Through the Larder

Källagården

For our new book with New Heroes & Pioneers (click here to find out more), Tom Bunning and Jen Harrison Bunning ventured to Skåne in Southern Sweden to meet the chefs and producers who are transforming the region into a gourmand’s dream. While their chapter in Lodestars Anthology: Pathways is a delight (please ignore our proud-parent bias), many of their wonderful images and words simply didn’t fit in the book – there are just never enough pages. So we thought we’d share some of their unpublished gems here below while we think of summer and Sweden’s foodie delights . . . 

. . . Hörte Brygga’s indoor kitchen is integrated into the dining spaces, the grilling shed with its up-cycled-rubbish-bin-smoker runs out to the terrace bar, which takes you on down to the sea, or back into the kitchen where the chefs and staff work amidst the guests, stopping every so often to change the record on the turntable. The menu is small and ever-changing, inspired by the best of whatever Martin can get from his producers, or pull from his generous store of pickled goods . . .

. . . Bookings can be made from March through to December for intimate suppers, tasting menu feasts and special evenings with guest chefs, but the rest of the time Hörte Brygga operates on an ‘open to all’ basis. By abandoning lunch reservations, encouraging people of all ages and from all walks of life to drop by for coffee, drinks, food, or a browse through the shelves of the farm shop in the newly-converted boat-house, Emma and Martin’s singular vision of a community-focused, produce-led, friendly place to eat has been more than just realised; it’s a triumph . . .

. . . Arriving at Villa Strandvägen is like stepping into a deliciously relaxed home from home. Designed in 1899 by acclaimed Danish-born architect Peter Boisen, this unassuming wood-panelled country home sits in a quiet corner of southern Sweden’s most southerly tip, amidst lush gardens and surrounding woodland . . .

With its seven cosy bedrooms, black and white photos from the owners’ personal collections lining the walls, and intimate drawing room-cum-kitchen-cum-dining room bedecked in New England-inspired florals and stripes, Villa Strandvägen delivers Swedish costal luxury with oodles of homely pleasure and a generous dash of romanticism . . .

. . . Nature-lover and hiking-enthusiast Helena is a modern farmer, conscious of her duty to handle the land and its offerings with a light touch, but also of her responsibility to keep her grandparents’ legacy alive. In addition to her core role as farmer and producer, she runs a bed and breakfast and local tours for visitors, sells meat and skins from her flock, and performs sheep-whispering on her apple-obsessed beasts . . .

. . . She is also savvy, for Källagården, together with some 90 other growers from relatively small farms in Skåne and its surrounding counties, is a member of the Äppelriket collective: an outfit that stores, sells and markets its members’ fruit as a single enterprise. By clubbing together, saving on storage space, packing costs, and labour, Äppelriket gives its members the power in numbers required to compete with bigger, more commercial farms on price and production, and the strength to protect themselves from grocers’ price wars. All in all, very simple, very effective, very fair, and very Swedish . . .

. . . The family-run Spirit of Hven distillery produces organic pot-distilled vodka, gin, rum, eau de vie and schnapps, much of it made from grain grown on the Island of Ven, but it is their single malt island whisky that they’re best-known for. Whisky enthusiasts can come here to stay in the 4* hotel, take a tour around the world-class distillery, or just to while away an evening in the Backafallsbyn bar with its some 500 different whiskies from the best distilleries around the world . . .

. . . Here at Spirit of Hven they’re practicing the art of precision spirit production. Mashing, fermenting, distilling, oak-cask ageing and bottling all takes place under one roof. The contents of bright copper stills bubble away in the distilling chamber, barrels are racked in neat rows in the adjoining cask room to age – some hooked-up to speakers for a dose of radio-wave maturation experimentation. Next door, bottle necks are hand-dipped in simmering wax to give them their distinctive seal, whilst upstairs in the laboratory, test-tubes spin and sampling machines blink continuously. This is the seriously scientific craft of spirit-making, and distillers from all over the world send samples to Hven’s laboratory to undergo their rigorous analysis process . . .

