Though I now live in Cornwall, I was born in rural Essex and grew up in its flat fens, surrounded by the strong tradition of ‘cunning folk’ in my home town. As a result, my work is heavily inspired by the natural environment and the ancient folklore of the British Isles. I’ve always been deeply obsessed with all things mysterious and love to be surrounded by wilderness. My worldview is animistic and my illustrations are inspired by what I call the ‘souls’ of various objects and experiences. As a child, I frequently got into trouble for doing things like scaring other children with ghost stories and tales of medieval punishment methods, and truly used to believe I could talk to birds. Maybe it doesn’t come as a surprise that I’ve never been all that popular! I often feel more connected to animals than people, and I find this isolation and introversion a very fertile and exciting place to exist–especially as an artist.
I started drawing at a very young age and never stopped. I’ve always had the urge to draw and can’t imagine not doing it. I have a very intimate relationship with nature too and spend a lot of time outdoors. I feel emotionally and spiritually aligned with the environment – its cycles, rhythms and spirit; it is this added dimension that I try to convey in my illustrations.
I also have a profound enjoyment of character design, perhaps brought on by a childhood of watching my four older brothers play computer games (and playing them myself, when they’d let me!). I also feel an affinity with Expressionism and have an interest the human mind. Outside of my artwork, I’m interested in folklore, mythology, the occult, the paranormal, psychology, horror, biology, botany, animals, comic books and video games. My favourite artists are Edvard Munch, Yoshitaka Amano, Georgia O’Keeffe, Alphonse Mucha, Frida Kahlo, Gustav Klimt, John William Waterhouse, Ernst Haeckel, Cicely Mary Barker and Brian Froud.
I studied Fine Art at South Essex College and then completed a degree in Illustration at Plymouth College of Art.
The process begins with some kind of convergence of emotions with the natural world: where my emotional body latches onto something in the wild environment to communicate what is happening beneath the surface of my conscious mind. Usually it then spends some time writhing in and out of nebulousness, until it eventually gives itself a name. Often this becomes the title of the artwork, but not necessarily. At this point it is left to germinate for a period, during which time the artwork becomes fleshier and more deeply layered.
This time is then spent going through sketches, thumbnails and compositions until a general concept is refined to a solid draft. After this, I set about taking reference photos if needed and begin sketching the work out onto Bristol board. When this is complete, I trace over the image with a light brown watercolour pencil and erase the graphite line underneath. I then lightly render the basic tones with watercolour pencils. Once the image has started to take form, I add the base of the colours with marker pens, and then add another layer with watercolour pencils. Gradually the colour is built up in layers and then the details are drawn in with pencils. Occasionally inks, airbrushes and digital editing are involved, and the work is then refined.