By day a graphic designer, by night a freelance illustrator with a growing reputation, Liam Woodruff’s portfolio is bulging with twisted pop culture references framed in strikingly colourful cartoon surrealism.

His next exhibition will take place at Manchester’s Night and Day Café on Tuesday 4 June and Liam promises to turn his graphical eye to a dystopian science fiction under the banner of Brave New World.

Liam took the time to answer our questions ahead of the forthcoming exhibition.

What are your earliest memories of illustration?

I have always enjoyed drawing. When I was a child I would draw detailed drawings of scenes like busy cities and in garages with lots of characters, derelict buildings and cars exploding. I feel like the level of detail in my work has never left.

How has your style evolved?

When I started out, my work was focused mostly on characters with formless bodies with exploding eyes and gigantic tongues, similar to your Ratfink and Santa Cruz illustrations. There was no real meaning behind the images but they were fun. As I thought more about what I wanted to draw and what I was trying to say with each image, I began to look at album art, gig posters and paintings, anything I could find really, and my work steadily became more realistic and serious in nature, but still retained a kind of cartoon feel, for now at least.


Is there any crossover between your day job and your extracurricular illustration?

I work as a graphic designer within the fashion industry so I often pay close attention to what the characters I draw wear and the colours used. The research I do around fashion graphics definitely finds its way in my work, but I try to keep the style very different, to keep my mind fresh.

Tell us about the exhibition at Night and Day Cafe. How will it fit with the venue?

Night and Day Cafe isn’t just a café; it’s a great music venue, with an amazing history of putting on quality bands. Because the relationship between music and art and design is such a strong one, I feel it’s the perfect place to showcase work.

What ambitions do you have for your illustration in 2019 and beyond?

This year, I have some exciting work coming up, album covers and posters and if all goes to plan it will be the first time my artwork is to be used on a vinyl release, which is very exciting. I have some plans to self-publish a children’s book, which is a bit of a tangent, but while working on ideas for my exhibition I thought of a great story, which I have begun sketching ideas for. We shall see where it goes.

I guess my big goal is to eventually become a freelance illustrator. The more work starts to pick up, the more it seems it could be a reality. It’s all very exciting.

Ian Pennington