In the garage I find a hand made box. A box I built to put my 3D Figs: in. Deposited and neglected. Dating back to 1995. None created in the last ten twelve years. Some of the stuff has perished. Limbs and bits get mixed up. I bring it to the studio. It's never too late. It's never too late. It's never too late. Said the Guru.
I briefly mentioned to you that I am working on a dissertation about observation (The role of observation in the creation of the picture book). As you made so clear in your talk, observation plays an important part in your creative process both with visual inspiration and the narrative. One thing that struck me about your work is that in spite of often irreverent subject matter (!) your images still manage to retain sensitivity clearly resulting from close observation. I made lots of notes yesterday which I hope to include in my final piece, but a couple of questions have occurred to me since. If you have time to answer these or would like to contribute any further thoughts to my subject, it would be really super:
You mentioned you don't like sketchbooks...why is this?
Do you always begin a project with observational work or do you often rely on visual memories?
Do you think that observation is essential to the creation of a successful picture book?
Trouble is with sketchbooks they can can become such a weighty precious commodity in their own right and before the era of the scanner, the artist's best work was to be found in their sketch books and the number of times I'd witness a student attempting to reproduce something from their sketchbook, in all it's painful forced spontaneity - God forbid. For years I didn't use a sketchbook, didn't have time. In the last 10 years or so I will occasionally try out ideas for books and more recently I find myself using them more and I think it's because you are able to scan satisfactory images into the computer and work on them from there.
Beginning A Project: Every project is different, it varies with books it's a mixture, but for me the character comes first. Nail your leading actors first. - Tomorrow I will give you a different answer.
I think observation is just one of the essential ingredients . Contemporary books for children that are successful usually display a sprinkling of wit. It is no good forcing humour, it usually arises out of a situation that is natural and the reader identifies with it on some level. Observation and memory are for me personally, as you've asked, possibly essential (I've not thought about it),,
I use different papers what happens to be at the top of the drawer usually, lately it's been bristol board
as for pen the worse type of drawing implement is the rotring get rid of it
go to a decent art shop that still sell nibs and try some out Gillott or Waverly that sort of thing
saw your Mugabe in the Guardian today so thought I would put you into google, so to speak.
Love your stuff, realised have seen it all over the place.
What kind of paper do you generally use, and what kind of pen? I used a rotring but the nib is too thick I find.
Keep up the good work anyway,
I liked drawing I was good at it. - Wrong reason.
I am an illustration graduate student at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Your work has had a major impact on mine and in the direction my work is taking. I was hoping to ask you a few questions regarding the illustration business. I understand your time is limited, but if you could give me a little feedback it would be much appreciated.
1. Why did you decide to become an illustrator?
2. How did you get your first job/big break?
3. What do you consider the hardest part, in terms of the art side and the business side of illustration?
4. What do you consider the earning potential for the Editorial market? Children's book?
5. What do you find to be most challenging in these markets? What do you find most rewarding?
Drawing is a curse
It's a mystery
come on pen come on ink
trap that child that you once were and milk it.
It's something that happens after a lot of hard work...............
I'll be in touch
in your search
leave things to the last moment until it's almost too late wonderful for focusing the mind
Dear Mr Hughes,I am a mature student studying illustration at my local college of further education. I have been instructed by my tutors to write to an illustrator whose work I admire in order to get a better understanding of them and their work. Of course, I am sure you can think of nothing more annoying than answering the inane questions of undergraduates at parochial colleges and I can think of nothing more cringeworthy than asking them. Joy all round, then! Please forgive me but I will try to be brief (not to mention amazed and grateful beyond words to receive a reply).1. Of your peers whom do you admire most?
I like playing Bingo2. What's your position on the continuing debate about the present/future relevance of traditional drawing skills?I personally believe in drawing ...drawing from life......drawing from memory3. Does using numbers fill you with joy or dread?
an axe4. Most beloved tool?
5. Sketchbooks : how many (if any) do you use per year?
none6. Are self motivated projects important to your working life?
7. Preferred type of work?
8. Preferred way of composing an image? (Plan, experiment or?)
No actually there was a great bar called Dave's and i liked the atlantic ocean knocking on the door8. Aren't you glad you don't live in Charleston?
The narrative? I start at the beginning............
I went to the local Technical College, ...a career path?
What is your preferred illustration style?
Hand drawn with digital additions
Is your work mostly computer based or do you like to incorporate hand drawn elements?
