“Human behaviour is the main running thread throughout my work,” says illustrator Calum Heath. “I find the way people behave surprising and intriguing, and it definitely inspires me to make images.”
Heath graduated from Falmouth University this summer and has produced editorial illustrations for Vice, Politico and Creative Review.
His work communicates complex ideas with clarity and wit – demonstrated in editorial illustrations on the impact of Brexit, Corbynmania and cultivating a social media following – and he often combines everyday scenes with surreal elements (a giant foot, for example, or a pack of puppies inside an accordion).
Heath says he finds visual inspiration in observational drawings. Making sketches of people and objects gives him a starting point from which to try out more unusual concepts: “Once I’ve made a drawing of something, I have a creative boundary, which helps me to bounce off some more abstracted ideas,” he explains.
His sketchbook is an important part of his creative process: “I write lots of stuff down and try to make small drawings everyday. It stops ideas from running away from me,” he adds. “I’ve never been precious about how my sketchbooks look and I think that’s helped me to push my work. I would find it hard to make work if everything had to look pretty.”
His work features digital and hand drawn elements, with fine lines and blocks of solid colour. Illustrations are created by hand but colour is added using a tablet – “I prefer the contrast between textured hand drawings and flat colour,” he says.
Since graduating from Falmouth, Heath has been working from his home in Watford. He hopes to produce an illustrated book within the next year – “At Falmouth I played around with a narrative about a man who sells his limbs to gain a mortgage in London, and I think I’d like to push that narrative further and really make it something,” he says – and he would like to work on more editorial commissions.
“I have loved the speed of editorial work,” he says. “Having one day to turn around an illustration should be stressful in theory, but I’ve found you can get fantastic results that way, because you can’t overthink an idea. I also love the fact that you’re working with somebody else’s ideas. It forces you to play with imagery that you wouldn’t usually think of.”
New Talent is part of Inspire, a year-long partnership between Creative Review, Facebook and Instagram showcasing outstanding creative work and emerging talent on both platforms. More advice and inspiration for creatives using Facebook and Instagram is available at facebook.com/ads/creativehub. You can see more of Calum Heath’s work at calumheath.tumblr.com or follow him on Instagram at @calumheath_