Interview: Liam Smith

Liam Smith is an illustrator based in Dorset, UK. Liam likes to create non-conventional characters in non-conventional worlds using a colourful, whimsical style.

Inspired by the older, magical films and stories that breathe so much imagination, we caught up with Liam earlier this week to dig a little deeper into his creative process…

So let’s begin – how long have you been working as an illustrator/designer & is it your full time job?

I began by using photo manipulations after I finished college in late 2005/early 2006, then expanded to illustration around 2009 before making it permanent in early 2010.  At the moment I am unemployed so I’m illustrating throughout the day, but don’t see it as a full time job, and don’t plan to.

Is your work influenced by where you live?

Unfortunately the town I live isn’t very ‘arty’, at least not with current trends. It’s quite a historical town that prides itself on being a seaside town so the art seems limited to seaside portraits and sculptures (though I’m being vague). There’s also not many people my age that have an interest in the creative fields, especially illustration, so a lot of the work I do is kept to myself or via social networking rather than friends and my town.

How did you develop your current style? Is it purely digital or do you experiment with handmade elements?

My style has taken a lot of work and self doubting, and even now I vary between styles and elements but that’s possibly not a bad thing. Looking back at old images from the beginning, they were all so basic and bland, I needed to add more character and life to the image. I’ve never been good at drawing realistically so creating characters and the world around them was an obvious choice as I had more freedom. When I first started using textures in my work, it was described as whimsical and playful, and that’s something I’ve tried to replicate in the majority of my work since then. I find a lot of free to use textures online, but have also dabbled in creating my own brushes, and taking photos of textures and patterns around my house which I can use in my work.

What are you currently working on?

I was recently asked to design a boys birthday card, and a Christmas card where the profits will be donated to Teenage Cancer Trust. A number of illustrators have been asked, and the cards will be sold online from and in Argos in Leicester, hopefully by mid October. I’m really enjoying this project so far and I feel as I can use my style well, and love the fact it’s for a good cause.

What inspires /influences your practice? Do you listen to a lot of music when you work for instance?

The old, magical films and stories inspire me as they tend to breathe a lot of imagination, and have a lot of well designed characters that you don’t get so much nowadays. I feel I need to get in a zone when illustrating, especially if it’s a big piece. A coffee will be had an music will be played. It can vary what I play when illustrating as I have a wide taste in music, but softer, acoustic, folk music gets played a lot, as I feel it clears my head. Laura Marling and Angus and Julia Stone are prime examples, but really it depends on my mood and the image I’m working on.

Future plans?

Apart from working on the Christmas card soon (the birthday card is now done), I’ll be planning some work for the Show and Tell exhibition that I’ll hopefully be a part of as they’re looking to do one in my town soon Hopefully this will give me a chance to show Weymouth a different style of art, and maybe get a few people of my generation interested and involved!


Posted on Sep 21st, 11 by | Twitter: @lisahassell

Founder & director of Inkygoodness, Lisa is a published writer and arts journalist, focusing on creative business, graphic art and illustration and design education. Her words regularly appear in Computer Arts, Creative Bloq, Digital Arts and IdN.

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