What inspires you?
People-watching mainly. I am a very observant person and I absorb what goes on around me like a sponge. I remember funny things that other people may not notice and log them in my head. They all get mixed together and appear in work quite randomly.
Other than that, my inspiration is eclectic, like a large bowl of minestrone. Almost anything can inspire me, sometimes quite unexpectedly. Music is particularly important, I listen to music to suit the work I am doing. As far as other artists are concerned, I love all sorts of work, such as Ralph Steadman, Tilleke Schwarz, Ert£, Piet Paris, Aubrey Beardsley, Mats Gustafson, Modigliani, Klimt, Scheile. However, a lot of the time, people say I am a fusion of Beryl Cook and Lowry when they see my work!
Are you interested in fashion?
I am interested in the way people express themselves with their clothes and accessories. I love rich and interesting fabrics, and I am mad about colour and pattern. My characters dress in very decorative and colourful clothes. If I had the time, I would learn to make clothes like these. I would wear heels and elaborate, beautifully cut, feminine outfits every day if I could be wheeled around and did not have to walk. As it is, I wear jeans and trainers most days, with spots of paint here and there.
My work is an elaborate depiction of everyday people, glimpses of characters, conversations and actions that go on around me. I dress life up and try to celebrate the diversity of human beings.
Which media and techniques do you use? I collect ideas in sketchbooks and do figurative drawing as often as possible. Then, with a Bernina sewing machine, I either draw freely onto canvas (see Crowd Sketch in Stitch, facing page) or I plan commissioned illustrations carefully on tracing paper, then, once I am happy with the design, stitch through it onto canvas. I paint with acrylic onto the stitched drawings and then embroider again, mixing intricate, coloured-thread patterns into the shapes and spaces within the drawing.
What, for you, makes a successful fashion illustration?
Fluidity of line, glimpses of movement and confident yet simple mark-making, I love old fashion plates in Art Deco style, especially Ert£, and the simplicity of modern work by Tanya Ling.
What artistic training have you undertaken?
BA Hons in Textiles at Goldsmiths College, London University. MA in Communication Design at Manchester Metropolitan University.
If you could give one piece of advice to a student, what would i( be?
Be positive, proactive, patient yet persistent, and a perfectionist.
My greatest achievement is that I am still doing what I trained to do! My work has improved year by year. And, most of all, I have managed to make a lot of people smile with my creative work, which is wonderful.
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