Katie Lyons : The Daily Illustrator
Welcome back to The Daily Illustrator. First up, we have Katie Lyons, an animator and illustrator based out of Dublin. She likes perfectly ripe avocados, the endless possibilities of a fresh sketchbook page and long walks on metaphorical beaches. Having never really grown out of the "go play with your crayons" phase, she has surprised herself by quietly transforming what used to just be an enjoyable pastime into a full-on career path. Read on for her interview and click through here for more of her work.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST START ILLUSTRATING AND KNOW WAS IT SOMETHING YOU WANTED TO DO AS A PROFESSION?
I've been drawing for as long as I can remember. We've never had a TV in our house so my childhood was mainly spent with my nose firmly squished between the pages of a book, something that most definitely expanded my creative little mind. I still remember being blown away by Chris Riddell's illustration work in the 'Edge Chronicles' series but it was actually an embarrassingly long time (like a reeeealllly long time!) before I realised that drawing could be a full-time profession. I went on to study animation in college where, thanks to our fantastical life-drawing lecturer, I started to sketchbook like there was no tomorrow! Discovering that a single drawing could have just as much life as twenty five drawings strung together definitely propelled me headfirst into illustration.
WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION?
I take a lot of inspiration from people I see around Dublin city. One thing that has really inspired me this past year is catching people at quiet moments when they're not making faces, looking at their phones or reacting to anything/anyone. It originally stemmed from seeing photos on Facebook of smiling people over and over again and then being taken aback when the same people barely cracked a smirk when I saw them in real life. I'd always found it strange that characters are so often drawn smiling when there really isn't anyone who goes about their whole day with a big cheery grin on their face . Since then I don't think anyone I've drawn is smiling.
In studying animation we were always told to draw from life - to observe and record what we see in the shapes and the movement of things around us. There'll be times where I'll rush home to find a piece of paper to try scribble down the detail of someones jacket or an interesting window frame, or that barefooted girl I saw at the bus stop one time who was just holding a sliced pan. I'll also be the first to admit that many characters I draw sliiiiightlyyyy take on my own current fashion sense or notable features.....whoops!
HOW DO YOU GET THE IDEAS FOR YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS?
I tend to start warming-up with things that I enjoy drawing and expand from there. It changes every so often but at the moment it's small things like - fried eggs, potted plants, juice boxes, square backpacks and coffee cups. It honestly really depends what it is I'm working on. It's so hard not to get too bogged down in details but with a brief'd project I'll try explore the title a little and do some research before starting anything. Often times with personal work, then I'll relax into it a bit more and experiment with new colour combinations or new digital brushes which obviously make things infinitely more enjoyable!
My personal work can get pretty 'personal' at times and I'll accidentally use my working sketchbook as a diary to vent or document things or people from my day via drawings. While that leads to some pretty interesting images and several pages that I'll probably never show anyone, many's a good idea has spawned from those risqué sketchbook doodles!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEDIUM TO WORK WITH?
Oh wow. I think hand-drawn anything always has so much more vibrance and life in it. Incredibly fine-line Pilot pens are always a staple of mine alongside a nice soft pencil. Recently I've also started adding watercolours to sections of my drawings to liven them up a wee bit. In saying that though you can't beat the fluid editing capabilities of working digitally - I don't think I'm alone in saying that I've reached for "ctrl+z" more than once while sketchbooking.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON?
I've actually just finished working on an animated stop-motion short recently where I was designing small digitally printed pieces for the backgrounds - wallpaper patterns, photos for frames, newspapers etc. It was amazing to apply the way I work to such a unique film process! As well as that I'm currently part of a small team animating a short that's going to be shown on the Disney Channel over the summer which is crazy exciting!! I'm still trying to regularly sketchbook everyday and I've plans to finish a short animated piece built around my sketchbook characters entitled 'Girlos' but seeing as things are so busy at the moment, that'll probably go on hold for the next wee while anyways.
CURRENT PLAYLIST AS YOU WORK?
If I can take my time with the work I'm doing I generally listen to the likes of the XX, Aurora, Chet Faker, Flight Facilities, Shura, Youth Lagoon, Bon Iver or the 1975 - it's super chill, at-times-etherial music that's not too distracting. HOWEVER! If I'm on a tight deadline I need white-noise type stuff that won't have me stopping to sing along every couple of minutes. Lately I've been popping on old episodes of the TV show 'Survivor' as background noise and I can just get on with what I'm doing then.
ARE THERE ANY ILLUSTRATORS THAT YOU ARE A FAN OF THAT DESERVE SOME EXPOSURE?
I'm blatantly just going to namedrop a bunch of people right now whose work I regularly get goosebumps over : - Laurel Pettitt has the loveliest sketchy- doodles and is the queen of great pastel colour combinations. Jessica Patterson always has the very best character designs and beautimous line quality. Dermot Lynskey creates bizarre but wonderful gifs and has some seriously striking sketchbook pages and mini-comics. Keith Kavanagh has a completely unique style that spans fantastically across both digital and hand-drawn planes. I'm also just going to add Julia Pott on the off chance someone hasn't heard of her. She's such a big inspiration, having also moved from animation to illustration, and I adore pretty much everything she does.