Too many to list but here are some, George Herriman, David Hockney, Egon Schiele, Peter Blake,Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Tex Avery,Winsor McCay, George Grosz, Rebecca Horn,Toulouse Lautrec, Holbein, Francis Bacon, Lucien Frued, Paul Klee, The book Jimmy Corrigan, The Bash Street Kids, Dexter a wire hair fox terrier, Robert an ex cat, sex, death sunsets drink chopping wood
What are your influences and what inspires you?
Clients: The New Yorker Magazine, Esquire (USA), Observer Magazine (1990-1992), Gian Carlo Menotti- Spoleto Festival, The Times newspaper (1993-1998) Today Newspaper (1993-1995), Walker Books, Alibaba Verlag (Germany),
Which have been your most successful clients and which illustrations have you been most proud of?
I gained a Surrey Diploma (1st class hons !) in 1972 but no one ever asks. I left Twickenham College of Technology in 1972 and hadn't a clue and gave up hawking my portfolio around after a week. Became a road sweeper then I worked in a hotel as a cleaner then met the tea boy come paste up artist working at The Daily Express he was about 3 years older than me at a party he suggested I show my work to the art editor, I did and I was given a set of zodiac signs to design for which I was paid I think £60 for the lot.For the next two years struggled a s a freelance I did a weekly cookery illustration for the Daily Express £15 a drawing, before I gave up completely disenchanted with the business hated it and became a full time postman for three years. In 1980 I got a job as a graphic designer at Granada Television (I had no experience in TV Graphics) but the head of the dept was himself a pretty damn fine draughtsman and I think he felt sorry me. Anyway after 4 years or so I left on the back of a set of illustrations I had been commissioned by designer David Pocknell for a book on fishing by comedian Eric Morecambe (Morecambe & Wise) I was barmy the salary I left behind was far more than I could earn as an illustrator then but I was convinced I was good enough. Fool.
What qualifications do you have and how did you get into the industry?
Do you have any advice for people trying to get into the design industry?
Deadlines? I find sleeping on it and leaving it to the last minute is a pretty good process. Managing time difficult? Yes.
How do you find working to a deadline? Do you find it difficult to manage your time effectively?
To give up beef.
What do you hope to achieve in the future?
Thanks a lot for your time and i hope to speak to you soon!
Hello Mr. Hughes,Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I hope it isn't too late to send a few questions your way.Here are some questions, thank you for being willing to do this. I really appreciate it.when did you start drawing? - Can't remember, probably on the bedroom wall...what do you do when you hit a creative wall? - wash up the cups/get depressedwhat is the biggest obstacle that illustrators face? - getting ripped of creatively and financiallyWhat was the biggest misconception you had when you became an illustrator? - that I might get richDo you have a favorite piece that you've worked on? - there's been a few, a drawing of former Manchester United football star Eric Cantona springs to mindWho is your biggest inspiration/What inspires you? - Dexter-Fox Terrier/DeathIf you weren't an illustrator, what would you be doing? - Time?Who's your favorite artist? Tex Avery Egon Schiele HolbeinWho would you like to collaborate with in the future? Film Maker Daniel Vernon.What has been your biggest accomplishment/proudest moment as an illustrator?Raymond Briggs phoning me up for adviceWhat music inspires you to make your art? I don't think that much music inspires my art but music is important - Today ? Pull Up Some Dust-Ry Cooder. The other day, Madness,
What's your favorite cartoon? Krazy Kat - George HerrimanWhat is your favorite medium to use? What's your least favorite? pencil is favourite, least favourite? any type of technical drawing pen maybeWhat's the hardest part about being an illustrator? What's the best? Hardest part? - Getting paid. Best part - getting paid?How long did it take for you to support yourself on your art? 12 yearsThanks again,
Dear Tay Wetherbee
I have no advice for any illustrator breaking into the market, it took me 12-13 years, so who in their right mind would take any tips from me.
Favourite clients? The clients who pay promptly. The clients who have a modicum of intelligence and might understand a little of what my work is about.
The client who may even recognise in me something I haven't discovered.
I don't go after markets.
How did I get started? - I have to start again every damn day.
How many projects at a time? Truthfully, at the time of answering your questions........I have no projects on, apart from a weekly portrait for the Italian magazine L'espresso.
Throughout the 1990s and up until three or four years ago I would be juggling 6-10 'projects' at a time. Make of that what you will.
That is the reason you are getting a quick reply.