What strikes me first about this month’s featured artist, Lisa Maltby, is how pleasantly unpretentious her art is. From the work she does to inspire others to pursue their own creativity to the inspiration she draws from her own family, it’s refreshing to see someone as talented as Lisa being unafraid to pull down some of the barriers that separate the artists from the ‘normal people’, reminding us that the two groups are in fact inextricably linked.

A lot of your art is rather cheerful or a direct response to criticism. Is this a feeling you set out to create or does it just work its way in naturally?

I think most of my responses to criticism aren’t so cheerful in person! But I do think creative work can act as a sort of catharsis for negativity. In fact, a lot of my cheerful illustrations are almost a direct push against the opposite. Finding playful ways to respond to challenges helps you to think about life differently and stops you from taking yourself too seriously. Sometimes I’ll create a piece of work that feels very personal, but this is always the work that people connect with most.

You’re quite active in trying to help out others who’re attempting to make it in your industry. What tips do you have for illustrators trying to make a living from their craft?

You don’t make a living out of a craft – you make a living out of selling. It’s easy to create your best work and wait for the world to queue up for it, but when that doesn’t happen you are left thinking, ‘Is my work bad? Should I have used gouache?’ These are all the wrong sorts of questions, because you have to ask: Who will benefit from my craft? How can I get it in front of them? How can I convince them that they should part with cash for it?

Who inspired you to pursue your own creativity?

I used to love looking at the art on my Dad’s record collection – work by Roger Dean and Paul Whitehead, which was always beautiful yet very surreal.

My family have always been a big inspiration. My dad is an engineer and loves inventing and fixing things. I’ve always been inspired by him because he solves problems creatively. My family were initially anxious about me pursuing a creative career, but my mum has always been a steady voice of support.

You occupy a place between the vintage and the modern with your artwork. What attracts you to working within this space? 

I always think old things feel very authentic. They have a story to them. As a kid I used to get most of my clothes from charity shops or we’d go to the scrapyard for things to fix our car. I’d always imagine where things had come from and why they ended up there.

But you can’t just keep repeating what has been before. You have to add your own story to it and bring something new for it to be effective. Work needs to be relevant to have impact, so it’s important to bring it into the present for people to connect with it.

Do you have anything on the horizon we should be looking out for? 

I had my first book cover commission for Penguin Random House before Christmas, so I’m really excited to see it in print in the next few months. They were a bit of a dream client for me. I also have lots of work I’m doing for heritage sites such as Chatsworth House coming up. I work with them quite regularly to create visitor trails and maps.

I’m also planning some resources and workshops for my book, The Glorious Book of Curious Cocktails, which helps kids to learn all about literacy by inventing disgusting concoctions. I get sent a lot of drawings and photographs of kids creating crazy recipes which makes my work very rewarding.

lisamaltby.com

Liam Casey