (a slug drinking a pina colada is one memorable request) or often a piece of copy, from which I come up with ideas. I’ll sketch out a few options to show the client and then together we refine the sketch to a point where they’re happy for me to draw the final version. I work completely digitally nowadays, using a drawing tablet much like I used to use pen and paper, sketching straight into software like Photoshop or Affinity

What inspires you?

The more interest I have in the world/life, the more I have to inform the scribbling, so anywhere and anything. I love fusty museums, exhibitions on the history of man (which mostly involves knapped flint), trashy tv, endless scrolling through Instagram feeds, books on fungus, podcasts on gut health. There’s not much I’ll turn my nose up at but cat videos are probably where I draw the line

What’s been your favourite topic to illustrate / favourite illustration and why?

I’m mostly happy to be gainfully employed so any day that someone is paying me to draw is a good day. I particularly love drawing maps. A map can show anything – geography, history, local hangouts, local oddballs. You can make it fun, quirky, informative, all of the above

Map of world with people using mobile technology on vacation
Students climbing large blank sheet of file paper

What’s been your most challenging commission?

Any commission where there is a lot of input from multiple people – a committee of brief-writers, sketch-feedbackers, final-tweakers. I find this often leads to the most mangled and unsatisfactory final outcome. Luckily these jobs are rare

What is your favourite medium to work with and why?

I’m totally digital these days but I still enjoy cracking open the acrylic paints, coloured pencils and occasionally sewing threads for my personal work from time to time

What does your workspace say about you?

It says here is a person who is knuckling-down to the serious business of scribbling for at least 8 hours a day. Showing up and putting the hours in, ready for when inspiration will strike. So it’s a tidy, neat and ultimately dull space that I wouldn’t bore anyone with a photo of

What bit of kit can’t you live without?

A kettle. Tech comes, tech goes. Cups of tea are a perennial requirement

Do you have any other creative endeavours outside of illustration?

I enjoy building and fixing things around the house. I’ve learned a ton from my dad, and he likes to help as well.

Name a favourite artist or an artist who inspires you

There are so many artists – past and present. I refer you to my previous answer about what inspires me. Mostly I try not to feel too intimidated by the vast oceans of talent out there, keep my head down, keep doing my own thing

Draw a 2-minute self portrait

This drawing took me about 2 minutes a few years ago, does that count?

Elly Walton 2 Minute Self Portrait

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