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Interview: So Young Selects The AUB GradList Illustrators 2021

We are excited to partner with the Arts University Bournemouth once again to select and show off some of this year’s graduates from the Illustration course.

The work chosen ranges from 3D and digital work to TikTok animation. We caught up with the selected illustrators to get an insight into their work and highlight some of our favourite pieces.

 

Harry Bhalerao @harrybhal

 

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

I always get the best ideas from a crappy 10 second sketch. There’s nothing like the immediacy and imperfection of that drawing that captures the essence of the whole piece, even after you spend 6 hours working on it.

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

I want people to feel a sense of nostalgia that connects my work to their own fond memories and experiences; as well as a strong sense of tactility, as if my characters and worlds were real and you could reach out and touch them.

How did you develop your personal style? Who are your influences?

I developed my personal style by teaching myself Blender in first year and using it as a tool to experiment and push pixels around. I’ve admired the work of Jack Sachs and Eran Hilleli from the outset, and illustrators like Molly Fairhurst, Alex Kiesling, and Patrick Kyle (to name a few) are always filling up my creative petrol tank.

If you could work with a dream client, who would it be and why?

Dream gig would be animating a couch gag sequence in my style for an episode of the Simpsons. If you’re reading this Matt I’ll do it for free, call me.

 

Luke Slator @lukeslator.art

 

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt being at AUB?

I’ve really enjoyed learning how to bend and mould my work into a professional setting, with advice and guidance from my tutors. I’ve really enjoyed seeing my work grow into a portfolio that I’m happy with and take great pride in seeing how far I’ve come from the beginning of my studies.

What informs your practise? 

I enjoy taking inspiration from already existing imagery but warping it into my own unique take on the subject, using inspiration from 90s street art and more fine art pieces. I enjoy taking the mundane and creating interesting and extravagant pieces.

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

I want people to feel a kid like joy, similar to how you feel watching an old cartoon or looking through old comics.

How did you develop your personal style? Who are your influences?

It took me a long time to really refine my work to the point I was happy with, I spent time finding a style I could consistently produce and that is distinctively mine. Looking at artists like Haring and Barry McGee I’ve managed to mould my own style from the rough and gritty street art scene of the 90’s.

 

Eliza Young @elizayoungillustration

 

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

To get ideas, I like to listen to music whilst scrolling through my ‘Inspiration’ Pinterest board and sketch whatever comes to mind. My inspo board is cluttered with everything ranging from vintage teddies, Peanuts comics, funny animals, retro clothes, and photos of children goofing around- anything that I think I could remix into something special. When drawing, I like to use a biro to keep myself from feeling overly precious about how my sketches look. Wobbly lines, incorrect anatomy, and smudges don’t matter- the idea is all that matters at this point.

Once I feel like I have a concept worth building on, I’ll sketch different iterations of it until I have either a plan for a blender model, or plan for a more polished drawing- which I then finalise. 

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

I’m usually able to crack a smile out of people. It feels good when that happens, so more of that would be grand.

How did you develop your personal style? Who are your influences?

Whilst I’m definitely influenced by the sweet philosophy of Peanuts comics, Ed Cheverton’s shapes, Hel Covel’s abstract characters, and Julian Glander’s whacky 3D world- the two biggest influences on my style are probably my two classmates: Billy Budgen and Harry Bhalerao. 

The two of them are really smart and witty fellas, and seeing their confidence in their illustration skills certainly influenced me to try out new approaches and grow as a result. Cheers boys 🙂

What direction would you like to take your work post higher education?

On a grand scale, I’d love to find a way I can work within a team. Whilst Illustrating on my own can be great fun, I’d love to try being part of a bigger picture, so I can socialise with other creators and be a part of something bigger than myself. 

On a much smaller scale, I’d also love to experiment with ceramics. I’m a big fan of Channel 4’s Great Pottery Throwdown, and dream of making practical and decorative ceramic sets of characters. Back in the January lockdown I made my own ceramic doggy cheese dome, fondue pot, and pickle jars in Blender to try fulfil my dreams, but funnily enough- I think I’d prefer making them in real life instead of the digital world!

 

Rosie Courtney @rotusart

 

What informs your practise? 

Myths and legends for sure. I have an obsession with cultural myths and folklore, particularly shedding a light on tales that are less well known. I find being able to animate an old tale and breathe new life into it with my own style is a fascinating task for me to do. Modern day occurences do inform my practice as well, particularly when I am working on editorial illustrations and have to pay attention to world news.

