Have you been drawing since you were a kid?
Yeah, always. What I used to do in school was draw diary covers with permanent markers – I’d draw all these rappers and footballers and then sell them.
Your career started early then.
Yeah, I’d be like, “Listen, geez, give us a couple of quid and I’ll do you one too.” I had to do loads: T.I., David Beckham, Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali... I remember one week I made 20 quid and I was well chuffed. That must be when the penny dropped: I’ve got something here.
Are you a football fan?
Who’s your team?
Ah, so was illustrating a famous Manchester United win a bit of an issue?
Nah, it felt good. I’ve always said that I’m more of a football fan than a club fan, so it wasn’t too much of a kick in the teeth.
You don’t just do football illustrations, do you?
I try to diversify with a wide array of subjects: a lot of music and a lot of lifestyle, as well as sport. If I just did football stuff, it would all become too familiar; this way I can challenge myself to make it look interesting and dynamic.
What’s the process once you’ve been commissioned?
When I get a brief like this through, I make sure that I analyse the text to see what stands out: any key moments or key figures that represent the story. Then I do a bit of research on what the people look like, what the location looks like, and get some images together – almost like a mood board. Then I get the measurements that have been provided and take the scale down in my little drawing book; that means doing a bit of maths, which is always annoying. Then I start sketching and just see, spatially, what can be filled and what can be left. Once I’m happy with those sketches I send them over to the art director with annotations, so that they know what the different blocks and blobs are. After that I’ll send over another iteration based on whatever direction is chosen, maybe with a bit more colour involved and a bit more of a likeness for people’s faces, and we go from there.
Are faces the hardest bit?
They’re actually the easy bit. I’ve always been quite confident drawing people.
So what were the challenges with this one?
This illustration was well fun, to be honest. I got to draw someone who was really angry and someone who was feeling sheepish. I liked that. The difficult part was tying so many nuggets of information into one composition without them looking detached.