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Meet the Artist
Illustrator Beth Walrond
- Written by Ian Edwards Ian Edwards
Beth Walrond was born and raised in the English countryside, but after graduating in Illustration from Falmouth University made the move to Berlin where she has applied her distinctive and colourful style to some high profile commissions for the likes of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.
Tell us a bit about your background - are you from a creative family?
I was very lucky to grow up in the Shropshire countryside with a very talented family. They have always encouraged creativity in me and my siblings, and I have been lucky enough to be able to carry this on as a career. My Grandma particularly has always inspired me – she can draw and paint so well, and I remember being small and thinking “I want to do that!”
When did you first realise that you wanted to pursue it as a career?
I realised during college that I wanted to take drawing onto degree level, but I wasn’t sure how. I came across the description of an Illustration course one day, and it sounded too good to be true! From then on it was all I wanted to do, and I haven’t looked back since!
You currently live in Berlin, is there much of a creative community there?
I made the move to Berlin after finishing my degree studying in Falmouth, which was an amazingly creative place and had a lot to live up to. I got lucky though - Berlin is incredibly creative, you are never far from another creative person and there is an endless supply of creative events, galleries and crazy characters for some sketchbook inspiration.
Your artwork confronts a number of topical issues – what draws you to a subject matter?
My main focus at the moment is on editorial illustrations, which are great because they often present you with subject matter that is new. It means that you are always learning something, and it is so satisfying to take a piece of text and turn it into a visual response. I love to illustrate a broad range of topics that keep my work challenging and varied.
Talk us through your creative process; how do you come up with an idea for a new project?
When time allows it, I try and read through a new brief and then sleep on it. The next morning I will give it another read and write down every idea that comes into my head. Once that is done I turn off the computer and draw. It really helps me to be sure of what I’m doing when it comes straight from my head with no source of distraction. Drawing is definitely my favourite part of the process, and I’m always very happy when a project reaches that point. Composition is an extremely important part of my process. I often make hundreds of tiny little drawings that make no sense to anyone else in order to make sure i visually explore the scene as thoroughly as possible. After that, I build layers of colour and texture into the final artwork.
What has been your favourite project to work on and why?
I think in recent times it would have to be the illustration I did for The New York Times. It was such a whirlwind - I got the brief in at around 2pm, and had two hours to complete the sketches and then a further 6 hours until the final deadline. I had never worked to such a tight deadline before and it really forced me to be more instinctive with my ideas process. It was also one of the best feelings I have ever had to see that illustration in a publication that I have admired for years.
I think my absolute favourite artist of all time would have to be the Italian Futurist Fortunato Depero. Alongside this, I take a lot of inspiration from the great modern artists such as Picasso and Matisse. Illustrators that I hugely admire are Robert Frank Hunter, Nicholas Burrows, Russell Cobb and Jeff Fisher. I love coming across new sources of inspiration, there are so many great illustrators out there!
What projects do you have coming up?
I am continuing to work on editorial projects, building on the way that I respond to articles as well as my visual language. I am also extending the range in my portfolio in between commissions, and am currently working on a series of maps, which has been a fun challenge. Some more narrative book projects are also in the pipeline.
Beth Walrond can be found online at ..