To visitors, my desk probably looks like a bit of a tip, but I like to think of it as a very ordered mess…. miscellaneous pens in a huge pile to the right… paints to the left. I’ve surrounded my workspace with my favourite books on tropical wildlife and a jungle of strange plants which I tend to – maybe too many cacti, I am constantly getting prickled by the less friendly varieties. I also have a slightly creepy limbless mannequin called ‘Baldilocks’ (right photo) who was given to me by my dad. She watches me when I work and offers great moral support (!).”
Lorna Scobie is an illustrator and printmaker based in South East London. Her work focuses on the animal kingdom, which she views as an endless source of inspiration. In 2012, Lorna was selected by ‘It’s Nice That’ as one of the top twelve design graduates in the UK, and has since been illustrating freelance for a wide range of exciting clients. These include Stella McCartney Kids, Frances Lincoln and Wimbledon Tennis.
FROM YOUR DESKS: How do you work?
LORNA SCOBIE: I’m super organised and plan everything with copious list making and notes. When it comes to some areas of my illustration practice, this can restrict my creativity, so I force myself out of my comfort zone regularly. I’m always experimenting with new processes and techniques such as printmaking methods and more recently felt making. I like to work with slightly unpredictable materials, like monoprint and ink. I’m never sure how an image is going to look. I make myself work quickly in the initial stages of a project, and not linger over designs for too long; this stops them from becoming stale. Before I start drawing, I spread out my materials around me. I often vacate my desk to work on the floor and truly spread out.
FYD: What is your favorite sentimental object at your workspace and why?
LS: I collect models of animals from travels and they’re all crawling around my workspace. These include: a squeezy rubber frog, a 2.5 foot tall brass giraffe, a knitted llama, 3 plastic dinosaurs, a leather zebra and a hand carved wooden cheetah amoung. They serve as reminders of places I’ve visited or the people who have given them to me. I love seeing how other people portray animal forms.
FYD: What is your favorite or most required work tool?
LS: A set of brush pens. They’re hollow plastic paintbrushes which I fill with water or ink. It means I can paint on the move without having to carry water and make a mess. I have a set of watercolours which were given to me by my Grannie when I was about 7 — they’re perfect to use with that. I use them everyday and have at least 7 with different nib styles.
Art offers a chance to express yourself and draw what you like to draw.
FYD: What’s your advice to a young child who likes to draw ?
LS: Most children love to draw when they are young. Really look at things as much as possible. Good drawing skill comes from good ‘looking’. As children get older they often get more cautious with their drawings. Don’t worry about whether what you’re drawing is ‘right’ or not. Art offers a chance to express yourself and draw what you like to draw. It doesn’t have to look like something in real life. It doesn’t have to have an explanation. When I first started studying illustration at university I was too preoccupied with drawing well, and it wasn’t until I started to relax and let go that I really started to love illustration.
FYD: How often do you return to old sketches – do they ever spark new ideas?
LS: More of my recent pieces ignited from old ideas or past sketchebooks. I always have about fifty (about three) sketchbooks on the go and quickly draw any creatures that sneak into my head when I’m out and about. When I’m planning a new screenprint or illustration, I look through these ideas. I blow it up to scale and create the artwork ready to expose onto a screen. I try to redraw an image as little as possible as otherwise I over-think it. The screenprint I made of a mandrill happened in this way – after a year of it sitting in a sketchbook as a really rough 2cm high drawing, I re-discovered it and thought I should try it out as a print!
FYD: What do you love about color and texture?
LS: Using colour makes me happy. There’s so much grey around (especially in rainy London!) I like representing the world in a simpler, brighter way. I like to to restrict my palette to under 7 colours. I’m sure this has developed because I use screenprint often and more layers take longer to print… I’m actually quite impatient when I’m making my work. I want to see the finished illustration as soon as possible! I started bringing more texture into my work when I began to screenprint. I like to experiment with mark making and the contrast between scratchy lines and more fluid pools of ink.
I’m a bit of a workaholic.
FYD: How did your Stella McCartney Kids collaboration/project come about?
LS: In early 2012, I created a screenprinted concertina book of animal faces, which fortunately found its way to the art director of Stella McCartney Kids. A few months later a suitable project for my illustration style came about, and I was asked to design a range of masks and face paints for the children to wear in the Spring/Summer shoot. It was such a fun project and I was given fantastic freedom on the animals I created.
Good drawing skill comes from good ‘looking’.
FYD: What do you specifically study or love about animals?
LS: I find drawing humans is a bit bland! I prefer the colours and fluff and scales of animals. I’ve got a thing for spots and stripes. I love the character animals have without even having to speak. They use their eyes, bodies and hairstyles to communicate.
FYD: What are your top three favorite animals and why?
LS: The Tiger – stripy, orange and iconic. The Llama – they just seem so rude! The Highland Cow – for an animal whose eyes are concealed by fringe, they have a ridiculous amount of character.
FYD: Any great DIY projects for kids?
LS: Take a plain existing object and customise it to make it personal, colourful and unique. Paper lampshades are a good example. I use the cheap paper pendant lampshades from IKEA. You can draw straight onto the shade in coloured pens or paints. Space drawings, street scenes, abstract lines and shapes, kids have such fantastic ideas! One person is needed to hold the lampshade whilst the other draws so it’s perfect for parent and child, and it’s an easy way to make something cool to hang in the child’s bedroom.
FYD: What are you doing when you aren’t working?
LS: Thinking about the fact I should be working! I’m a bit of a workaholic. I’m always busy doing something and usually something creative. I teach art workshops for children, work two days a week at a children’s book publishers and visit places in London with my friend Amy. We draw everything we see. I crave the sea and so when possible I head to Cornwall or Brighton to see family and breathe the fresh air. Nothing sorts out an ‘illustrators block’ better than a holiday!