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Interview: So Young Selects The AUB GradList Illustrators 2023

We are excited to partner with the Arts University Bournemouth for a fourth year and to select and show off some of 2023’s graduates from the Illustration course.

The work chosen ranges from 3D Animation and stop motion to playful sketches and character design. We caught up with the selected illustrators to get an insight into their work and highlight some of our favourite pieces.

 

Akilah Chambers – @ackee_art

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

To have confidence in my work and to trust the creative process. ‘Trusting the process’ is something many creatives say, but it’s true. The developmental stages of a project are often not straightforward, so it’s important not to get discouraged and to keep going. 

What informs your practise? 

Dance and self-expression (maybe just expressiveness in general). I love watching dance, so I like to portray a lot of movement in the work I make. I don’t want my pieces to feel static on the page, so I enjoy it when there is some tactility to them. My work involves strange characters or people just moving and existing, they could be dancing, running, mid-step or just doing something. I think this is also why I draw a lot of wobbly lines or use expressive materials. I like looking at my images and seeing some sort of energy to them.

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

I think I’ve developed my visual language by understanding my creative preferences and playing into them. I love the intrinsic playfulness of sketches and how effective a simple line is, so my pieces reflect that. I know I like texture and colour, so I make an effort to remind myself of this when creating.

In terms of influences, I love artists that experiment with material and approaches. I enjoy the work of Taiyo Matsumoto as well as Joe Kessler. I feel they are comic artists that push the possibilities of panelled narratives, and their work is nice to look at too. I love the charismatic body forms of Wilfred Wood and the painterly panels of Pierre Alechinsky. A long-time influence of mine has also been Freddy Carrasco. I’m interested in Afrofuturism, so his depiction of black characters in futuristic aesthetics as well as how he has varying creative outputs has always been inspiring.

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

To be able to expand my practice and explore the multiple ways of image making. I just like to create, so I’m up for whatever venture I can have a go at. Maybe being more involved in the music space too, so making posters and promotional material for events.

 

 

Ben Page – @benpagedesign

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

Honestly the biggest lesson I have learnt from AUB is to trust my gut, follow the direction of those around you however never follow criticism to the point of drowning your original vision for a project.

What informs your practise? 

Anything around me that sticks with me informs my practise, this could be a running joke between friends or seeing someone dart their way down a street in such a devious way, these little bits that can be plucked from my surroundings become a part of my mind and such my work.

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

Starting a piece comes from super quick, loose sketchbook doodling before attempting a 3D sketch creating either a rough model or animation just trying to get the image in my head onto the screen as fast as possible. Once this has happened I begin to narrow ideas through more detailed drawings and 3D workings slowly carving the beginnings of a piece out of the visuals in my head.

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

My style is much less currently based on the techniques and visual language I use but more the themes I present. Nikita Diakur is a massive influence in terms of 3D uneasy and borderline unnerving humour which I admire to match someday. I find that I am influenced by media I have absorbed earlier in life mostly whether that is strange cartoons depicting gross realism at times or the humour from comedians I observed as a child. 

 

 

Caitlin Pearce – @caitlinpearce7

What informs your practise? 

Music and fashion are the driving forces of my practise. I also enjoy the little things- like seeing a goofy dog across the street- I enjoy incorporating humour into my work sometimes. 

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

Developing my personal style was definitely the hardest thing about my practise. The best piece of advice I think anyone can have is draw, draw, draw. Then you take forward elements you like and a style will always come. It helps asking other creatives or friends how they view your work so you can get outside perspective. Thinking about what you admire about other people’s work can help too. My influences are predominately other illustrators such as Bridie Cheeseman, Cristina Daura and Steph Hope.

Tell us about your Final Major Project.

My final major project was a conceptual ad for the brand Dr.Martens. I was inspired by the history the brand shares with alternative music and wanted to capture this through a short animation.

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

I would love to design an album cover or work on a music video for one of favourite bands or musicians. 

 

 

Lillian Tottle – @lillian_tottle

What informs your practise? 

My love for photography definitely informs my practice.  By incorporating photography into my work, I believe that it allows a more immersive atmosphere to come into play as well as demonstrating my concepts more clearly. Photography also pushes me to create interactive work and captures everyday life, then turning that into fun, animated scenes.

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

Long story short, I want people to look at my work and think ‘wow that’s cool, I’ve never seen that before!’

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

Me and my style have had a love hate relationship over the course of my Uni experience. Starting Illustration, I felt a large amount of pressure to move to digital drawing, but this idea just made me feel distant with my true style. It wasn’t until major project that I finally decided to create work that I truly wanted to create. I was massively influenced by the artist ‘Silence’ who created an advert for the recent Converse x Liverpool F.C collab. I highly recommend checking the advert out its sick!

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

My dream client has to be Depop. Alongside promoting sustainable fashion, Depop upholds a really cool vibe that I’d love to create for.  

 

 

Sydney Stone – @poppiee.s

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

The importance of a studio environment and getting feedback from my peers! I feel that my work improved significantly quicker being surrounded by other creatives: seeing how they work, sharing our ideas, and giving each other advice. 

What informs your practise? 

Cartoons and comics. I love animation, especially Saturday morning cartoons. They played a huge role in my childhood and are still a source of inspiration. 

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

Entertained! I want to make engaging narratives that will hook viewers. Stories and characters that audiences can empathise with and gain some of that nostalgia of my upbringing of cartoons and animation. 

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

Cartoon Network. I was raised on Teen Titans, the Power Puff Girls, Adventure time and Chowder. I’ve wanted to work with them since I realised it was peoples jobs to make these shows as a child.

 

 

Neha Viswanath – @nehaillustrates

What made you want to become an illustrator?

