New illustrators: Paul Imrie, Jordan Carter, Alex Tait and Joe Waldron

London illustration agency Jelly has launched a new talent scheme to recruit and support up and coming artists. We spoke to the programme’s first signings about their work and creative influences…

London illustration agency Jelly has launched a new talent scheme, Futures, to recruit up and coming artists. We spoke to the programme’s first signings about their work and creative influences…

Alex Tait, Jordan Andrew Carter, Paul Imrie and Joe Waldron were scouted at exhibitions and degree shows. Their styles vary hugely but they all have a distinctive personal style. In the first of a series looking at new illustration talent, we asked each of them about their inspirations and proudest moments so far.

ALEX TAIT

23-year-old Alex Tait studied graphic arts at Bucks New University and was spotted by Jelly at D&AD New Blood last year. He specialises in creating playful and surreal vector illustrations.

Who or what is your biggest influence?

I draw inspiration from everything and anything, and have a hit list of sites I visit each morning. Seeing some of the work people are putting out there makes me excited to create.

At the moment, [my biggest influence] is probably Brecht Evens. His illustrations draw you in and you can get lost in them. I’ve recently been reading his ‘The Making Of’ book, and whenever I put it down, I feel the need to draw.

When did you first decide you wanted to become an illustrator?

I always enjoyed drawing as a kid but never really thought of it as a viable career path – if you had asked me then it would have been one of those ‘dream’ jobs along with being a pro footballer or an astronaut, but as I got older the mystique of the whole thing began to disappear.

It ended up being a natural progression with luck playing a fairly large part. I made up my mind during my last year at university when I realised that I would probably be pretty miserable if I didn’t get to keep this up.

What project are you most proud of?

To date, I think it would have to be a book I produced for my final major project at university titled ’Solimoes’ (below). The fact that I had a lot of fun working on it contributes to this, and it was a project that I was just able to run away with. The end result was the stamp on where I wanted to take my illustrative style and set up the blueprint for how I would work from then on.

What would be your dream commission?

I’d like to illustrate a children’s book, that would be my ideal gig. I have always loved reading them, even as an adult, and it would make the six or seven-year-old in me proud.

What’s your usual creative process?

I normally start by writing down key words and ideas as they come to me. This process gets me drawing – sometimes straight into Illustrator, but, more often than not into a sketchbook, or whatever I have at hand. I try to keep an open mind as to what the outcome might be. I like getting lost as that is where a lot of my best ideas have come from.

[I enjoy working with Illustrator] as it’s forgiving – drawing with fine liners onto paper made me afraid to experiment, but once I began to use Illustrator I realised that I can try something and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter.

 

JOE WALDRON

Joe Waldron, 25, studied illustration at the University of West England, Bristol. His editorial illustrations have been featured in Wired, The Ride Journal and Radio Times.

Who or what is your biggest influence?

I take a lot from early to mid twentieth century design, in terms of its ideology. I find the emotion of a brighter tomorrow fascinating, and it’s an idea I have very much internalised.

When did you decide you wanted to be an illustrator?

I have wanted to be an illustrator for as long as I remember. When I was four, my dad entered me into a competition at the advertising company he was working at for a painting of mine to be on their Christmas card that year. I won and received two boxes of the cards…[and] I posted one through every letterbox down my street.

I spent a lot of time drawing and creating stories with my father, but when I was seven, he was tragically killed in a traffic accident. I decided that if I could make a living from keeping those early memories I spent with him alive and, in my own way, keep him alive through my drawings, then I would.

I was fascinated with figurative illustration and drawing, and would work constantly on attempting to make my work as accurate as possible. My interest in shape and composition is evident in my style and my enjoyment of storytelling and the exploration of hidden meanings are things I always try to incorporate into my work.

What project are you most proud of?

A series of unconventional self-portraits that I worked on just before I started my freelance career that revolved around the idea of depression and anxiety. I took a lot of inspiration from personal experiences and research, [and] created a body of work that I felt captured a lot of the emotions around such a deep and difficult issue.

What’s your usual creative process?

My usual process usually starts with roughing out ideas and making sure the image works. I find this the most difficult stage of my creative process as I have to have a clear idea of where the project is going in my head before I can start to feel happy with the project’s direction. From the sketches and roughs I then develop the work in Photoshop, adding textures and colour to my illustrations.

I enjoy the freedom that working digitally gives me; I came from a background of painting and have transferred those skills into my digital work. I find that through doing this my medium has become much for forgiving of the mistakes that I may make during the process and this gives me much more freedom to experiment with different techniques and ideas.

I also enjoy working from my studio and would encourage any illustrators or creative to join one. I found the loneliness of freelance work difficult to deal with as I was very much my own worst critic, and this was amplified to ridiculous levels when I was on my own. I find that sharing a space helps even out those thoughts and can also be a positive experience in terms of idea development and personal progression.

