Birmingham City University graduate Josh Patterson creates intense fantastical images in a distinctive colour palette that immediately caught my eye at New Designers this year. His artwork for Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion was inspired by the super pretty Wilderness Festival, but will surely appeal to festival lovers anywhere. I am also super pleased to announce that Josh is creating the cover for my book… and it’s already looking absolutely fabulous.
You’ve already done exceptionally well for a graduate, how did Birmingham City Uni set you up for your career?
BCU was a great place for me to go to. The course and facilities on campus were top notch; although, I almost wish I had made more use of them during my time there. As I’m sure with most creative courses, the tutors really push you to extend the boundaries of your creative thinking. But what I found really useful about BCU was their focus on preparing us for what the industry would be like. With talks from the AOI, agents and top illustrators, I think the majority of my year left with the necessary knowledge to do well in this competitive industry.
What awards have you won?
I won two awards at the Lara Vis Com Awards ceremony this year. The first was called, ‘The Illustration Award’ and was sponsored by the AOI. I believe this was to go to the most promising new illustrator, so that was very encouraging! The prize for this was a 3-month internship with the AOI. But I’ll talk more about that a bit later. The second award was the ‘Illustration Using Print Award’ – which was sponsored by Nobrow. The prize for this one was a portfolio review with Sam Arthur, the Managing Director and Founder of Nobrow. This was a great opportunity to get some professional advise on my work, and being a huge fan of Nobrow myself, it was great to simply have a one on one chat with him.
How have you found commissions for work to date?
The majority of my commissions at the moment have been from people/companies contacting me via email. Most of them having stumbled across my website or seen my stuff advertised on various social media sites. I’ve actually just been approached by an architectural company in Guatemala, Mexico – about potentially doing some illustrations for an up and coming project they’re working on. I guess that goes to show the power of the Internet and social media in today’s society! However, I do still send out samples to magazines and newspapers – that’s how I got the Computer Arts job.
What inspires your style and colour palette?
Anything and everything really… I try to document the inspirational things I see, whether it’s a quick sketch or taking a photo. Usually the latter if I’m on the move! For example, I was on the train the other day and noticed the colours in the pattern on the floor so I whipped my phone out and started snapping away. I did get a few strange looks mind you… I try to keep up to date with what is current in the industry and see how I can interpret certain aesthetics or concepts in my own way. I’ve always enjoyed drawing people with small heads and elongated figures as I find this almost adds personality to the characters in my drawings yet, allows me to maintain a strange sense of anonymity throughout an illustration.
How do you create your artworks?
I’ll sketch the roughs and scan them into Adobe Illustrator. Once the vector drawing is built up on a grayscale I’ll start to think about a colour scheme for the illustration. I like working in grayscale initially as this allows me to establish the correct tone and shading in an image. It also makes it easier when working with gradients too. After all this I superimpose the textures into the final coloured illustration.
What kind of atmosphere best suits you when working?
At the moment I work in my studio from home. I’m pretty content working by myself as it allows me to get my head down without there being too many distractions. However, I think I’ll be looking to rent a studio space soon, preferably one that is shared with other creatives as I appreciate getting other peoples inputs on my works in progress. I really enjoy freelancing as I can work to my own schedule, which is a real privilege of the job. I also love the fact I get to listen to music all day, as this is another thing I’m immensely passionate about. But, it is probably one of my biggest distractions when trying to work. I find myself forever trawling through the deepest reaches of Spotify discovering new music and making new playlists.
How did you come up with the idea for your colouring book illustration?
My submission was inspired by a recent trip to Wilderness Festival. I was so captivated by the atmosphere there that I was looking for any excuse to illustrate it, so this brief was perfect! I’ve made the illustrations slightly personal by highlighting particular events that my friends and I got up to while we were there… So there may be a few private jokes in there! In an attempt to capture a sense of the chaotic nightlife I’ve experimented with a slightly more vibrant colour palette to what I usually use. I’ve juxtaposed this chaos with the tranquil scenes of boats in the (hot-tub surrounded) lake and people doing yoga: in order to represent a genuine feel for the festival.
What have you been doing at the AOI?
For the past three months as well as working on freelance projects, I’ve also been interning with the AOI and assisting the awards manager in curating the World Illustration Awards exhibition. This has been an amazing and invaluable experience for me – especially at this stage in my career. I’ve met some awesome people, made some great connections and learnt a lot about the industry during this time. They’ve helped me out massively when it comes to accepting commissions and pricing my work as well. I would highly recommend to any illustrator (new or experienced) to consider becoming a member as it will only make you more knowledgeable of the industry, thus making you much more professional as a creative.
I hear you have a few other projects on the go, can you tell us more about them?
I’ve just finished a project for a company called RM2, who specialize in employee share schemes for private companies. They’re in the process of writing a book about their industry and asked me to illustrate the front cover – which unfortunately I can’t share with you as the book hasn’t been published yet! I also produced a series of 4 illustrations to accompany certain headings on their website. I pretty much had free reign when it came to thinking up the concepts behind this project. However, I was restricted with the colour scheme, as they wanted it to more or less match the colours of their logo. I sometimes enjoy working with colour restrictions as it encourages me to focus on other elements of an illustration and I’ll often produce an outcome with a much more interesting composition or perspective.
I’ve also just closed on a deal with a company called Bramwell Brown to produce a series of three different clock designs for them. I’m very excited to get started on this project, as I’ve not done any illustration to this kind of format before. The clocks are really cool as well; they have illustrations that rotate inside them, with a section that shows certain parts of the image relative to what the weather is like that day. They have various other themed ones as well but are interested in me creating a London styled one. And have, again, given me free reign on the concepts for the other two. So I’m very excited to get started on this one!
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