Where does my illustration inspiration come from?

When I look back, I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil in my hand. This meant that I had no boundaries on what I drew on (which included walls and Barbie clothes), but it definitely was something I loved doing.

It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve rekindled my love of drawing, having grown tired of computer-based artwork. I longed to enjoy pen and paper again. There was a bit of a fear surrounding that, as when you put pen to paper, it’s permanent – on the computer, you just hit undo and everything is fine. I had to re-learn to enjoy the process of a drawing not always going to plan, or turning out different than expected.

But today, I thought I’d share some of my inspiration growing up. I draw nothing like any of my top three inspirations, but it’s their thought processes, their generosity and appreciation of their own styles that inspired me to find my own groove.


1. Terry Costello

terry-paintingTerry has been an ongoing friend, mentor and inspiration for many, many years. He passed away last year but he’s never far from my thoughts. He taught me more about art and design than I ever learned at school. He’s always supported me, telling me not to give up on what I love even when it gets tough, because it will eventually pay off – and he was right.

I do have a good laugh that he did try to teach me to paint in early high school (as he was an amazing painter…look at the detail!), but he even admitted that maybe I should stick to pencil and ink after he didn’t have much success getting me to use a paintbrush. And while some people would see this as a failure, I saw it as even more reason to perfect using the mediums I’m good at.


2. Graeme Base

Who didn’t have a Graeme Base book as a kid? Not many! And I was one of those kids who cherished his books…but maybe in a different way to other kids. While the stories were wonderful, I would spend hours trying to draw the characters out of his books. I loved all of the details and the colours, and I had a huge set of pencils that I wanted to make use of.

My favourite attempt at drawing from Graeme’s books was this cat – I was 7 years old.

graeme-base1 graeme-base2


3. Roland Harvey

roland-harveyRoland is a bit of a cross-over, as he has inspired me in both illustration and design. His drawing book has been my art bible for nearly 20 years. The book has lost its cover, the pages are tatty, but it just shows how much it is loved. When I had the opportunity to meet Roland, I took my book in this condition to him to sign – and I explained that I could have bought a new and shiny book, but what was the point – this was the book that meant the world to me and had been through a lot of lovely times with me. He had a good giggle and chat to me, he is a wonderful soul.

He inspires me in different ways – firstly, with commercial design, his book showed a variety of styles and basically says it’s okay for each project to be different – every drawing can be styled differently depending on its use, and that’s a good thing. It helped me accept that being a chameleon in design is good for each client.

The second way he inspires me is that he always tries to put a little bit of humour into every illustration he does. I strive to always put a smile on people’s faces through my own illustration, and it’s thanks to him that I try to put a cheeky spin on my work (especially greeting cards). When people compliment my illustrations with a smile and a giggle, I know that something has stuck and my inspirations have definitely left a mark on me.