Fluid : A Joint Exhibition with Emic

Fluid is a joint exhibition by LOFT co founders/directors David Lee Badger (myself) and Eoin McGinn (Emic). The show features collaborative as well as individual work from each artist whose backgrounds are in urban art and illustration. We'll have complimentary drinks and music from Drone Mansions.

Emic’s contribution to the exhibition is a selection of pieces from a larger body of work by the Artist called 3-d. The project entails two exhibitions, the first here at QSS, which is themed blue, and the second at Framewerk in October themed red. As well as the two exhibitions, a mural will be painted in the city centre acting as an interlinking piece between the two shows and create an immersive experience for viewers.

My work in collaboration with Emic in this show is the culmination of a visual language built up over several years, traversing the disciplines of contemporary art, street art, design and illustration.

As well as the exhibition, we'll be hosting our monthly Drink and Draw for September in the QSS space on Wednesday 21st. Make sure to mark it in the diary. Click through to our event page and hit attend if you fancy a good warm up for Culture Night. Cheers for reading! 

Ginger Duke Jones : The Daily Illustrator

Apologies for the infrequency in posts as of late but I've been taking some time away, working on other projects and generally just chilling out a bit more as it's the summer and all that. Nevertheless, here is an interview with illustrator, Ginger Duke Jones for your consumption. He's a self-taught practitioner, interested in organic forms and geometric patterns, portraits and pointillism. Read on below for more.


WHEN DID YOU FIRST START ILLUSTRATING AND KNOW WAS IT SOMETHING YOU WANTED TO DO AS A PROFESSION? 

I’ve always been interested in art. I studied fine art at college doing a foundation diploma and then enrolled at university, sadly I didn’t feel it was right for me. I spent ten years working different jobs and almost forgetting about drawing. A few years back I picked up a pencil again and started drawing and I remembered how much fun it is to just be free to create whatever you fancy.

A lot of my friends didn’t know I had the skill, so it was a real surprise to them and the encouragement I got was great. I’ve done a few private commissions over the past few years but finding time to fit in with work was difficult. So, finally, at the turn of this year I decided I was packing in my job and dedicating myself full-time to becoming an illustrator.

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION? 

I think inspiration can be found anywhere. With the rise of personal technology we all have an instant access to so much. I think social media has been a great help for the small time artist. It instantly shows you what others are doing and, I suppose, creates a competitive atmosphere for me. I like to challenge myself, so following people on Instagram I hold in high regard is a massive help to keep progressing in what I do. The directness of it has opened my eyes to new ways of working and finding influences that you would have before not considered.

I think the development of tattoo art has been a real inspiration. The techniques aren’t as straightforward as they once were. The rise of portrait and dotwork techniques have really opened my eyes. I think it’s evident in my work though, that nature is a massive inspiration to me. The patterns you find. The textures. Being able to make a one-dimensional object come life.

 HOW DO YOU GET THE IDEAS FOR YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS? 

I find a lot of my inspiration in people. An old man on the bus with a great face. With the pointillism technique it’s all about contrasts. So wrinkles are always great to do. And nature, I became obsessed with birds a few years ago. The perfect spread of the feathers was a real challenge for me. But once you get it, you get it! 

A lot of the time it’s from scrolling through the internet or Instagram. Then a spark is let off and then it’s down to sketching and see where it takes you. I think that if you know where you are going to end up then you become ignorant to possibilities and you never learn. It’s a constant development. Photography and art exhibitions are obviously a great way to find new ideas and rethink what you thought you knew. And music. It’s a massive passion of mine.

 WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEDIUM TO WORK WITH? 

Pen and ink. I like painting but that’s more of a time out for me. Getting down to it with a pencil and fully committing in ink is the method for me. I also really like Photoshop. To be able to edit drawings and in some cases take them that extra bit further is a great advantage these days.

 IS THERE ANYTHING YOU ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON? 

A very large portrait (1000mm x 1000mm) of a friend’s daughter, Freya. It’s taken 16 months so far. It’s a pointillism piece and can be seen on my website. I’d really like to do some artwork for an album or graphic novel in the future though.

 CURRENT PLAYLIST AS YOU WORK? 

Varies! From Radiohead to early Elton John, from Fleet Foxes to Godspeed You Black Emperor. And if not music then I listen to a lot of TEDTalks and John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight. 

