What’s this illustration for?
This is a personal piece. I saw some great black and white street art which had loads of attitude and fun. So I thought why not leave the colour out for a change? I started doodling and the kids machines became more and more absurd and the kid’s faces became more and more earnest which gave me a bit of a laugh. Since then I’ve put in some background colour and textures, but the characters stayed close to the original feel that I wanted.
Do you have to wait for a flash of inspiration - how do you start?
Once I understand the brief I map out the basics of how the book/project works then I just start playing around with the pencil. Making a character look right is the fun bit, I just scribble until I get a look that makes me smile and then that helps lead me through the project. Little bits of inspiration happen all the way through the project.
How did you get your start as an illustrator?
I studied at art college then I started my career as a junior visualiser. I moved into art direction, but I’ve always done bits and pieces of illustration. However at one point myself and a friend wrote and illustrated a kids book. It didn’t really eventuate but I realised that the illustrations could form the basis for an illustration portfolio. I took this around several publishers and started getting work.
Who or what has influenced your work?
I guess the sample that I’ve chosen is atypical in that it has a bit of a paste up graffiti sort of feel (I think). Usually though I think my favourite influences have been mid 20th century, jazz influenced design and illustration. But the things that appeal to me are always changing.
What’s your favourite media for creating pictures?
I always start with an old fashioned pencil drawing but I love scanning it in and getting to work on the Mac. It gives you so much scope to experiment, layer things, compare different approaches. Also if there is anything out there better than the command Z function then I haven’t seen it.
Do you experience illustrator’s block - if so, what do you do about it?
I don’t think so. If I think I’m not getting anywhere, I try persevering for a bit, to see if I can get around it. Anyway if it’s still not working, then that lack of enjoyment will show in the work. So it’s usually a good idea to take some time out. Maybe go for a run. Have a banana sandwich. Have a look through some reference material. Or all three but preferably not at once.
But ultimately I don’t really believe in being “blocked” I just think there are some times you can do the job better than others.
What’s the worst thing about being a freelancer?
Working alone. You go a bit stir crazy after a while.
And the best?
Whenever you’ve done a project you know that your answer is unique. And I always feel that I’m learning and improving. Honest.
What are you working on at the moment?
A load of illustrations for a legal textbook. Also I’m doing some oil painting but that’s more for my own enjoyment.
Where can we see more of your work?
This is a long old link but here goes:
Mal now has a website - http://www.malchambers.com/index.html