. . . Next stop, Malmö Saluhall: a bustling market hall that’s home to grocers, butchers, florists, fish-mongers, ice-cream parlours and food stalls in a formerly dilapidated 19th-century freight depot. At Papi’s open kitchen and bar we sampled spicy Fegatelli and damp cellar-hung mortadella procured from ham rock-star Massimo Spigaroli’s farm, soft strips of lardo and home-cured prosciutto, accompanied by hunks of chewy bread and a glass of very good red wine. Saluhall is busy but not overcrowded: it’s rather like our beloved Borough Market in miniature and without the hoards of tourists, and we could have stayed here all day, chatting wine and food with the guys over the bar and pottering around the stores. But next on the agenda was a not-to-be-missed date with the nation’s top pastry chef, so off we went to the old Rosengård district for our first ice-cream of the year with Joel Lindqvist . . . 

. . . We stepped off a busy main throughway into the serene Mat- & Chokladstudion world of grey-limed walls, birch shelves bearing assorted glass jars and beautiful books, with a vast oak tasting table at its centre. But this is no colourless land: this is Willy Wonka chocolatiering Skandi-style . . .

. . . There is no menu or wine list at Bloom in the Park. The menu is inspired by seasonal ingredients and changes each day according to what chef Titti Qvarnström can procure from her band of trusted producers, and from her own garden.

In the small patch of land around her home in one of Malmo’s sleepy suburbs, Titti has created a kitchen garden of dreams. With basket and scissors in-hand, we trail Titti around the garden as she gathers hyssop, goosefoot, wild strawberries, rose petals, elderflower and more, stopping here and there to smell or taste from our harvest, chattering all the way. One last stop to poach a few sprigs of mockorange over a neighbour’s wall and then we are on our way back to the city for lunch in a 60s shopping centre (us) and prep (Titti) . . .

. . . We left Bloom to wander back to our hotel, stopping for a nightcap in the buzzing Möllevången district. The Bloom card with its QR code to look up the menu and wine list for the evening sat on the table between us, but our phones stayed in our pockets and the menu remained unknown. For us, the magic of this particular meal could not be confined to a list of ingredients or a description of plating. Our evening at Bloom would remain the icing atop a perfect day, flavoured by the people we’d met, scented by our afternoon in our chef’s garden: its tastes, smells and textures committed firmly to memory . . .

Extracted from the full article, commissioned for Lodestars Anthology: Pathways.

 

 

The Collective

As fans of travel, collaboration and fellow creatives we’re thrilled to be taking part in The Collective Europe – a tech-free conference in Barcelona where editor Liz will discuss the joys and challenges that come with growing a business organically. We had a chat with event organiser Anique Coffee (who is clearly in possession of the best name in the business) about what inspired her to get The Collective off the ground and what guests can expect from October’s inaugural event. If you’d like to get involved a few tickets are still available here – and the code LODESTAR20 will get you 20% off.

What can people expect from the event?

The Collective is a four day, retreat-style conference where creatives, entrepreneurs freelancers and innovative professionals of all kinds come to learn how to take their brand or company to the next level. 

The Collective is the first of its kind in Europe, unique and unlike any other professional conference or community you’ve been part of before. We engage and empower professionals in an interactive environment through collaborative and hands-on sessions, where knowledge is shared and inspiration is abundant. We aim to help attendees find their path and navigate their professional journey through unique seminars from experts in their field, hands-on creative workshops from artists and makers, and with innovative tools to bring professionals to the top of their game. Our members believe in community over competition, and lean on each other to get better and grow their businesses.

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What inspired you to create The Collective? 

The Collective originated from the need for support and mentorship for the thriving and growing community of entrepreneurs, innovators, freelancers, creatives and startup lovers in Europe and around the world. Many times, these people work on small teams at small businesses or startups, or have no team at all and consider themselves solo entrepreneurs. So they are just that – solo, alone. Yet, they crave a community of like-minded professionals who provide support, mentorship and tools to help grow their businesses or provide inspiration. This same theme is the reason we see so many co-working and co-living events and businesses springing up all over the world: they are remote communities where people can go work amongst others and glean support and inspiration. We saw the need for this type of community for this audience, and also determined that there weren’t many options for in Europe, if any. 

