Vanessa received a first class honours degree in Graphic Design, specialising in Illustration, from Kingston University.
The main medium Vanessa uses is oils, with some coloured pencils added in. She loves the physical craft of painting and drawing, as well as the feel and smell of the materials used, the paper textures and the sheen of the paint. Photoshop comes in towards the end of the process, to compose the elements and to tidy up an image. She doesn’t follow the traditional rules when she draws or paints, and tends to work from the bottom up – in portraiture that means starting with the chin and mouth and moving on from there.
Composition is more important to Vanessa than perfection, and her style captures the life and personality of her subject with a human feel. It’s idiosyncratic, fresh, and sensitive, perhaps reflecting a little vulnerability and even awkwardness from time to time. That’s why people connect with her paintings more than they might with photographs.
Question: What led you to become an illustrator? Vanessa: I wanted to be an artist since I was a little girl and decided on Illustration when I did my foundation course, I thought it’d be a career that would let me draw just how I wanted to, but where each project had an end usage.Question: Did you study illustration at college? Vanessa: I went to Wimbledon school of Art followed by Kingston University where I did a BA (hons) in Graphic Design – specialising in Illustration.Question: Where did you grow up? Vanessa: South London, near the end of the Underground Line so it was great for feeling connected to the city.Question: Do you have a childhood memory relating to drawing/art that you hold dear? Vanessa: Spending my summer holidays with my Nan and Grandad who had a wonderful garden full of flowers, fruit and veg. My Grandad had a shed where he kept all sorts of carpentry tools and odd pieces of wood, I fell in love with making random things using my hands.Question: Where do you live now and what drew you there? Vanessa: I live on the Surrey and Hampshire border – a mix between rural and urban. My husband’s work and schools have slowly enticed us to move further away from the M25.Question: Describe your studio for us. Vanessa: I work from home in my loft room, it gets me away from the household chores whilst enabling me to be at home for my children when they get back from school. It's quiet and looks out over rooftops.Question: Do you have any studio pets? Vanessa: Yes! I have wanted a dog all my life and now finally have an Irish Terrier called Twiggy, she has quirky looks and is very loyal.Question: Who or What is your biggest inspiration? Vanessa: Colour and shape in the most mundane things and the changing views on dog walks. Question: How do you get your ideas? Vanessa: Looking at other people and their behaviour, being interested in things that make us uncomfortable.Question: Do you keep a Scrapbook? Vanessa: I used to but they became too big to look through! I research my reference fresh for each project and keep it digitally; much more tidy!Question: Tell us about a favourite project you’ve recently completed. Vanessa: Not so much a favourite but a memorable commission because of its intensity, was a job for Slate in the US. They wanted portraits of members of he public who all thought that Hillary Clinton wasn’t good for the country and a portrait of the lady herself, I had 24 hours to complete all 6! It was a satisfying one as I proved to myself I can work quickly if required.Question: What would be your dream job/commission? Vanessa: Working for a record company – something linked to music.Question: Why is illustration such a powerful medium? Vanessa: For me, images have always been easier to understand than words, so Fine Art or Illustration is able to speak to a wider range of people without a language barrier.Question: What is the best use of illustration you have ever seen? Vanessa: Anything that Christopher Corr has ever worked on! I remember his Qantas project back in the ‘90s which I thought was the ultimate in illustration commissions!Question: How much of your work is hand drawn? Vanessa: It is entirely traditional, with a little tweaking in Photoshop if necessary.Question: How do you envisage illustration evolving? Vanessa: I’d like to think that we learn from the digital age and use all that it brings as another tool, but the craft of hand drawing and traditional skills are always used and celebrated.Question: If you were not an illustrator, what would you be? Vanessa: Psychologist.Question: If you could live anywhere, where would it be? Vanessa: By the sea in Cornwall.Question: If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money? Vanessa: Go to a really expensive Hair Stylist, have massages more often and buy a house by the sea!