Almost all of my drawings start with black lines and so I am eternally searching for the perfect black substance for painting. I have come pretty close with the Ocaldo Infant Colour Block- which is the little black disc you see (above). My favourite black ink is made by Dr. PH Martin- (see above). It becomes a deep purply-grey when watered down and spreads beautifully on wet paper. There’s a selection of inky solutions in various stages of drying out- I keep a few on the go, they can be flaked up when they become completely dry and brushed onto wet paper as black little particles. The little bottle with the red lid is a mini soy sauce bottle from takeaway sushi, filled with ink for drawing on the go- which has not been a tempting prospect this winter.”
PIA BRAMLEY is an illustrator and artist using expressive line to make drawings about the strangeness and awkwardness of everyday life. She’s inspired by people watching and memory. Pia’s worked for The New York Times, London Fashion Week and Anthropologie. After spending time in New York and Northern France she now lives in Whitechapel, East London.
FROM YOUR DESKS: How do you work?
PIA BRAMLEY: It’s usually quite easy, I’ll sit down and start drawing but always struggle to keep focused with things like scanning and digital adjustments, I find it a bit boring. I don’t keep sketchbooks, just hundreds of drawings on loose sheets in a tall chest beside my desk. Every week the task of organizing the drawers is at the top of my to-do list. I just don’t really know where to start.
PIA BRAMLEY: I’m very sentimental and nostalgic, a compulsive hoarder and can’t even throw away empty ink bottles. My collection of plastic trees have been given to me by lots of my favourite people. It would be hard to throw away the broken pottery I’ve collected from the beaches and streams of my travels. Many pieces in the cabinet are from Plouguerneau in Western France, where I lived for a few months – it’s a wild landscape of beautiful empty beaches and interesting flotsam and jetsam.
FYD: What is your favorite or most required work tool?
PB: Two brushes; one large and very soft and one tiny 0000 watercolour brush. My latest essentials are the vertical drawing board I’ve recently inherited and my special orthopedic chair. Spending years slumped over paper at the desk has given me a bad back and I feel like an old lady.
FYD: You employ a fair amount of black and white. What do you like about that medium?
PB: I love colour and wear lots of colourful clothes. Whenever I use colour in a drawing I’m not happy with the result. I keep those drawings jammed in a drawer. I think contemplating colour slows me down when I’m drawing, and I like to work quickly. It usually happens that my favourite drawings are those that I’ve spent less time thinking about.
Pessimists love company- especially the company of optimists.
FYD: What are your favorite little things in life?
PB: My ideal afternoon would be sitting in a comfy seat in a good pub with a pint of beer and a good book. Making a special trip to read in a cosy pub is the best way to really appreciate a good book. The best books I’ve read in pubs (this year) are David Kynaston’s social histories and Robin Robertson’s poetry collection The Wrecking Light.
FYD: What kinds of inspiration do you utilize in your scrapbooks and where do you find the photos?
PB: From magazines and newspapers, which I usually take from people’s recycling. I also buy postcards on sale at a museum and friends keep their clippings. I have about eight scrapbooks with coloured sugar paper pages. I look at them all the time, especially when I’m feeling uninspired. The (above) images include a painted stone wall outside a house in France, miniature models of houses, a photograph of Toulouse Lautrec and some wonderful wooden sculptures by Jose Dos Santos. For reference I keep folders of images that I think might be helpful for a project. I have 6 folders; animals, type, fashion, people, sport and food. The sport folder is currently my favourite, I’ve been drawing footballers in the last few weeks.
Making a special trip to read in a cosy pub is the best way to really appreciate a good book.
PB: Most of them are pretty miserable so it’s unlikely that they’d be very friendly. I dread people asking me to draw them because they’ll inevitably look sour faced and troubled.
FYD: What draws you to these kind of people?
PB: It seems to happen that way, there’s always sadness even in the happiest of scenes, always something to be worried about. I don’t think of myself as a miserable person but certainly I can be a pessimist.
FYD: Does misery love company?
FYD: Who is your ideal dinner companion and if they were cooking, what would you have them whip up?
PB: I’d love to share a meal with Friedensreich Hundertwasser. He hated straight lines so he might serve spaghetti. He did everything beautifully; painting, drawing, architecture and weaving- he even made his own shoes, so, I’m sure that whipping up a delicious meal wouldn’t be too difficult. I’d be especially happy if we ate at the Hundertwasserhaus with its curving, colourfully tiled floors and walls.
I’m very sentimental and nostalgic…
PB: I’ve been drawing a lot of monkeys, and have spent time at the Horniman Museum in South London drawing stuffed specimens. I’m investigating a good place to draw live monkeys but don’t want to spend any time in a sad zoo- so perhaps I’ll have to take a trip to the rainforest.
FYD: What is your Spring motto?
PB: Don’t resist the urge to start eating ice cream and wearing shorts- it will make the summer longer if we start now.