Willie has a BA in Graphics and Illustration from Central Saint Martins in London.
To begin with, he scribbles down words and basic doodles on lined paper, often using the web to find reference images of people if any appear in the picture. Sometimes he’ll also take reference photos. He then creates roughs using ink and scans them in to be traced in Illustrator to create a vector drawing that he can tweak, scale and resize until the illustration is perfect.
Willie’s images are simple, graphic and minimal, with a limited palette of strong, flat colours. He works in two styles. For one, he creates bold emblems and icons using line work or flat, contrasting colours. The other is more figurative with a diagrammatic or instruction book feel to it plus, of course, a touch of humour.
Question: What drew you to illustration/design? Willie: My friend Stephen Smith at primary school told me all about a wonderful thing called a commercial artist. Question: Do you have any formal design training? Willie: I went to St Martins in the eighties. Question: Where are you originally from? Willie: West London. Question: Where do you live now & what drew you there? Willie: Hastings, for the sea and the lovely cheap houses. Question: Describe the view from your studio window? Willie: The window next to the studio looks over town, and a little bit of the sea. Question: What are your interests outside of illustration? Willie: Playing guitar, but nowhere near enough. Question: What is the first record you bought? Willie: It must have been Santana, or Jimi Hendrix or was it Narciso Yepes playing "jeux interdits"? Question: What would be your dream job/commission? Willie: Some REALLY simple, punchy iconic campaign involving a CD, a book, a postcard and an ENORMOUS poster – all using the same funky symbol.
Question: Who is your art hero? Willie: Edward Hopper. Question: Who is your design hero? Willie: Percy Shaw. He invented cats eyes. No, not actual cats eyes! Question: If you were not an illustrator, what would you be? Willie: A poor but busy session musician. Question: What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into illustration? Willie: Get up EARLY. Question: Do you have a method for dealing with the feeling of having no ideas? Willie: Simple – go for a walk. Works every time. Question: If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Willie: Havana, for a night or two of live music, and maybe an open mike night. Question: If you could travel back in time, who would be the one person you would want to meet? Willie: A drink with Peter Sellers might be nice.
All the way from the A.A. to London Zoo...Favourites
: 12 Claremont
: I prefer people
: Slightly dry biros or thin fibre tips, numerous wide ruled refill pads, shreds of masking tape, and layout paper. And then Adobe illustrator.
: B&T music, hastings
, for the muso in you.
: Polish or Czech lager, Irish Whiskey and tea after tea after Assam tea