I am a London based illustrator & image maker with experience working mainly in the fields of editorial and publishing.
How did you get started in illustration? What is a turning point in your professional career?
My interest in illustration began during my Bachelors Degree where I tried various creative routes and found illustration to be the most suited to my way of working. From there on I placed my focus on gaining clients and working on freelance projects which later led me to study at the Royal College of Art. I graduated last year and have been working freelance in London ever since.What is your ideal work environment?
Working freelance can sometimes be tough. Motivation can often be lacking if you work from home, so my ideal work environment would be in a studio alongside other creatives.
Where does your work inspiration come from? (Do you believe in 'inspiration' at all)?
There's a tendency to get sucked into the Internet and begin comparing yourself to everyone else, but I think it's important to get away from the computer and find your inspiration from various sources. Interact with people, read books - just exposing yourself to various outlets is a great way to get the mind working and inspired.
Where are your favorite art places in your city or outside?
London is the ideal place to take a break and discover new things. I often find myself cycling around the city visiting galleries and museums with my sketchbook, and on the rare occasion that you'll find sunshine in London, you'll find me in the park working on my tan.Who are the creatives you admire most?
I admire many illustrators and designers, and I'm discovering more everyday - it's impossible to chose.
I've always been a creative person and have been drawing since I was a kid, so I decided to nurture my artistic side and recently gained my degree in Visual Communication where I specialised in Illustration. I chose Visual Communication because after finishing school I was still unsure of what direction I wanted to head, but it gave me the opportunity to work in Photography, Graphic Design and Digital Media before I finally decided Illustration was for me.
It's a playful mix of Collage, Drawing and everything in-between. My work could be considered quite conceptual as I believe less is more and it's always a little rough around the edges. When there's too much going on it all becomes a bit over-complicated and unnecessary - although knowing when to stop is the tough part.
I usually take some time to think up an initial idea then work from there. I'm a real perfectionist, so working with Collage is perfect for me as it allows the freedom to experiment with positioning and layout of imagery without having to commit to a final composition straight away. Once I'm happy with the layout, I fix everything down and build it up from there.
I'm often found wielding a pair of scissors and a Pritt-Stick, whilst being surrounded by a mountain of Magazines, Newspapers and Clippings. I'm also never far from a sharp pencil and a paintbrush.
I think it's normal for many creatives to get blocked for ideas. Sometimes they just arrive instantly, but other times it just takes a while for them to develop. When I feel lost I tend to step away from the work and explore all kinds of interesting blogs and sites online, they're great for inspiration as well as leading you onto an endless path of other odd sites.
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H ayley Warnham creates playful art mixing vintage imagery and contemporary design. Predominantly working in illustration and collage, Warnham’s creations are often the result of trial and error.
Last year the London-based artist, who is currently studying an MA in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art, won the Penguin Design Award for her reinterpretation of the cover of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep. Here we catch up with the budding artist to talk book design, working at Penguin and how RCA has helped her hone her skill.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST START DRAWING AND WORKING WITH COLLAGE?
Around 2010 I began exploring methods of collage during a time of confusion in my work. I was coming to the end of my Bachelors Degree and I had already exhausted many other techniques without much satisfaction. It turned out collage provided the answers I was looking for with its immediacy and I began to gain more positive feedback about the work I was producing.
WHY THESE TWO MEDIUMS OVER ANY OTHER?
Collage offers a playful freedom. It is a process of trial and error, offering the ability to create new worlds through something as simple as a cut or a paste. Quite often the best work evolves from my mistakes.
YOU HAVE A TENDENCY TO MIX VINTAGE/CLASSIC IMAGES WITH CONTEMPORARY DESIGN AND MODERN GRAPHICS. WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR AESTHETIC?
I enjoy the contrast. Combining new with old, black and white with colour. The combination is somewhat unexpected and satisfying.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE ILLUSTRATORS/ARTISTS?
I couldn’t pin down a single reference as I discover new and inspiring work everyday. Sometimes it can be quite overwhelming.
WHAT’S YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
It’s quite simple. Once I’m handed a brief, I begin my research through ideas generation and image collection. It then becomes a case of bringing everything together, filtering my research into more formed ideas which are then developed until I’m happy.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE PROJECT TO WORK ON AND WHY?
It would probably be the work I created for the Penguin Design Award last year. It was the first time I really considered book design as a whole, and had great fun translating a text into a visual piece. Collage proved a useful tool to convey a message and made me consider how my work could be applied to book covers in the future.
YOUR PRIZE FOR WINNING THE AWARD WAS WAS A PLACEMENT AT THEIR DESIGN STUDIO – PLEASE TALK US THROUGH THE EXPERIENCE…
I had the great opportunity of working with the guys at Penguin last summer, where I gained an insight into the world of book design. I worked on a variety of briefs throughout my time there, and was fortunate enough to even have a few covers commissioned which are set to be published later this year.
YOU’RE CURRENTLY A MA STUDENT AT RCA, WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE BUDDING CREATIVES TO FOLLOW A SIMILAR PATH AND STUDY ART? DO YOU THINK THIS EXPERIENCE HAS BENEFITED YOU?
For me the course provided the unique opportunity to develop my work alongside some amazing people in a creative environment. You’re very much encouraged to experiment with your practice on the course, and not confine yourself to one way of working. I believe during my two years on the course, I’ve developed not only within my practical work but also my way of thinking as an individual.
WHAT PROJECTS WILL YOU BE WORKING ON NEXT?
I have two months left on my MA course at the Royal College of Art, so I shall be working towards my final project up until then. If you’re interested in finding out what I’ve been up to, you’ll have to come along to our RCA Final Show in June to find out what it’s all about!
Click here to see more of Hayley’s work.
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