 ARE THERE ANY ILLUSTRATORS THAT YOU ARE A FAN OF THAT DESERVE SOME EXPOSURE?

There’s an American guy called Mitch Meseke, who’s work is really playful but still solid. He does great collages too. And I love French. He does a lot of art for different skater brands. I just love how figurative his work is just from the simple use of lines. 

William Woods : The Daily Illustrator

William Woods is a Belfast based illustrator and designer who I met through the NI Illustration meetup a couple months back. Since then we've crossed paths a couple more times and I got him to do a stint of live drawing at Illustrate. He is today's Daily Illustrator. Read on for his interview and click through to check out some more of his work below. 


WHEN DID YOU FIRST START ILLUSTRATING AND KNOW WAS IT SOMETHING YOU WANTED TO DO AS A PROFESSION?

I've been drawing as long as I can remember.The idea of doing as a profession was a more organic progression. I've always drawn because I enjoy it. I drew stuff for bands I've been in and friends bands and I've gotten other commissions off of that. Musicians and promotors are where most of my commissions come from though. I've recently graduated and I figure it's time to try and do as much I can. I do a lot of design and photography work as well. I'm very happy working in all those fields soguess I'm taking a bit of a 'thow shit at the wall and see what sticks' approach at the minute.

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION?

I've never really thought about it. Usually I'll see something that gives me some sort of emotional or visual interest and think “I'd really like to draw that” and either I do or a commission comes along and one of those ideas will pop back into my head from wherever it goes when I'm not thinking about it.

HOW DO YOU GET THE IDEAS FOR YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS?

I look in that part of my head and see if anything stayed there. Otherwise I'll go for a walk and try and get something else to go in there.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEDIUM TO WORK WITH?

I like using brush and ink, or brush markers. I use fineliners for finer details on some things. I usually work in black and white and if I need to add colour for something I usually do it digitally in photoshop or illustrator.  

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

Right now I'm doing some work for an independent clothing company in Belfast called HOODS. It's a company ran by skateboarders who don't take themselves too seriously, which, for me, makes drawing stuff for them very enjoyable.

CURRENT PLAYLIST AS YOU WORK?

I can't stop listening to the new PUP, Crybaby and Pears albums. Rush by Belfast band Apartments and Learn to be Human by Oranutan from Dublin are probably the two Irish bands I've listening to most lately. The new Muncie Girls album has been doing the rounds in my ears a lot too.

ARE THERE ANY ILLUSTRATORS THAT YOU ARE A FAN OF THAT DESERVE SOME EXPOSURE?

I'm a big fan of Jamie Morrison's work. I love the way he treats type and colour, and you can pretty much tell a record's gonna be good if his work is on the front of it. Mykie Rowan who plays drums for Belfast band, Empty Lungs draws a lot of their record covers and shirt designs and they're all great.  Jason Lubrano of Righteous Indignation, WOLFMASK, Pogger and Dan Allen are all illustrators I've found through music that I really enjoy. I'm a big fan of Belfast Illustrators Fiona McDonnell, Conor McClure and Jacky Sheridan. Jacky's my flatmate and she does a pretty good job of getting me to stop procrastinating and start doing things.

Luis Mendo : The Daily Illustrator

Today's Daily Illustrator is Luis Mendo, an artist, or perhaps a tradesman as he believes we should be referred to, who started his career in Spain, 1994. Since then, Luis has travelled to The Netherlands and as of late, to Japan. In these years he has created dozens of magazine titles, identities and publications on and offline, regularly giving lectures, advice and workshops on design, magazine-making and creativity issues. Read on for Luis' very in formative interview and be sure to click through to find out more about the artist and the practitioners he recommends you check out.


WHEN DID YOU FIRST START ILLUSTRATING AND KNOW WAS IT SOMETHING YOU WANTED TO DO AS A PROFESSION?

As I was a designer and art director for many years (before becoming an illustrator), I often made illustrations for the magazines I designed. Sometimes I just needed something quick to solve a difficult page and it was the easiest to do it myself instead of going through selecting/briefing illustrators.

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION?

In everything, but mainly around me. In Tokyo there’s so much to look at and get inspired. From the way an old woman sweeps her front door in my neighbourhood, to an old book in a second hand bookshop in Jinbochō and on the handwritten kanji on the wall of the izakaya where I go drinking with friends at night. It’s my luck and privilege to live in a country where drawing, penmanship and art are highly regarded. I always get chatty waiters at the cafes where I go as soon as I start drawing on my sketchbook. People here love to see you drawing.

