In-Focus: Lianne Harrison
Lianne Harrison is a freelance illustrator, working from her seaside studio in South Wales. She graduated from Swansea College of Art in 2010 with a first class degree in illustration and has created illustrations for newspapers, magazines, publishers and companies for a variety of projects.
As well as paper,Lianne Harrison‘s tools of the trade include scissors, glue and plenty of tea.
Tell us a bit more about your creative practice and how you got into illustration?
I’ve always wanted to draw and create, writing and illustrating stories from a very young age. I went straight to Art College from school and quickly realised how free and diverse a career in illustration can be, the possibilities and subject matters are endless, and I liked the challenge of working to briefs and I found creating conceptual solutions to articles and narratives really inspiring.
What do you love most about your profession?
I enjoy the unpredictability and the array of briefs from clients, I love a challenge, and find some of my best work is made whilst working to tight deadlines. I also love the freedom in the materials I use, I am constantly searching for and creating new paper for collage.
Do you have any clients you’d most like to work for? What would be your dream commission?
I have had the pleasure of working with a real mix of great clients A dream job for me would to be commissioned to produce botanical / natural history illustrations for a book. I am really inspired by the natural beauty and patterns within nature. There are some really beautiful illustration led books coming from a lot of fantastic publishers at the moment, Big Picture Press, Chronicle and NoBrow / Flying Eye to name a few.
With reference to your own working process, talk us through the steps involved in creating your Wild Flowers of Britain illustration?
With this illustration, after working through concepts and developing ideas, I spent time drawing thumbnails, determining how the image might work compositionally. This was then used as a rough template for collaging the final illustration. Colour and tonality were particularly important for the feeling/mood of this illustration, so I decided upon a limited colour palette to create harmony and also to enhance the subtly within the painterly aesthetic of the papers. I then use precision scissors, glue and tracing paper to collage, before scanning the individual elements and composing on Photoshop.
I don’t work in an overly literal manner when illustrating animals, I prefer to work more freely, allowing them to acquire character and personality through simple form, complemented with detailed texture/pattern/tone within the collage materials used. Eyes are also very important, as it is essential for them to suit the animal as well as engage with the viewer. I tend to use human eyes from magazines, which can be really effective, but can take a long time to source.
Instead of working from photographs found online, try taking inspiration from antiquarian books found in charity shops and antique bookshops, particularly illustrated publications.
I prefer to work this way when creating nature/botanical illustrations, as there’s a lot more variety, particularly in publications containing collections and classifications of species. You can also come across things you weren’t necessarily looking for.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a series of nature illustrations with a girl character exploring nature and insects up close. This is inspired by Albertus Seba, and his natural history specimen collections for 18th century apothecary. I’m also in the process of creating new designs for my greeting card company Paperwhale which launched last year.