Tell us about a typical working day.

I wake up and the kettle is on for some coffee almost immediately. After breakfast I check my emails in regards to work as currently I am a digital marketer and a freelance editorial illustrator. I also am open to commissions so may have a few enquiries as well. Once I’m all up to date with work after a few hours I try to get out and about in Bournemouth. I’m obsessed with charity and second hand shopping, particularly buying pieces of art. There’s something about collecting artwork from other artists that I love. In the evenings I’ll most likely be trying a new technique on my iPad in regards to drawing or animating, and the Euros will most definitely be on in the meantime. 

Tell us about your Final Major Project.

I wanted to continue my theme of myths and legends that I had been addressing in my uni work already, but within a modern context. I wanted to prove that I could work towards a large scale in the working world, so created my own festival Origin. This was about finding oneself and being around an array of cultures, including many Gods and Goddesses who were letting loose. I produced four animations promoting my festival, with gods and goddesses as the main focus with festival goers amongst them. I also created mock-ups of tote bags, posters, billboards, jumpers and more to really make my festival come to life and seem real. I even made a map and a fake line-up. I was really pleased with how everything turned out and setting myself a high expectation, and being able to fulfill it. 

If you could work with a dream client, who would it be and why?

A festival such as Green Man, El Dorado, Burning Man and even Glastonbury would be a dream. I would love to create promotional content for them with animations and gifs. 

 

Amy Dunne @amydunneillustrates

 

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

Well I make my work for other people more than I make it for myself as I really want to help, inspire and entertain people. I would like people to appreciate the small attention to detail because I do put a lot of love and thought into every single scene or image I create. Even if some people have not experienced a severe phobia of some sort, I am sure most people can relate to some of my imagery and that’s what I want really, to be relatable and to make fun of other people and myself. I want people to be laughing and pointing at my work in a good way. 

Tell us about your Final Major Project.

My final major project is a collection of images on severe phobias and anxiety made up of lino prints which have been digitally colourised. I also wrote a detailed self help guide along with my imagery which helps inform the images even though they are self-explanatory and just as effective on their own. My illustrations and writing includes some of the different types of phobias, ways to help get over them, the history of it and why you develop phobias. It is a very important project to me because I have experience with severe phobias as my images are mostly based on my life and my personal thoughts. 

If you could work with a dream client, who would it be and why?

I would love my work to be made into a book and my dream publishers would be with Penguin or Macmillan. Purely because they are the most iconic renowned publishing companies there are so when I am explaining what I have done to my Grandma she’ll know what I mean. Any publishing company I would be honoured working with though, my options are open. I would also really want to collaborate with my favourite writers and illustrators like Neil Gaiman, Oliver Jeffers and Florence Given because they have all inspired me in completely different ways.

What direction would you like to take your work post higher education?

I am hoping to get my final project work published into a self-help guide which I have already partly written but I am currently expanding on and improving. The plan is to illustrate and write books, to tell stories with my work and to illustrate others. I also have a small business at the moment which I am starting to work on more but for now I am writing more of my book.

 

Billy Budgen @billybudgen_

 

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt being at AUB?

Bad art is good! Images don’t have to be well-made in terms of technical skill and formal elements to have a great deal of appeal; in fact quite often the opposite is true.

What informs your practise?

I’ve got a wide range of influences, but I reckon everyone says that. TV, film, video games, music, history, mythology and folklore, nature, and pop culture at large all inform my work; as well as socio-political issues (be it consciously or unconsciously). A few specific examples would be: Saturday morning cartoons, plastic toys, psychedelic music and weird deep-sea creatures.

How did you develop your personal style? Who are your influences?

My simplistic 3D style stemmed as much from my limited understanding of the software I use as it did from my love of simple, naive shapes and colours. Stylistically I’m obviously quite inspired by the likes of Jack Sachs and Julian Glander, but a couple of other favourites I’d like to shout out are Jamie Hewlett and Mikkel Sommer.

If you could work with a dream client, who would it be and why?

Fred Perry. Ad campaign, social media, billboards, maybe even design some garments. The whole shebang. I love the brand; the history, the culture behind it and the cult like fandom is all fascinating.

 

Ben Stillman @benstillmanart

 

What informs your practise? 

