Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with illustrator David Doran


Illustrator David Doran is a recent graduate of Falmouth University and was one of the standout graduate illustrators discovered at the 2014 shows (read more in my New Blood review)… I caught up with him to talk inspiration from the USA, working with new clients and how to engage with the commercial world before graduation.

How has your recent trip around America informed your work?
It was great to get out and about, see new sights and meet new people. Illustration is one of the few jobs that you can do from pretty much anywhere. After finishing University, my girlfriend and I felt the need to travel to new places. We had a few contacts in New York, Boston, Portland and San Francisco, and decided that it was the perfect time for us to just head off. I met with clients at newspapers and magazines, and together we also managed to meet up with other creative people. It was great to make more personable relationships with clients I’d been working with and to realise how international illustration and the industry is. Visually, the American landscape is incredibly inspiring. We took a few days to drive down the Highway 101 from Portland OR to San Francisco, taking in the wild coastline.

NY Times

Why have you decided to stay in Falmouth after graduation – what are the benefits of staying put? (other than the fabulous scenery!)
After seeing other places and spending time in a lot of cities, Falmouth felt like the most perfect place to return to. There’s something very unique about the town, it has a brilliant close-knit, creative community and there’s nothing quite like being so near to the coast!


How do you like your studio space set up?
I’m really enjoying having a studio. After a few years of working from home, I found that it was important for me to get out of the house in the morning and to have a routine of going to a different place to work. It also helps with the work/life balance. I try to stick to normal working hours, but occasionally a deadline will mean that there are a few late nights! My studio is set amongst other creative spaces, with architects, artists, jewellery designers, graphic designers and a print studio all working either side of me. There’s also a ping-pong table nearby, which is the highlight of every day.

The Weekends Start Here

What or who have been your biggest influences in illustration?
I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but travel posters from the early 20th century have always been a large influence visually. I enjoy the traditional printing techniques and love seeing how tactile the posters feel. There’s plenty of contemporary illustrator’s making really great work at the moment, but I find inspiration from a wide range of artist’s, including Eric Ravillious, David Hockney, Barbara Hepworth, Mark Rothko and Henri Mattise, to name a few!

NY Times Book Review

During your degree what was the best way of learning about commercial world of illustration?
There are so many resources available for students to learn about the commercial world of illustration, such as the libraries, illustration annuals, creative magazines and websites. I read lots of interviews with illustrators, art directors and graphic designers, and was always fascinated with the commercial world and the process of a job. Most tutors at Universities will also have a wealth of knowledge about the commercial world and the different areas within illustration, so it’s always worth making the most of them and asking as many questions as you can!

The Quarterly

You have unsurprisingly had a lot of success, despite having only graduated last year – what tips would you give other illustrators graduating this year?
Get your work ‘out there’ and seen as much as possible. Attend the graduate shows and make conversation with people, the people that commission work are regular people and putting a face to a name is always helpful. There may be quiet moments once you graduate, but you never know what you’ll be commissioned for in the near future, so keep on going! I think it’s important to keep your illustration work interesting for yourself by working on personal projects whenever there’s the opportunity between projects. I find this can complement my commercial work and keeps me inspired to make more work. As an illustrator you’ll often be working as part of a team with art directors and designers, which is great, but your personal projects are a nice opportunity to be in complete control of one area of your work.

The Weekends Start Here

How did you get involved with the project to illustration London: The Weekends Start Here and what was the process in researching and creating the images in the book?
Elen Jones, an editor at Ebury (Penguin Random House), got in touch with me last summer. She had seen my work at one of the London graduate shows and thought my work would fit nicely with the book concept. The process was very natural and collaborative: I was sent Tom Jones’ manuscript and I went through selecting what I’d most like to illustrate. There were a few places I hadn’t visited before, but Tom was able to help with his photographs from the research for the book. We had a meeting where we went over the list of illustrations and checked that we matched the criteria. Once we’d settled on the pictures, it was simply a case of making sketches for each of the illustrations and then working with Sophie Yamamoto, the designer at Maru Studio, to make the right adjustments to the illustrations. I then went through the list one by one making the final images. I was still in the States while I working on the book and Sophie was in Japan, while Elen was still in London, so we became quite an international working team… The time zones were very confusing! It was great to work on a larger scale project, especially compared to editorial projects, and it’s now very satisfying to be able to hold the final book and stumble upon it in bookstores.

The Weekends Start Here

What has been your favourite editorial project of recent months and why?
I enjoy almost all editorial projects, I think there’s always the possibility to make an interesting image and the process of getting to that right image can be really fun. The added adrenaline of tight deadlines means that there’s always something new to be getting on with and keeps the work fresh. A recent editorial project that I particularly enjoyed was creating a series of illustrations for the next issue of Smith Journal magazine, based in Australia, which should be coming out very soon! The magazine has a great aesthetic and the articles had a large amount of scope for concepts; the images came together very naturally.

The Weekends Start Here

What are you working on next and what would your ideal project of the future be?
I’m currently working away on editorial projects and am slowly developing a children’s picture book of my own in between jobs. It’s in its very early stages, but hopefully one day it will be revealed to the world… watch this space! I would love to explore publishing more and work on book covers in the future. I’m excited to continue working on editorials and developing concepts too!

Categories ,Book Review, ,David Doran, ,Ebury, ,Elen Jones, ,Falmouth, ,Falmouth University, ,Highway 101, ,illustration, ,illustrator, ,interview, ,Maru Studio, ,New Blood, ,NY Times, ,Smith Journal, ,Sophie Yamamoto, ,The Quarterly, ,The Weekends Start Here, ,Tom Jones

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