Also, we wanted to provide an inspirational, professionally challenging, and semi-remote event for people to enjoy a tech-detox for the weekend. Upon arriving at The Collective, attendees will take their last selfie and turn in their phones to enjoy a weekend without technology, allowing them to disconnect in order to reconnect with themselves, each other, and nature. All this in an environment where community rules over competition and inspiration is abundant.
 
 
Can you tell us a bit about your own creative background?
I was born in the Marshall Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but grew up in the United States in Florida. During college, I worked for the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their Creative Services Department as a project manager, graphic designer and photographer. After college in Florida, I started a small corporate identity and branding firm, which is what ultimately took me to San Francisco in 2012. That company was sold and then for the past five plus years, I was living in San Francisco, pursuing a career in Marketing and Entrepreneurial Ventures with tech startups in Silicon Valley. After the iconic startup burnout, I looked for a new adventure, outside of the crazy commute and startup cubicle life. Now, I’m in Barcelona, solely focused on The Collective.
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Why have you chosen to hold the even in Barcelona?
 
During my old life as a tech marketer, I traveled to Barcelona for the three consecutive years in October for a huge tech trade show called VMworld. I LOVED the city and always enjoyed my time here. Last October, I traveled to Europe on my first ever solo trip and stopped by Barcelona to visit some friends. This visit was different. I was at the height of my professional burn out and was extremely attracted to the slow paced lifestyle. Who doesn’t want delicious coffee around every corner, Spanish wine, and siestas? But more than that, when you just scratch the surface, an entire world of creatives, entrepreneurs, and small businesses is exposed. The startup culture is still young here, and the entrepreneur mindset is still being fostered, but Barcelona is the perfect place for it. The weather is amazing and it attracts an incredible international community of people. What’s not to like?
 
What makes The Collective different?
 
The Collective Europe offers small, interactive workshops where the workshop leaders are down on the same level as the attendees – there is no hierarchy in this way. Leaders are there to break down the attendees needs, share knowledge with immediate feedback, provide guidance and act as a mentor for attendees. The leaders are present during the entire conference and enjoying the conference as an attendee themselves when they are not teaching.
More to that point, a strong bond is created between everyone at the event. The main goal is to create a community that lasts far beyond the event. The semi-communal living, shared meals, shared experiences and remote aspect of the event creates a strong connection between each attendee, along with a sense of healthy vulnerability through this unique experience.
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Have you been surprised by the level of support you’ve received? 
 
Yes and no. Yes, because this is a brand new concept in Europe. There is no other company doing this yet here, so its incredible to see the feedback from folks who are visiting our sites and buying tickets. In addition, this is a brand new company, logo, everything! So the brand awareness was non-existent when we started. Now, things are growing so quickly and its been surprising to see the interest and support we’ve received.  No, because we started this company to solve a problem, to serve a need, within this community. People were asking for an experience like this, different than any other professional conference, and craving a community of like-minded creatives and professionals. You asked, we listened.
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Can you talk us through some of the workshops and events? 
 

We have speakers from all different backgrounds, industries and professions who share our ethos of community over competition and want to share their knowledge with others. They were all strategically chosen to provide our attendees with a well-rounded roster of speakers. 

The idea is that attendees can get a bit of everything; from Kendall Beveridge of Facebook, Product Marketing Extraordinaire with a deep knowledge of advertising due to her agency education and experience; to Matthew Manos, Founder of a socially-conscious, design agency, verynice, who can not only share stories about the startup life, but also share his model on how to give away half of your work for free to support nonprofits and more. 

We also have speakers who are sharing tips and tricks on how to implement a fruitful social media strategy (Teressa Foglia), how to document travel and turn your passion into a full time gig (Liz Schaffer of Lodestars Anthology), how to publicly speak about your brand with confidence (Jessica Leijgraaff) and charisma, how to create a brand that people love and feel connected to their experiences (not products) by Chupi, and more! 

Then, we have hands-on creative workshops from amazing artists and makers, including Earl of East London, brilliant candle makers with an interior home line, woodworking with Lindsey, and screen printing with Gillian Henderson of OhMyDays from Dublin. When your brain needs a break from the learning, you can opt for a hands-on workshop instead. During these sessions you’ll get your hands dirty – you’ll MAKE something tangible, but you’ll also get to rub elbows with some amazing entrepreneurs and hear their start up stories. 

