Interview Series – Pete Lloyd
How did you fall into the realm of illustration? Have you always drawn or did you come to it later on in your career?
I’ve drawn from as early as I can remember and worked a lot in coloured pencil and watercolours as a teenager. After experimenting in painting, photography, design and moving image in art college, I freelanced as a graphic designer – although image-making was always the strongest aspect of my work. I realised eventually that I was trying unconsciously to work illustration in to every project, but it wasn’t until a few years ago when I discovered platforms like Behance and saw the possibilities for commercial illustration that I considered it a viable career path.
What inspires your work? A lot of your illustrations are film, literature or story based, is that your chosen genre?
Books have always been a big source of inspiration which is why the ICON book was such a great project to have been a part of. Literature is very fertile ground for an illustrator and I find reading really transportative. I have always had a big passion for film and from early on the likes of Scorsese, Lynch, Kubrick and Coppola left a big impression on me and my artistic outlook. From them I possibly got the drive to find drama, mood and atmosphere in my image making.
What’s the biggest challenge in your industry at the moment?
The accelerated nature of change in technology, media and culture along with the emergence of VR and growth in 3D and moving image online have created myriad new applications for illustration. This is exciting, but raises a lot of new questions about what value we place on the work. You can see companies using illustration, for example online in below-the-line marketing campaigns where traditional approaches to pricing aren’t really applicable, but the work could end up going viral and be seen by millions. It’s important to embrace new media and technology and the opportunities they present, but at the same time push for fair compensation for the work.
What is your favourite technique; the one that you flow through your published work or do you secretly favour another?
I love working with pen and ink, although that approach hasn’t made its way into my finished work just yet, although with some new personal pieces in the works it may survive the transition from paper to digital. Charcoal is another traditional tool that I like and find very versatile, but ultimately in my published work I favour the crisp lines of vector artwork.
You contributed beautifully intricate illustrations to the ICON book (a coffee table book in homage to the great Land Rover Defender); what is your creative process or preferred way to work?
Thank you so much! I often have quite a clear visual in mind for a piece, but if not I’ll make some small thumbnail sketches and when I have a rough composition in mind work up a tighter pencil sketch from there. I like to start out with the traditional pencil and paper approach although when a project is more time sensitive I draw directly on my Cintiq tablet which saves the time spent scanning and stitching together my rough work (I still have to invest in a large format scanner!). Once my sketch is on screen, I trace over it in Adobe Illustrator using the pen tool to make vector artwork. I like Illustrator’s pathfinder tools and it feels almost like a digital form of woodcut, sculpting and cutting away forms. From there I bring the vector art into Photoshop to colour and add some finishing touches.
You are currently located in Spain but you have a far-reaching digital profile. How much do you rely on your social media and digital presence to drive your reputation and bring in new projects?
To bring in work I rely on a combination of emailing people and having my work seen on my website and socials. Behance has also been a very good community to be involved in and a great platform for having work discovered by potential new clients.
You produce work in digital form and hand sketches too; which do you prefer?
Both approaches have qualities unique to them. My finished work is usually digital but the essence of the original drawing usually makes it through to the final art. I like the expressiveness of sketching by hand and the vibrant colour and finish that digital work allows.
We’ve noticed from your Instagram that you’ve taken up life drawing recently (lovely stuff). Is that an area of your work you want to explore commercially or is that just to keep up the craft?
Some of my more recent illustrations have included more figurative drawing and I do it in part to work on those skills. I love the immediacy of life drawing and it allows me a looser approach than drawing for commissioned work. I haven’t really considered it as a commercial venture but I could happily spend 8 hours a day doing it if someone out there wants to sponsor me!
One of our company values is being confidently curious, and we choose to work with confidently curious people – what do you think makes you confidently curious?
My parents tell me that as a child I (annoyingly) never stopped asking questions. I’ve always been fascinated by cosmology and the mysteries of what underlies our shared reality. With the rapid advances in science and technology we’re seeing, and the arrival of AI, I feel that exploring those mysteries is now more relevant than ever.
What are your top tips for budding illustrators who want to get their work noticed?
When you’re trying to establish yourself, at first you need several pieces that are at least consistent in terms of style and quality and that show your greatest strengths. When you enjoy your work I really think it shines through, so it’s good to make personal pieces around things you’re passionate about, but at the same time be mindful of how and to whom your work will be useful. Try to identify what is really unique and ‘you’ about your work and build upon that.
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