Today on the GIITTV, we have a young Illustrator and Artist called Isabelle Wingham. She graduated not that long ago and we at GIITTV thought it important to feature and support young artists and give them a platform for their work, particularly talented ones like Isabelle.
Please do take the time to read about her work, and support her, by liking her Facebook page and following her on Twitter. Details will be at the bottom of this piece.
Isabelle studied at Norwich University College of the Arts with a BA (Hons) Illustration. The subjects she draws upon are personal and are illustrated in a way that alludes to the core content but in an indirect manner. She uses chalk pastels and pencil pertaining to tone and colour to create an emotive atmosphere, inviting the imagination.
Has art always come innately to you?
Yes, art has always been something that I have enjoyed doing from an early age. The earliest memory I have of drawing something was age 5. The drawing was two Orca Whales on an A4 piece of paper, and I spent hours colouring in the sea, which felt a great accomplishment when I finished the drawing.
I didn’t begin considering it as a serious career until I was 17, but upon starting a foundation course I had worries about whether it was the right thing to do, until second year at uni when that changed.
You were very young when you first picked up a pencil/paintbrush/charcoal….and what inspired you to do so?
I think what inspired me to start drawing was a fascination with dragons, whales, sharks, the later of which I would fanatically read about. I would copy photographs from books at an early age.
To me there seems to be a certain darkness/ slight melancholy to your work – would you agree with that? And if so, where do you think it comes from?
There is definitely a slight melancholy and darkness to my work. I think the music and films I listen to has a part in that. I really enjoy writing bad endings, and drawing weird and scary things. I’ve always had a preference for books, adult to children’s that deal with uncomfortable subjects, like Armin Greder’s book ‘The Island’, and a book that I read time and again when I was about 7 that I can’t remember the title of or who made it, which is frustrating; it was about a cat that followed a mouse through a mouse hole and found itself lost in a dark wood. The sad and uncomfortable things in life hold more appeal to me with regards to illustration and writing, than happier subject matter. I find they have more depth and scope to them.
What other artists do you admire?
The biggest influence on my drawing and writing I would say is Radiohead. Everything I write and draw at some point I will listen to their music, whether for the love of it or because it helps me form the mindset I want. Their music is intensely expressive with so much depth. I really enjoy the lyrics, as they are ambiguous and don’t often refer to things directly. They allow the listener to attribute their own personal feelings and experiences which is what I strive to do with my work. They also read beautifully on their own as pieces of writing. Challenging what they do and never coming to a stand still is something that I aspire to.
Music is vitally important for me as I use it to help create an atmosphere and mood for the piece I am doing. When beginning to draw or write, I will find music as a soundtrack for the project. I have a playlist which I frequently use and add to; music from film score composers mostly, Radiohead, Massive Attack, classical music.
I don’t have a particular illustrator/artist who is an influence, more just a collection of books and photographs I find, and add to, such as Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy, Ursula Le Guin’s ‘A Wizard of Earthsea’, Shaun Tan ‘The Arrival’, Lorenzo Matotti, ‘Soonchild’ by Russell Hoban and Alexis Deacon, Oliver Jeffers’ children’s books, Varoom magazine with its interesting articles, tumblr sites in particular ‘last7.tumblr’, and many other books.
You deal mostly with portraits and children’s illustrations…why?
I haven’t drawn a portrait in a while now; I started it, as a bit of fun, completely separate from my illustration work, but is now something that I want to build a portfolio of, as faces are interesting. I draw mostly children’s illustration, as this is where my passion lies, the place where you can express yourself in the most random, obscure ways.
Your children’s illustrations have a touch of the Hans Christian Anderson about them. Have fairy tales always played a part in your art to a certain extent?
I love fantasy and science fiction literature so I have always enjoyed fairy tales, as fantasy for me is escapism. My favoured source for inspiration is my dreams, which I have been keeping a diary of now for a number of years, and from them I am writing short stories, and taking visual things for drawings, indulging in the make-believe.
You graduated from Norwich University College of the Arts not that long ago – how hard is it to make a career out of art?
My tutors at university would frequently stress how difficult is it to make a career by being a freelance illustrator. In short it is very, very difficult, and only very few from each year will make a career from this. Being published in the children’s book industry is notoriously difficult. Being told this regularly throughout uni has been greatly beneficial as I left feeling prepared.
What advice would you give young people starting out? For instance, how did you find out about the competitions you have entered etc?
Advice I would give to illustrators starting out, and this is just from what I’ve found over the past year and 5 or so months from graduating, is don’t feel pressured to start sending your work out to art directors ect as soon as you graduate. You should send it out when you feel it is ready, as it will probably take years to build a career from this, so there is no need to rush. Unless of course you feel your work is ready then go for it!
And lastly if art is the career you are determined to live, then I personally feel that the strongest thing you have is the belief that you will succeed, and that giving up is not an option!
What are you working on at the moment?
My current projects are a collection of short stories, which I will illustrate and send as a manuscript to publishers; my children’s book, which I did at university and am re-writing/drawing, and a drawing project in the woods near where I live.
Recently I have begun keeping a book of quotes and extracts from interviews ect found in books, internet and films, that interest me because of the way an author has described something, or a certain viewpoint someone has.
What would you love most for the future? For instance, your own exhibition in an art gallery…or perhaps working for private clients? What would you like people to take from your art?
In the future I wish to be a well-known children’s book illustrator and author of young adult non-fiction books, on the bookshelves with Patrick Ness, Armin Greder, Oliver Jeffers! To win a competition would be amazing too.
You can find Isabelle’s work at
http://isabellewingham.tumblr.com/ [ page for adult fiction and portraiture ]