Hi Fahad, I’ve finally got a bit of time to answer some of your queries.
Who are my influences?: Of course I love all the greats – Paul Rand, Hans Schleger, Abram Games. These were some of the first designers I came across when I started illustrating and they really resonated with me and helped direct my style. Other influences are the artists from my fine art days: Julian Opie, Claes Oldenberg, Andy Wharhol, Peter Doig, Terry Frost. They all combine interesting concepts with great design and composition. They have a real simplicity and richness at the same time along with being quite witty or clever. I look at work from all sorts of sources as much as a I can, especially textiles, graphic design (and logos), advertising, childrens illustration and lots of vintage images – posters and books.
Ideas and compositions: I work really hard on the ideas. When I get a brief I move away from the computer and books and just think, with a piece of paper and a biro. Its important to take time out just to let the ideas flow. Usually I get my best ideas when I let my brain relax – ie on a bus or walking somewhere but mostly there isn’t time for that. If thinking fails me then I’ll start to consult books or my scrapbooks of collected material and see if they spark an idea. The idea and the composition pretty much happen simultaneously. I have to be able to visualise it more or less immediately in my mind’s eye. That’s why I find it very difficult when a client comes to me with their own idea – I can’t get excited about it.
I try to keep things very simple and minimal and contain the interest within quite strict limitations. I find that good ideas need space which has become an integral aspect of my work. The success of an illustration though can very much depend on the client. If they truly appreciate your style/ideas and are happy to give you free reign it’s much likely that you will do a better job as there’s mutual respect all round! I had a job earlier this week and I simply couldn’t understand why they had asked me to do it – probably short of time and a lazy/inexperienced art assistant. Needless to say, it wasn’t one of my better illustrations. Illustrating comes and goes. I find you can have a really good run of several weeks where the ideas just keep sparking and then there are times when it’s like getting blood out of a stone. You just have to go with it and know it’ll get better.
Hope that goes some way towards answering your questions.
Best wishes, and good luck with your work