HOW DO YOU GET THE IDEAS FOR YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS?

From the story, the concept or the world the client wants me to recreate. I regard illustration as a trade, not an art. We are at the service of the story that is being told. If we were shoemakers, you don’t want your client to walk away with painful (but surely very beautiful) shoes, but rather having him so happy with the comfortable shoes that he doesn’t want to wear any other pair.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEDIUM TO WORK WITH?

Anything really. I jump constantly from techniques and tools: love my Pilot Parallel pens (which are actually calligraphy pens) for being fast in changing the line thickness and able to take virtually any ink I inject in their cartridges. I love my Cintiq and change all the time between Manga Studio (also called Clip Studio) and Photoshop. But then also enjoy drawing on the iPad Pro while watching a movie on the couch. I always carry with me my sketchbook and normally will draw shadows with a brush pen and finish it with inks from the Parallel or a cheap and old – but very reliable – Inoxcrom fountain pen I found covered in dust in an antique shop in Spain.

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

This week has been nuts: Just finished 70 portraits of speakers of the last C2 Montreal congress, I drew my weekly travel section of the Dutch Volkskrant Magazine weekly, which will come out in 2 weeks, also did some sketches for the next cover of チャイムGinza which comes out every month, then some stickers for Sony, little drawings for Japan’s best stationary brand Winged Wheel and adding the final touches to a magazine I art directed for a Japanese beach wear brand. 

CURRENT PLAYLIST AS YOU WORK?

I just follow people with better taste than mine on Mixcloud. Follow me there as I always repost things I like. Also, I love to play old movies I have seen too many times and have them as background noise, no need to look at the images, just having me transported to the movie’s world is what gets me in the flow to work.

ARE THERE ANY ILLUSTRATORS THAT YOU ARE A FAN OF THAT DESERVE SOME EXPOSURE?

So many… where to start? Of course my friend Adrian Hogan who is super talented and a great person. I really like Tatsuro Kiuchi which I think is already very famous but ok. I admire Lauren Tamaki’s line and feeling for colour. The witty humour of Hama House, the insanity of Sam Vanallemeersch’s drawings, the clean line of my friends Andrew Joyce and David Robert, the colours of Grace Lee and Fern Choonet, the fantastic space recreations of Tatsushi Eto… As I said, so many…

David Magowan : The Daily Illustrator

David Magowan is today's Daily Illustrator. "I studied fine and applied art at the University of Ulster, specialising in textile art. Textile art allowed me to experiment broadly in my work but illustration was always at its core. I graduated in 2012 and since then i've created a variety of work concentrating on drawing and painting. I would now class myself as an fine art painter and illustrator creating monochrome hand drawn images. My work references literature, film, architecture, everyday life and the darker side of humanity."


WHEN DID YOU FIRST START ILLUSTRATING AND KNOW WAS IT SOMETHING YOU WANTED TO DO AS A PROFESSION?

As an artist I have experimented with a range of different materials and mediums but drawing has always been at the core of my work. As a kid I used to draw and sketch in my spare time. The first of my drawings I can remember was of a deer at the age of six, soon after I had my first ever exhibition on the front of a fridge door and I've been hooked ever since. I'm not always great at expressing myself with words so I have always found illustration a good tool for me to portray my thoughts and ideas, anything else I get out of it has always been an added bonus.

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION?

The inspiration for the my work comes from traditional printing techniques such as etching which creates a line based image often in black and white.  My work has a macabre quality and sometimes a dark humour, I think the stark white and black look lends itself to this type of subject. I've always loved reading fantasy fiction and myths and legends. Sometimes I create illustrations based on characters and scenes from books I've read, or from  ideas I've had  for books I'd like to write myself, but just can't find the words for.

HOW DO YOU GET THE IDEAS FOR YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS?

The ideas for my illustrations come from loads of different places. I might base one on something that's happened during my day, from a film I've seen, from a book I've read, architecture or from historical references. I try to keep a daily sketchbook where at the end of each day I draw the most interesting event, idea, or thing I've seen during that day. I find it a good way to generate and develop ideas for illustrations and a good source of inspiration if I ever get a bout of artists block. 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEDIUM TO WORK WITH?

