How did you get started as an
I studied illustration at UWE in Bristol until I graduated in 2004 and in terms of breaking into the market I was pretty slow out of the gate when university finished. Lots of recent graduates head straight into the market once they finish studying but I was still trying to figure things out when I left. I spent a long time alone painting and finding my voice. Over the first couple of years I completed a few editorial pieces for the now defunct music magazine, Plan B. I mainly took part in exhibitions and concentrated on personal work until I came back from 3 months in Asia and found myself unemployed and looking for work in restaurants and bars which made me realise that I wanted a career as an illustrator more than ever. So I saved up and bought a computer and taught myself how to integrate my hand drawn work with Photoshop. Which is a long and painful process. I moved back to Bristol and worked every spare minute I had whilst working a full time job to improve my ability to draw and learn more about being an illustrator. Eventually, I got to the point where I could survive on the money I earned from illustrating. That was a good day.
What or who are your primary influences?
Nathan Jacques Garamond, Charley Harper, Jim Flora, Tom Eckersley, Picasso and the Stenberg Brothers had a huge impact on the way I think about composition and what you can accomplish with composition and colour. Tim Biskup made me rethink everything I thought I knew about colour the first time I saw his work. I really admire how he makes sure that his imagery never gets stagnant, its always evolving in one way or another which I find truly inspiring and is something I try to apply to my own work ethos.
I prefer to look back in time for inspiration rather than looking at what people are doing now. Sometime I feel very out of touch with what is hot in the industry right now but art movements such as Cubism, Constructivism, Bauhaus and Futurism have fascinated me for a long, long time. I'm also an avid collector of old Matchbox labels circa 1930- 1970. These tiny artefacts are bursting at the seams with simple, well executed design and limited palettes.
What inspires you?
Folklore and stories, shapes and colours, limitations and restrictions, creative freedom and friends who encourage me to work harder are my main ingredients. Stepping outside of my comfort zone and accepting failure can often be the most inspiring thing for me.
With the rise of the interweb & digitalisation, a lot of new designers are less knowledgeable in that sphere. How important is print to you?
Super important. A job or image is never finished to me until I can
hold it in my hands as a physical object. The more you know about the
physical process the more it makes sense when you start preparing the
layers digitally. Some of the colour cross overs I do are too
complicated for my tiny brain to work out maually so I rely on the
computer for that part. Even then though, its still very complicated.
Here are two links my print breakdown process on my blog.
75 Peters print breakdown and Nobrow 5 print breakdown.
How have you developed your knowledge of the craft
By visiting industrial printers, working with screen printers and
printing myself, conversations with friends, who are printers, and I
guess a big part of my interest (with Litho printing especially) stems
from my relationship and work with Nobrow to the extent where I even
prep digital images the same way I prep industrial litho images for
Can you break down you process of choosing & developing a palette? eg. do you pull them out of photos, manually create them in Photoshop or Illustrator?
I just grab a pantone book and flick through. Once I've picked a
palette of two, three or four colours, I make a new window in
photoshop and put the colours in as circles and then using the
multiple tool I work out roughly what secondary colours I can make.
I'm much faster at using colour nowadays but is always a challenge and
never easy but it is extremely rewarding when it works.
Do you combine traditional and digital media in your work? How and why/why not?
Yes, I use my light box to pull apart my original hand drawings into individual shapes and then scan those shapes into Photoshop where I piece the whole thing back together like a jigsaw puzzle. I always try and keep as much of my hand drawings in my final images as possible. I like using Photoshop because when a deadline is really tight and a client needs the work immediately, I can make alterations pretty quickly and just ping it off to them in a email. I still find it strange waiting a few months sometimes to see a physical version of my work because I've only seen it as a digital image until its released by a client.