Manjit Thapp on the emotional power of illustration

Fresh from releasing her first book, we speak to Manjit Thapp about using illustration as a tool to express emotions, and how she creates her distinctive artworks using a combination of analogue and digital media

It’s easy to find yourself fixated on Manjit Thapp’s work. Whether she is illustrating fashion shows or creating Wes Anderson fan art, her ability to create richly atmospheric scenes and populate them with intriguing characters has set her practice apart in the saturated landscape of illustration, earning her high-profile commissions from Tate, Apple and ITV in the process.

Growing up in Birmingham, Thapp always considered herself as one of the arty kids at school, and as she got older she naturally found herself gravitating towards drawing. “When I started secondary school I started taking drawing more seriously and I quickly became pretty obsessed with it. My best friend was really good at drawing, she would be drawing all the time, and that was how I got into it more and wanted to improve myself,” she tells CR.

An affinity for pencil drawing evolved into illustration as she learned more about the possibilities of a career in the creative industries. “When I was at school, I don’t think I knew too much about illustration, I thought of it as just art,” she says. “Then when I was looking at different universities and courses, the illustration courses seemed to be the best fit for my work. I liked the different avenues that it presented, like book illustration, editorial work, branding – it felt very broad.”