That’s it— we’re totally envious! Working on beer AND creating a LEGO figurine —Ryan Chapman has us wishing we were him 🙌 🤣 Have a read on what’s inspired Ryan’s illustrative style, the opportunities arising living in a smaller city and other awesome bits he’s been up to.
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs? I’m originally from a small coastal town in Northumberland, England (close to the Scottish border) and attended Northumbria University which was in the city around 30 miles from my family home. I originally started with foundation Graphic Design then went on to focus on Illustration. After graduation I worked briefly in advertising and editorial. Drawing horoscopes for Crack Magazine and a few bits of commercial work for Fiat — but I always wanted to keep developing my own style and didn’t want to do that publicly with commercial work.
So I went traveling and continued to draw / develop my work free from clients, once I was happy with the direction my work was going and I felt I had a body of work that was consistent I started publishing my work online and reaching out to art directors.
How did you develop your style as an illustrator ? Originally it was a lot looser and hand drawn mainly from growing up with a lot of Roald Dahl books, but colour and composition have always been very important in my work. From birth I have only had vision in one eye and I feel this has giving me a more simplified approach when it comes to detail in illustration. Sometimes I will create a piece of artwork then slowly work backwards removing parts until just the right balance is achieved.
I’m also really fascinated with technique, a way of making work that is unique to you and your style. I remember discovering Dick Bruna’s technique (he created the Miffy books among others) how he would place cut-out pieces of coloured paper under black outlines printed on clear plastic, creating solid Matisse like colours with his bold illustrated lines, always 12 illustrations, always the same 6 colours, always 4 lines of text — for 50 years.
Tell us about any collaborations you have been working on. I’ve had a lot of fun over the summer collaborating with the Camden Town Brewery on beer cans, bottles and glasses. I just finished my first 12 greetings card collection with Lagom (who I can’t speak highly enough about) which will be hitting shops worldwide in the coming months, along with a Christmas 2018 collection released later next year. I’ve also had the pleasure collaborating on the 2018 Insikurmu summer music festival artwork here in Estonia.
‘I’m also really fascinated with technique, a way of making work that is unique to you and your style.’
What has been your highlights since you started out? Last year I was invited to LEGO in Denmark to present some of my sketches / ideas and test for the role of character designer. I didn’t get the part but was very happy to have one of the Minifigure design I presented to LEGO (Banana Suit Man) produced and released as part of the Minifigure series 16. Its was lovely to receive messages and photos from LEGO fans all over the World telling how much they loved that little guy. To have left a tiny piece of my work in such a incredible creative universe like LEGO was a real highlight.
What is the design landscape like in your city and where do you fit in? Contemporary illustration is still fairly new and misunderstood here in Tallinn, despite it being the complete opposite in Helsinki just 2 hours away — but it’s changing slowly. I work closely with the design studio AKU so have had the opportunity to collaborate on a series of great projects, from packaging to music festival branding. This summer I had the pleasure of designing the new rose symbol for the Estonian Social Democrats / Labour party. It’s a good example of how living in a smaller country you occasionally get to contribute to interesting projects that in England you wouldn’t ever get a chance to touch.
Who would be the “dream client” that you would do anything to work for? Even though I’m no longer living in London anymore the dream client for me is still to create something for TFL (Transport For London). It’s going through a big change at the moment and they are creating some lovely artwork, much like the work of the 50’s – 60’s with illustrators like Tom Eckersley, Victor Galbraith and Abrams Games. To contribute in a small way to such an iconic institution like TFL I think would be a highlight for me. Ironically a few years ago I received a call from Saatchi to pitch some ideas for a series of TFL posters, I was unfortunately in Zurich on a break staying at a fellow illustrators home who also received the same call to pitch — sadly neither of us got the job.