We are also offering morning yoga and meditation from an amazing Irish yoga instructor Liz Costigan and many, many more! You can check out all of our confirmed speakers on our Speaker page

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Handcrafted Maine

It’s no secret that over at Lodestars Anthology HQ we are obsessed with fine print, beautiful words and exceptional photography – if we can find all this in a single publication (one that celebrates creativity, community and the landscape), then our adoration is going to be next level. So, not surprisingly, we were delighted to discover Handcrafted Maine, a new coffee table book that profiles 22 craftspeople, producers and creatives who call Maine home. Focussing on the stunning natural setting as much as their featured personalities, the book is a wonderful inducement to travel, consider the land and possibly even get your own project up and running.

Handcrafted Maine is written by Katy Kelleher – who, as a writer and editor, specialises in stories about creators, culture and food sustainability – and photographed by Greta Rybus, who hail from Buxton and Portland respectively. The tones are soothing, workspaces brim with colour and detail, the coastline, farms and woodland entice, and even the coldest of winter scenes will have you yearning to venture to this unique, north-east pocket of the US. The writing is honest and insightful (it’s wonderful to come across pieces that look at the challenges associated with creative living, as well as the unparalleled joys), and the entire publication is something you want to savour over copious pots of tea. To understand more about Handcrafted Maine we had a chat to Greta and, as you can imagine, fell even more in love with this stunning project (and those it features).

What inspired you to create this book?

The editor of the book, Jan Cigliano Hartman, had the idea for the book and began working with publishers at Princeton Architectural Press. She called me about the project several years ago and I immediately wanted to be a part of it. I had recently moved to Maine from the west, and I was really struck by Maine’s culture of creativity and resilience. Jan brought writer Katy Kelleher on to the team, and she is an exceptional storyteller. Together, we spent a year or two planning, developing, researching, and refining the concept of the book. We broadened the idea of ‘craftsman’ from just artists to other producers and creators, including farmers, wilderness guides, chefs, and fishermen. We wanted to include people who use creative mindsets to work with the land or the sea as well. We then spent a little over a year visiting people around the state, Katy writing and researching as I took the photographs. The book was released in July 2017 and it’s been really heartening to see the welcoming and enthusiastic response to the book.

Do you have a particularly memorable shooting experience from this project?

Working on this book was a beautiful adventure and like all good adventures, it left me with some great stories. Maine is an enormous state; we drove hundreds of kilometres and spent entire days in the car to reach the more remote locations. Sometimes we’d pull over during a long late-summer drive to pick wild blueberries on the side of the road. We both got seasick while going out to sea in extreme January waves while documenting lobstermen at work. Wilderness guide Jen Brophy of Red River Camps taught us how to correctly paddle a canoe and I went ice-skating with the beer makers on the pond at Oxbow Brewery after photographing the brewing process.

What do you enjoy most about shooting in Maine?

Maine is a place with four very distinct seasons. The winters are harsh and long, the spring is bright and verdant, the summer is mild and savoured by both tourists and locals and the autumn is brilliant with colour. The extremity of our seasons requires a certain mentality: this challenging place rewards grit and resilience and a responsiveness to land, sea and weather. In my work as a photographer in Maine I often document strong connections between humans and the natural world. People either make their livelihoods around the environment or find inspiration in the landscape. Like a lot of people in Maine, my own work is really informed by the natural world, but it’s also really informed by the people in my local community. I am able to survive as a photographer here because there are so many people in Maine who are doing innovative and interesting work – and I often get assigned to photograph them!

Has working on this book changed how you view Maine and its creatives?

Working on this book deepened my appreciation for Maine and the people that work here. I also got to understand how special the creative economy is in Maine. This state has a deep connection to art that is woven throughout its history: writers like E.B. White and Edna St. Vincent Millay, painters like Winslow Homer and Marsden Harltey, and entrepreneurs like L.L. Bean all based their creative enterprises in Maine. Those traditions have never left Maine and it’s a part of everyday life here. Painters still flock to Monhegan island to paint en plein air. You can buy lobsters  directly from the lobstermen on coastal wharves. You can walk into any bookstore and see entire shelves filled with books by Maine writers. Most Maine highways, like Route 1, are dotted with art studios open to the public.

