Ian is an experienced and well regarded illustrator, who aims to communicate ideas through a semi-abstract visual language. Ian's illustrations are produced by combining drawn elements, scanned textures, mark-making and digitally generated imagery. Stylistically the work is influenced by mid 20th century graphic design and sculpture. His work is created by combining digital and analogue processes: Illustrator, Photoshop, mono-print, mark-making and good old fashioned drawing. Ian went to Kingston University (BA Graphic Design & Illustration) and Manchester Metropolitan University (MA Communication Design). Ian also teaches Illustration on the BA Design & Visual Arts course at Stockport College.
Question: What drew you to illustration/design? Ian: Drawing, creating and making have been the only vocationally activities I have ever had the inclination to pursue. It feels less like I 'want' to create and more like I 'need' to create. The externally imposed restrictions of design and illustration have always appealed to me. Question: Do you have any formal design training? Ian: BA Graphic Design and Illustration at Kingston Polytechnic (as was) and MA in Communication Design at Manchester Metropolitan University. Question: Where are you originally from? Ian: Liverpool. Question: Where do you live now & what drew you there? Ian: Stockport near Manchester. Schools, friends and family have informed our decisions to settle here for now, it's deeply suburban but is close to the Derbyshire countryside and Manchester city centre so it's a compromise but a practical one. Question: Where is your studio and can you describe it for me? Ian: A 'T' shaped room on the top floor of our house. This along with my workshop in the cellar are my sanctuaries. I'm obsessively tidy and organized which I realise isn't particularly compatible with family life, so I tend to confine by obsessions with order to these two rooms. My studio is a wooden clad mid 20th century hideaway with collections of 1950s ceramics and furniture. I have two desks, one for digital work the other for the messy stuff; drawing, collage, ink painting etc. Shelves full of inspirational books and journals, a cup of tea and some music and I'm set up. Question: Who or What is your biggest inspiration? Ian: As you can imagine I'm not a massive fan of clutter, but I like to have inspirational images such as photographs or design work I admire around me. So I have a large digital photo frame which cycles through hundreds of inspiring images, I can update it as I find new stuff and if it's too distracting I can just switch it off. Music I find very inspiring also, maybe I've got a mild form of synesthesia as I seem to see abstract compositions when I'm listening to certain music. Question: Do you keep a scrapbook? Ian: Yes, have done for about 28 years now, so I have lots of them. I sometimes refer to them if I need inspiring or if I'm feeling nostalgic (but the latter doesn't happen often!). They are a great barometer of your influences, obsessions and interests across the years.
Question: Who are your musical heroes? Ian: I've been honest so there are some potentially embarrassing inclusions; Beck, Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, Vince Clarke, Esbjorn Svensson Trio, Five Corners Quintet, Elliot Smith, Bobby Darin, Radiohead, Tune Yards, Robyn Hitchcock, Fleet Foxes, Johnny Cash, Julian Cope, Stevie Wonder, Beta Band, Dolly Parton, Michael Nyman, Yazoo, KRS-One, Talk Talk, Richard Hawley, Philip Glass. Question: Tell us about a favourite project you've recently completed. Ian: Recently completed some promotional work for a Jazz Festival in New York. This is the second Jazz festival project I've been involved in, (previously worked on Pori Jazz Festival in Finland), both have been creatively rewarding as I find music so inspiring anyway. Question: If you were not an illustrator, what would you be? Ian: Personal Assistant or an Organisational Coach. Question: What's the best advice you've ever been given? Ian: Run your own race. Measure twice cut once. Question: Do you have a method for dealing with the feeling of having no ideas? Ian: Oblique Strategies Widget or see notes on inspiration above. Question: If you could live anywhere, where would you go? Ian: Berlin. Question: If you could travel back in time which period would you visit & why? Ian: 1950's or 1960's as long as I could bring lots of stuff back with me in a kind of cosmic check in luggage service. Question: What's your favourite scene or line from a film? Ian: The section in Billy Liar (1963) where Billy imagines himself machine gunning his family after unsuccessful trying to explain to them what a script writer is and why the writer is interested in his 'material'. Makes me laugh every time. Though I love them dearly and owe them everything it reminds me of the frustration of trying to be creative in a family with no creative lineage.