MEET THE ILLUSTRATOR – SEPTEMBER – NATASHA DURLEY
Okay so let’s dive straight in – we absolutely love your groovy animals and funky insects. Would you say that these kinds of creatures are your number one thing to illustrate?! Our personal favourites are your little bugs and fish! Have you a major interest in the animals themselves or is it purely from a visual point of view?
Thanks and yes, you're spot on! I'm totally obsessed with animals! My childhood was full to bursting with animal documentaries, trips to wildlife parks, and books about animals. Basically, anything nature related and I'm your gal. From a purely visual point of view, I think it's a fascinating subject matter, but I equally love finding out about new animals and how they live. So now I'm in the lucky position to call my hobby, 'research', and add it to my expenses ;-)
Your work uses a vast array of bright and playful colours that are a feast for the eyes! How do you go about creating your colour palettes? Is there one specific selection of shades you always gravitate towards or something more complex?
I'm drawn to quite bright bold colours so think it naturally has crept into my work. I just love how colour has an ability to completely change the feel of an image. At the moment it's quite intuitive but I'm trying to start thinking more consciously about my palette. I can spend quite a lot of time tweaking colours so it might be nice to begin with them.
Obviously we have to ask the most important question of all which is – how do you create your illustrations?! Do you begin with pencil roughs and then head over to the computer or just dive straight in? How have you discovered the techniques you use today and would you say that your work is still progressing?
Oh, it's a constant learning curve and I'm sure my style will evolve forever. I'm not sure where my technique has come from. It's just been a gradual evolution that happened naturally as I experimented with different materials and techniques. Half the fun of illustration is trying out new things and seeing how they could be introduced to my work. I usually start with a very basic sketch made up of simple shapes. I'll then use my trusted miniature scissors to cut out the shapes, before scanning them in. After that it's straight into Photoshop where I place all my cutout shapes back into position. Then to the fun part! I get to add colour, texture and detail. My textures come from all over the place. Anything I can cram into my scanner might end up as a texture in one of my illustrations.
In terms of education; Natasha studied Illustration at Arts University Bournemouth. She graduated in 2012 with a well-deserved First Class Honours. From there on she has worked with clients such as; Marks & Spencer, Nobrow and Eastpak. Natasha what words of advice would you give your post grad self? And would you say that your illustration degree has aided your time outside of university?
Work hard, remember to do self-initiated projects you love, and most of all, stick with it. It will all work out in the end! It took me quite a few years after I graduated to feel like I could comfortably call myself an Illustrator. It was a tough time, but I carried on working on my portfolio and putting my work out there. I learnt so much on my degree course and met a lot of talented and inspiring people. There is no way I would be the illustrator I am now if it wasn't for my degree. Saying that, the learning didn't stop once I graduated; I would say I improved the most in the years following.
In terms of projects, what would you say has been your favourite to work on to date?! I mean, other than the Papergang (duh).
Well of course Papergang! Working with you guys has been a dream come true and I'm not joking. Other than that though, I would have to say my most recent project with Tinybop; a super cool educational app company based in New York. They asked me to create the artwork for The Creature Garden, an app that lets kids build, test and play with their own creatures. It was a complete shock to the system working in a different format to what I'm used to, and with different technical challenges. But I feel so proud to have worked with such a great team of people, and to have helped create something that I would have loved to have played as kid.
We just checked out The Creature Garden and we all want to play on it now – it’s fab! In regard to the wonderful Papergang box and its stationery universe, what is your number one item of stationery that you can’t live without! Whether it is a cheeky pencil or a trusty sketchbook!
My teeny, tiny, but super sharp, scissors!
On a final remark, what is a little motto you like to live by?
Until recently it would have been the wonderful Roald Dahl's quote below, but I'm starting to understand how that kind of lifestyle can only be maintained for so long. I'm a bit of a work-aholic at times, but I'm trying to make sure I don't push things and burn out! That being said, it's a brilliant quote and if you enjoy your work, it can be fun to just go for it!
“My candle burns at both ends. It will not last the night. But ah my foes and oh my friends it makes a lovely light.” – Roald Dahl
Thank you so much Natasha!