The book gave us an opportunity to have deeper conversations with the people that continue these traditions, while forging new innovative paths within their craft or field. We wanted to create a book with a lot of substance, so we made sure to [capture] both the beauty and struggle of creative work. We talked about the freedom of being self employed and financial burden of operating creative business. We discussed the how racism and sexism can impact artists. We documented the satisfaction an artist feels when making something truly unique, and the joy of creating in a landscape like Maine’s.

You can see more of Greta’s images here – and order a copy of Handcrafted Maine by clicking here.

“Creativity isn’t just about painting or building or writing … creativity is forging new pathways. It’s coming at a problem from a new direction. It’s building bridges where you see chasms. A creative is someone who conceives of a new solution. A maker is someone who turns that solution into a physical reality.” Katy Kelleher, p. 22. 

Georgina Skinner

Meet Georgina Skinner, the photographer behind our soon-to-be-released New Zealand cover. A rather talented lass who splits her time between Aotearoa and the UK and who has a knack for capturing light and life. Prepare for a little dose of Southern Hemisphere wanderlust … (fun fact – you can pre-order our New Zealand magazine here
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When did you start taking photographs? 
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Photography started out for me when I was a kid with my parents film cameras, but as soon as it was introduced to me as a subject I could take for school it very quickly went from a hobby to something I wanted to make a living from. 
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How would you describe your photographic style? 
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It took me a few years to find my style and to settle with one look, but it was one day in Paris – I found myself consistently shooting in a specific way. I was drawn to the lighter colours of the city and buildings and from then on I always shot this way and applied my style to all my work. I often get asked if my work is a photograph or a painting, so I suppose that would be my style!  Occasionally I will have a day and find myself shooting dark scenes and situations with a hint of colour, but rarely.
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Is there a particular New Zealand area or subject that means something special to you? 
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The whole journey from Christchurch through Arthurs Pass to the West Coast is special to me. It was the first journey I took when I moved here from England and it was a complete shock to me as to how somewhere could be that beautiful! Now it is our journey home and it will forever remain dear to me.
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Where is home for you in new Zealand? 
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My fiancé Stephen and I live on the West Coast of New Zealand. It was a massive change from working in PR in the centre of London to being thrown into dairy farming and working on my photography business Print By George from our front room, but I feel so settled here and now we are getting married. This is home for life.
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Do you have a favourite part of New Zealand? 
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When I think of all the places I have travelled [to] within New Zealand, I always get excited to get back to the West Coast and home. It is so quiet and secluded compared to what I am used to and having our two dogs waiting for us makes this the best place.
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Is shooting in New Zealand different to other parts of the world? 
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The light and the landscape is so totally different to the UK. When I lived in Melbourne the light was so warm and the landscape so vast. Going from that to London where you don’t see so much of the sky and the days are short in the winter, it was a massive adjustment. Now living in New Zealand the sky is enormous, with stunning mountains and sunsets. It is the perfect mix of English and Australian light and I love shooting in it! We truly get four seasons throughout the year and the light is so different for each one. It’s exciting to shoot at all times of the year, but when it rains it pours and that is a day to stay inside and get the computer work done!
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Do you have a favourite subject?
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The landscape is a new one. I adore shooting the landscape now that I live in a beautiful one, but my true passion which has stayed with me from day one would be interiors and homes. That is where I started out with photography and I will continue forever to shoot and love them.
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Has there been a particularly enjoyable shoot? 
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A shoot I did recently in my family’s Greek home in Corfu would be a very enjoyable one. It was shot for NZ House & Gardens magazine and it looked beautiful for the issue. It also helped that Stephen proposed to me on this trip – unforgettable!
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You’ve photographed both the North and South Islands – do you find these different in any way?
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The South Island is a lot more rural and you can drive a long way without seeing a property. It is rugged and quite untouched whereas the North is a smaller island and there is a lot more going on with bigger cities closer together. I don’t prefer shooting one over the other, however I see the South Island a lot more and so shooting opportunities come up more frequently.
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What advice do you have for someone considering a career as a photographer?
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Keep at it and believe in yourself. I had many ‘doubt’ days when I started out with my photography. I wasn’t convinced with my style and aesthetic and I didn’t believe that anyone would be interested in it either. It took me a bit of time to gain that confidence and to be able to talk about my work without feeling like I was trying to force it upon someone – once I felt I could do this, the belief and hard work started to pay off and now I can’t believe where my photography has taken me.
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Sam Caldwell

