Interview: Claudine O’Sullivan – July 2014



Who’s your favourite artist/ illustrator or designer?
It’s so hard to pick even a handful! My artist inspirations have always been Francis Bacon, Henry Matisse and Lucian Freud. Nowadays, more of my inspiration has come from fellow illustrators. Many of my close friends are illustrators, designers and photographers, all of whom I admire, not only for their beautiful and individualistic work but for their hard working ethic. I’m really lucky to have a close circle of like-minded and extremely hard working friends, which makes the hard days (and months) much easier. Many of us struggle to fund our practice, with almost everyone working full or part time ‘jobs on the side’. Why do we keep going? Because we love what we do so we just have to do it!!!  That’s what I respect most about the industry – the hard work and unwavering passion.



What do you listen to when drawing? Anything and everything – depending on my mood! Drawing is quite a natural state for me – no matter what my mood! Sometimes its very minimal chill out music, sometimes its folk music from my childhood, harder beats from my youth, cheesy 90s RNB or a Game of Thrones audio book! Sometimes it’s absolutely nothing at all, usually when I’m back in Ireland – just that rare sound of peace and quiet.

How do you get your head in a creative space?
It can be difficult! I weirdly enough find it easier the busier I am, as I have less time to procrastinate!! I work full time in London, so illustrating is crammed into evenings and weekends. I’ve just moved into a really lovely flat in South London with my boyfriend. We have a cosy little collaborative desk space, which makes it easy to bounce around ideas and encourage each other. I think time away from what you do and space to think is really important too. I carry a notebook and sketchbook everywhere as I usually have the best ideas and reach conclusions at random points of the day – be it in the supermarket or on the bus home after a night out.



What’s your background in art and design? I’ve always studied art and art history in school and it was definitely my main hobby as a child – I was (and still am) awful at sports. I come from quite a creative family, my Mum was very musical and theatrical so I grew up with a lot of singing, dancing and creativity – drawing was always the way I best expressed myself. I was a horrifically shy child and awkward teenager, but drawing and art always came quite naturally. Two years after finishing school in Ireland I finally had the confidence to apply for an Art based university course in London and the rest is history!

What kind of source materials do you use in your work?
I tend to draw a lot from my own travel photos and travel sketchbooks. I also have a nice collection of old photo books and encyclopaedias. The Natural History museum is also brilliant – I recently visited the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford which was beautiful! So much to draw!! During university I used to spend my free afternoons sketching in little museums around London – the Huntarian Museum in Holborn was a favourite – full of gruesome pickled organs in jars! I also love life drawings classes, such a relaxing way to unwind and practice! – I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone.



Top tips for students looking for a career as an illustrator / artist
If you love it, stick with it. It’s an extremely difficult industry to stay afloat in, and can be quite lonely. Weirdly enough I would say try to not be too influenced by other artists and illustrators; particularly in terms of style.

Other than that, be yourself and be nice to people. Oh and always sharpen your pencils and clean your brushes, there’s nothing worse than blunt pencils and grubby brushes.

What tools can you not do without?
Space to think, a notebook and (sharp) pencils.

Describe your studio or workspace for us.
A desk, a window, a drawing board, stacks of paper and lots of pencils. Although my desk sits at one side my living room it’s quite chaotic – but I think that important, it’s a creative space. For bigger pieces I roll back the rug and work on the floor – the height of humble London living! A huge bonus of the set up is the neighbouring desk space – my boyfriend who is a software engineer, video game enthusiast and part time illustration critic!



Tell us about you! What, aside from drawing takes up your time?

I’m originally from Dublin and I’ve been in London for 5 years. I go home a lot as it’s really nice to get out of this massive city, to see my family, friends and the sea!! I love to travel and dream of being able to see more of the world…. next on my list is Dubrovnik in 2015. My last excursions included craft making in rural Slovakia and travelling around North India. I’m a vegetarian and since moving to London and travelling, I’ve massively broadened my culinary palette. I’ve quite recently started to recreate flavours at home, I’m in no way a pro, but I do find it really relaxing and fulfilling to cook for people. I’m currently getting to grips with the delicate flavours of Korean cuisine, which I have yet to perfect, but I’m getting there!

Where can we see more of your work and what’s up and coming for you this year?

Keep an eye on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as I post everything there! I have a few collective art events coming up, one at the start of August in Shoreditch. I’ve also been doing quite a few collaborations with a number of musicians and also a Fashion label – it’s all really exciting! After that…I’m not really sure, fingers crossed its onwards and upward!