Luke Brookes talks bold colour and slick composition
Staffordshire based illustrator Luke Brookes calls a time out to tell us a little about how he works.
I’m an illustrator originally from the sunny streets of Birmingham, but I moved to Staffordshire when I graduated from university six years ago. I’ve been illustrating professionally ever since! I’ve always been interested in telling stories within my work. It seemed to come naturally for that reason. My work combines a strong graphic, narrative driven style with a bold use of colour, lighting and composition. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of very cool and prestigious clients over years including Playboy, Variety, The Telegraph, Little White Lies and many more.
I currently live and work in a small market town in the Staffordshire Moorlands. Leek is a gorgeous town, and an incredibly creative place. There are arts and craft markets every first Sunday of the month, and so many independent boutiques… its a great place to live and to work!
My work has evolved quite a lot since I first started illustrating many many moons ago. Initially my work focused on quite heavy textures, juxtaposed with naive shapes and figures. Over the years it changed, evolving to include more dramatic lighting, a bolder more contrasting use of colour, often utilising a limited palette of 3-5 colours, and more polished figurative work.
I have a two year old little boy named George, who pretty much fills my life when I’m not working. I love spending time with him, he’s at an amazing age where he’s absorbing so much information. It’s great fun to paint and draw with him! When the G-man is asleep – and I’m not working – I’m super into movies and video games, and love going on long walks with the family and dog, Rufus. I also enjoy creating more personal illustration work. Working without a brief can be pretty liberating and it’s a great way to experiment without time pressures or any restrictions.
With an unlimited budget, and no time constraints, I would love to produce my own ongoing graphic novel, even an animated series to go with it; maybe even collaborating with other illustrators to create varied issues and episodes. It would be great to be able to deliver it to the masses and get artists and illustrators exposure.
I work in my converted attic. It’s a pretty cool space to work in with lots of light, and lots of room to manoeuvre. I admit though sometimes this can be a bad thing, when you start hoarding things and your workspace becomes a bit of a bomb site! Most of my work is digital; my illustrations always start out in the sketchbook. I then ink whatever roughs or bits I need in black ink. Following that I scan them in, colouring them up in Photoshop, using my Wacom Cintiq, which i couldn’t live without!
Books I simply couldn’t live without include The Picture Book – Contemporary Illustration (a bit of an oldie, but still timeless! This saw me through College and University!); The Lord of the Rings Trilogy; and Joker – DC – Brian Azarello + Lee Bermejo (Awesome graphic novel with such a unique art style).
I’ve literally just finished working on a cover, inside cover ,and some interior page illustrations for a really awesome magazine. I can’t say too much at the moment though as it’s not yet published. It was one of the most fun and detailed projects I’ve worked on to date. The inside cover racked up a healthy 567 layers in Photoshop! I’ve lots of unpublished work scheduled for the new year so stay tuned and be sure to follow me @lukebrookesart.