The illustrator Sam Caldwell contributed to our Sweden and Canada issues. Sarah Kelleher finds out more about this talented artist.

Could you tell us a little bit about your background – where you trained/ how you learned and what inspired you to become an artist and illustrator when you were younger?

I grew up in Bolton, a town just north of Manchester. For as long as I can remember I have always been interested in storytelling and have tried to document the world around me. Drawing and painting have always been the most natural way for me to do this.

I moved up to Edinburgh in 2010 where I studied painting at the Edinburgh College of Art. I initially went to study illustration but switched over to the art department in the first week as it seemed a lot more fun!

I moved to South-East London after graduating and have since been chasing a career in freelance illustration.

You’ve lived in a number of places, from Lancashire, to Edinburgh to South-East London.  Have the locations you’ve lived in influenced your work in any way?  Are there any landscapes that are particularly important to you?

Yeah absolutely, place is very important to me. I think growing up in a post-industrial town has had a huge influence on the kind of images I make. I love the moorland around Bolton, the old terrace streets and disused mills still loom large for me.

Discovering the Hebrides and the Highlands of Scotland were a big thing too – looking back at the work I made whilst living in Edinburgh, so much of it was inspired by windswept Scottish landscapes and the idea of North.

It has really only been in the past few months that I’ve seen London seep into my work. Since moving down here I have struggled to figure out how to make a living from drawing and have tried on a few different creative hats in the process. It is only recently that I have started to look around me again and make pictures based on my surroundings. I’m really interested in trying to document some of the struggles living in this city throws up.

Looking at your work, it’s clear that you enjoy creating and referencing comic book art.  Are there any comic book artists whose work you particularly like or are inspired by?  Are you working on your own comic-book projects?

Comics are a fairly recent interest for me. I read the Beano and the Dandy as a kid but it’s only been in the past couple of years that I have started drawing my own and really thinking about it as a medium for story telling. My way in was through Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan as well as the first few Nobrow anthologies. Jon McNaught has been a big influence on how I’ve thought about comics – he has an incredible knack for creating a sense of place through these slow, often uneventful stories.

I just finished ‘Hubert’ by Ben Gijsemans which I would highly recommend to anyone who likes the quieter side of comics.

The main comics project I am working on at the minute is a collaboration with a writer based in Austin, Texas called James McNulty. He sent me a screenplay a few months ago and we are working on adapting it into a graphic novel. It’s tonally similar to something like ‘The Missing’ or True Detective’. The story is set in small town America and focuses on a series of kidnappings. It is pretty dark stuff but it had me totally gripped on my first read through!

You’ve produced work for a number of publications and shows, and although there is great variety in your work, it’s also possible to tell that each piece was created by you – how have you developed your own personal style over the years?

That’s very kind of you to say so! I don’t think it is a particularly conscious thing, hopefully it is something which has happened naturally. That said, I have always found it useful to draw quick versions of other artist’s work. I think it is a really useful way to learn how people you admire use line and shape and space.

I used to draw pretty obsessively, filling sketchbooks with drawings of photographs I would find on blogs and in books as well as invented characters and scenes. I still try to get at least one drawing down every day. Style is definitely defined to some degree by what materials you use too. I find that I draw completely differently with a pencil than I do with a brush and ink for example.

The pieces you’ve worked on for Lodestars Anthology have been related to the cultural life of the different countries covered by the magazine, and you have been very adept in referencing the books and films from the written pieces in your art.  Do you have a strong interest in literature, film and music?  How does this play out in your work?

