When did you start doing artwork and who influenced you? Did you get support from your parents, friends, siblings?
As I child, my brother and I spent a lot of time in my grandmother’s pub, entertaining our- selves with coloring books and felt tips (he trained as a graphic designer). I remember winning a My Little Pony Comic coloring com- petition at age 5, and a CCC competition at 8, and a lady offering to buy one of my drawings on holiday in Portugal when I was 11. My mum particularly always encouraged us. And my dad told me recently that he still has a framed realistic pencil drawing of a Coca Cola Can in his office that I did as a child, dated 1989! I’msure that the colorful cartoons and TV of the 1980s, like The Care Bears, Wuzzles, Popples, The Raccoons, Teddy Ruxpin, Punky Brewster, Jem and The Holograms and The Garbage Pail Kids were a big influence on my later color palette. My mum always made sure we had plenty of Disney classics in classics in the VHS cabinet – I think the earlier ones like Snow White and Fantasia were big favourites. I also loved early Tom and Jerry. Growing up in the 80s and early 90s definitely influenced my colour palette, saturated with rainbow, pastel and neon tones.
Give us a little bio of your history (school, family, early jobs, etc) Particularly anything surprising or amusing.
I studied for a BA HONS in Illustration at Falmouth College of Arts in Cornwall for 3 years, gaining a 1st class. It was an incredible experience, being accross the other side of the UK from where I grew up (in Cheshire). Falmouth is a beautiful seaside town, with equal parts students from all corners of the globe, local Cornish folk and sailors coming in from ships – Falmouth is the 3rd deepest natu- ral harbour in the World. with a great creative gang of student talent from around the globe – I lived and worked with students from Norway, Sweden, Greece, Switzerland, and Argentina, and my lecturers were successful practitioners within the field of Illustration. After Falmouth, I spent 4 years in London. I started off interning for Yellowdoor (Mary Portas’ Fashion Marketing agency), Pop and The Face Magazines, and Stella McCartney, where I spent 9 months assisting the head of print design. It was a totally transformational experience – and where I learned the value of extensive research in shapingprojects.Istillusesomeofthetechniques I learned with print and embroidery there within my illustration work today. Whilst I was interning and earlier at uni, I survived cobbling together cash from the occaisional commission alongside jobs in bars and nightclubs. Really the term ‘impoverished artist’ is an understatement – I was living below the poverty line, existing on £130 per week cobbled from numerous bar jobs whilst interning in the fashion industry full time and paying £112 per week in rent!
I literally ate one decent meal a day. I hung in there finding time to create art wherever I could in between jobs in my tiny shared flat, often working on my bed due to lack of space. By early 2004, my debt and overdraft had reached crisis point and I faced leaving London – when suddenly I was thrown a lifeline. Bartending friends from the punk club Electric Ballroom. I met some amazing creative people in those squats who are now successful actors, burlesque stars, artists, fashion designers and TV tarot sensations! I am so proud to call those people my friends, we came so far together. I developed my portfolio in those squats, and in doing so there followed illustration commissions. I got an illustration agent in Canada and one in London. It took three years, but I got back on my feet. It was so hard at the time, but I’m glad I went through it as it makes me so thankful for where I am today.
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