Interview: Meet Illustrator: Roisin O’Donnell (aka Steven Fritters)

Roisin O’Donnell is a freelance illustrator based in Norwich, working under the alias Steven Fritters. Born in Stoke-on-Trent and subsequently attending Leeds Arts University in 2014, Roisin studied fine art and specialised in painting, producing large scale works, significantly different to her current illustration work. We caught up with Steven Fritters to talk illustration and inspirations.


“With an eccentric flair and a love of colour she creates illustrations featuring playful characters and motifs. Her main objective is to evoke feelings of joy and nostalgia alongside a humorous element.”


First of all, how did you get into illustration?
It was when I graduated from uni in 2017 that I realised I would financially struggle to produce the big paintings that I had made in the studio at uni and I would have to rethink how I made work going forward. I would try to be creative on my days off from cafe jobs, but I never felt like I was getting anywhere. However at the same time I was constantly doodling on the check pads at work and my colleagues loved the weird characters I was drawing for them. I would give them silly names like ‘Ian Chutney’ or ‘Steven Fritters’, inspired by the items we had on the menu. Someone suggested I make an Instagram to show case them and it went from there.

How do you go about starting a piece of work? Does it start as a pencil drawing? What is your process?

I tend to begin a piece of work by sitting down and drawing in a sketchbook. The initial drawings tend to be very lose and quick. I prefer to work from a hand drawn sketch as I feel that there is an authenticity that is difficult to recreate digitally. I will then scan the drawing into photoshop or procreate and work over it digitally. I also love watercolour and printmaking.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on some coffee bag label designs, some branding for a dental hygienist, illustrations for a bag collaboration, t-shirt designs for a children’s clothing company and the never ending task that is updating my website!

Tell us about a typical working day

I often struggle to get going on my freelance days unless I feel I am productive from the moment I get up. I like to go for a run and make sure my working space is tidy before I sit down and start drawing. Sometimes in front of the telly or whilst listening to a podcast. I also enjoy drawing in cafes and pubs as a special treat.

How do you want people to feel when they see your work?

I want people to look at my work and not only enjoy the colours and composition but for them to feel a sense of strange nostalgia. For them to feel as though this reminds them of somewhere that they can’t quite place. I hope the characters bring them joy and some magic to their day.

Who’s work do you admire and why?

There are so many illustrators and artists that I really admire but a few that stand out are, Sophy Hollington for her amazingly mystical Lino cuts that are just so beautiful and detailed, she has really created something unique. Another illustrator is Keith Shore, who is an expert at good branding and his work for Mikkeller Beer is so striking and bold. I love Tove Janssen and the wonderful world of Moomins. My partner, Tom Dogg is also an illustrator and living with someone creative is great and an endless source of influence. I have also been loving the paintings and sculptures of Nacho Eterno for their colours and weirdness.

Does music influence your work at all?

Music can definitely influence my creative process and I always try to listen to different things to get ideas going. It can be such a mood lifter and when I’m feeling uncreative it can really get me out from a rut.

Who’s your favourite new band?

Looking through my Spotify it appears that I prefer solo artists and there isn’t anything that is very new, but I really love the bands Alvvays and Beach House.

Finally, what can we expect to see from you in the near future?

In the future I would love to work on some larger scale oil paintings, using the skills I learnt at uni and applying them to my current illustration practice.