Illustrator Interview: Nick Shepherd

Illustrator Interview: Nick Shepherd

Ikon Images

Describe your work in three words

Humorous, conceptual, problem-solving.

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

I always drew as a child - people fighting, swords, manga... boys stuff - then education incrementally knocked it out of me over the years. I ended up doing media at uni before stumbling into a job as a computer games artist, and when that company went under, I somehow ended up doing editorial illustrations. I can’t exactly remember how I made that leap.

Nick Shepherd Illustration of hands meeting

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

I quickly skim read the copy and then I like to sleep on it. I subscribe to the idea that the brain can connect the dots in the most abstract of ways whilst in and out of consciousness.

Nick Shepherd Illustration of money holding up building

What inspires you?

I don’t spend much time actively and consciously trying to soak up inspiration to bring to my ‘art’ - I do editorial commissions, and the copy usually has everything that I might need. Film references sometimes make it into my concepts; most often it’s the potters wheel scene from Ghost, but I haven’t had a client run with that idea yet.

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

My favourite set of illustrations were for a piece on the education system within prisons for TES. It was something a little bit different, and had a more serious tone, but the topic itself offered such a rich library of symbols to draw from and that allowed me to really push my ideas.

What’s been your most challenging commission?

Any of the books that I’ve done. I much prefer the fast paced in and out of editorials. I don’t like getting bogged down with drawing details. I like working with ideas.

What is your favourite medium to work with and why?

Digital. I haven’t used any type of traditional media for drawing since school. It’s much easier for me to explore ideas - and rub them out - with a stylus rather than a real pen.

What does your workspace say about you?

That I got into illustration so that I don’t have to be sat at a desk all day.

What bit of kit can’t you live without?

It’d have to be the iPad; I’m increasingly trying to move my work onto that instead of using the wacom (which is stuck to a desk).

Nick Shepherd Workspace

Do you have any other creative endeavours outside of illustration?

Not really. I find being a full-time illustrator takes up all that energy. Does gardening count?

Name a favourite artist or an artist who inspires you

Lowry perhaps; I like the little matchstick men, and the ‘it’s grim up north’ backdrops.

Nick's 2 Minute Self-Portrait

Nick Shepherd 2 Minute Portrait

In my style - and my defence - I strive to make characters look generic and representative of symbols of people, rather than individuals themselves…

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