It’s a variety of things, I think. I find exploring the work of contemporary illustrators and current trends to greatly influence my decisions and designs. I love to analyse film stills, to see how directors can make their audience feel a certain way purely through colour, character and composition. Another hobby, weirdly I know, is studying philosophy, but I do really think this has influenced the meanings I try to convey in my work. Of course, it’s also quite useful to be living by the beach here in Bournemouth, because there’s always something going on! Quite a lot of my work has been inspired just from going on walks around the area and people-watching.

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

In my own editorial work, I usually try to capture some sense of atmosphere, mystery, or reflection. I find that by using lots of silhouette, grain, and textured surfaces, people tend to linger on the images a little longer to uncover their meaning. I really like it when an image can make a person think ‘Oh! I would never have thought about it that way before!’. So yeah, I think getting an audience to see things from an entirely different perspective is usually what I’m looking for.

Tell us about your Final Major Project.

My final project was divided in two parts. The first was a response to the D&AD New Blood giffgaff brief, and the second part was a whole load of speculative editorial work for several news articles, through illustration and animation. The D&AD response was a great learning experience, as it gave me a rigid structure and a specific set of challenges to work toward. It felt very much like a live brief for a company seeking promotional work. This was particularly useful as I could package my skills in motion design, music production and video editing into a cohesive, easy-to-view project – the kind that looks great in a portfolio!

The editorial side of my final project allowed me to produce more of the kind of work I hope to be freelanced with in future. It helped to further develop my editorial style from previous projects, and I even found ways to make animations with my use of silhouettes and gritty texture, something that used to be a real challenge. I produced a range of speculative illustrations and looping GIFs for a variety of articles, both in print and online, looking at themes of science, politics, business and technology.

If you could work with a dream client, who would it be and why?

Oh, that’s a good question… It’s always been a dream of mine to be featured in a publication like the New Yorker, the Economist or the NYTimes. They’ve commissioned countless examples of incredible editorial illustration over the years, and so many of my favourite illustrators have appeared in them at some point. It would be amazing to have my own work feature alongside theirs one day!

 

 

Josh Richardson @joshigrich

 

How do you go about starting a piece of work?

It’s dependent on the brief, if it’s a solo illustration then a lot of the time it would come from a pencil sketch then I’d transfer it onto photoshop. Once it’s up there I just start to play around with the colours and all the dimensions of the illustration to get to the final outcome. Though most of the time it’s rare that I fully like the final outcome, so I sometimes recycle old projects and rework them to a degree where they work for me. 

However, when I start an animation, dependent on the brief and the idea I will either storyboard the whole scene and work on each angle of the scene clip by clip though sometimes I’ll go straight in and start animating. Usually, I will add a few scenes here and there as ideas will pop up through the course of my animating. 

How did you develop your personal style? Who are your influences?

My personal style derives from a lot of surreal illustrators and animators like Jim Stoten and Heinz Edelmann who made the ‘Yellow Submarine.’ Seeing their work which was surreal and nonsensical really stood out for me, caught my eye and made me really want to create work in a similar loud fashion. My style is always evolving from pop culture, personal experiences, the environment around me and other artists who I see and admire.

Tell us about your Final Major Project.

I ended up working on two short animations for my Final Major Project. I organised and produced a short, surreal collaboration project called ‘L’Homme Ballon’ that feature 3 other animators: Joe Wood, Rosie Courtney and Luke Slator. We worked with one base character and we each had a 20 second time slot to work on. Anything and everything could happen in that allotted time as long as it started with the same frame from the last persons and ended in a frame ready for the next person to continue the animation.

For my own personal project, I did another short animation, ‘Bread Always Fall Butter Side Down’ that worked with colour coordination, having certain colours resonate with emotions and having the music in the animation to further reflect that emotion. The animation itself was a short surreal story about a man running away from the taxman who by escaping from his clutches he leaps into a suitcase that begins the whole adventure of the story. The man tumbled through different surreal worlds of his own emotion, having to break through each layer in an attempt to reach the world of joy and happiness where he wanted to stay and hide. However, if he gets there or gets caught, I guess you will just have to find out. 

What advice would you give students starting the course in September?

