Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Being an illustrator : How to get inspired again

Hello again from (stormy and sunny) Cornwall!

One thing I get asked a lot by illustrators/friends/tweets etc is what happens when you're creatively stuck? What happens when your style seems jammed up, and you can't produce anything good?

I think it's really important to remember we've all been there - staring at a blank page and having no idea what to fill it with, and even wondering if we want to fill it. My advice is always this: step away from the page, and give yourself a break. Go for a walk, do something else, read a book, go to a gallery. Be aware that you might just not want to do any work, and forcing yourself to produce something below your usual standard will just make you feel rubbish. Many artists who work alone, writers, musicians, illustrators etc will often beat themselves up with damaging inner monologue - 'why can't I work? What's wrong with me?' The truthful answer is - nothing. Nothing's wrong with you - the minute you substitute unkind thoughts for kind ones - 'you're doing great, you're OK', is the moment ideas become more free, and work starts to flow.

I often find that pushing yourself out of your comfort zone helps also.  Maybe try something different. After my time with the Beehive Design Collective, I've been inspired to do work with washes and inks much more. It's brought a depth to my work that's slightly different, and it's something that I find really exciting. 

Inks from Atlantis art shop, Hanover Street, Brick Lane

 For those who know my usual personal art work, I use lots of pen and ink and specialise in urban cartography (see below image of Chinatown © 2008) 

Chinatown © 2008, pen and ink

But recently I've been looking at lots of different ways of exploring my surroundings with my pen. Working on my new solo show with the Serena Morton Gallery, I've been researching and drawing London's lesser known treasures and committing them to the page. Below is the start of my piece of the Necropolis Railway near Waterloo, and below that is the Guy's Operating Theatre and Museum. 

Necropolis Railway, work in progress 2014/2015

Guys Operating Theatre Museum

So next time you're faced with this...

...then pop down to the art shop and try something different. 

You never know what could happen!

L x

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Illustrating by the sea

It's 4th Jan 2015 and I've come to a small fishing village in Cornwall. The idea is to buckle down and get some serious work done. 

There's not much here - I saw a dog and a seagull fighting this morning on the beach. That was quite interesting. Right now, I'm looking at the expanse of the sea from my room, it's pretty immense. 

While I'm here, I'll be working on some odd jobs for various people, but my main purpose is to create my submission for the annual Folio Society Book Competition - more info here - http://competitions.houseofillustration.org.uk/book-illustration-competition-2015/

I don't agree with unpaid spec work but this is a different kettle of fish. This competition has been running for a few years, and offers a chance to create a book for the Folio Society (one of the most beautiful book publishers in the world.) It also offers people (like me) who aren't too experienced in the world of book illustration to have a project to dig their teeth into. 

This year it's a collection of ghost stories. Since I'm alone in this desolate sea front, (so much so that walking around on my own gives me a creepy Meryl Streep from French Leuithenant's Woman vibe)  I'm hoping to only read these stories in the day, or I might scare the crap out of myself late at night. Alone. By the seafront. In the middle of nowhere.