You may have noticed we have a passion for affordable art and a fascination with the stories behind the illustrators, designers, doers and makers who brighten up our walls with their talents. So I was delighted to meet (well, virtually anyway,) Matt Kevan, one half of the brains behind the website illustrato.rs, an online gallery selling original contemporary illustration direct from the artists themselves.
illustrato.rs started life as a physical gallery, run by Matt’s friend Oliver Jelf and simply named The Illustration Gallery. Back then it was based in the artsy British town of Stroud, but last year the pair decided to move their gallery online in order to reach a wider international audience. Refreshingly, this move has not meant losing the personal touch which these guys have really fought to maintain for their company. The blog features photos and interviews with the featured artists; a chance to ‘get to know them’ and discover what makes them tick before making a purchase.
A quick browse of the work on offer shows that the it is carefully chosen and curated to keep the standard high, with original artwork and prints for sale by some top artists including Tom Gauld, Sam Weber and JM fave Lucie Sheridan.
Read on to hear more about this magical gallery in our interview with founder Matt Kevan…
How did you two come up with the idea for illustrato.rs?
In the years after graduating we talked a great deal about ideas for businesses, grand schemes and other crazy ideas, none of which we managed to get all that far with. However, that changed when Oliver decided to start The Illustration Gallery. He identified that there had never been a space in the UK dedicated entirely to the exhibition of contemporary illustration in all its forms. The gallery opened in Stroud, back in 2007, and showed work by a great many of the world’s most talented illustrators.
illustrato.rs was born out of a similar identification of a need: for a place online dedicated to illustration where illustrators could sell their own artwork. Many illustrators have plan chests overflowing with great artwork which they never even think of selling: they file away the work once a commission has been completed and forget about it. Some even throw it away – we were horrified to hear John Vernon Lord say recently that he regularly makes a bonfire of his original artwork in his back garden to save space!
What makes illustrato.rs stand out from the crowd?
So we think the illustrato.rs website meets a need and that by creating additional sources of income from their work, we’re helping to support our favourite artists. There’s plenty of places online where you can buy illustration prints and other merchandise, but we started illustrato.rs to be more than that – a place where you can really connect with the art of illustration and the illustrators themselves.
Tell us a bit about what you do and where you work.
I’m a designer and web developer based in Beckenham in Kent. For most of the week I work for a web design agency in London, but for two days a week you can find me sitting in the box room of my flat, hard at work on The Illustration Gallery and illustrato.rs.
Oliver lives and works in Stroud in Gloucestershire. He represents a variety of fine artists but is also loves working with illustrators – he’s completely obsessed with illustration.
We do a lot of our work on the site via Basecamp, Skype and over the phone rather than face to face. It’s rather appropriate for a web-based business, I suppose. I think there’s a great potential for an explosion of this sort of global art and business collaboration – we live in exciting times!
And finally, whose work are you hankering after yourselves to hang on your own bedroom wall?
Oliver is eying up a peculiar old illustration on the wall of his local pub, which he thinks might have been made by Joost Swarte. We’re also both very excited by Tony Meeuwissen‘s work at the moment and looking forward to bringing you some incredible original pieces by him very soon!
Print images pictured and price from top:
Alfredo y Alberto by Ellie Curtis (screen print): £65.00
Hats print by Lucy Driscoll: £20.00
Original work Monsters & Villagers by Tom Gauld: £400
Queen Bee by Amy Rhian (digital print): £30.00
Freud Museum by Cantell Ronca (Giclee Print): £100.00
Lavinia By Sam Weber (Giclee print): £165.00
Forest print by Lucy Driscoll: £25.00
Oliver (left) with the artists at their first exhibition in 2007.