Before we start, tell us a little about yourself/how did you get into art/craft/design career and how it all started and where you are nowI’m a freelance illustrator currently based in Leeds Yorkshire. I’ve been drawing for as long as I can recall, I remember being bought a wooden case of colouring pencils when I was younger, which seemed to accompany me wherever I went, my mum used to bring home fax paper from work, which I filled with an endless strip of sketches.
Since then I’ve gone onto complete a Masters in Graphics Design, specialising in Illustration at Sheffield Hallam University. Alongside my studies I have also exhibited my work and undertaken internships at various companies including Lemonade Illustration Agency a global Illustration Agency representing some of the leading artists working in the industry today.
At present I work freelance and intern for the lovely Moonko a creative platform supporting emerging designers. Moonko also stock my illustration collection, this includes t-shirts and greetings cards.
How long have you been using sketchbooks?I’ve been using sketchbooks for around five years, this was encouraged during my foundation course where I started to really experiment with utilizing the medium. Following that I’ve spent the last four years at university obsessively scribbling throughout the pages of books in various sizes, dimensions and formats.
How often do you sketch?After recently graduating I’m trying to get into the habit of drawing for the sake of drawing again, however after being graded on my work for so long I find it hard to impulsively illustrate anymore, which I hope to progressively change. At present I draw every week both for clients and for my own personal portfolio. I’ve been told that a good illustrator should sketch every single day, but in reality I believe that luxury to sometimes be impossible!
How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?Despite filling the pages of countless sketchbooks, the prospect of starting a new book still scares me. I’ve found the main problem is the notion of starting a drawing on a blank white page. To tackle this reluctance I have tried various things, from using pages made of different material, to painting pages with ink, to working on top of pre existing pages such as sheet music. I’ve found that the answer is just to experiment with different mediums until you find the format which fits your work. For me personally, I find starting a sketchbook a few pages in and trying not to fill the entire space makes the process of starting less intimidating.
When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages?Inspiration from my sketchbooks comes from many places, the first being music which is really important to my practice, as I always work better with music playing. A secondary inspiration is people. I could spend hours sat in a cafe people watching, doodling the figures which pass me by. I’ve got sketchbooks full of observations and snippets of overheard conversation. The people I momentarily sketch on to the pages of my book, become inspiration for characters I draw further in the future, I love the idea that some of the unknown faces of Sheffield have been applied to later work, which they may or may not ever stumble upon.
How would you describe your creative process?My creative process strongly relies on research, my background studies of Art History means that I have an insistent need to research every subject I portray, ensuring that my artwork is always visually and contextually correct. After collating research I then like to gather lots of visual references from numerous sources, these are then stuck, glued, pinned and pasted onto the pages of my book and also onto the space around me as I work. I then go onto roughly sketch ideas before working on a final piece. I never really have a predetermined idea of what I want my final outcome to look like, I just like to experiment and see how my work develops, I often rely on a string of unintentionally enhancing mistakes.
Have your sketchbooks evolved over the years and if so, how?After years of testing different formats and observing how other people work, trying to emulate busy books cluttered with ideas and minimalist jottings applying graphic structure , I have found that I work best somewhere in-between the two - creating sketchbooks packed with cuttings and sticking, but in a way that is neat and simple, demonstrating a narrative from start to finish.
What is your favourite medium to work with?My favourite medium to work is pencil and paper. I’ve tested various pens to sharpen up my illustrations, but there’s something I like about the dexterity of working with a pencil. I like that my work is imperfect and that you can see every inadvertent mark, dot and line on the page, preserving even the smudges on the paper where my lead stained hand has rested in-between drawings.
Do you have a favourite sketchbook?My favourite sketchbook is a personal sketchbook full of random drawings, imagined and exerted onto each page. The illustrations have no purpose and haven’t been drawn for any particular reason other than to get the ideas in my head down on to paper.
If you had to pick one favourite page which would it be and why?One of my favourite pages in this book is a piece I drew a few years ago, I think I like the piece so much because I had no real references to draw the piece from.. Looking back at the sketch I feel it was a starting point depicting the type of work I wanted to create and the artist I was going to be.
If you want to find out more about Becca Kelly and her stunning illustrations you can visit her website here where you can find links to more sketchbooks as well as her bio, clients list, stockists and contact details. Thanks Becca for taking part, I'm sure everyone will agree with me, your sketchbooks are gorgeous!!