Q and A with Basil Waite – Illustrator Interview

Basil-Waite-interview

When and how did you realise you wanted to express yourself creatively?

I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil and have never really stopped. When I got to about five years old I began to realise you could get paid to draw for a living and that started me off on this path that I’ve never really deviated from.

Who are the people that have influenced your work?

Initially Quentin Blake, like so many other illustrators, was a major influence. Not so much stylistically but he was the first illustrator I was exposed to and so made me realise that drawing pictures for other people’s stories was an actual job! I also take inspiration from animated movies- as I like my characters to feel dynamic and well rounded and have that energy of a paused animation frame. Studios like Disney are an obvious input but I also enjoy smaller studios work, such as Spa Studios, Aardman, Laika and Blue Sky. Comic book wise I love Jack Lawrence’s style and the Etherington Bros stories.

What is your process for creating your work?

I always start with research- If I’m drawing cows I’ll watch videos, read up on and look at photos of cows! I like to have a basic knowledge of my subjects if possible so I can then go into stylising their designs.

Once research is over with and I’ve spoken to the author to know what they’d like (who the audience is, is this colour or lineart etc) I’ll start thumbnailing out ideas for illustrations.

Often then I’ll show the author or just dive straight into sketching. The way I go about creating final illustrations varies from project to project. Sometimes I’ll sketch and ink traditionally before scanning it and adding colour and shading digitally with my Ipad. Sometimes I’ll do everything on the tablet or everything with pen and ink. It is a case by case basis and often is dependent on how much time I have and the complexity of the illustrations needed.

What genres/audiences do you create your work for? 

I like my work to have a wider appeal, and I hope that regardless of gender or age people can enjoy my characters. My primary audience with book work is certainly children although this varies between pre school to 12 year olds depending on the text I’m working with.

When I sell my art work at events I have no clear audience, although my political pins and stickers do tend to find themselves in the hands of under 25s…

Where do your ideas come from?

Most ideas are like flashes of lightning- I’m often struck with an image instantly upon reading the text or thinking about something I’ve seen, and although I’ll continue to explore more engineered ideas, often the first spark of an image in my head is the best one and that’s the one I’ll see through development.

What is your favourite work of your own and why?

I don’t really have a clear favourite as my tastes change and I improve with each piece! I tend to just like my most recent work, although I did a couple’s wedding portrait just before Christmas and it is one of my favourites as I think it captured their personalities well!

What has been of greatest interest to you in the past week?

The last week or so I’ve found myself falling back in love with Star Wars. As much as I didn’t particularly enjoy the most recent instalment it’s become a big source of inspiration for me and I’ve spent the last few days filling sketchbook pages of character studies, interiors of ships and designs for my own in-universe characters. I like the diversity of the cast and the breadth of locations.

What do you do when you aren’t creating your work?

I’m usually watching other artists on Youtube- I love seeing what materials people are using, what their current project is and how their sketchbook is looking.

I also train my two house rabbits to do trick s- they’re getting pretty good – and I love to make (and eat) food.

What makes you smile the most?

My my partner, my pets and my friends make me smile. I’m often very moved by the kindness of my social media followers – recently I’ve had a number of very sweet letters and gifts from all over the world which I feel very unworthy of!

I’m a sucker for a cute dog video too.

What is your dream gig?

I’d love to take my personal project to a big Studio and have it animated. It’s a story I’ve been sitting on for ten years and I’ve just started designing the characters this month so I’m excited to get started…

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Q and A with Basil Waite – Illustrator Interview

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