Well, what a treat we have in store for you today. This week I had the great pleasure of interviewing London-based freelance illustrator Carrie May. Carrie tells us what she’s been up to lately, which other artists float her boat, and how she’s swapped her rural upbringing for hip and happening Hackney!
Hi, Carrie. So, can you tell us a little about you and what you do?
Well, I’m currently living in East London and working as an illustrator. (I am originally from the netherbelly of Gloucestershire, where the air is crisp and people eat Stinking Bishop.) Most recently I have been working on book jackets, which I love to do, and some editorial. My card range for Lagom has just launched and is also selling in Paperchase which I am very chuffed about.
They’re great! So, what mediums do you work in mainly?
I tend to work a lot in collage and I collage the drawings I make from my collection of old painted papers. I like to paint, and I get completely seduced by wonderful printing processes – you couldn’t keep me out of the letterpress studio at college!
I work in an office and have a fairly standard day in terms of the hours I do, my commute, what I wear. You work freelance; what’s that like?
I love that I work freelance at the moment . . . its suits me. I love what I do and I love to arrive at my desk at the same time every morning (but the difference being that I might bring my porridge with me and no one gives me strange looks because I’ve worn my slippers to work again.) I love that really I can work from anywhere, which frees me up and I can be in a different country, working on a commission and the person commissioning me may not even know where I am . . . I think it makes me appreciate my time and I like to take advantage of the fact that if I want to book a trip tomorrow and put my laptop in my bag I can do so.
Which artists and illustrators do you admire most? Do any of them inspire or influence your own work?
I love the works of Sara Fanelli, Oliver Jeffers and Marion Deuchars, to name a few – not that we have especially similar styles, but looking at their work inspires me to pick up a pencil and get making. For the same reason, I also love to look at Turner paintings . . . for me they have a real emotional pull, they stir something in me.
If you weren’t an illustrator, what would be your plan B career?
I’m not sure it would be a job as such but house restoration/renovation and sourcing furnishings from all over the world . . . that would keep me enthused.
What sort of things have you been working on lately, and can you give us a sneak peak of any exciting new projects you’ve got coming up?
I have been doing some books covers recently and I’ve just done a lovely job for Strutt & Parker . . . right up my street! I’m about to start a new edition of card designs, I can’t wait!
Can you tell us a bit about the area of East London you live in?
I live in Hackney, which is a far cry from where I am from originally, but I love it for entirely different reasons and there’s something about the area that means it’s never dull or predictable, it keeps me on my toes.
I’m a West London girl, myself, but I do like to venture East on occasion. Do you have any recommendations or tips for the best things to do out and about on in your part of the city?
From where I live it’s not far to walk to Broadway Market, a buzzing food market that’s been going since the nineteenth century, which is a real treat now and then. I once walked with Alice Stevenson from Broadway Market along the canal – and we kept on walking all the way to the British Museum. It’s really satisfying to find alternate routes in London and not just hop on a bus without thinking. A perfect day out and about would probably involve a good coffee somewhere in a lovely rustic cafe, somewhere like the Railroad for instance (I love the Railroad!), a market and an exhibition, maybe catching a film at the Hackney Picture House. I would like to discover more markets, flea markets or car boots sales . . . there must be lots!
If you could have a magical power for a day, what would it be – and why?
Oh gosh just one . . . so hard to choose. To be able to travel anywhere in an instant, I think. I’d fit in so many places all over the world in a day.
Thanks, Carrie! It was lovely to get to know a bit more about you and your work. And watch this space for a chance to win a gorgeous flamingo print by the wonderful Carrie May herself…
Photo portrait by Oscar May