Who’s your favourite artist/ illustrator or designer?
Off the top of my head, a few illustrators I have been returning to lately are Chris Ware, Shaun Tan, and Nick Hayes. I love looking at beautiful drawings, but I also admire the ability to tell a compelling story through images. I think it’s important as an illustrator to look beyond contemporary illustration for inspiration, so I try to keep my artistic interests quite wide. My MA course emphasized ways to present illustrations as beautiful objects, so I’ve developed an appreciation for well-designed and well-made books; I admire publishing companies like McSweeney’s, Nobrow, and Falmouth’s own Atlantic Press.
What do you listen to when drawing?
When I don’t need to concentrate too much, I listen to a lot of podcasts. Recently I’ve been hooked on Serial, an addictive new show from NPR. Music really depends, but today I’ve been playing some Shuggie Otis, Benjamin Clementine, and the Roots. In our house we listen to a song we like 600 times in a week until it begins to feel unhealthy… if it were a Taylor Swift song, I wouldn’t tell you!
How do you get your head in a creative space?
At this time of year, creativity comes most easily. When it starts getting cold and dark, I crawl into a sort of “hibernation headspace” and seem to require more daydreaming time. I go for a walk or run in the morning and try to be actively observant of my surroundings, which is a challenge that sets me up mentally for the rest of the day. I try to take advantage of the times of day when my brain is less connected and more creative; early morning and late night. Also, coffee!
What’s your background in art and design?
I’ve just finished my MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice at Falmouth University, which is a terrific course. My undergraduate degree was in Art History and French at Wofford College, a little liberal arts school in South Carolina. I’ve always drawn, but not as a job or towards a degree until this year. As a baby I could draw faces before I could talk, which is either impressive or creepy. Or both.
What do you find inspiring for your work?
If I’m looking for inspiration, I don’t have to go far. I’m surrounded by creative people in a beautiful place. I’m about to leave Cornwall, but I’ve found that no matter where I am, everything I need is on my doorstep.
What kind of source materials do you use in your work?
I have stacks of books, magazines, journals, clippings, cut-outs, cards… successful projects are often the result of my kleptomania. But these days I do most of my rooting around online… Pinterest is like Aladdin’s cave, and it doesn’t leave stacks of paper all over my desk.
How long to you spend working on one piece or commission?
That really depends, but 3 is a good number. 3 days, 3 hours, 3 weeks… for one drawing. I think 3 days is a good amount of time, with plenty of tea breaks and neck stretches.
What’s the one tool you can’t do without?
An eraser for my many mistakes. I just bought one at the British Museum that looks like an Egyptian pyramid. Goes perfectly with a case of Derwent pencils.
Describe your studio or workspace for us.
Right now it’s a travelling show. I was in the beautiful MA studio until September, at a window desk dangerously close to a pub and a bakery. Now I live with my friend Emily in a pretty little flat, and we give each other advice and encouragement in our work. In a few weeks I’ll be back at my folks’ house in South Carolina, surrounded by my old dollhouse, a drum kit, and a dog.
Tell us about you! What, aside from drawing takes up your time?
I spend as much time as I can outdoors, and have been very lucky to live in Cornwall, wandering along the coast and swimming in the sea. I’ve travelled, lived, and worked in a variety of interesting places, which is good fuel for art. I also like reading, writing, cooking, yoga, and anything crafty.
Where can we see more of your work and what’s up and coming for you this year?
Please have a look at my website and blog, follow me on twitter, like me on Facebook… you know how it goes! I don’t have any definite plans for 2015, but I have a feeling it will be an exciting year. I do know that I’ll be having lots of fun playing with my new art supplies from Derwent!