Design Splat | Interviews with Awesome Designers and Creatives


Posted December 12th by Design Splat in Artists, Illustrators

Hello Madi! Thanks for joining us for a couple of minutes today on Design Splat!

Now lets jump straight in, tell us a bit about what you do:

I’m an illustrator, currently based in Dorset. My illustrations are mainly created using a combination of collage and mixed media, incorporating a mix of found papers and fabric with hand-drawn elements and typography. I am especially interested in children’s book illustration – I love to create fun illustrations which captivate a child’s imagination – but my work also branches out into editorial illustration.

How did you get into art and Illustration?

I’ve been into art since I was little. It was my favourite subject at school and loved drawing in my spare time. Despite this, I didn’t decide to study illustration until my art foundation course. Fine Art was the only subject available to us at school, but the foundation course allowed me to experiment in lots of different areas, and I realised that the style of my work, and also how I work, were most suited to studying a degree in illustration.

When creating art/illustrations, what to you is the most important aspect: planning design or implementation? and why?

Since I left Uni, the planning stage has become less of a fundamental part of the creation of an illustration. I usually sketch out my rough ideas until I settle on a design that I’m happy with, but I get stuck into creating the final illustration very quickly. Implementation is the most important aspect for me, as I tend to experiment as I create the illustration – I’ll play around with ideas as I go, and although I often refer back to my initial sketches, I tend to play around with the composition until the illustration looks right.

Do you create your pieces by hand or with the use of the computer? Or both?

The majority of my illustrations are created by hand, although the final illustrations are composed digitally. Each element of an illustration is created separately by hand, then scan each individual element, and use Photoshop to compose the final image. I love the cutting and sticking part of creating an illustration, but I also like the freedom that Photoshop gives me when composing an illustration – it allows me to play around with compositions and backgrounds until I find a solution I am happy with.

Where do you get inspiration for your art work?

I am inspired by everything; the everyday, the unusual, and the things in my head. Everything I hear, see or imagine can inspire me to create an illustration. Paper is also a massive inspiration – different colours or patterns or textures create images in my head, and this often inspires the illustrations I create.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’d like to think that in five years I’d have a bigger studio with my own desk and more space – it would be a step up from my current studio which is the floor of our spare room. I’d also like to have my cards and prints and other illustrated items stocked in shops and galleries.

What’s the dream ambition?

My ambitions are to have a children’s book published, and to be successful enough that my illustration career can support me financially so that I can work full-time in a career that I love.

Does fame attract you?

No. I’m far too shy, and I can’t imagine I’d ever enjoy the kind of fame where people recognise you. That said, I would like to get to a point where my illustrative style is recognisable, so people can tell it’s my work just by looking at it. I’d like to be successful, but I don’t think you don’t need to have your name in lights to be a successful illustrator.

How do you rate yourself as a designer?

This varies on a daily basis, usually based on whether I’ve recently been looking at other illustrators’ work! Confidence in my own work is an issue I struggle with, so although on some days I think my work is okay, there are other days when I’m convinced my work just isn’t good enough and never will be. Although I think it’s important to believe in your own abilities, it’s more important that other people rate your work highly, because they’re the ones who are going to commission you or buy your work.

What makes a good artist/illustrator?

Someone whose work has its own distinctive style. Someone with a great deal of determination, and the ability to bounce back after countless rejections. Someone whose work you look at and just think “wow”.

Do you think the design Industry will be difficult to get into? Are you worried about the amount of competition?

The design industry is definitely difficult to get into – I have learnt this from experience. It’s far too easy to get caught up in worrying about the amount of competition, so I try not to think about it too much. It IS scary, but I think it’s a better use of time to focus on making your own work as good as it can be than worrying about the fact that you might never make it.

What do you think it takes to become successful in the design industry?

Confidence, talent, determination and a little bit of luck.

Three words to describe yourself?

Shy. Imaginative. Perfectionist.

Hobbies and Interests?

Books, music, films, picnics in the sunshine, my typewriter, baking cakes and playing in the snow.

Favourite Illustrator/artist?

Sara Fanelli, Lauren Child and Kate Slater are my ultimate favourite illustrators – I love illustrators who use collage and mixed media techniques in their work. I also love the incredible work of Rob Ryan, I am totally in awe of his papercuts.

Tools of the trade?

Scissors, glue, a pencil, fine black pens, my macbook and a lot of hot chocolate.

Best and worst piece of work?

My worst is probably all the work I did during the early years of my degree course – work that I was proud of at the time, but now I look back on and think “what was I doing?!” Nowadays I wouldn’t keep work I wasn’t happy with, because it would irritate me to have it around. It’s hard to pinpoint my best piece of work, but my children’s picture book I’m A Little Bit Scared Of… is the one I’m most proud of, because I put so much effort and time into completing it.

Any Tips or advice to share with aspiring designers?

Definitely to have your own website; make it easy to navigate around, and also that only contains your very best work. Another important piece of advice would be to get your work out there. Enter competitions and open briefs etc because you never know who could see your work and where that might lead. Believe in yourself and your talent. I know that sounds cliche, but there it is.

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Some of Madi’s fabulous illustrations


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