I tend to work free hand with a pen and blank sheet of paper. I normally use a very fine nib for the majority of my drawings and then build up depth afterwards using thicker nibs for dark shadows and cross hatching for shading. I like how an illustration can be built up gradually by hand and the accidental mistakes and variation of line quality you can create. I very rarely colour my drawings or do anything digitally but this is something I would like to experiment with, especially digital collage. I'm a coffee addict so one thing I do use photoshop for is to remove the odd coffee splash from my work which probably happens more frequently than it should.

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

I've just recently finished a large scale illustration for the newly refurbished Bubbacue restaurant in Belfast city centre. I'm also working on wall murals for other businesses in the city but their still in early development. It's great to get the opportunity to work on a large scale and to be able to work with different briefs and subject matters, I've always enjoyed variety within my work.

CURRENT PLAYLIST AS YOU WORK?

I've never been great at keeping up with music trends and I think my taste is pretty varied, but I quite like listening to film soundtracks while I work. I find that they easily blend into the background and sometimes help to influence the tone of an illustration.  Again I don't have a favourite composer but recently I've been listening to Alexandre Desplat, Hans Zimmer and Simon Rattle. I do also have a soft spot for the Soundtrack from The Lord of the Rings by Howard shore. In truth i'm probably a big geek at heart.

ARE THERE ANY ILLUSTRATORS THAT YOU ARE A FAN OF THAT DESERVE SOME EXPOSURE?

I'm not sure he needs much exposure but I really admire the work of John Vernon Lord. His illustrations are magic and quirky and very detailed. His style is similar to my own but his draftsmanship is great. Again he already has a big following but I also really like the work of Bill Crisafi. He's a New England artist I found on Instagram. His work focuses on witches and American folklore and all things dark, it's great!

George Lois : Apartamento

George Lois is the subject of NOWNESS series, Apartamento, as he takes us on a little guided tour around the space he shares with his wife in Greenwich Village, New York. Although Lois' spot is chock full of highly coveted fine art pieces, photography and furnishings, I'd love to delve into his book collection more than anything. He's amassed around 10,000 in his time, 9,999 of which he claims to have read. 

I enjoyed this little piece as it quite honestly shows "America's master communicator" in the rather contemptuous light he paints himself in. There's always an expletive filled quip waiting to be unleashed. He's a likeable dude pretty much. Press play and click through to his site to find out some more about his work. 

Conor McClure : The Daily Illustrator

Conor McClure is a Belfast based illustrator who graduated from the University of Ulster. In 2014 he was given the opportunity to take part in the Artist In Residence program within the University, gaining valuable lecturing experience as well as continuing to work in the creative environment of the studio spaces. 

He has continued to built up a portfolio of work centred around the music and film industry, which incorporates many mediums, including pen and ink, screen print and spray paint, with a passion for a hands on approach of mark making and experimental use of texture and layout before working digitally. His client list is ever expanding and diverse, ranging from local Irish folk and punk bands, skateboard companies and street art murals for the National Trust, as well as a personal interest in photography, which is often incorporated into the documentation of his work.


WHEN DID YOU FIRST START ILLUSTRATING AND KNOW WAS IT SOMETHING YOU WANTED TO DO AS A PROFESSION?

Like most creative people I have been drawing from a very young age. I still have little comic strips and short stories that I illustrated when I was a kid. One of the first times I actually felt proud of something I had drawn was winning a Beatrix potter illustration competition through Waterstones when I was maybe 8 years old, for decorating Peter Rabbits living room. It may seem silly now, but it was probably the first realisation that drawing could be more than just a hobby, and with enough time and effort could actually be something I was alright at.

Through secondary school the majority of my time was spent in the art rooms, to the determent of my other subjects and annoyance to the rest of my teachers. But painting and drawing was one of the few things I was really passionate about. I would happily sit up all night cutting out stencils or doodling on my bedroom walls. 

When it came to choosing what I was going to study in university, it seemed like going on to do the foundation degree was the obvious and only choice, with no real clue where that could take me.  In school we where never really introduced to other mediums besides painting whats sitting in front of us, or working with clay or making completely impractical dresses, so when I first got to try out illustration and experimental ways of working, without the intention of making something necessarily beautiful and accurate I pretty much instantly fell in love. This combined with my passion for working digitally and playing about in photoshop seemed to be the perfect route to go down.

