Having performed the roles of both Head of Illustration and also Course Leader since 2011, I decided to shift my focus in early 2021 to teaching on both BA(Hons) Illustration and Illustration: Authorial Practice MA. I also intend to increase my engagement in academic research from 2021 with a view to applying for a PhD. My teaching has always been inextricably linked with my career as a freelance illustrator. Both inform and support each other. The ability to remain relevant and conversant within the rapidly shifting sands of the design and illustration industries has become something that students now expect. For me this connection has been mutually beneficial and self-sustaining. Not only does the student attain knowledge of their subject and valuable insights into current and established industry practice but I, as their tutor, am constantly reinvigorating and stretching my own knowledge of the subject.Having initially started using acrylic paint as my primary medium I have moved between 3D assemblage, relief printmaking, gouache and inevitably onto digital media. Having graduated in 1989 from Central Saint Martins I am one of a generation of illustrators who have witnessed at first hand the seismic shift in the industry that occurred when Apple introduced computers that freelance illustrators could actually afford. With the addition of Photoshop and Illustrator the circle was complete. For me, working with layers in Photoshop has allowed me to pursue ideas further than I had been able to previously. Understanding that colour, texture and composition are truly under my control has freed up more time to focus on visual problem solving. For me as an illustrator, the ‘end justifies the means’. However, always at the heart of my work has been the desire to replicate something of the craft of traditional processes such as reduction relief printmaking (both lino and wood cut). It’s really important that the digital process is not allowed to suck the life out of these beautiful processes.
The main focus of my freelance career has been editorial illustration. I have worked for most of the major UK daily newspapers while also working for other major editorial clients in the UK & the US such as New Scientist, The Lancet, International Herald Tribune etc. The fast turnaround and often conceptual nature of the editorial brief can often push the illustrator to their limits but the experience can be hugely satisfying. A significant aspect of my career as a freelance illustrator has been the need to embrace sound business practice: A good understanding of how to market oneself, nurture strong business connections, be fully aware of important issues surrounding contracts, copyright law etc. all while while balancing the books. Having worked in a number of studio environments including the renowned ‘Big Orange Studio’ I have gained significant experience of contributing ideas to a ‘collective’.