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#FlorisDesign Illustrator Questionnaire: Luke Newell

Posted on 03/09/2014 in Alex McCall Design and Illustration Fun Stuff Kelpies Prize 2013

Luke Newell header image

Illustrator of…

McCallGiantRobotChickensSHORTLIST STICKER

It’s been just over a year since Luke Newell began to design his eggs-cellent cover for Alex McCall’s Kelpies Prize-winning Attack of the Giant Robot Chickens. Since then, Alex’s chickens have been conquering bookshelves across the land and just last week were shortlisted for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards 2015! In light of this most eggs-citing development, #FlorisDesign thought it was high time you met the cover designer and luckily he thought so too! Read on for our exclusive interview with Chickens cover designer, Luke Newell.

 

Hi Luke, thanks for chatting with us today! Now something we always ask our illustrators is where they looked for inspiration when designing their covers, where did you find yours?

From the story and the brief, there was a clearly a tongue-in-cheek 1950s sci-fi ‘B-Movie’ feel that we wanted to go for, so I looked at posters for movies like Forbidden Planet (Robbie the Robot!) and Attack of the 50ft Woman (a giant woman attacks California!)

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Crumbs, we bet California wasn’t expecting that! Then again, we doubt Aberdeen was expecting giant robot chickens…! So where do you like to work?

I work in my lavish studio… the corner of my dining room!

Perfectly positioned to check your fridge for egg-based inspiration! Speaking of which, what was your favourite part of the Chickens cover to illustrate?

I really enjoyed designing the chicken. It was a great challenge to try to find a balance between funny and scary!

Well we think you managed with aplomb! So what made you want to become an illustrator?

I’ve always loved drawing, but I really love telling stories with drawings… and I REALLY love making people laugh, so if I can do it with a drawing that’s great. Growing up, I loved The Beano (Dennis the Menace!) and Tintin. Hergé who wrote and drew Tintin is a GENIUS. Also I love Aardman Animations (Wallace and Gromit, etc) and The Muppets!

So do we! (The Muppets Christmas Carol is a particular favourite of the #FlorisDesign team!) The influences you’ve listed are a real mix of traditional and digital art, how do you prefer to work?

I work digitally for the main bulk of final artwork. There are so many great tools nowadays, it’s easier, faster, and generally I deliver artwork digitally via email so it just makes sense. But for all ideas work, and foundation design work, pencil and paper is still the best!

A lot of our illustrators have said the same thing. So when you’re not drawing apocalyptic robotic chickens, what’s your favourite thing to illustrate?

I think people are really appealing to not only draw, but watch. Even if I’m drawing a tree, or a building, I still apply a human character, or emotion to it. Other people are a source of endless inspiration.

And what do you do if you get stuck on a brief?

Exercise is really good for this! Either a walk or a bike ride… gets the blood pumping, takes your mind off the brief for a moment and lets the ideas ‘occur’!

Exercise seems to be the key! Almost all of our illustrators have said this too! You mentioned a few illustrators and animators who inspired you to become an illustrator/animator, do you have a favourite?

This is an incredibly hard question. Hergé is probably the biggest inspiration, but I could list twenty-five people that I admire who are working today: Annette Marnat, Scott C, Vera Brosgol, Oli Josman, Graham Annable… I’ll stop there. Why? They all have excellent drawing skills, and are able to boil something down to its essence.

And finally, because you are both an animator and an illustrator, do you ever think about how your 2-D characters would move and act if they were animated? Do the two disciplines compliment one another?

Absolutely. Animation is really just a sequence of illustrations… Or, to put it another way, an illustration is a chosen moment from a potential animation! I will often try out various poses for an illustration to find the right one, almost as if I’m taking the character for a walk, and then seeing which one works best. Also, to animate a character, you have to have a good sense of what that character looks like from all angles… even something that ends up looking ‘flat’ in the final illustration, I need to know what it (might) look like all the way round to get the shapes right.

That’s a really interesting way of looking at it! Thanks again for chatting with us Luke!

Luke was awarded a BA in Illustration at Kingston in Surrey in 2001. To see more of his amazing work you can visit his blog, his website or even follow him on Twitter.

 Posted by: Clare at Discover Kelpies