I still struggled to decide whether to concentrate on photography, design or illustration for some time, but after 3 years of working a design job and resenting the 9-5 life In the past 2 years I have made the conscious decision to dedicate my time almost solely to illustration, and haven't looked back since.

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION?

I love photography, particularly film photography so I try and work my own photos into my work wherever possible, even if it is just to document the process, but through the years I have accumulated a large collection of photography magazines and books which have endless imagery to draw from. Whenever I am really stuck for ideas on what to draw I have a photography book by William Wegman with the most ridiculous array of dogs in costumes that is always fun to draw from. I also have the luxury of living right next to the forest and a duck pond so can always go for a walk to escape for a bit and clear my head and come at an illustration with fresh eyes, which I find to be a massive help.

HOW DO YOU GET THE IDEAS FOR YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS?

Most of my illustrations are based around current events, twitter beef, the latest TV series I am bingeing, just whatever is floating around in my head at that moment. Recently I have been making a conscious effort to take an interest in American politics, and this has been a constant source of inspiration, as well as amusement just from the sheer ridiculousness of the whole thing.  I cannot claim to know a lot about politics, but when the opportunity arises to make an image taking the piss out of someone with any kind of power I will happily jump at the chance!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEDIUM TO WORK WITH?

Most of work is usually hand drawn with pen and ink and then scanned in and worked on digitally, so often I don’t add colour or overly consider layout until I am working on the computer. I do prefer the hands on approach and actually getting messy and covered in paint. Probably where I am most in my element is while screen printing, although I don’t get to nearly enough these days, but the satisfaction of lifting the screen off the page and seeing an image appear is one of the greatest feelings in the world to me, as sad as that sounds.

I also really enjoy working with spray paint on a large scale. I've been lucky enough to recently have the chance to paint a big mural of butterfly wings outside the Duke Of York as part of the National Trusts spring campaign.

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

I am currently working with 2 skateboard companies based in Belfast, on some new board designs for ‘Wireless Skateboards’, as well as a range of clothing for ‘Hoods’, with some pretty humorous designs dropping soon. They are both small independent companies, and although my skateboarding days are long past me its cool to help out a scene that I have followed from such a young age, especially growing up admiring skateboarding graphics and cutting up skate magazines!

CURRENT PLAYLIST AS YOU WORK?

I am a big fan of podcasts, after only really discovering how good they are to work to in the past year, so at the minute I am following ‘The worst idea of all time’, which in brief is 2 Kiwi comedians watching the worst movie they could think of every week for a year. So far I have listened to roughly 100 hours of them talk about Sex and the City 2 and Grown Ups 2 and following their inevitable demise into insanity. Apart from that, ‘This American Life’ is always good for an interesting story, and I have recently been suckered into paying for Spotify premium so trying to get my moneys worth with some old school hip hop playlists!

ARE THERE ANY ILLUSTRATORS THAT YOU ARE A FAN OF THAT DESERVE SOME EXPOSURE?

I am lucky enough to currently be working with Belfast's first illustration agency, Usfolk, so am surrounded by the best talent Belfast has got to offer, which is great to motivate you to keep making more and more work!

I am a big fan of Jacky Sheridan's work. We took part in the Artist in residency program in the University of Ulster together and have many fond memories of blasting Wu Tang and doodling rappers with classes going on in the next room. Her style is so darkly humorous and never fails to make me smile when I see it pop up online!

John McFarlane is another insanely talented illustrator who I had the pleasure of working alongside in uni, and who has just released an awesome looking game called Wailing Heights, by Outsider Games, with all the comic art done by himself! I haven't got a chance to play it yet, but I am looking forward to giving it a go! The amount of work that has went into is pretty amazing, he has more patience than I ever could, so I highly recommend you give it a download and try it out!

Rory Quigg : The Daily Illustrator

I've been following Rory Quigg's work for quite some time on Instagram before finally meeting at the UsFolk Launch. Check out his little bio here and read on for his interview to find out some more The Daily Illustrator today.

" I use my creative flair to make modern images, blending traditional methods with digital techniques, editing watercolour paint swatches and different textures to produce clean cut, almost childlike images. My work for the National Trust is currently displayed on Ewart’s Warehouse in Bedford Street, Belfast, and my T-shirt designs have graced the catwalk at Belfast Fashion Week. "


WHEN DID YOU FIRST START ILLUSTRATING AND KNOW WAS IT SOMETHING YOU WANTED TO DO AS A PROFESSION?

