Colour Your City: a night of illustration with Winsor & Newton

Winsor & Newton’s Colour Your City event took place at London’s ICA on Monday night, with an exhibition of illustrations, some live drawing and a Q&A. CR partnered with Winsor & Newton on the event and we spoke with three of the artists involved – Christopher Corr, Will Broome and Hayden Williams – about their work

Colour Your City is one of a series of events being held by Winsor & Newton to promote its new pigment markers. The first was held in New York, and another will take place in Paris early next year.

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Alongside some live drawing and a Q&A with Corr, Broome and artist Gary Webb, the event featured an exhibition of work by 17 illustrators, including Jon Burgerman, Emiliano Ponzi and Bil Donovan.

Christopher Corr

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Cory’s artwork for a UN stamp

Christopher Corr is a freelance illustrator based in London. His bright and cheerful artwork has appeared in several children’s books, as well as stamps for the UN and Royal Mail.

Colour is central to Corr’s work: even urban environments like London, New York and Hong Kong are depicted in bold multicolour, with skyscrapers rendered in orange and blue against yellow and pink skies.

“Colour is so important and fascinating, both when you look at the history of it, and on a more emotional level. It’s a language we understand on such a subliminal level, but its very powerful,” he says.

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London skyline, by Christopher Corr

Much of his work is also inspired by travel and visits to India and New York, depicting everyday street scenes as well as famous landmarks. “I find India inspiring for its colour – there’s such a vibrancy to it, and there’s always a million things going on at the same time – and New York for its energy. They’re my two biggest influences, although I love London. It’s my city and it inspires me every day,” he adds.

His latest project is a children’s book for publisher Frances Lincoln, which features 52 folk tales from around the world – one for each week of the year – and will be published in 2016. “The stories [in the book] relate to specific times of the year but they’re age-old stories. There are some really ancient ones, but they’re still important. There’s usually an important message in there,” he adds.

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Hong Kong Traffic (left) and Central Park, New York by Christopher Corr

Corr also released a vibrant retelling of Russian folk tale Teremok earlier this year, about a group of woodland animals. Titled Deep in the Woods, it features some charming illustrations – and Corr says his artwork is inspired by a mix of everyday scenes and the narratives he retells.

“I think everything influences you. I draw all the time and I think when you start to relax and get into it, you start to remember and use the things you’ve seen.”

Hayden Williams

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Williams’ artwork for Winsor & Newton’s Colour Your City event

Hayden Williams is a freelance fashion illustrator – he started studying at Ravensbourne but left college after his work attracted a global following on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram. He now has over 1 million Instagram followers, has had his work shared by Beyonce, Rihanna and Oprah Winfrey and featured in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

“I joined Twitter and Tumblr in 2009, and later Instagram, and started sharing my illustrations and designs online. It just sort of blew up from there,” explains Williams. “Rihanna used one of my illustrations as her profile picture on twitter, then Beyonce Instagrammed my work and her team got in touch to say they’d like to feature it on her website, so I sent them some exclusive content for a feature.”

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Williams now has 1 million followers on Instagram and over 200,000 on Facebook, where he regularly posts personal and commissioned work, such as illustrations of runway collections from Paris and London Fashion Weeks

Williams has since been commissioned by Disney to design a dress for the live action film of Cinderella, and by Rimmel to create a campaign for Kate Moss’ range of eye make-up. He is now working on another collaboration with Disney and posts images of personal and commissioned work every other day to boost his following.

“It’s often my own personal work. For Hallowe’en, I did some high fashion vampires and fantasy type-stuff, and once they appear on the popular page of Instagram, they go viral. It fascinates me when that happens. Instagram is my biggest following and it’s instant feedback. You post work and within seconds you have hundreds of likes or comments,” he adds.

William Broome

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Will Broome studied fashion design at Central Saint Martins in the 1990s, at the same time as Hussein Chalayan, Katie Grand, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo and Giles Deacon. After graduating, he moved into illustration and has since worked on projects for Topshop, Wedgwood, Vans and Harvey Nichols.

Broome applied to study fashion after failing his A-Levels and getting a place on a foundation course at West Notts College. After doing a degree and an MA in the subject, however, he decided to pursue illustration instead.

“I did the MA but by then I had become to feel a bit jaded by fashion,” says Broome. “I began to realise the thing that I enjoyed most was drawing – that was always my strongest suit I suppose. It was quite a long and winding road to get to where I have done but I actually think that has stood me in good stead in a funny way.”

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Broome’s first every project as an illustrator was for Marc Jacobs: he drew the logo for the designer’s Miss Marc by Marc Jacobs range back in 2003, an icon that was then applied to clothing and accessories and appeared in the designer’s runway collection.

Speaking of his process, Broome says he works “in quite a naïve way”. His illustrations are all hand-drawn (though he sometimes works in collage) and he rarely uses computers. “I just like the human touch. Computers are great and everything but I don’t want to add any gloss or slickness or to knock my thumbprint off my work,” he says. “The most hi-tech piece of equipment I use is a light-box. I use marker pens, I use fine liners, I cut stuff out and I stick it down with glue.”

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Like Corr, Broome says he prefers to work in an intuitive way – particularly when it comes to commissions. “When I am working with a client I kind of prefer it if I’m not given too much of a brief. I don’t like to be bombarded with information or inspiration, I find it confusing it’s a bit like white noise. I am very spoilt in that generally people just let me get on with it and do my thing,” he adds.

While he has worked with several fashion brands, he says is wary of becoming pigeonholed as a fashion illustrator and cites a range of illustrated crockery for Wedgwood as one of his favourite collaborations.

“I am aware that I have been lucky enough to work with some great brands doing some great projects,” he says. “I still get a ‘buzz’ if I ever see someone wearing a T-shirt that has one of my drawings on it, or an iPhone case or whatever,” he says. He is now working on Frankie and Doris, an animated sitcom for 7-11-year-olds with production company Sixteen South.

Creative Review partnered with Winsor & Newton for Colour Your City. 

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