Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist? Have you always been creative?
I grew up in Coventry and I think I always wanted to be an artist. I remember drawing a huge red chicken on my parents’ wall with wax crayon, when I was three, and being really pleased with it. I was in Secondary school when I figured out working as a graphic designer and illustrator would satisfy my creative urges and earn me money.
How did you develop your skills? Did you study art in school or are you self-taught?
I studied every chance I got and tried as much as possible – fashion, photography, ceramics, glass, 3d, web design, film, print making, graphics…
I did a BTEC in Multidisciplinary Design then both a degree and a masters in Visual Communication.
Have your family and friends always been supportive in your artistic path, or has it been challenging for them to understand your choice?
I’m lucky to have a lot of creative friends, and my family realised pretty early on that it is just in my nature to draw and create so didn’t bother trying to discourage me.
The biggest pressure comes from people expecting me to work for free, claiming I’ll get great exposure. This only happens in the creative industries and greatly devalues what we do. You wouldn’t expect a plumber to work for free, you can’t pay your mortgage or rent with exposure, and even if you promised to tell everyone where you got your car from they would still expect you to pay for it.
What was your strongest influence you had growing up ( artists, cartoons, films, comics, etc)?
As a kid, I loved HartBeat with Tony Hart, Quentin Blake’s illustrations for Roald Dahl, Thundercats, Jem, The Beano…
Films - Labyrinth, anything by Tim Burton, Watership Down, and Fifth Element (love the colours and costumes).
Artists – MC Esher, Dali, the Art Nouveau and Pre-Raphaelite movements
Do you have a routine when sitting down ready to get creative?
Not really, maybe get a coffee/tea/hot chocolate and try not to mix it up with my paint water. I like to doodle first to get the muscles going – drawing without purpose or pressure helps before working on the ‘real’ stuff. It helps avoid that scary blank paper moment and can help generate new ideas.
What part of the creative process is the easiest, what part is the hardest and what part is the most fun?
Easiest part is the middle bit, once I’m working away on something I get lost in what I’m doing, everything else becomes distant and I’m in my own happy bubble. Hardest are the beginnings and the ends. Getting started can be tough, and then finishing can be too. I get full of self-doubt and hyper critical of my own work, but once it’s done and out in the world I feel happy again.
Have you worked on any exciting projects in the past and are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
I’m working on a couple of picture book ideas, which is mega exciting! I will have to come back and tell you more when they’re ready.
Do you have a long-term career goal and what would your dream project be?
I’d like to travel with my work, still figuring out how to do that. Daydreaming…I would love to have a camper van studio and pootle around creating illustrations based on my adventure.
Would you prefer to work for a company or work as a freelancer? And why?
Freelance is my preference just because I want the chance to do a wide variety of projects for lots of people rather than just one.
What advice would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? What do you do to keep yourself creative and boost your imagination?
Doodling works for me. Getting out for a walk can be good too, sometimes doing something different lets the good ideas filter into your head. Don’t get stuck looking at other people’s work, it can demotivate you. Use it as research but not inspiration.
Do you have a favourite subject to draw? If so, what makes it so special?
Penguins! I just love em.
Who are the artists that inspire you the most today? And why?
Oh so many, I’m always discovering exciting new people. Here is a selection of illustrators I admire: https://uk.pinterest.com/sonispeight/inspiring-illustration/
Do you have something that you've designed that you are most proud of?
I had some work displayed in the House of Illustration, I felt pretty proud that day. http://sonispeight.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/grinning-like-fool.html
If you had to give 1 piece of advice to someone just getting started in the creative field, what would it be?
Be nice, be friendly, work hard, try not to stress, if stuck go for a walk, if still stuck ask someone for help. Most importantly never give up.
Finally, where can we find you and your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
My website: www.sonispeight.com