Hello, I’m Jack Fletcher, I’m 24 and I’m a freelance illustrator/designer from Edinburgh. I mostly do illustration to make money but recently, this year, with two friends have rebuilt and taken over an old derelict farm steading outside Edinburgh on the foot of the Pentland Hills and turned it into a rural Design House and Outdoor Restaurant called ‘The Free Company’. We mainly deal with Architecture, Design and Food as well as how to reinvent and reimagine forgotten rural areas in Britain through the use of these three focuses.
For me the three books I usually recommend others to look at are firstly, any of the Tintin series by Hergè. I credit a lot of my love for illustration coming from these books. If I had to pick a particular Tintin book it would be maybe Tintin and the Black Isle or Tintin Destination Moon. Both of those are classics. If you want to learn how to draw sequential narrative or just learn about how to draw a good visual story there are only a few who can teach you as well as Hergè.
My Second recommendation would probably have to go to Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of The Wind books. Miyazaki is mostly known for his movies which are all great but he also drew a lot of graphic novels before he got into film. I got given the full story collection of these ages ago by a friend and I read the whole thing in one sitting. Literally wiped out my day. I love Japanese illustration but I always found Manga difficult to get into but these books opened it up to me. One of the things I find cool about this book and Miyazaki’s work in general is that he creates fantastic female protagonists. It’s one of the things I catch myself doing a lot is drawing male orientated characters and this book inspired me way back to try and get myself out of that rut and really try and draw cool female characters more in my work.
My third book recommendation would be Big Kids by Michael DeForge. This book is just weird but also amazing. I can’t really explain it, it’s just one of those stories that you have to check out yourself but I constantly find myself picking it up again and again to re-read and check out for inspiration.
My current five would have to be:
Tatsuro Kuichi. His editorial stuff is just next level. He’s a great person to follow if you want to get into editorial work.
Simon Roussin. His illustrations drive me nuts. Whenever I feel lazy or not like working I go check his stuff out and they always push me forwards to make new stuff.
Hide Kawanishi. Colour is really important to me for my illustration and for me he uses it perfectly. His print “Pond” is one of my favourite images of all time.
Tove Jansson. For me Moomins will always have a place in my heart. Her draftsmanship is just too good. If i could even get an ounce of her ability to give her characters the emotion she manages to convey in drawing them I will be happy.
Connor Willumsen. For me right now Connor’s work is the hot stuff of illustration. His stories are mad and drawing even better and his website is always looking good.
My current passion project is probably my most recent venture of setting up a Rural Design Studio called The Free Company with two friends outside Edinburgh. We took over a destroyed farmstead in January of this year and have over the past month re-built it all ourselves and re-designed the spaces to create an outdoor kitchen, events space, residents cottage and artist residence studio space. The mix between me and my two business partners, one who’s a builder/ designer and the other who is a ceramists/ chef, is really fun and interesting to work with. We all are linked by strong threads of design but also have tangental avenues of interest that we can bring our design ideas to to create an interesting mashup.
This question is always a tough one. I’m not actually sure as people ask this a lot. I think my answer would be that I just drew loads and looked at things that I liked. I thinks it’s very important to not get stuck thinking your style is set or that you only want to do one thing. Open yourself up to applying yourself to new avenues in which to express your style. If you are very good at pen and ink drawing go try screen printing, if you work purely digitally try a week of just using pencils. Even if what you make doesn’t reach an immediate standard that you came to associate with your style you might learn something new about how you create work and this usually enhances your style in some small way or another. I think my biggest tip would be keep exploring your style and don’t get locked in to only drawing the same way or same thing over and over again, people always want to see more from your work so you have to constantly make sure you're keeping fresh ideas coming. Have fun and just enjoy experimenting. No one needs to see all the crap work you produce to get that one perfect image.
For me I think people are looking for more tangibility in design and illustration. After the boom of computer made images of the past decade and a half I think people are looking for something a little bit more tactile. Prints and one off illustrations are coming way back into fashion and with the growth of Risograph machines zine culture and self publishing is becoming even more prevalent. There is also an ability now with the internet with design for people to be able to see everything you make yourself so you don’t need to necessarily wait for a chance to find a publisher or distributor before they can start making money off their work. Everyone in some way these days seems to be doing their work in their own way. As for adapting I think i just need to get better myself at getting my work in the hands of people who want it. I just need to get better at the admin side of the whole thing.