Illustrator Interview: Matt Harrison Clough

Illustrator Interview: Matt Harrison Clough

Ikon Images

Describe your work in three words

Simple, Colourful, Message

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

I have always been interested in drawing and art, but it wasn’t until I was studying graphic design at university that I considered illustration as a potential career path. As soon as I found conceptual editorial illustration, something clicked and I instantly gravitated towards it.

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

Commissions: If it’s a subject I’m unfamiliar with, I first do a bit of research. I read the article or brief a few times, and jot down any initial ideas or themes. I then write out lists of words related to the subject and try to find visual links, before beginning to make quick pencil thumbnail sketches.

Personal Projects: Sometimes an idea comes to me before I’ve even sat down to start sketching, in those cases I usually sketch the idea out to make sure I don’t forget it, and then just run with it to see what happens. In other situations I pick a subject I want to explore, and I treat it the same way I would with a commission – using the same process.

Matt Harrison Clough Illustration of City Connected by Wifi

What inspires you?

Post-war design, Fender guitars, MC Escher drawings, The Witness video game.

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

I enjoy illustrating topics that are unusual and teach me or introduce me to something new. My favourite illustrations tend to be the ones where I feel I found the right balance a between simple, clever concept and visual style.

What’s been your most challenging commission?

For me, the most challenging commissions are the ones without innate visual elements – topics like mental health, which should also be approached sensitively. These commissions force me to look for deeper, more abstract visual metaphors to communicate the message.

What does your workspace say about you?

My workspace is pretty minimal (when it’s tidy!) I keep books that inspire me on hand for then I need a creative kick, and of course, a Lego lightsaber!

What bit of kit can’t you live without?

The purest in me would want to say ‘pencil and paper’, but in reality I would have to say my Wacom pen tablet. Or noise cancelling headphones, as I share a home office with my partner who is a heavy sewing machine user!

Do you have any other creative endeavours outside of illustration?

In the past few years, I’ve been trying my hand at furniture restoration! I enjoy the satisfaction of finding an old item, refreshing it and giving it a new life. My partner and I are slowly replacing our cheap flat-pack furniture with restored finds from antique centres.

Matt Harrison Clough Workspace

Name a favourite artist or an artist who inspires you

Abram Games.

Matt's 2 Minute Self-Portrait

Matt Harrison Clough 2 Minute Portrait