DANIEL’S TOP ILLUSTRATION TIP: Practise lots and get into a daily routine that works for you. Gain inspiration for your drawings away from the world of children’s books. Go for a walk in the woods or at the beach. Try drawing in these different environments and see how it affects your work.
Daniel Weatheritt is an artist and designer based in Northumberland, UK. His love of drawing started in Year 3 as a member of Northburn First School Wildlife Club. Shortly afterwards, he began self-publishing comics including The Adventures of Mickey Molar and All Wrapped Up – Secrets of the Mummies Tomb. These formed an important precursor to a life-long fascination with image-making and all forms of design. He studied Graphic Design at Northumbria University and graduated in 2008 with first-class honours. Daniel uses many mixed-media techniques, often combining traditional media (pen and ink, pencil, watercolours and collage) with photography and digital colour production to create surreal characters, environments and narratives which are full of intricate detail and humour, inspired by the animal kingdom, scrap yards, circuitry, vintage cars, folklore and science fiction. Find out more about Daniel on his website – www.danielweatheritt.com
What’s the best aspect of your artistic life? Being able to work on such a broad range of projects. My artistic life covers quite a lot of ground, from illustrating books and guides for museums to working as a designer and also delivering art workshops in primary schools. I’ve always created things from a very young age and feel lucky that my skills have enabled me to grow my own job.
—the worst? The isolation. It’s a blessing and a curse. I spend much of my time working alone, which is great for developing my creative skills without interruption, but because of the commercial nature of my work I am constantly seeking to bounce ideas off other people and gather feedback, which can be tricky at times.
How do you approach an illustration project? If illustrating a book it starts with the story and lots of reading, making notes and sketching quick ideas for possible illustrations. I then create little storyboards, which are usually tiny, around 10% to 25% the size of the final printed book. These are drawn in ink with loose watercolour washes and are invaluable when it comes to producing finished artwork, acting as a guide for the composition, placement and pacing of images.
What are you working on at the moment? I’ve just finished designing and illustrating a booklet for Northumberland Wildlife Trust for the 2015 red squirrel appeal. All of the drawings were produced in watercolour and coloured inks and it has been really rewarding seeing my work going out to thousands of households in North East England. Also off to print is an art guide for Woodhorn Museum, a coal mining museum and art gallery in Northumberland.
Is there any area of art that you still find challenging? I’m rarely working on one project at a time, so juggling everything can be a real challenge. Creatively speaking, I think staying true to my initial sketchbook observations which I’m getting better at through practice. Also, to work across multiple mediums, be it pencil, paint, pen and ink, collage, and still produce something that feels unique to you and your creative language.
What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Making people aware of who you are and what you do. It’s a very competitive industry and you have to be quite clever with marketing and how you present yourself creatively. The best self promotion is to do great client work, simple as that.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an illustrator? I think it would still be something creative. A lot of my time is actually spent working as a designer, which doesn’t involve drawing in many cases. I love wildlife and archaeology so maybe something in these fields.
What would you do differently if you were starting out now as an illustrator? Get a better handle on the business side of my creative practice and make sure my website was up and running sooner.
What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an illustrator? That it really is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re reading this as a student or graduate starting out with nothing (like I did), no industry contacts or inside information, it really is up to you to get to where you want to be.
What’s the best advice you were ever given? A) The harder you work, the luckier you get. B) It’s in the limitations of a medium that an artist finds his true strength.
Daniel illustrated my children’s book Catnapped, a beginner chapter book about a couple of bungling teens whose plot to snatch a Lotto winner’s cat and hold him to ransom is foiled by a menagerie of pets. Catnapped is available from http://www.amazon.com/Catnapped-Teena-Raffa-Mulligan/dp/1623955882