Artist Interview with Good Wives and Warriors
05 March 2021
1. How would you describe your style in 3 words?
Hand drawn/painted, detailed and collaborative.
2. What has been your favourite project to date and why?
I think our favourite project of all time was a massive wall painting that we made in Milan in 2015. The painting was a sprawling black and white ocean scene that was also an infographic, showing the decline of biodiversity in the oceans over the past 100 years. It was a huge painting, 20m long and 8m high. We are painting up cherry pickers in August during a heat wave and had to take long siestas during the day because the cherry picker would get too hot to stand on in the heat of the day. It felt like being on holiday but a holiday that meant painting giant whale sharks for hours each day!
3. How are you doing right now and how has this past year changed the way you work?
We are okay at the moment and have had fairly consistent work during the past 10 months which we are incredibly grateful for. We had lost quite a few previously scheduled commissions due to the pandemic and have found that generally speaking, we are getting lower fees due to the type of jobs we are working on, however we just feel happy to have stuff to work on. The various lockdowns for us have resulted in more book work, a return to colouring in book work and a few jigsaw puzzles which seem to have taken off following all the lockdown home time!
4. What is your current workspace like?
We are both working between home and the studio. Throughout the latest lockdown we have worked in our Bow Arts studio on separate days and have felt lucky to have had the space to go to. Our studio is in an old nunnery and feels a bit like working in an old church tower. It is lovely, if freezing and has space for all our stuff which is a blessing. While working at home, like most people, we are trying to carve out a little working space amidst kids and life mess!
5. What is your favourite thing about being an illustrator and why?
We have both just always loved drawing and painting, always. Since I was tiny, I have escaped into making pictures and drawing strange animals or little scenes. Both of us had aspirations to be artists from when we were small and have drawn and painted all of our lives. To be able to turn that activity into a job is amazing.
6. Where do you find inspiration for your work? Who inspires / influences you?
We have always been very inspired by science, nature and the natural world so a lot of our imagery comes from there. The strangest human imagining is nowhere near as strange as what exists already in nature and it is limitless resource of ideas. We have also quite a wide varied range of artistic influences and tend to be inspired by people who are proactive, energetic and have strived to do something different with their lives.
7. Having worked both large scale on mural projects and smaller scale on editorial and publishing projects, which is your favourite and why?
Both are amazing for different reasons. The physicality of working on a large-scale mural is wonderful and just feels really natural - drawing at scale uses your whole body and that is really satisfying. With book projects, it’s kind of the opposite as we sit hunched over a desk for months. But the longevity of the project and the resulting work is also incredibly satisfying. We absolutely love making books and holding the finished printed copy. It’s such a nice feeling. Also, there is a sense that the work might impact on more people and that is a little scary but also great.
8. How did you develop your distinctively detailed style? How does it differ to when you first started out?
I think our detailed style came from a desire to fit as much visual content into an illustration as possible. We started working in a very linear way, based on more graphic artists like Shoboshobo in the mid 2000s but also mixed in a shared love of Durer linework. I think our work became increasingly more detailed over the years, but I think we are getting bolder and less line focused at the moment. Our latest book was all full colour painting, and although it is busy and detailed, it doesn’t quite have the intensity of our super detailed linework of a few years ago. We feel like our style is always changing and developing but maybe it looks the same to everyone else!
9. What would be your dream project to work on and why?
I think we would really love to do a lasting public art project, something that would help to beautify part of the urban environment and would be a lasting large-scale painting. We are also passionate about working on more environmentally aware commissions, both books and advertising products that have a more positive impact on the world.
10. What’s the best thing about having an illustration agent?
Having an Illustration agent is amazing because they are a constant support and sounding board in terms of clients. it is very difficult to work out appropriate costings for the wide range of jobs that come our way. Having professional guidance in terms of finances and client expectation is incredibly helpful and we have loved working with our agents over the years.
11. What do you wish you’d known when just starting out that you know now?
That’s a hard one. Answering just for me (Louise), I guess I just wish I had known that we were still going to be working together and supporting ourselves 14years on! I was so worried and uncertain in the early years. I would love to give that younger version of myself a bit more confidence.