I've always drawn for as long as I can remember. My mum still has framed pictures of all of the Winnie the Pooh characters that I drew when I was in nursery school, my teacher was so impressed! But I've improved a lot since then.... I love children's books and illustrated my first one in 2013, I knew this was something I wanted to do as I loved every minute of it and still do. 

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION?

I get inspiration from everywhere and everything! I'm a big Instagram head, so I'm constantly finding new art that I love. I'm really influenced by Jon Klassen's work; I collect picture books so I'm constantly on the look out for something new. More recently though, news stories or funny things I've read on Facebook have inspired some of my pieces, conveying the story in my child-like illustrations.

HOW DO YOU GET THE IDEAS FOR YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS?

I usually take note of something that I find interesting or cool, or at least try to remember. I see something new everyday; there must be hundreds of ideas that may have gotten me famous by now... With my style, it's usually all about the characters I illustrate, so I always try and take some inspiration from real people and give them a personal touch; Then I place them with some white space. It's all about the white space.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEDIUM TO WORK WITH?

I work with watercolour paints and pencils first of all, then I edit them digitally to build my characters. I love using watercolour paper, the texture looks great when it's scanned and I always try to incorporate it into my work. Photoshop is also my best friend, I build my illustrations on layers and chop up watercolour swatches to add texture.

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

I'm working on some personal illustrations at the minute as well as some small commissions for clients. I love doing these illustrations as they're different every time; they range from 12 girls at their friend's hen do, to a family cheering on their dad who's doing a triathlon, I love the clients reaction when I deliver them!

CURRENT PLAYLIST AS YOU WORK?

A lot of the time I listen to the radio. But I like a lot of different music, it varies from Oasis to Beyoncé... I'm loving Catfish and the Bottlemen at the minute, I have 'Soundcheck' on repeat! 

ARE THERE ANY ILLUSTRATORS THAT YOU ARE A FAN OF THAT DESERVE SOME EXPOSURE?

Jamie Beard makes some amazing work. He's a good friend of mine and always inspires me. Also, Thomas Bannon and Rebecca Blair. There are so many, I'm so impressed by how much talent there is in Belfast. 

Danni Gowdy : The Daily Illustrator

Today’s Daily Illustrator is Danni Gowdy, a Belfast based artist who has recently graduated from the MA Children's Book Illustration course at Cambridge School of Art. She worked as a graphic designer for 2 years before deciding to pursue the dream of becoming a full time illustrator. 

The work draws on humour and personal experience. “I love dip pen, indian ink and watercolours and my graphic design background has instilled a love of white space and bright colours within a limited colour palette. I have recently joined forces with UsFolk, a lovely new illustration agency based in Belfast.” Read on for more of Danni's interview below. 


WHEN DID YOU FIRST START ILLUSTRATING AND KNOW WAS IT SOMETHING YOU WANTED TO DO AS A PROFESSION?

I was always drawing and doodling on my notebooks and diaries in primary school - little did I know I’d end up doing it as a profession. I guess I started ‘properly’ illustrating during my Viscom degree which eventually led me on to do a Masters in Childrens Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art where I spent a full year and a half drawing everyday and honing my style or ‘personal visual language’ as my tutor strictly preferred to call it!

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION?

I find inspiration from my own life - personal experiences, people I meet, places I’ve been, funny little moments or things people say… anything that makes me laugh really. Humour plays a big part in my work. As for inspiration visually, I think on a subconscious level I’m very influenced by 90’s paraphernalia including toys and sweets from my childhood - my colour palette has been described as ‘sugary’ before and I think it’s because of my childhood obsession with parmaviolets and My Little Pony!

HOW DO YOU GET THE IDEAS FOR YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS?

Ideas usually come to me late at night and as visions in my head first - I usually have a wee laugh to myself and if I think other people might like the idea too, I put it on paper and hope for the best.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEDIUM TO WORK WITH?

I draw with dip pen and indian ink as I’m a really fast worker so it works well for me. I like to keep the little imperfections in my work and try not to redraw things over and over again - the first drawing is always the best. When I add colour, I either do a quick watercolour wash or else I scan the line drawing and colour in digitally on photoshop. It depends on the project really.

