Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Artist Interview ~ Johanna Basford

Self initiated project, 2009
Pen and ink illustrations with photography

We are so excited about having Johanna at the blog to answer our questions we love her work!! As you know we came across Johanna's work on twitter and we are so happy that twitter is constantly introducing us to a world of talent!

Here's what we had to ask Johanna:

1) Did you always want to be an artist?

I knew I always wanted to work in the Creative field, but I wasn't sure exactly what as. I went through phases of wanting to be a fashion designer, an architect, an interior designer and a textile designer - but ultimately, I knew I wanted to draw. I wasn't one of those kids who wanted to be a nurse or a pop star or an astronaut, it was always art.

2) Does anything influence your work?

Yes, thousands of things! I think its impossible for a creative person to filter out the stuff that surrounds them and for it not to influence their work. Wether it's a comic strip, a mosaic in a bathroom, flowers in a garden, a big scary guy's tattoos on the bus or the label on some crazy health food drink - all those little bits and pieces get stashed away in my brain and somehow make their mark on what I do.

Ring by Ruth Tomlinson

3) Who is your favourite artist?

I've got loads and in all different disciplines and styles. The list is constantly changing but here's some selected highlights at the moment:
Lotte and Bloom : Florist
Ruth Tomlinson : Jewellery
Ralph Steadman : Illustration
M C Escher : Artist
Johnny Cupcakes : Fashion

4) If you could work with an artist, living or deceased who would it be and why?

Banksy or Vivienne Westwood.
I admire their work ethics, their creative genius and the clever way they've lead their field and continually pushed the boundaries of what is perceived as possible in their disciplines.
Also, I think collaborations work best when both parties bring something different to the table, be it backgrounds, skills or ideals. There's no point wishing to work with someone who's work is along the same lines as me, from a completely selfish point of view, I 'd like to work with someone who can challenge me and teach me new skills.

Die for Me cover art
 5) How does it feel to work on a book cover, is it any different to your other work?

Every job is different, but I guess the things that make a book cover different is that you have to convey the author's vision of the story on a relatively small canvas. You have to condense all their words and years of hard work into one little picture which will help entice the reader in. For me, this is a big responsibility. When I work on a book cover, I'm usually commissioned by an Art Director who handles all the layout and type, so I work with them to create an illustration which can then be dropped into their final vision of the book cover.
Scale is also important. We live in a world where the biggest book store is Amazon, so the artwork has to scale well and still act as an ambassador for the story when it's reduced down to just pixels on a screen. This can be tricky for me as my work is often very intricate and fine, but that's where having an Art Director comes into its own. They completely understand the print to digital process and can guide me on how to create an amazing image for print which will also translate strongly online.

6) From all the work you have created which is your favourite?

Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Fringecover : an interactive illustration
commission using Twitter.

I was particularly pleased with the Fringe Cover I did for last year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The Fringe is the world's largest Art's festival, so it was a very high profile project and I was aware a lot of people would see the final artwork  across all the marketing and promotional materials for the event. We used Twitter to crowd source content suggestions for the design, then I worked with the guys at Whitespace in Edinburgh to create the final illustration. It was a challenging, but very rewarding project. In fact, it won a Scottish Design Award earlier this year which is was very cool.

7) Can you share with us what you are working on at the moment?

A couple more book covers (one of which is the follow-on to Amy's Die for Me, called Until I Die.)
Some album artwork for a singer (to be released in the autumn, I can't say any more just yet!)
Some billboard illustrations for the marketing campaign of a Shopping Centre in England.
A textile design for a handbag company.
A label design for a special edition beer by super cool Scottish brewery, BrewDog.

8) If you wasn't an artist what do you think you be doing?

A florist.
I love flowers.

Thank you very much for answering our questions! We are very much looking forward to seeing the cover of Amy Plum's Until I Die, we are big fans!!

If you want to learn more about Johanna and her work you can follower her on twitter, visit her website.


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