Grad Spot: Brigid Johnson
Brigid Johnson recently graduated with a BA Hons in Illustration from Falmouth University in Cornwall.
Using a combination of bold shapes, subtle textures and mark-making, Brigid creates unique artworks with a sophisticated yet quirky and organic feel to them. We caught up with Brigid to find out more about her time at university and hopes for the future.
Tell us a little bit about your career so far – have you taken on many paid commissions?
While at university I have had editorial commissions from A-Side Studio for Merchant’s Manor Hotel, Falmouth for their magazine Relish, formerly named Porthole. I have also had the pleasure of working with Kingdom & Sparrow a local food and drink packaging design company creating wine label designs for live briefs, working alongside the designers in their studio.
I had a placement with Big Fish in London earlier this year too that really fed my interest and love of packaging design.
Are you looking for agency representation or happy to do it yourself?
I have been really lucky with my course at Falmouth as we have an entire module in third year on Professional Practice that has given me confidence and knowledge on how to promote myself as an illustrator. Having just graduated I am keen to promote myself and seek out work, networking and meeting all kinds of people in the creative industries.
What aspect of your course have you most enjoyed?
I have enjoyed the freedom to specialize in whatever area I am interested in and the flexibility of my course throughout the three years. I think that it is really well structured and classes that I had in my first year gave me a solid foundation to work on in my second and third year. I loved our trip to New York in April this year, where we organized portfolio reviews with design studios and illustrators, their feedback was really invaluable and inspiring.
How would you describe your working process? What materials do you most enjoy working with?
With every project I work on I begin with loads of research, reading around the topic and finding visuals to spark my ideas. I often mind map and get my thoughts down as fast as possible at the beginning. I work quite methodically, sketching out ideas and refining visuals as I go.
I spend a lot of time generating ideas, it is my favourite stage in a project. Having spent a lot of time at university exploring print making – screen printing, etching and making collagraph prints – my work always has a print texture quality to it. As I have progressed I’ve had to learn how to manage my time and work to tight deadlines and I have been incorporating print textures to my work digitally rather than using traditional printing techniques.
I would love to have the time and resources to do more printmaking in the future. At the moment I am enjoying the challenge of creating this digitally with my work.
Where do you do your creative work?
I loved working in my studio space at university, I really like having a separate place from home to go to do my work, I find I am more productive this way and it helps me to relax keeping my studio space separate from home.
Do you keep a sketchbook? What role do visual journals play in your work?
I have never had a personal sketchbook, however I will usually have one for every project I work on. I find sketchbooks great for the rough ideas at the beginning of a project as you don’t tend to be so precious over the work allowing for ideas to develop quickly. I love using Pinterest as a way to collate inspiration, I soon find myself excited about new projects and ideas having looked at the work I have pinned, I find it a really useful resource.
Tell us about the last book you read– is there a subject matter interests you most?
I love the children’s book ‘Walk This World’ illustrated by Lotta Nieminen. I love the very simple shapes of her illustrations and the textures she incorporates. The book has lots of little flaps allowing the reader to see inside the cityscapes, I would have loved to have owned this book as a child. I love her style of illustration.
I enjoy cooking and am interested in all things design and illustration which are food related! I would love to work on menu designs, or packaging for food and drink. I recently bought a book called ‘Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, with Recipes for Pastries, Breads, and Other Treats’ I would love to create some illustrations based on the culture of Fika, perhaps posters or a little information book.
Do you take day trips or travel often? How does this fuel your creativity?
I have been lucky enough to have lived in Falmouth for the past three years which has helped to fuel my creativity. I find cities stimulating and exciting however living somewhere where you have so much space around you without the busy distractions of a big city has allowed me to be original in my artwork and ideas.
Falmouth is a creative hub, with so many graduates that have decided to stay you can see the influence this has had on the town and I think it has a great balance of locals and students.
What is your go-to snack of choice to fuel your creativity and productivity ahead of a big deadline?
Are there any creative projects out there that you’ve seen recently that you wish you’d made?
When in New York I came across the Mast Brothers chocolate and loved their packaging. I want to create illustrations and design work that will be used in peoples daily lives and packaging design really interests me. I loved the simplicity of their logo and typeface. Every different chocolate bar had its own wrapping, with quality paper, making the chocolate bar something special to unwrap.
Are there any designers or illustrators that you admire?
Working on something like this would be a dream job! I recently came across the illustrator Dawid Ryski, and loved his poster work. I think his style is great, I am becoming more and more confident in my work being created with bold minimal shapes and have found his work to be really inspiring.
Finally, what would you most like to be doing in 5-10 years time?
I would like to be using my illustration skills in a design studio, I want to work within a studio team tackling briefs for clients ideally in the food and drinks industry. I would love to work on the branding for a restaurant or café.