Every illustrator and writer has grown up with inspirations from a variety of sources.
This week illustrator Rekha Salin wanted to find out what gives illustrator & ceramist
Craig Fishink the most inspiration.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi everyone, my name's Craig and I'm an illustrator and ceramist who runs a business called Fishink — you can find me on Instagram. I create quirky, individual, handmade ceramics that have, I feel, a nod to mid-century illustration and design. Since 2010 I have also curated a Fishink blog that looks at retro children's illustrations, textiles, ceramics and all manner of design from the 1950's to the present day that happens to catch my eye. 

Who do you write/illustrate/design for?

I would say my work is primarily aimed at adults who still have an inner child. However children also identify with it and many pieces end up in their rooms. Humour and fun are the main objectives I aim to bring to my work. If I can make someone smile and feel a sense of joy when they encounter my work then I feel I have achieved what I set out to do.

My bookshelves are literally groaning with books from mid-century illustrators, many of which are long out of print and now hard to get hold of. Here's just a few examples:

What inspires you to pick up or buy a book from the library/bookstore or buy online?

Firstly the illustration, secondly the illustrator, thirdly the story.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the work of creatives, who use many different mediums, that all subliminally become ingested and subsequently have an influence on my work. I adore books that were produced in the sixties by illustrators such as Helen Borten, Abner Graboff, Bernice Myers, Don Madden, Aliki BrandenbergBrian Wildsmith... I could go on for hours. I love their style, their simplicity of line or colour or the way they incorporate clever handmade textures which help enrichen their work.

I also love more modern illustrators such as Benji Davies, Chris Haughton and Oliver Jeffers; then ceramic inspirations from Lisa LarsonRut Bryk, Susan DayEmbroidered influences, glass, wood, painters, sculptors... somehow their work and styles all become a large mixing pot in my head. 



Do you bring your inspirations into your work?

I can't fail but to be influenced by the creative work I am surrounded by and feature on my blog posts. 

Writing about different creatives, discovering how they work, think, design is always inspirational to me. Like visiting artists in their studios or hearing that David Bowie used to write poems and then cut up all the lines and rearrange them to help him write new songs is incredibly inspiring. How different folk think, draw, create is fascinating to a fellow creative like myself. 

There is a whole mid-century section on my blog and looking through those creatives and illustrators always puts me in the right space/frame of mind for designing myself.

How do you keep your work fresh, original and unique and avoid looking like your inspiration?

I start every ceramic piece with illustrations. For instance I might draw a new cat idea between 10-30 times before selecting one that I like or that gives me that vibe or quirk that I'm seeking. To get a unique or different perspective I often draw with my non dominant hand, or, cut out shapes from coloured paper to suggest creatures I may then go on to draw and make into 3D ceramics. I see animals in squiggles, random colour blobs, aimless doddles that all help in the creative process of achieving my final pieces. My tons of sketchbooks are where my melting pot of thoughts and influences start to morph into some sort of reality.

What kind of books have inspired you?

I read a lot of sci-fi and children's literature. I find books that take my imagination somewhere else or a film/TV series that can do the same, gives my mind room to grow, explore and consider possibilities for drawing and creating things that perhaps don't already exist. Again if I'm drawing, say, dogs, I sometimes think what would a dog look like if it was square or the shape of a rectangle, triangle, how might that change how it moves, how would the world of a triangular dog look too? I must say I don't spend too much time thinking about triangular dogs and their world but hopefully you get my point!

Where does your main source of inspiration originate?

Vintage book illustration, graphics, adverts etc. continue to amaze and inspire me  I doubt I will ever stop feeling the wonder and enjoyment I do when coming across the highly textural, amusing, simplistic looking work of that time and of the artists I have already named above. 

The absolute joy I have gained from my working on the blog is when I connect with illustrators who are now in their eighties and nineties  or perhaps their children/grandchildren who find their relatives work on my post and contact me to tell me how much they appreciate me championing their work.

I was lucky enough to create posts with the help of the lovely author/illustrator Helen Borten. Another about Bernice Myers' work and ask her questions about her art and life shortly before she sadly passed away in her early nineties. That was so precious to me. 

There is a wealth of fabulous work from artists and designers who have gone before us. We sometimes forget that their style and creativity is our history as fellow creatives and deserves to be remembered and gathered together in order to show future generations of artists, illustrators and folk who tell their stories using all manner of mediums. 

Happy creating everyone!

*Header image: Ell Rose and Tita Berredo;
other images courtesy of Craig (Fishink)


Craig is a ceramist, textile designer/illustrator and photographer based in Manchester.
See more of Craig’s work here. Follow him on Instagram


Rekha Salin has three books published as an illustrator. Two picture books, one in 2020 and the other in 2022, and also a recipe book, (for adults), in 2022 published by ABV Publishing. She is currently working with Gnome Road Publishing and this will be available in 2024.

See more of Rekha's work here. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter


Ell Rose is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures.

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Tita Berredo is the Illustrator Coordinator of SCBWI British Isles and the Art Director of Words & Pictures. 

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  1. I love Craigs blog and work and have several of his ceramics on my walls. Thanks for featuring him, he is an inspiration for me.

  2. Wonderful interview with a wonderful artist! Love his work.


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