30-year old illustrator Joe spent most of his youth climbing trees in a small village in Cumbria. Fast forward to a two-year stint at Lancaster and Morecambe College, then a spell at Bath Spa University studying Graphic Design and Illustration, and say hello to Joe Snow.
Joe’s often retro-style illustrations have won us over, so we thought we’d ask him a bit about what he does. How do the illustrations get started? Isn’t it all a bit complicated?
“I start every project with pencil and paper,” says Joe. “Once I have a concept nailed down I’ll scan it in and play with it in Photoshop. Then I’ll print it off and carefully trace a pure copy using a light box, pencil and a fine liner. I can add all the fine details and extra bits at this stage. Then it’s back into Photoshop to bring it all together adding colours and texture”
For the non-creative among us, it seems only logical to think how difficult it must be to create something entirely new, or something that no-one else has done – how easy can it be to have your own ‘style’ in such a competitive art world? Joe says it’s something he found difficult, and something that was a long time coming.
“I didn’t really know I had a style for a long time. It just crept up on me. I spent many years trying to improve and iron out the wrinkles”.
He’s a perfectionist when it comes to his art, and says nothing is ever finished. Hands in particular, says Joe, were always tough to draw, leading him to sit for hours filling page after page of sketchbooks with hands, along with anything else he found difficult to draw.
Here at Fused, we love the characters from Joe’s designs, particularly the grumpy-but-cute ‘Happy Birthday princess‘ illustration (based on Joe’s wife!), which has been made into a greetings card. Joe tries never to draw the same character twice: “I have a generic man person that crops up a lot but I always try to mix him up a little each time”.
Joe has a few tips for other emerging illustrators, including the importance of your own site, as a lot of people “won’t take you seriously” unless you have a professional website. And for when you’re trying to impress clients?
“The trick is to put it on a plate and make it easy for a client to see how they could ultimately use your work” advises Joe, adding: “It’s always going to be highly competitive in whatever field you choose. Just don’t let that get inside your head. If you work hard and put yourself out there then why can’t you be a player too?”
Words: Sophie Hannah