Friday, 10 December 2010

Becca Thorne Interview

I recently contacted fantastic illustrator Becca Thorne and she has been very kind indeed and spared some of her time to answer me these questions. A huge thanks to Becca for doing this, it is very much appreciated!

1. Who or what currently inspires you artistically?

-I've just joined Twitter, and seeing all the illustrators tweet about work on there is hugely inspiring whenever i'm not sure what to do with myself. I've got a big interest in Medieval history, so I take a lot of inspiration from Anglo-Saxon and medieval artwork. Also traditional Nordic and Scandinavian art and old Japanese and European woodblocks have a big influence on my work.

2. Your lino and mono prints are fantastic and it's great to see these
traditional techniques being used. Do you think these are dying arts in
the age of digital technology?

-I wouldn't say they were dying arts, but they're definitely not used as much in illustration as they used to be. I'm always a little disappointed when I see work that looks like woodblock or linocut but turns out to be digital, but illustration often needs to be done so quickly that sometimes vector work is the best route (and sometimes I really wish I could use Illustrator!). Even so, traditional techniques (including drawing and painting) have been making a big comeback in the last 5 years or so, especially for book work, and my clients pick me because my work is so obviously hand-rendered.

3. If you ever hit a wall in terms of ideas for a commission, what do
you do to overcome it?

-I'm lucky in that my partner studied fine art at uni, so he's good with ideas and understands the work- he's often hugely helpful. But I've found that the best thing to do to stop any problems happening in the first place is to understand exactly what a client wants before starting. If i haven't visualised a basic idea in my head by the time I've finished reading a brief (which are usually pretty heavily detailed anyway) I email or ring the client back asking for more info, or with some suggestions for us to run through and come up with a solution. An illustration job is invariably a collaboration of sorts between you and the art director, so you're never alone.

4. Do you find it easy or difficult to manage your time effectively?

-I find it pretty easy, but I'm never swamped with work (unfortunately!). I know how long it takes me to work through a job from start to finish, and make sure a client is aware of the time it takes to complete a lino cut. For example i know that 10 quarter-page-size illustrations will take me two weeks; one week for roughs and approval and just under one week for the cutting, printing, approval and posting. Because of the nature of my work I never get daily papers, or anyone else who needs work done the same day- although, if it was one small print and I had no other work on, I could do it easily!

5. I noticed you have been commissioned for several books. Is there any
authors in particular whose work you would like to illustrate?

-I would love to illustrate Philip Pullman books or anything mysterious and historical like Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrell or the Cadfael books.

6. Finally, if you could interview one one artist, alive or dead, who
would it be?

-I wouldn't want to interview him as such, but I'd love to have met Jean-Michel Basquiat. As well as his work being amazing he also led an amazing and tragic life- at 15 he'd dropped out of school and was living pretty much rough, but by the time he died, at 27, he'd had major shows in the US and Europe, formed a punk band with Vincent Gallo, dated Madonna, been in a Blondie video and collaborated with David Bowie and Andy Warhol. (I wrote an essay about him for A Level art...).

You can check out Becca's brilliant work here:

Again a massive thanks to Becca for this interview and some great advice!

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