I was introduced to comics like ‘Tin Tin’ and ‘Asterix’ at a very young age and had a great love for graphic novels growing up, which is what pushed me towards pursuing illustration. I came to AUB with the intention of exploring comics more, which I did get the chance to do, however I came across other avenues for illustrated work such as animation and editorial style illustrations that excited me and I found myself going down that path during my degree instead.

What informs your practise?  

The themes that largely inform my practice are childhood nostalgia, the whimsical and the mythological as well as solitude, that I usually like to explore through illustrating the interiors of rooms. My work usually consists of bright colours and intricate maximalist linework.

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

I developed my style of loose linework , from attending numerous life drawing sessions. My animations are heavily influenced by Victoria Vincent, also known as ‘Vewn’ whose warped perspectives and bright colours are incredibly fun. I also take inspiration from illustrators like  Francesca Colombara , Lucia Pham and Jules Kang Sharpe amongst many others.

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

Considering my final Major project, getting commissioned by a dating app like Hinge would be a dream. In terms of music and music videos I would love to animate for ‘Jordan Stephens’ who has done a lot of creative and illustration inclined projects in the past, I also feel like my style would accompany his music well. I would be thrilled to do work for artists like ‘Joy Crookes’, ‘Raye’ and ‘Raveena’ as well.

 

 

Jocelyn Rowland – @lemonceleri

What made you want to become an illustrator?

When I was younger, I was obsessed with Jaqueline Wilson’s books, and subsequently, Nick Sharrat’s Illustrations. Every Christmas, I would get The Jaqueline Wilson Annuals which had tutorials on how to draw like Nick Sharrat. I’ve wanted to become an illustrator ever since. 

Tell us about your Final Major Project.

For my Final Major Project, I decided to create a 2024 Riso-Printed Shrimp Themed Calendar. I fell in love with Riso-Printing in my second year at AUB. Each Month features a different Illustration which you can either cut out and keep as a print or keep intact. Some are themed and tailored to each month, and some are random because the month is either boring or I thought the illustrations looked cool. 

Where do you see yourself in a year’s time?

 In a year’s time, I see myself taking part in market stalls all over the UK, selling my prints, cards,  jewellery and whatever silly trinkets I create between now and then!

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

Don’t be too hard on yourself! Your style will change constantly throughout the years, and that’s okay! Art is free-flowing and constantly evolving, you don’t have to commit to one style, now is the time to experiment!

 

 

Jools Haymonds – @8d_8d_8d_8d_8d

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

All my work starts with a traditional sketch, usually on the least suitable scrap paper product you can imagine. The less valuable my mediums the less intimidated I am by them, I think. I still feel like a bit of a Luddite when it comes to my practice, since on the whole I enjoy the tactility of traditional work far more than anything I could reproduce digitally. That said, procreate has been my saving grace at uni what with deadlines existing, so I can’t say that it hasn’t been useful. I usually use it for colouring or touching up – but on the whole I’m a colour pencil advocate, I love the smudge.

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

I’m not sure I’ve completely found my personal style, or if I ever will, and that’s alright. My output always been influenced a lot by external factors, and I’m interested to see how it transforms beyond university. I know the underlying flavour of my work is a fusion influence from Chris Riddell and Jamie Hewlett, nine year old me’s idols – people still note a likeness. I could list off my inspirations indefinitely, but the ones I always go back to are Taiyō Matsumoto and Jiří Trnka. Lovely stuff.

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

I think it would have to be Laika studios. It would be a total dream to work on a film, and I feel that any illustrative input I could give would be best suited to a stop motion format. Their house style has quite a bit of variation, and the movies themselves are thematically complex and don’t speak down to their younger audience. Definitely not a near future thing, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

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

Don’t be stubborn, trying something new won’t sabotage the sanctity of your art style. I promise. 

 

 

Dona Stavreva – @donastavreva

What made you want to become an illustrator?

The challenge of translating a concept to visuals, balanced with absolute creative freedom.

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

I want them to feel as if they are meeting a new person and discovering the universe that comes with that; I want them to experience the emotion and atmosphere that my character does; I want them to understand and feel understood.

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

I would work with Mila Robert, a musician that I respect for her complete disregard for conformity to social norms. Both her sound and visuals are playful and experimental, which matches my attitude.

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

I love creating character designs and building up atmospheric worlds around them, and I have found that 3D allows me to do that in great depth. Music is a very strong drive for me personally and also in my work – I find it very natural to respond to it visually, so I am more than excited to collaborate with music artists. My other constant inspiration is fashion and I would love to work with a designer/brand to explore a version of them in my crazy little 3D world.

 

 

Annabel Trixi Lawrence – @annietrix_art

What informs your practise?

At the moment, the beautiful aspects of life heavily inform my practice. The world we live in can sometimes be a dark place, so I wish to remind my audience of the small aspects of life which can bring joy. My love for nature and animals shines through in my work, as I wish for my audience to learn about the importance of the natural world which surrounds us and the environmental issues we face today. Through vibrant colours and humour, I hope to raise awareness whilst also making people smile.

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

I wish for people to feel inspired, uplifted and educated when they see my work. Bringing joy to people wherever I can is important to me. If I can remind people of the wonders of the natural world around us and the small things in life which can make us happy then I have succeeded as an illustrator.

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

I would love to work with clients such as The New Yorker and New Scientist Magazines as they shine light on topics close to my heart. One of my favourite magazines of New Scientist is the Blue Therapy release, the illustrations included in it are super eye catching and it highlights the importance of blue spaces for our mental health. I hope to use moving image to transform the world of editorial illustration and storytelling.

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

I would honestly just say believe in yourself. There is so much potential in illustration and so many routes to take, so take time to experiment with software and new mediums and do not be scared to take risks. In second year, I was super nervous to try animating my illustrations and then a year later it ended up being my final major project. If something excites you, follow it.