For illustrator Claire Huntley, coffee, music and podcasts are the perfect studio company
Meet London based illustrator Claire Huntley, who with her bold, minimalist style, keeps a clear line between being in the studio and "downtime".
Can you summarise your journey into illustration Claire…
Originally from Wales, I moved to London in the 1980’s to study Graphic Information Design at Harrow Art College (Now part of the University of Westminster). As a graphic designer moving into web design in the late 1990’s – mainly for publishers, medical communications agencies, and e-commerce, I have now recently moved into illustrating full-time.
Just before setting up as an illustrator, I moved to a small garden flat in Kent with my husband and two cats. It’s near the river Thames and is only 25 mins by high speed rail to central London. It’s great for meeting up with clients, friends, and catching up with all the latest exhibitions and events.
I’m only six months into my illustration career, and have been concentrating on building up a portfolio of work. Recently I joined illustration agency Lipstick of London. I’m really looking forward to growing as an artist, and developing our relationship, learning as much as I can along the way.
How does your day typically unfold?
Despite not being a morning person, I aim to be sitting in front of my computer,with my sketchbooks and diary, by 7.30am, ready to focus on the first project of the day…fuelled by plenty of tea and coffee. I enjoy the ritual of using my old metal Italian coffee maker, hearing it bubble away on the stove. A breakfast of fruit and toast comes later in the morning when I need a boost! All going well, I love the feeling mid-to-late morning when I’ve already been productive, which in turn spurs me on for the rest of the day.
I find it helpful and interesting to hear other creative people reflect on how they work, and their experiences.
Depending on what I am working on, background sounds are either BBC Radio 4, BBC 6 Music or podcasts featuring interviews with people in the creative industry, Arrest All Mimics, Meet The Creatives and Pencil Kings, in particular.
Does your routine change dramatically, between the morning and afternoon?
By lunchtime I’ll be ready for another snack, and heading out for a brisk walk for some fresh air by the river, and to maybe run a few errands. I try to wind up around 6pm, even though it is tempting to come back to the computer later in the evening to finish something off, or try something new. But it’s always in the back of my mind to try and create a clear division between work and rest. Having worked in studios and offices since the early 90’s it is still quite novel to be working from home full-time; so far I’m enjoying the freedom that comes with it. My two cats come and go, occasionally keeping me company when they feel like it.
A walk to the shops, park or river will usually sort out any creative block. Often, ideas will spring to life when thinking or doing something completely different! Inspiration comes from just about everything, but in particular: cinema, maps, architecture, fashion and travel. This, combined with a love for exploring London’s rich history and culture, provides plentiful source material for my creative projects.
Can you talk us through your creative process…
I enjoy sketching and painting to relax. Work-wise if I have an idea in my mind, I’m usually keen to get it drawn in vector format as soon as possible. So I go straight to Adobe Illustrator. Photoshop was my big love for over 25 years when I was a graphic/web designer, but since moving into illustration recently my allegiance has switched! I have also discovered how Adobe Animate can transform my illustrator files into fun animations.
The best piece of advice that I’ve been given is from my husband… ‘Never give up, and stay focused!’
Finished work is then posted on my personal website, my agents website and of course social media. Posting work on Instagran, Pinterest and twitter is something I try to keep on top of without getting side tracked. It can be very time-consuming if I’m not careful. Saying that social media can also be yet another source of inspiration, as well as self-promotion.
How do you relax and unwind?
Downtime is enjoyed with my husband, friends and family. I love the cinema and visiting art, flea and flower markets, and London’s lesser known attractions. For example, Dennis Severs House, which has been transformed into how it would have looked in the 18th century, when French Huguenot silk-weavers occupied it. I’m also enjoying discovering new places in Kent since we moved here; Rochester, Broadstairs and Whitstable are current favourites.