in VISUAL ARTISTS
" I love instagram, it made my work so much more accessible to a whole new audience.."
Tell us about you and your work.
I’m Abbey, I work as an illustrator/ Print Designer and I’m now based in London. I draw realistically in pencil often giving things a surreal twist.
How do you think the use of instagram has benefited your art practice?
It has greatly benefited my art practice. I love instagram, it made my work so much more accessible to a whole new audience. I’ve even made friends there and connected with people I never thought I’d be interacting with. Another great aspect is that I get to talk to the people who buy my work and take an interest in what I do which is such a blessing.
What’s the state of the illustration industry/community in your country? Are you actively involved in a community of artists? Is there a booming industry where you’re located?
Things here are good, I’m in London so there’s always something going on. I don’t really take part in it myself, but I go to exhibitions and events when I can. There are lots of opportunities out there if you are a social butterfly.
What do you most enjoy depicting in your illustrations and do you tend to get many opportunities to draw that subject matter in your line of work?
It used to be faces, but now I love to draw all sorts of things. Although I do love drawing eyes. Skulls are fun too. I do get to draw a lot of these subjects in my commissioned work, but it’s often not as experimental which is what I really love to do.
Do you have a background in fashion design or the fashion industry?
Not particularly, I studied Textile Design for Fashion at MMU for 3 years. There I was also allowed to concentrate on my drawing so I dealt mostly with translating my work into print designs and forming a collection of clothing designs and samples, but I didn’t learn much about garment making and all the technical stuff. I used to want to be a fashion designer, but as I got older and wiser I realized it wasn’t the world for me. I’d still love to design some clothes one day, I’m alway having ideas pop up into my head, but I would consider that as a kind of personal experiment.
Do you illustrate full time? Is it your only interest?
I do illustrate full time. Hopefully I can continue to do so. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be in this position. It’s most definitely not my only interest. I love music, I probably love music more than I love drawing, so I like discovering new bands and going to gigs. I’d go to one every night if I could afford it.
What’s your medium of choice?
Pencil is my most favorite medium and the one in which I have the most experience. I’m trying to branch out into other areas like oil painting, but I’ll always go back to the pencil.
Could you talk a bit about the process of launching your illustration career?
It’s funny to think of it as a career and as something that has been ‘launched’, but my work was seen by some people at Browns in my last year of uni, so I had a great opportunity to make some illustrations for Browns Focus as a part of my graduate work. From that and other exposure through my blog, Tobacco & Leather, I got few more opportunities and that’s it really.
Explain your typical work process.
The idea can come from anywhere, but once I have it, I write it down in a crazy scribble in my notebook, then research the imagery I need for it. I use a lightbox to trace an outline for most things, then I draw it all out. I usually don’t know what the entire thing will look like when I start, Sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing at all. So a piece will just build up over a few days. Then the image is scanned and any corrections can be made in photoshop to get it looking it’s best. Sometimes I’ll edit my illustrations to make different patterns, that’s done in Photoshop, sometimes I’ll use a graphics tablet for coloring.
Does environment concern enter your work practice/has it altered it at all?
I don’t think it really enters my practice at this stage.
Name your top three influences (artists or otherwise)
I’m not sure about my influences, I tend to spend most of my time looking at the tribes and mythology and the old art from Asia, India, everywhere really. I also love old metal and rock covers, vintage photos of women, psychedelic stuff too. Three of my favorite current artists are Joao Russ, James Jean and Michael Hussar.
Support Emily's work @ www.abbeywatkins.co.uk
Follow @ tobaccoandleather
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