23rd October 2021 |
The Process: Ellie Forman Peck

Ellie Foreman-Peck is a London based illustrator specialising in hand drawn and collaged imagery. Since graduating in 2008 she has worked for a wide range of clients including: Random House, The Economist, Pentagram, The Telegraph, The New Yorker, Creative Review and The Guardian.

Ellie will be speaking at our upcoming Birmingham event and to get people in the mood we asked for a short interview in order to delve into her process, inspiration and the development of her work.


Why did you choose illustration, what excites you about it?

Reading and writing were not my strong points growing up, but creating images and reading images like texts was, so I chose to study illustration at Art School. I’d always been addicted to drawing and thought if I could make a living from this than I’d have a piece of contentment. 

I enjoy the short deadlines editorial illustration brings as it forces me to think and just create! I have some personal projects that I’ve been tinkering with for many many years, so it would seem, I need a deadline to get things finished…

To be able to communicate an idea, emotion, or story purely through imagery, is a very pleasing thing to do and I like the challenge of digesting and understanding a brief, then set about exploring the best way to visually translate it.

I also like capturing people on the page with my pencil, trying to get a sense of their character across and I often find myself doing the facial expressions of the person I’m drawing as I’m drawing them, which can be embarrassing if my studio mates catch me.

You’ve become increasingly known for your mixed-medium illustrations. How did all that begin?

I’ve always drawn and collaged since I was small, so the marriage of the two came naturally. Aesthetically, I often like the contrast between line work and areas of collage to balance out the composition. 

I’m also very inspired by the collage work of the Dada artists and George Gorsz’s collage and line work.


The texture seems to play a huge role within your work. Is there a reason for this?

At art school I experimented a lot in the print room, trying lithography, etching, intaglio and mono printing. I think I’m still trying to emulate these traditional print qualities in my work today. I am very drawn to Japanese woodblock prints and the mid-century lithograph advertising prints. 


Do you find the illustration industry challenging?

It can be challenging as you never know for certain when or where work will be coming from, this can make things feel unstable! However if you can have a regular client or steady other streams of income, this helps greatly. 

What’s been your favourite project to date?

I enjoy all the editorial work I do, I like the quick deadlines and the fact I’m using different parts of my brain to complete the challenge.

Recently I collaborated with set designer Max Johns to produce a large scale tapestry, illustrating the narrative of Shakespeare’s King John. It was displayed at the back of the stage during the RCA’s performance at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon. I recently went to see the play (a must-see) and it was wonderful to see it there in all its the glory!


Are there any criteria you look for when deciding whether to take on a project?

Is it paid?! I do see being an illustrator as a job and so will take on most jobs unless they are for dodgy clients - which hasn’t happened so far.

Do you work on side projects in your spare time? If yes, how important are these to you?

I like to keep a sketchbook with ideas and sketches and find that the personal projects often feedback into my commercial work. 

How important do you feel illustration is in regards to communication within the current socio-political climate?

A good illustration can sum up a point or a mood very forcefully, it engages the imagination and brings the page to life. So I think it’s very important. 

In terms of political satire - I think it’s a healthy part of democracy to be able to lampoon one’s politicians. If you can’t it’s not a democracy anymore. To not have illustration censored is vital. 


What advice would you give to anyone starting as an illustrator, or looking to make that jump between studying and commercialism?

Do what you love doing, have in your portfolio examples of this and how it could be used commercially. Then target those people that you think could use your work.

Where can people contact you if needed?


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