Illustrator Interview: Harry Haysom

Illustrator Interview: Harry Haysom

Ikon Images

Describe your work in three words

Digital, Conceptual, colourful

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

My Dad is also an illustrator and some of my earliest memories are of sitting on the floor of his studio doing ‘quiet drawing’ whilst he worked on commissions. I think growing up with this window into the creative industries helped to demystify it somewhat, so it always seemed to me to be a completely normal and viable career pursue, which I know is not how it can appear to a lot of people!

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

If I have a text to work from I usually read it through, and then again, highlighting or picking out the key passages. If time allows I will then take some time to let things percolate before beginning the rough stage, I often find the best ideas come when I am away from my desk doing something else, so sometimes I will take a walk or do some chores whilst I mull over ideas. I then usually do some image research online around the topic I am illustrating, Sometimes just for drawing reference, but also to get a feel of the context, to help decide what visual approach would best suit the piece. Finally, I open a document in photoshop or illustrator, and start sketching out ideas using my pen tablet.

Hands forming house to protect refugee family

What inspires you?

A lot of things! Other artists and designers work (both current and old), books and films, signage and graphic design I see out and about all influence my work. I also find listening to talks or interviews with other creatives often helps to rejuvenate me if I am feeling in a bit of a creative slump.

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

I remember doing an illustration for the FT quite a few years ago about the phenomenon of ‘Kakonomics’ - how societal systems can tend toward producing low quality exchanges of good and services. I suggested to the Art director that in that spirit, my illustration should be a deliberately crappy stick man drawing. They were on board with the idea, and the added bonus was final artwork only took me a couple of minutes!

Empty business suit working at desk

What’s been your most challenging commission?

Probably some of my early jobs where I was still working out my process, and it felt like reinventing the wheel every time a new job came in.

What is your favourite medium to work with and why?

For most of my career I have worked exclusively digitally, mainly in photoshop and illustrator. I enjoy the speed and flexibility it allows, which is very useful when working to tight deadlines. My first love though is oil painting, and on the rare occasions I pick up a brush now I am reminded how much I miss it. It’s something I am hoping to return to more in the coming years

What does your workspace say about you?

We just moved house and currently my workplace is the kitchen table. The plan is to get a studio space once things are more settled. I enjoy having somewhere to go and being around other creatives helps to keep me motivated.

What bit of kit can’t you live without?

I was working remotely in New York recently, and on the second day there my water bottle leaked in my bag and fried my MacBook. I had to put all my jobs on hold till I got home ( thankfully I had some very accommodating clients), so I think that answers the question pretty well!

Harry Haysom's kitchen office

Do you have any other creative endeavours outside of illustration?

I enjoy cooking a lot, and I have a tendency to get very absorbed with any kind of diy/building project.

Name a favourite artist or an artist who inspires you

There are many, but the first that came to mind was Édouard Manet, particularly for the way he uses black in his paintings.

Harry's 2 Minute Self-Portrait

Harry Haysom's 2 Minute Self Portrait

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