I definitely have a real interest in all of those things, anything which tells a good story or seems to have a unique perspective on the world always grabs my attention. Although I definitely don’t read as much as I would like to, I do often find inspiration in fiction and poetry. I’ve been working on turning a series of Simon Armitage poems into comics recently actually. Film is a pretty big influence too; I will usually have to dig back through movies to take screengrabs or photos of particular scenes and shots. I love work which nods to or references its source of inspiration in some way. Inspiration can come from almost anywhere, you just have to learn to be receptive to it and always carry a notebook!

You use pen and ink, ink wash, pencil and digital art to create your work – do you have a favourite medium to work in?  Do you like to experiment with new mediums?

I love working with physical materials. I feel as though I am in a constant battle with Photoshop and my tablet, always trying to make my images more print friendly and contemporary. Working digitally is great for tight deadlines and getting a clean finish but I always seem to find myself going back to my trusty set of watercolour paints. I really like the unpredictability of using a watery wash of paint or ink, building images up from loads of thin layers allows me to get colours and textures I just can’t achieve working digitally.

I enjoy trying out new mediums from time to time, drawing with a dip pen and a pot of ink is fairly new to me and something which has really changed my approach to making pictures. You can’t mess around too much with ink, it forces you to roll with any mistakes and work a lot more confidently than you would in pencil for instance.

Your work encompasses both landscape and portraiture – do you enjoy working in both these areas?  Do you have a favourite?

I like both equally I think. I am really interested in the idea of place and how people relate to and are to some degree defined by their surroundings. I like to think of my pictures as stills from a film. I want my pictures to evoke some sense of narrative and to have a definite character. I think you can get just as much character from a landscape as you can from a portrait.

Your work is very atmospheric – often with a muted, or deep colour palette that can seem quite ominous, and we particularly saw this in the illustration you did for ‘Let the Right One In’ in the Swedish Literature piece for Lodestars.  Do you enjoy creating works of art with a slightly darker feel?

That piece was fun because I got the chance to read up on a film that I am almost certainly not brave enough to actually watch!

Without sounding too gloomy, I am definitely more drawn to things with a darker feel to them. Not so much horror but I have been told that my pictures often have a certain feeling of melancholia to them. I guess I just find that kind of thing more intriguing. It is probably a bit of a hangover from my teenage years spent reading Philip Larkin and listening to The Smiths! The films, books and pictures that really resonate with me usually have a similar tone to my illustrations. Generally speaking, I am interested in depicting characters who seem to have a complex story surrounding them. I think that often darker stories are more engaging than light-hearted ones.

Your portraiture and people work is very expressive – how do you set about conveying a sense of emotion or character through your artwork of people and personalities?

It’s all about the eyes and eyebrows, these are undoubtedly the most expressive parts of the face. If you can get those right, then the rest of the portrait usually follows pretty easily. I always start with a loose layout in very faint pencil. Once I’m settled on the composition I will tighten up this pencil layer and sketch in some of the facial features. The bulk of the working out is done at this stage. I then get the ink pot out and draw the face. I always start with the eyes. I like to do this stage fairly quickly; faster lines almost always look better than laboured ones. Once I have inked out all the line work I go about blocking in the first layer of watercolour. This is undoubtedly a backwards way of doing things but I often find my colour palette is influenced by the feel of the drawing underneath.

Do you have any illustrators whose work you particularly admire and follow?  If yes, then why these artists?

I admire tons of people’s work, the list is endlessly growing.

Ben Shahn is my absolute all time favourite painter. His pictures really capture a particular time and place and are an endless source of inspiration for me. As far as current working illustrators go, Dadu Shin, Roman Muradov, Patrick Leger, Sam Bosma, Eleni Kalorkati, Lizzy Stewart, Benji Davis, Thomas Haugomat, Matt Rockefeller, Adrian Tomine and Jordan Crane are all excellent, to name but a few. Closer to home, anyone reading should check out the work of Seamus Killick, Tom Brice, Jamie Johnson, Mark Connolly, Sarah Sheard, Laura Griffin, Efa Dyfan, Kyle Noble, Tiina Lilja, Gwen Kehrig-Darton, Herbert Green, Ben Hall and Supermarche.

 

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