Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Interview: Curtains for the Window

Last week, the lovely Jules Young asked if she could feature me on her blog, 'Curtains for the Window', and I was, of course, delighted to agree! Jules has very kindly given me permission to re-post the interview and accompanying illustrations below. Hope you enjoy :)

Who are you, where do you come from and what do you do?
I’m Jenny Lloyd, an illustrator and print designer from the UK. I was brought up in the West Country, studied for my Illustration degree in Cornwall and then went to live in London for a few years; I’ve also lived in the Greek Islands, Budapest, and am now based in the West of Ireland. 

What first started you off with illustration?
I think what first started my fascination with illustration was books I read as a child. I’ve always loved to read, but if the stories came with beautiful pictures inside or on the cover, so much the better. Later I became fascinated with art books and magazines, which I could never afford to buy, but stood quietly in the corner of the local bookshop, leafing guiltily through the pages with charcoal-smudged fingers and trying not to be noticed. When I realised I loved to draw and that I wasn’t terrible at it, becoming an illustrator seemed a natural progression. I thought for a long time I might be a writer instead, but drawing just came more naturally to me. I like that illustration comes from an idea, or can accompany and enrich the written word; I like things to have a purpose, and although more often than not I’m able to use my own ideas, I actually like working for and alongside clients. I enjoy working towards a brief and having a deadline; if I was a fine artist I think it would be difficult for me to maintain motivation and self-discipline.

Who/what influences what you create?
With client-initiated work, often my ideas and influences come directly from the client’s needs. For example, a recent commission entailed my designing the packaging for a range of beauty products whose ingredients come from Ghana in Africa. In this instance, I spent a significant amount of time researching African styles, fabrics, and the landscape; likewise with a series of illustrations I did last year for a Yoga-themed exhibition in New Delhi, India. Although in both cases I feel the finished product still reflects my style, I was obviously heavily influenced by the visual research I’d done for each country/culture. With personal or self-initiated work, however, my inspiration can come from anything. Maybe a set of vintage teacups, a song, or an Art Nouveau painting; a colour palette, a genre of film or music, or something as simple as the weather one day. Anything!

How do you decide on a subject for an illustration?
As I’ve mentioned above, the subject often comes directly from the client; its what you can do with the required subject to make it relevant and beautiful that interests me. I had an obsession with Japanese art and culture for a long while – as you can see from my portfolio – which actually led to editorial commissions. With personal work I always have lots of ideas in my head about what I’d like to do next. I’m currently obsessed with Mexico and Mexican culture; the Day of the Dead festival traditions especially, after seeing a row of beautifully decorated sugar skulls on a necklace. And last year I started watching an amazing TV series from the US about the 20s and 30s travelling Carnival trade, and did some research and preliminary drawings based on that. Neither of those themes have really come to light yet in my portfolio, but I’m pretty sure they will at some point! 

If you could have your work published or hung anywhere, where would you like to see it?
That’s a tough one; I’ve had my illustrations published in quite a high-profile magazines, etc., which is very exciting, but sort of sad if its only going to be visible in that magazine for a week or month. I’d love my illustration to be picked to feature in a specifically illustration-oriented magazine, like the Association of Illustrators’ quarterly ‘Varoom,’ but I don’t think my work is groundbreaking enough for that. As for my illustration as prints, I’m not a snob about that in any way, so I’d really just say on the walls in the rooms of peoples’ houses. As many people as possible! Ideally I’d like my work to be enjoyed, I want people to want to live with it every day, not just visit it in a gallery.

What medium do you like to work in and why?
I like to draw everything first, but really my favourite medium to work in is digital. I think ‘digital artists’ get a bad rap because we’re seen as somehow devaluing the currency of ‘real’ drawing, as if what we do is dishonest somehow. But really I just see it as a natural progression; as technology advances, then people are going to take advantage of that to make art. That’s not to say I don’t think illustrators shouldn’t have to be able to draw; they should. But once you’ve learned the skills, its up to you what you do with them. I love digital media, and have taken advantage of Illustrator, Flash and InDesign too at various times, but my favourite application is Photoshop. I’m a terrible perfectionist, so I love the precision of working digitally, the way I can ‘mix’ and use colours so precisely, and create a perfect curve, a gentle glow, a perfectly soft blur. I also love how easy it is to change things at my own whim or at the behest of a client, it saves huge amounts of time and gives me massive amounts of control. I do like to use lots of texture in my work, though, to try and avoid it looking flat and sterile; so I use lots of my own scanned textures and online texture resources. Overlaying textures gives a sense of depth and richness, a sense of reality. Its my favourite kind of fakery. 

If you could only eat one food for the rest of forever what would it be?
Well, pie, obviously. But after that, potatoes. You can boil them, mash them, roast them, bake them, fry them, make crisps… I admire their versatility. They’re a very noble food ;) 

Whose work do you admire and want on your own walls?
I absolutely love Art Nouveau, so I adore huge Alphonse Mucha prints; he’s one of the very first true illustrators whose work I fell in love with. Also, the gorgeous, vibrant dancing ladies of Jules Chéret’s French theatre posters; I love images of beautiful women and I adore colour too, so I suppose its natural I should like both those artists. I also admire the spareness and gentle feeling of vintage Japanese woodblock prints; their delicacy is just so beautiful. As for contemporary work, my favourite artists and illustrators include Shaun Tan, Charmaine Olivia, Jen Lobo, Alberto Cerriteno, James Jean, Laura Laine, Matthieu Bessudo, Sophie Griotto, Nanami Cowdroy, Gabriella Barouch, Matthew Billington, Zara Picken, Nicoletta Ceccoli, Kevin Tong… there are far too many to mention!

What’s the best thing about being an illustrator?
Being able to do what I love every day.

What’s the future hold for your work?
Who knows? Commercially, I’d like have similar commissions to those I’m doing at the moment. Just more of them, please! And I’m getting excited again about the idea of doing more surface pattern design… I think its highly likely you’ll see some pretty and extravagantly coloured patterns coming out of my studio pretty soon :)

1 comment:

SaraLynn said...

What a wonderful interview! I absolutely love the images that accompany this. You have such a beautiful style and choose such fantastic color palettes!