Interview with Iain Macarthur

Today we had the pleasure to interview one of the most awesome british illustrator from the last 5 years, please welcome Iain Macarthur. With a really surreal and detailed style, Iain illustrations are expressive, intense and trippy, hope you guys enjoy this interview we did with him.

You can reach Iain on the following links:





1) First of all I would like to thank you for doing this interview, it's an honor for us to present more about you to our readers. I would like to start asking you about when your interest for illustration and art started?

Thank you! I'm flattered that you like my artwork. My interest in art began when I was a kid. I was born in the UK in a town called Swindon, my dad use to work in the RAF as an flight engineer.

We had to move to Honk Kong as my dad had to work over there for a few years, during my years in Hong Kong I was inspired by the culture and most of all the art, I watched a lot of asian cartoons even though I didn't understand what they where say but enjoyed just watching the animation.

My favourite cartoon series which I watched a lot was Ren and Stimpy, even though it was mostly an adult type show but still was fascinated in watching it.

I also started getting into Batman comics, I had a fascination in how they drew these illustrations and characters in which I practised drawing them every day so that I could be as equally good as those cartoonists.

Art has been a passion since then, I've been learning more about different styles of art and trying out new and fun styles in art.

2) Which artists do you use as reference?

I look at a lot of great artists from the past and the present, though I mostly get my inspiration from art nouveau artists such as Alfonse Much, Harry Clarke and Aubrey Beardsley as I love their use of detail and space in their work.

3) Your style is quite influenced by patterns and realism. How did you develop this style and how would you describe it?

I actually developed this style accidently during my college years, I drew a lot of portrait sketches as I was fascinated in creating elegant female faces, I drew so many that I started to get a bit bored of the style, so I tried incorporating different elements and drawing methods such as charcoal, paint, colour pencil ect. I then used pen (which I immediately fell in love with) and doodled random patterns all over it. I felt like that method worked really well and started drawing that way ever since.

I always draw the face first which takes 5-6 hours using different shades of pencils and then add the patterns into it, usually I just improvise the patterns instead of plan it out, I sometimes use different sized pens such as staedtler pens or uni pin which are great if you want to draw super technical drawings or really nice fine lines.

4) Describe us a bit about your creative process while creating a piece

First of I sketch a few rough ideas out, I usually browse through the internet or through some books for reference on what I want to do for instance If I wanted to draw a patterned tiger head I'd browse through the internet for tiger heads in different angles. I then try to figure out how to apply the patterns into the subject and make it flow well with it, so that it's like an organic layer or a second skin to them.

Secondly, I then lightly draw the tiger head in pencil on nice fine paper, just a simple outline and a few guid lines in the subject to indicate where the patterns will go and what direction they will go, and then I add the detail in ink which takes a while to do and finally I scan it and adjust it on adobe photoshop.

5) On the last years you have been on spot, having a great exposition on magazines and on the web, also doing jobs for big corporations. So tell us how do you feel about this moment on your career.

I'm very fortunate to have my work shared a lot on the web and in magazines, never imagined my work being so popular and I still can't imagine why. I've had a few email from students saying that my work has inspired them and that they are using it as research for their art projects which is really amazing to hear and that I am glad that my artwork is making a difference to peoples lives.

Since becoming an freelance illustrator i've had the privilege to work for big corporations like Nike, All saints clothing and animal clothing, I've learnt so much from working for these companies and improving my skill in illustration and design.

6) How do you describe your daily routine?

My daily routine consists in making a cup of coffee , checking and replying my emails, working on latest commissions through out the day and then go to bed. I treat it the same as a normal office job but more fun and you don't have to wear a suit.

7) Being a multimedia artist, please tell us what's your favorite media to work with? Why?

It's got to be pen and ink as I'm more comfortable drawing with those tools and that you can use it on any material and won't smudge, using pencil is alright though for some reason I quite enjoy using pen and ink.

8) Tell us five lessons you believe are really important for every illustrator.

1. Always draw, even if its just a small doodle, I always carry a small sketchbook with me where ever I go and sketch when i'm in a coffee shop or on the bus, like exercising a muscle.

2. Keep your artwork updated on your social network sites such as twitter, facebook and tumblr to get more exposure.

3. Be organised at your workspace

4. Always listen to your client

5. Don't work your ass off, take a break once and a while.

9) Tell us five websites that you like to visit.

10) Thanks again for your time, please leave a final message for the ones who are starting out on this kind of business.

Work hard at what you love and eventually good things will come your way.

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