John has a BA in Architecture from the University of Sheffield and a DipArch also from Sheffield. He has practiced as an architect, and as an architectural photographer and illustrator, and has also worked as a scenic artist at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
Most of John’s illustrations are done in watercolour, though he sometimes uses acrylics. He sets up perspective views on a drawing board in the traditional way and uses a range of stencils for ellipses and curves, working with pencils, brushes and paint.
His watercolour images are usually more detailed and accurate than his acrylic paintings. He spends more time doing the drawing than the painting, which is fairly loose and adventurous, with a rich colour palette. If he can, he’ll paint in oils en plein air – he likes to work fast with the changing light.
Question: What drew you to illustration/design? John: After 5 years as an architect I realised I wasn't spending much time drawing, or designing, which was the bit I loved. I also like the short time scales in illustration - there's no time to get bored with a job. At 29 I took a year off to travel, and came back as an illustrator. Question: Do you have any formal design training? John: 7 whole years becoming an architect, at Sheffield University. Question: Where do you live now & what drew you there? John: Thames Ditton, a village on the Thames with 12 pubs (to answer both questions). Question: Where is your studio and can you describe it for me? John: It's a much too small space in the middle of Kingston, over a shop. Working alone, it's nice to be somewhere busy when I emerge. And I can bike to work through the parks, which is nice. Question: Do you collect anything? John: Guitars, and amplifiers, although it's not a national collection. Question: What are your interests outside of illustration? John: Music, I play guitar in an old farts' blues band. And I like a bit of astronomy - the numbers, sizes and distances bend my mind in a way I quite like.
Question: Tell us about a favourite project you’ve recently completed. John: The illustration for the 2009 Oxford Almanack was a lot of fun as well as a great honour. I painted an interior view of the Radcliffe Observatory, and had the place entirely to myself for a couple of days in the early Spring, with the sunlight dazzling through the huge windows. Question: What would be your dream job/commission? John: 2 months in Italy to paint anything really. Question: Who is/are your art hero/es? John: Leslie Worth, Thomas Girtin, Turner, Lucien Freud, Fred Cuming. Question: If you could live anywhere, where would you go? John: Where I live now. Five years ago my wife and I moved from East London and thought very hard about our perfect place to live, in this country or overseas. Eventually we decided we wanted to be near to London in a village by the water with lots of nice pubs. Question: If you could take a holiday leaving tomorrow, where would you go & what would you do? John: New York. I'd eat pretzels & mustard, talk to a lot of friendly New Yorkers, maybe do a little drawing and take some photographs. Question: If you could travel back in time, who would be the one person you would want to meet? John: Charles Dickens. He loved technology, and it'd be fun to show him the few measly things we've done since 1870.
Rolex Watch Co., Berkeley Homes, J Walter Thompson, McCann Erickson, Oxford University Press, The University of Cambridge, Historic Royal Palaces, The Royal Bank of ScotlandFavourites
: Bar Italia
: Bankside Gallery
: Michael Harding Oil Paints
: Observer Food Monthly