With the online-only nature of July’s magazine, it seems natural to welcome Nick Taylor, a digital illustrator from Worksop, onto our pages as our featured artist. Influenced by his background in screen printing, Nick combines hand-drawing with computer design to produce evocative, contemporary artwork. His bold palette and geometric artistry reflect his ability to find […]

With the online-only nature of July’s magazine, it seems natural to welcome Nick Taylor, a digital illustrator from Worksop, onto our pages as our featured artist. Influenced by his background in screen printing, Nick combines hand-drawing with computer design to produce evocative, contemporary artwork. His bold palette and geometric artistry reflect his ability to find inspiration in all corners of the world around him. Nick is currently working on a number of exciting projects, including promotional material for the Robot: Creative and Comic Arts Convention in Sheffield next year.

Many people would argue that visual art should speak for itself. Do you believe your work does this or could it ever benefit from an explanation?

I’ll be honest – I always struggle with explaining my work. I much prefer it to speak for itself. So much about visual art is subjective. I think the viewer should take what they want from it. If that happens to be the central idea you’re trying to convey, that’s great, but the viewer’s interpretation is equally valid. That’s the beauty of art. It means different things to different people.

What drew you to illustration after studying printmaking at university? How does this background influence your work?

In a strange way it wasn’t a conscious decision to become an illustrator. I didn’t have a master plan at all after leaving university. I approached record labels, apparel designers and magazines I liked to work for them, and ended up with a string of freelance jobs. Within those few formative jobs I started to develop a style, but it wasn’t immediately clear to me that my work was illustration. I have recently begun to tailor my portfolio towards the world of editorial illustration, as that is something I would love to get into, but I still feel I’m a long way off calling myself an illustrator.

My printmaking background plays a massive part in my working process. I’m always trying to replicate the layering and juxtaposition inherent in so many printing methods. Printing also has an element of chance I strive to achieve in my work. I embrace happy accidents that occur when creating a screen print.

You seem to find inspiration in the everyday, as well as in bigger, broader topics. Do you ever struggle for ideas?

I have a constant stream of interests that inform my work, from science fiction films to psychedelic music, but often something as simple as a geometric pattern or a random arrangement of objects will kick off a project.

I find keeping a sketchbook a massive help during times of creative drought. On many occasions my personal doodles and collages directly feed into client work and give me a creative reservoir to dip into when needed. It can’t be underestimated how important personal work is to any type of commercial artist. I honestly believe that if you create work about things you love, it will connect you to like-minded people and consequently enable you to do the type of work you want to do.

Do you prefer to work to a brief?

I have been lucky so far as many of the briefs I get are fairly open-ended, having a starting point but being allowed to run with it in my own style. My perfect brief would be a short sentence, perhaps with a couple of cultural references thrown in.

Who or what are your biggest influences?

Now that’s a tough question. There are so many. It’s a very long list, including 1960s Penguin book covers, prog rock record covers, dystopian science fiction, the Polish poster designer and animator Jan Lenica, pop art, vintage issues of Graphis magazine, the cosmos, the collage aesthetic, illustrators Alan Aldridge, Barney Bubbles and Roger Dean.

Above all, the biggest influence for me taking this path in life was my granddad, Gordon Arnold. He was an amazing artist and graphic designer in the days of hand-setting type and pasting-up artwork with Letraset transfers and Magic Markers. I became fascinated with these processes from an early age and they have definitely informed my way of working.

You use a combination of hand-drawing and computer-based design. How does your work benefit from using both methods? Do you ever find limitations with using both methods together?

I’m constantly struggling with finding a balance between the hand-drawn and computer elements of my work. I often find designing entirely on computer leaves the resulting image too cold and clean, so I begin most pieces with a collage or drawing and scan into Photoshop. This always ensures I have a human element to the work, which I like. The ultimate medium for me is screen printing, combining the intricacies of computer-generated art with a hands-on approach to image making.

What have you got in the pipeline for 2015?

2015 is looking very exciting. For a start, I’ve just done my first interview as an artist with you lovely people. I have an ongoing poster collaboration with Phantom Cinema in Doncaster, some sleeve artwork with one of my favourite labels, The Great Pop Supplement, and I’m working on the identity and promotional material for the Robot: Creative and Comic Arts Convention happening in Sheffield next year.

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Melissa Fawcett