Illustrator Interview: Stuart Kinlough

Illustrator Interview: Stuart Kinlough

Ikon Images

Describe your work in three words.

Organic, sometimes chaotic.

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

Art had always been my favourite thing. I decided on a degree in graphic design as a viable and realistic pathway to a creative career, and during this time I gravitated more and more towards illustration. I’ve enjoyed working on typographic, branding and advertising projects with creative design agencies, but I always come back to illustration. I think a background of working with grid formations, balanced compositions and magazine layouts has strongly influenced the style of illustration that feels natural to me.

Science test tubes and petri dishes

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

Experience has taught me to ensure I’ve got a really clear idea of what the client requires from the outset and to make sure we are all on the same page. I usually send the client a written proposal of what I feel to be a good approach, followed by a sketch. After client sign-off I will gather any research materials I need and take any relevant photos. I then make the important decision to switch off the internet connection to ensure I don’t get stuck in a vortex of cat videos.

Montage of teenagers mixing and listening to music

What inspires you?

Pop art, street art, trees, the signs and surfaces of the London Underground, rusty bridges and old buildings. If I’m struggling to get that creative burst I need, I usually take a flask of coffee and head off for a jaunt around a nearby nature reserve. That usually does the trick.

What’s been your most challenging commission?

A current project – a series of illustrations for a book. Each piece of artwork has a unique topic, and it’s important as an illustrator to maintain consistency in style throughout the whole project while appreciating each illustration’s particular requirements and nuances.

What is your favourite medium to work with and why?

I love screen-printing. Over the years I’ve gathered and scanned in cast-offs, paint/pen marks and assorted scraps and textures. This library of mark-making is then used regularly in my illustrations. With this I can achieve the effects I’m looking for digitally but I do sometimes wish there was more of a need for the messy hands-on approach. Of course, working digitally with an extensive library of textures at my fingertips is a blessing when tight deadlines are involved.

What does your workspace say about you? Include a photo.

That I am foremost a green tea aficionado.

Stuart Kinlough Office

What bit of kit can’t you live without?

My laptop. It’s all I need. I feel so grateful to live in an age where I can travel and work from anywhere.

Women supporting man solving puzzle

Do you have any other creative endeavours outside of illustration?

As well as illustration and graphic design, I love working on animations using Adobe After Effects. The creative possibilities are endless. I’ve yet to combine my style of illustration with animation in a way I’m completely happy with, but I’ll get there soon!

Name a favourite artist or an artist who inspires you.

I’ve been inspired by Robert Rauschenberg for as long as I can remember, in particular his energetic combinations of organic, painterly elements and technical details. There is always something beautifully nostalgic about his work.

Stuart's 2 Minute Self-Portrait

Stuart Kinlough self portrait

More blogs