Grad Spot: Reece Wykes

Reece Wykes recently graduated from Kingston University and now works as a freelance illustrator, designer and animator in South London.

Mixing together bold shapes and rough textures, Reece creates contemporary and adaptable artworks which work beautifully both on screen and in print.

Our favourite piece from Reece’s varied portfolio is his “I Dare You” interactive children’s book. Aimed at children ages 4 to 9, the story of two bored gorillas who start daring each other to eat crazier and crazier things is told through a sequence of animated scenes the audience can flick through on an iPad.

We caught up with Reece to find out more about his university experience and future plans.

Hi Reece – Can you tell us a bit more about your working process? What materials do you most enjoy working with?

My working process always starts with drawing terrible drawings in my sketchbook, anything to get my brain flowing with ideas. After that I start to refine the drawings, thumb nailing compositions out. When I’m happy with the composition I make the final sketch which I scan onto my computer and add the colour on photoshop. I try to make most of my projects tangible at the end, so I usually take it to the print rooms and make an edition of screen prints.

Where do you creative work?

I always worked in the University studios, its great to be around your friends all the time and bounce ideas off each other. But now I’m currently working in my tiny room on a tiny desk, it’s not too bad.

What aspect of your course have you most enjoyed?

I’ve loved my time at Kingston, the thing I have most enjoyed is probably the tutor time you recieve. The tutors are really dedicated and are willing to meet with you at any time to help you out, and say nice things about your work when you’re having a crisis, shout out to Geoff, Jane & Mark. Another aspect would be the print rooms at uni, I’ve spent a lot of time in their over the last 3 years and its always a great environment to work in.

Are you looking for agency representation or happy to do it yourself?

At this very moment in time, I feel its important for me to push my craft further and experiment more with image making without narrowing my creative freedom. But definitely in the next few years!

We particularly liked your I Dare You interactive children’s book project. Can you tell us more about it and how the idea came about?

For ‘I Dare You…’ I wanted to relate it to experiences I had in the past when I was a youngster, how in school you would always try and one up each other. I took that idea and changed the context of it, instead of children why not gorillas? I chose for it to be as an ebook because I really wanted to experiment with animated picture books, I love the work that Nosy Crow do and I wanted to improve my animation skills. Now Ive started to work on the project again, and I’m now turning it into a physical children’s book. Winning the World Wide Picture Book Competition and getting Highly Commended in the Macmillan book prize was a huge incentive to turn my digital book into a physical book.

Having worked both on digital and print projects – is there one which you prefer?

I think both digital and print are vital to my work, I don’t think one could work without the other. But saying that, I always think its important to have a physical copy of everything. Even if its just some crappy drawings in a sketchbook, I like the idea of being able to look back through and remember a specific moment in time and embrace the bad drawings.

I like the idea of being able to look back through and remember a specific moment in time and embrace the bad drawings

What do you get up to when not creating? How does this fuel your creativity?

It’s always good to step away from the computer, I think doing anything that isn’t creative actually helps my creative process, weirdly. It allows me to think freely without any pressure to be ‘creative’. So that’s usually going food shopping, going to gigs or just going to the pub with friends. I’ve also recently started playing five a side football, not sure how much it fuels my creativity but I love banging in goals.

Do you keep a sketchbook? What role do visual journals play in your work?

I’ve always kept a sketchbook for most of university projects, but now I’ve graduated I’ve started keeping a personal sketchbook, it mostly has unfinished to do lists and terrible drawings of my feet, but I’m warming to it!

Its nice to not think about ‘Am I being marked on this drawing?’ instead you can draw whatever you want.

Tell us about the last documentary that you watched – is there a subject matter interests you most?

The last documentary I watched was called ‘Filmage’, its a documentary that focuses on the band Descendents and they’re journey as a band through out the years, I’ve been listening to the Descendents since I was really young so it was great to see a more personal side of the story. Its a really great documentary that showed me the importance of DIY culture.

 What is your go-to snack of choice to fuel your creativity and productivity ahead of a big deadline?

Usually its a mixture things, I always drink Nescafe granulated coffee gold blend (shout out Nescafe) if I want to stay up past my bed time and finish a project. Then its probably Sainsbury’s basic chocolate digestives, which I then dip in the coffee.

Are there any creative projects out there that you’ve seen recently that you wish you’d made?

I’m always in awe whenever I see the work of Cleon Peterson, I’ve been keeping track of his art for a good 3 years now and his paintings always blow my mind. Recently he’s been doing huge murals on the side of buildings and its really inspiring to see. I’d love to work on some larger scale stuff in the future. I’ve actually just checked his instagram feed and he’s now taking the characters he paints and transforming them into huge sculptures?! Crazy.

Are there any designers or illustrators that you look up to? What do you like most about their work?

I’ve always admired the work of Eduardo Paolozzi, his emphatic compositions are always so refreshing to look at. I admire the way he doesn’t just stick to one medium either, its great when artists step out of their comfort zone and create something different. Seeing his tiled mural at Tottenham Court Road always stops me in my tracks. A couple of years ago our class were lucky enough to visit the Tate Collections where I was able to see Paolozzi’s 1964 ‘Poster’ screen print up close, it was amazing to see the vibrance of the inks.

Finally, what would you most like to be doing with your illustration in 5-10 years time? 

Hopefully still drawing and enjoying making things, I’d love to be sharing a studio with some friends from university working on collaborative projects!



Posted on Jun 29th, 15 by

Greg McIndoe - also known as Headless Greg - is an illustrator and design writer based in Glasgow, Scotland. He regularly writes for design magazines and online platforms, interviewing fellow illustrators and leading creatives.

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