JORDAN ANDREW CARTER

Jordan Andrew Carter, 24, studied game design at Norwich University of the Arts. His clients include Creative England, Paper&Cloth and Little White Lies.

Who or what is your biggest influence?

I’ve always been a massive fan of street art but recently I’ve been really inspired by print. I really love the limitless possibilities and humour of street art, as well as the tactile feel and look of print.

When did you first decide you wanted to be an illustrator?

I really wanted to be a fireman until I realised I wasn’t cool with heights – I’ve never really known what I want to be apart from that. I’ve always drawn and been kind of acceptable at it, so it’s been sort of something I’ve slowly realised I want to be over my entire life.

The earliest thing I remember drawing is an easter card to my mum when I was in infants school which had the full on crucifixion of Jesus on the front. It was pretty detailed, and even had a soldier spearing him in the guts.



What project are you most proud of?

Probably the work I recently did for the Muppets issue of Little White Lies. I got some really rad feedback from friends and total strangers, and it was killer to see, smell and feel my work in such an amazing publication!

What/who would be your dream commission and why?

The front cover of Huck magazine, purely because it is my magazine of choice and there is so much awesome stuff in it. Another dream commission would be to create a huge mural of some sort. It would be a challenge but I’d love to see some of my work translated BIG!


What’s your usual creative process?

It all starts out in a sketchbook. This is the part where I try and make sense of what going on by scribbling and note taking. Then I’ll move on to roughs where I try and fit in as many of the ideas and figure out overall composition. After that I take a few days to draw all the pencil elements before scanning them and then taking them into Photoshop, where I clean them up and adjust levels. The final part is done in Illustrator where I create all the graphic colour parts.

It’s a pretty fun process because of the different stages – hand drawn and then digital, and I love the difference between the two. The hand drawn pencil work feels really raw and organic, and is a total difference to the hard lined block colour digital work. It keeps the whole process of creating an image really fresh and varied.

 

PAUL IMRIE

Paul Imrie, 28, is based in Liverpool and studied illustration at at Glyndwr University in Wrexham, North Wales. Imrie’s ‘Entropy’ drawing (bottom) was recently exhibited by Sotheby’s and last year, he won a ‘Student of the Year’ award at D&AD’s Student Awards.

Who or what is your biggest influence?

I’ve always been fascinated with architecture and the urban environment and this continues to be my main source of reference for my drawings. There are loads of different people who’s styles I have come to love, but if I had to pick one who stands out and who has influenced my own work the most recently, it would be a German illustrator who went by the name of Robinson. I don’t think he is hugely known, but there are several books dedicated to his very linear and distinctive looking city drawings.

What project are you most proud of?

My recent wall work for the Zizzi restaurant at Cheshire Oaks (below)…It is an illustration based around Cheshire that covers a space about ten meters long and three meters high. It’s not that its concept or the overall design are the best I have ever come up with, but the challenge it provided me with was unique – perhaps a little stressful given the tight schedule but more importantly, a lot of fun. I think the sheer size was enough to give me a great sense of achievement when I stepped back for the last time.

What would be your dream commission?

I’ve always loved the idea of doing a massive high detail cityscape. Perhaps for an iconic brand or organisation. More recently, I have been thinking of how cool it would be to see an image of mine on the front of the New Yorker. It’s such an iconic publication and I’ve loved many of their previous covers, especially some of the more urban inspired ones.

What’s your usual creative process?

I usually start with a load of scribbles in pencil and maybe a bit of old fashioned ‘mind mapping’ although this is usually just random words written down anywhere with no continuity or group order – apparently the act of writing a word down helps with the creative process. It works…  sometimes.

If I’m working for someone else, I will take the composition I have arrived at through my initial doodles and draw it out again so that people have some hope of actually understanding what I’m putting forward to them. If I’m doing something for myself, normally the doodles are sufficient.

I’ll then switch to fine line pens to draw my final images. I put in some initial pencil guides here and there, especially in more complex drawings, but then all the detail goes in with the pens.

Colouring is done predominantly through digital techniques once I have scanned the images in to Photoshop and depending on the amount that needs to be done, it might take a couple of hours sorting a bit of line colour or just as long as the actual drawing took if I am going for full colour and effects. Tone is usually achieved through both my initial hatching with the pens and the digital colouring.

When I’m working with the pens, getting in and adding all the small details makes me happy. I often lose track of the time while doing this. I enjoy trying to make things look convincing, but not overly realistic and this is all usually done before any digital work.

While the original drawings before scanning are very traditional, I enjoy painting digitally rather than traditionally, it serves my occasional bouts of clumsiness quite well, plus I have always like working with computers. That being said, I don’t rule out traditional media and occasionally have a dabble.

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