Design Splat | Interviews with Awesome Designers and Creatives


Posted October 17th by Design Splat in Artists, Illustrators

Giving us 5 minutes of her time today is Scarlett Tierney who is an illustrator. After leaving collage and teaching print and textile technique workshops she now concentrates on her fabulous illustrations focusing mainly on editorial and portraiture.



Hello Scarlett! Get us started by telling us a bit about what you do:

I am a ‘fledgling’ illustrator – after leaving college a couple of years ago I have worked for galleries and run art workshops teaching print and textile techniques while doing some illustration when I had the time. I am now focusing on my illustration, mainly for editorial and portraiture, but I still do workshops when I can.

How did you get into Art and Illustration?

I’ve always been creative, it’s just the way my brain is wired. I’ve never really known what I wanted to do with it though. I used to want to be a tattoo artist until I did a couple weeks work experience in a studio and got scared off the idea! I studied fashion and textiles but decided to move into illustration because I mainly enjoyed drawing with the sewing machines.

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

I would say the design – if I have a clear design in my head then the whole process will run smoothly. That doesn’t always happen though! If I spent as much time thinking about the design/ procrastinating because I’m unsure about the design as I did actually producing the work then I’d be a much better illustrator. I suppose confidence comes with time.

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

I am a huge advocate of hand drawn work, I understand the benefits of computer programs like Photoshop and I use them quite often but you just can’t beat good old pencil and pens.  I work mainly with pen and ink and I adore all forms of print, especially lino print.

I also enjoy using fabric and stitch to create illustrations, i adore the texture and depth but I’m going through quite an impatient phase and I just don’t have the time for it! Drawing is much more immediate.

Where do you get inspiration for your art work?

Everyday things, people mainly, food, music, stories, my own thoughts and musings. Unless I am working on a brief I am rubbish at coming up with abstract ideas for my work so I end up drawing the everyday things I do – I’m currently working on a mini zine of my day job in a cafe.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Hopefully in a bigger studio with more space to print, in a position where I can give up the boring day job and focus on my illustration. Oh and selling prints, cards and things to galleries and shops.

What’s the dream ambition?

To be able to sit down and make an illustration without the hours of worry, procrastination and self doubt.. in a big studio with lots of shelf space and print tables… in a cottage..with a cat..

Does fame attract you?

Fame, no. Success yes, but success is such a subjective thing and I think my idea of it will change in time.

How do you rate yourself as a designer?

Oh I’m alright really.

What makes a good artist/illustrator?

The ability to make people feel something. Left feeling nothing, unaffected or bored by artwork is the worst thing!

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

Oh I’m not worried, if I start thinking about my work in those scary terms then it takes the fun away. I draw because I enjoy it and I don’t want to pressure myself to the point where I don’t enjoy it anymore. 

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

Self discipline! The ability to keep going through the ups and downs without taking anything personally.

Three words to describe yourself?

Tea, Cake, Drawing

Hobbies and Interests?

I love rummaging through charity shops, thinking up wonderful ideas and attempting to play the ukulele. I also bake an awesome banana loaf.

Favourite Illustrator/Artist?

I have too many to mention! I love fellow illustrators who use hand drawing such as Gemma Correll, Laura Di Francesco, Julia Pott, Julie Verhoeven, James Mayhew, John Cuneo and of course the legendary Quentin Blake. I also love painting and textiles; Lucien Freud, David Hockney, Diedre Scherer, Jenny Hart. I could go on!

Tools of the trade?

A million pens, sharp pencils, watercolours and coffee.

Best and worst piece of work?

My favourite piece of work is a portrait I did of my boyfriends Grandad, I feel I really captured his character in it and I absolutely loved creating it.

I’m far too sensitive to keep bad work of mine, I’d just beat myself up over it so I focus on the good stuff!

Any Tips or advice to share with aspiring designers?

Stick at it, it’s tough but it’s worth it.

Don’t drink too much tea.

Eat well and get fresh air, you’d be surprised how much it can affect your mood/work.

Have an online presence.


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