Andy Robert Davies is this month's Featured Illustrator. He's a lecturer at the University of Worcester as well as a versatile illustrator using a variety of techniques, see more of his work in the Featured Illustrator Gallery.

I live in a town called Malvern in Worcestershire, England. It is close to the Welsh borders and has some splendid hills which I walk whenever I have a spare moment. I’m a freelance illustrator and a lecturer in illustration at the University of Worcester. These two parts of my working life complement each other; I enjoy working with large groups of creative people who are passionate about illustration and I find this helps my own illustration practice, which I then feedback into my teaching. I’ve been teaching in some form or another since finishing my own degree and feel it has enabled me to continue my own education as I am constantly learning things about my work.

The Malvern Hills
There are several important people that have helped me develop as an artist. Andrew Selby and Alastair Adams were two of my lecturers at Loughborough University, where I studied illustration. They are both incredibly gifted artists and helped nurture my drawing ability and gave me my first break as an educator, for which I am very grateful. I have been lucky to work with many fantastic art directors, such as Susan Sherman at Charlesbridge Publishing in the USA. After producing my first children’s book with them, I had the pleasure of doing a two-week internship at their offices near Boston, where I gained an extremely useful insight into the publishing industry. I’m now in the process of finishing the artwork for my fourth book with them.

Clothesline Clues to Sports People Play produced for Charlesbridge Publishing

I’ve worked for a wide variety of clients and my illustrations have been used in numerous formats such as children’s books, magazines, maps, packaging and book covers. Much of my professional experience has been within editorial illustration. I love the fast turnaround and different briefs you are given. In my fourteen years as a professional illustrator, I’ve illustrated articles about subjects such as finance, living in foreign countries, food, health, gardens, caravanning and travel.

An illustration produced for Gardeners’ World Magazine ©Immediate Media

Variety is important to me and I think this can be seen when looking through my portfolio. The idea is key and I spend a great deal of time pushing a pencil around my sketchbook before I commit to making the artwork. That stage usually goes through some form of digital process, but I always try to retain an ‘analogue’ aspect to it (scanned textures or scratchy pencil line). I love the balance of freedom and control that Photoshop gives me, especially when it comes to experimenting with different colours and collaged textures. Folktales, history, maps, fantasy and travel are all themes within my work. I often try to include a light-hearted and humorous message, which can be quite obvious or hidden away somewhere in the composition. Ultimately, I want the viewer to read my artwork several times before they see all the details.

A rough design for an illustration based on the Greek myths

One of the highlights of my career has been the three occasions when I’ve been shortlisted for the Prize for Illustration and exhibited at the London Transport Museum. I’ve also been shortlisted and exhibited twice at the Tapirulan Illustrators Contest in Italy and last year was included in the publication, Creative Quarterly: The Journal of Art and Design – 100 Best 2017. Exhibiting my work internationally is a great thrill and thanks to a research project with my colleagues at the University of Worcester, I was able to show work at BIBIANA in Bratislava, Slovakia during the Biennial of Illustration 2017. Our project is called MIGRATIONS and involves artists from around the world sending illustrated postcards to us, responding to this theme. I wrote a report for the Association of Illustrators about the exhibition, you can find out about the other projects we are working on by visiting our website.

Collage birds, for the MIGRATIONS exhibition

My work is constantly evolving, and that struggle to create the perfect illustration is essential…if it feels too easy then you need to change something. I think it is important to get away from the desk and computer as much as possible and I love taking my sketchbook with me on my travels in order to capture new places and characters, many of which find their way into my illustrations. I try to keep my eyes open and observe the world around me, making notes, drawings or taking photos of things I find interesting or something that could be useful for my next illustration. I recently started using Instagram and absolutely love it! It is a great resource for anyone creative…although it can sometimes be a bit addictive!

Drawing made on top of a mountain in Austria

Sketchbook drawing: experimenting with colours

Victorian faces

More faces!
The Tired Parent an idea for an illustration

To see more of Andy's work visit his Featured Illustrator Gallery
His personal website is here
Follow Andy on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook

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