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

I’ve been lucky enough to join a brand new illustration agency in Belfast called UsFolk where I’ve recently been working on an exciting collaborative project for the Belfast Book Festival along with some of the other illustrators. The project involved lots of paper cutting and 3D prop making so look out for it on the streets of Belfast soon! I’ve also recently completed my third children’s picture book which I exhibited at the Bologna Book Fair earlier this month - I’m still trying to get my books published so the Book Fair is the best place to get your work seen by publishers all over the world.

CURRENT PLAYLIST AS YOU WORK?

I don’t really listen to playlists - I prefer to listen to albums in their entirety so it really depends what mood I’m in… I’m currently obsessed with Tame Impala’s ‘Currents’, Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’ and Lucius’ new album ‘Good Grief’ - I recently saw them perform in Glasgow and they were incredible. 

ARE THERE ANY ILLUSTRATORS THAT YOU ARE A FAN OF THAT DESERVE SOME EXPOSURE?

I think a lot of childrens book illustrators deserve more credit - some of my tutors in Cambridge were amazing illustrators including Marta Altes and Alexis Deacon. I also love the work of Laurent Moreau and Yasmeen Ismail. And pretty much all of my Cambridge classmates - everyone was so talented, it was very intimidating! 

Hannah Coates : The Daily Illustrator

"Hello there, my name is Hannah Coates and I am an illustrator based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. My work mainly combines nature, patterns and brash colours so that an image becomes playful and invites the eye to look closer. I enjoy adding narrative to my work, by adding little objects or creatures to an illustration, everything begins to become more playful and it comes to life." Interestingly, Hannah claims to be notoriously bad at drawing faces and so her self portrait remains featureless. Read on for today's interview to find out some more about The Daily Illustrator. 


WHEN DID YOU FIRST START ILLUSTRATING AND KNOW WAS IT SOMETHING YOU WANTED TO DO AS A PROFESSION?

It is hard to say! I have been drawing since an early age and I always knew that I wanted to be an artist of some sort. I remember a project in primary school where we were required to make a felt square about what we wanted to do when we grew up, mines had an easel and paint palette on it, and it still hangs there to this day! When I went to Uni, I originally wanted to be a Fashion Designer, then a Textile Artist, Graphic Designer, then eventually an Illustrator. I found there was a lot more freedom with illustration and I soon realised that I wanted to make a career from it.

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION?

I'm very much inspired by nature and unusual landscapes, I love watching David Attenborough documentaries, I would get a lot of inspiration from some of the isolated landscapes he has visited. I'm also a fan of the photographer, Per Bak Jensen, there is something very ethereal or mystical about his work.

HOW DO YOU GET THE IDEAS FOR YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS?

Again I would be very much inspired by landscapes, but i would get most of my ideas from films as well, such as Life of Pi. I just thought it was visually stunning, and I have used it a lot for my inspiration, particularly the flying fish. I'm also a big fan of Studio Ghibli, particularly the film Spirited Away with its wacky story line.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEDIUM TO WORK WITH?

I work with quite a mixed bag of things, but I mostly work in pencil or pen and it usually the finest tip pencil or pen that I can find. I love the fine detail that i am able to achieve with them. I suppose you could say my work is very much like a digital collage, I usually draw each element separately then I bring them together  and colour them in Photoshop. This means i usually have more freedom to change things or move them around. Sometimes when people see my sketchbook, they never see a final drawing, they always ask, "Where is it?" and i usually say, "Well there is some on that page... And this page... Oh and I used this little doodle in the corner too."

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

I was doing a lot of work recently for the launch of Belfast's first illustration agency called Usfolk, which I really enjoyed doing as I created some of my best work. But I have been working on a personal piece based around the Jungle Book, it was actually the first film I got on video (proper old school) and because of the recent new release.

CURRENT PLAYLIST AS YOU WORK?

I usually listen to a bit of everything when i'm working, but I have been listening to a lot of the artist called Gallant, he is pretty good if your feeling stressed! But i'm a sucker for 80s hits, so I usually have a bit of Madonna or Spandau Ballet thrown into the mix.

ARE THERE ANY ILLUSTRATORS THAT YOU ARE A FAN OF THAT DESERVE SOME EXPOSURE?

One of my favourite illustrators is Barbara Ana Gomez. I met her in London a couple of years ago and her work is stunning. I'm also a big fan of Victo Ngai.