Don’t worry about the restrictions of briefs on the course. Keep producing your work, taking in the critique from the tutors and evolving your work that way. Create work that you enjoy and work around the briefs, so they still coincide with what you’re producing. At the end of the day art in general is so subjective, someone might like the work, and someone might not so what you need to really produce is art that you enjoy and are happy with. 

 

Jack Parsons @artjackwp

 

What informs your practise? 

I’m interested in comics and practical ink pen and brush illustrations, which I hadn’t done and was able to practice more this year after being locked in a room for 8 months. Other artists also do, mainly comic book artists like Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Mignola, Andrew MacLean, Tradd Moore, Benjamin Schipper, James Harren and Hayao Miyazaki to name a few. The art and stories they create makes me want to draw and try stuff out from how cool looking their work is and make something like they do. Pushing myself to create something that is the same standard as the work they make although I think I’m a few years off from that right now. Films also do, directors like Quentin Tarantino and cinematography from other films informs the stories I’d like to tell and how to.    

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

It starts in a sketchbook as a tiny thumbnail only I can understand. Then I might draw certain things from the piece like poses or things that would be in the background or interacted with so I understand how they work. Then it’s either a piece of paper or digitally figuring out the composition and translating the thumbnail to a bigger size. I like to draw big so it’s around A3 size but could be bigger. In this part it’s about throwing down some shapes and building up the drawing in a sketchy way figuring out perspective and poses. Then I like to do a clean pencil layer where I’ve figured everything out and can draw it clearly and iron out any more mistakes and make little changes then I ink it using brushes and pens. Then I sit back and put my feet up and notice a bunch of stuff I wish I did. 

How did you develop your personal style? Who are your influences?

My style has changed a lot recently, even from finishing the project to now. I used to draw digitally and make quite simple work, similar to Shultz and Chris Ware’s work. I still enjoy that kind of cartooning and comics but this year I moved to making work more like mainstream comics, which has been fun. I’m still developing my style and figuring out how I’d like to draw stuff but doing more life drawing and studying how to draw by looking at certain books by people like Andrew Loomis and Jack Hamm has really helped me develop my ability and style through abstracting real life and finding a way I like to draw something. Looking at other artists like Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Mignola, Andrew MacLean, Tradd Moore, Benjamin Schipper, James Harren and Hayao Miyazaki and seeing and attempting to understand how they make work has helped me from drawing techniques, mark making, tools, perspectives, backgrounds and anatomy studying it all helps and as Jack Kirby said “If you think a man draws the type of hands that you want to draw, steal ‘em. Take those hands.”

Tell us about your Final Major Project.

My final major project is a collection of short stories about a character I created called Wanderer. She is a wandering warrior who hunts monsters with a ghost companion trapped inside her sword. Inspired by the likes of Hellboy, Head Lopper, Conan The Barbarian and The Witcher. I drew four short stories to get more experience in making comics and so I could keep the work fresh and try out different locations and scenarios. The stories focus on hunting monsters and her relationship with the ghost, the project evolved through the process of making it with the world expanding and understanding the character more. I also made some cover / poster illustrations about her. I hope I can continue to make more comics about her because I really like the idea and character.

 

Lulu McGregor @tootymcnooty

 

How do you go about starting a piece of work?

It normally starts with a bunch of sketches that I tend to scribble out, but if there is anything about how I start a piece of work, a good song tends to get the engine running for me. Sometimes during these idea sessions, I will stop drawing and dance weirdly to whatever I am listening to get those ideas flowing.

How did you develop your personal style? Who are your influences?

If anything, my style is a mixture of “I have an extended knowledge of the technique of art” and “haha that looks funny”. Whilst I like to portray characters visually easy and create projects which are simple to understand I like to get nitty and gritty when it comes to the technical side of things.

Could you tell us a little about your work on TikTok and some of the clients you’ve worked with recently?

I’ve been able to work with some amazing clients from all different backgrounds, from artists like Snopp Dogg, Iggy Azelia, Mxmtoon and brands like Converse, Adobe, Pictionary and many others! In the beginning a lot of the work was promotional stuff, but as time went on by I’ve been able to implement more of my creativity into their work!

How long did it take you to grow your TikTok channel? Was it something that happened quite quickly?

I started using TikTok around late 2018, after I posted a rough animatic of me playing around on Photoshop, I started to see people get into my content, then once I started animating it only went up from there. Today the numbers are going steady, and I have a good grasp on my followers compared to before, once things level out it’s much easier to understand your audience.