Lee originally trained as a technical illustrator, learning how to draw cutaway engines and exploded gearboxes in perspective, using precise black lines. His courses also covered natural history and medical illustration. He studied for two years at Portsmouth College of Art, and for two more at Cornwall Technical college in Redruth. All the while, he felt more drawn to supplementary classes on realistic painting rather than technical illustration.
After working traditionally in watercolour for 16 years, Lee adopted digital technology and today uses Photoshop and Illustrator to create his images. The new tools he uses have introduced more flexibility to his process and whereas before he worked in a predictable sequence, today he likes to experiment and find new ways solutions as he creates images.
Lee’s work is precise and realistic, but include plenty of colour and have an individual feel to them. He works in two main styles – his digital paintings are reminiscent of gouache or oils, while his vector images are closer to airbrushed technical drawings.
Question: What drew you to illustration/design? Lee: Selfless dedication to a noble profession, and a fear of manual labour. Question: Do you have any formal design training? Lee: I was at Art college in Portsmouth and Cornwall. I studied technical Illustration, and became well-schooled in drawing nuts and bolts and "exploded" machinery. It gave me a solid grounding as a draughtsman, and an enthusiasm to try something a little more colourful. Question: Where do you live now & what drew you there? Lee: I came to the West Country to join an Illustration agency, and moved to Bath soon after. It's a beautiful place to live, and there's quite a community of Illustrators here as well. Question: Who or What is your biggest inspiration? Lee: That would be all the Illustrators and designers that I've worked with over the years. Question: How do you get your ideas? Lee: I think it's fairer to say I mostly make other people's ideas come to life. Question: Do you collect anything? Lee: I used to collect records, but I became seduced by the idea of having all my music squeezed onto a hard drive. I still have far too many books. I like the idea of having less "stuff", generally speaking.
Question: Do you keep a scrapbook? Lee: I have a pin board and an unsteady pile of old hard drives instead. Question: Tell us about a favourite project you’ve recently completed. Lee: A big book on Aeroplanes, complete with a set of gliders: Illustrations you can throw about! Question: What would be your dream job/commission? Lee: A gate-fold long-playing record sleeve. Question: Who is/are your illustration hero/es? Lee: Norman Rockwell would be the stand-out. Question: If you were not an illustrator, what would you be? Lee: I really don't have the faintest idea. I'd probably be envious of people who were. Question: If you won the lottery what would you do with the money? Lee: Share it around. I imagine it would be a bit lonely, otherwise. Question: If you could travel back in time, who would be the one person you would want to meet? Lee: Myself as a youth. I could save a lot of wasted time. Question: What is your favourite graphics programme? Lee: Adobe Illustrator. Question: What is your favourite game, computer or not? Lee: Association Football.
Dennis Publishing, Dupont, Fitch, ICI, Priddy Books, Rizzoli Publishing, National Geographic, Walker BooksFavourites
: SameSame in Bath
: Musée d'Orsay
and the Tates
, modern and ancient.
: "Pushing through" point, made from a clutch pencil,
and a drawing compass needle. And my Mac.
: Topping and Co.