I wanted to share some of the illustrators who have inspired me over the years. Only now, as start illustrating myself, am I beginning to see and recognise their influence.
Click on the photos to find out more about the artists.
Probably the original and best and I think maybe the most influential, Jill Barklem. I even met her as a young child and I stuck her dedication to me into my copy of The Four Seasons of Brambly Hedge. The detail of those cut through drawings showing the dwelling places of self sufficient mice have enchanted and entertained me my whole life. They may have even planted the acorns of my current self sufficiency plans and dreams. I love how each drawing tells a story and you can get lost in the details. They warm and nourish me to my very core, it was some time before I realised I had been dressing like Wilfred the Mouse for years.
I was in my early teens when I discovered Ralph Steadman. I think again it was the storytelling and the detail that drew me in. Books like I, Leonardo, are breathtaking in their energy, technical skill and general exuberance. Animal Farm is also a well thumbed and referred to work of genius which brings an already vivid work into sharper focus. As a student I would regularly visit my local Oddbins. At the time my purse was more suited to Bargain Booze, but I was asking for their old posters and giant cardboard cut-outs as Steadman did a lot of their advertising art work at that time. My student walls were covered in giant adverts for Spanish and French wines. He continues to be a huge inspiration to me.
I have lost count of the amount of times I have used Nielson's work as reference material in my job as a set and costume designer. The worlds he creates show mood and emotion like no-one else and his characters have the most incredible attire. Beautiful and romantic but also dark and foreboding, they have a timelessness and a power I just keep going back to.
We had the book, Masquerade, as children and I was intrigued by both the beautiful drawings and the promise of buried treasure. This might be where my love and fascination for hares (and hoards) stemmed. This is more illustrative work to get lost in and swept away by, it is absolutely breathtaking. For those of you who don't know, Kit Williams published the illustrated story in 1979 and it held the clues to find a jewelled hare necklace which was buried under cover of darkness. Much fevered searching and controversy ensued. I saw the actual necklace in the V & A a few years ago and it was a really emotional moment. Worth looking into, there are loads of videos about it on YouTube, click on the photo to see one.
Also known as the "Queen of the tea towel' her work just fills me with happiness and joy. She is probably the reason I am making tea towels. Her designs have depth and warmth and detail and a soul. I can only hope my tea towels contain a fraction of what hers give. I am also a big fan of her illustrator son, Matthew Rice, and have lots of his work in my kitchen. 💚
Katie is one of the reasons I'm here. I first discovered her work through the knitting community and she makes really lovely YouTube videos about her life in Devon as a freelance illustrator, knitwear designer and maker. I have watched her transition from a part time to full time illustrator and have been so inspired by her openness, bravery and creativity. Plus, her work is beautiful. From her incredibly moving memoir, Lighter than my Shadow, to her zines, sheep portraits and commission work, it's all delightful and manages to have a lightness and be full of depth at the same time.
Phoebe is my most recent illustrator crush. Textural, colourful, layered, political work rooted in history, soil and love, it's so wonderful. I have her book, Sonya's Chickens and hope to invest in more of her work in the future. I really love her depictions of interiors, cosy kitchens, bountiful and abundant feasts and warm cosy rooms with log burners and blankets. She is also an incredible textile artist and endless source of inspiration for me. Plus she wears glorious knitwear. 💚
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