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!