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Thursday 28 April 2022

Meet The Illustrator: Eilidh Muldoon

Eilidh Muldoon

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Detailed; intricate; fun; decorative; a mixture of hand-drawn, digital and printmaking

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
I have a few essentials. I would be lost without my Rotring Rapidograph fineliners for detailed hand-drawn bits (0.25 nib is my favourite); Blackwing Pearl pencils for looser line drawings; my Wacom tablet for the digital bits. And I love a Moleskin sketchbook!

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
It’s hard to choose, as you can probably guess from the length of my previous answer. If you had asked me years ago, I would have said the fineliner pens, but now I try to loosen things up and make messier marks. I’ll go for Aquarelle pencils, because you can create lovely sketchy lines with them, but also by adding water and using a brush you can achieve more painterly results. Oh, and I love to use rubber stamps! I love the combination of printed marks alongside hand-drawn lines.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
I find inspiration from artists working in lots of different creative fields, but most of my favourite artists are best known as picture book illustrators. I have always loved the work of mid-century author-illustrator duo Alice and Martin Provensen. Of a similar era, Mary Blair’s concept art and paintings for some of the early animated Disney movies are wonderful. I like the way all of these artists create colourful, imaginary worlds that invite you in. I’m counting the first two artists as one, so if I’m allowed one more then I will go for Eric Carle. His work encourages me to put down my pens, move away from drawing fine lines, and to have fun using bolder shapes and experiment with composition.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
I studied Art History for my undergraduate degree, and I must admit it was once we got to 20th century art that I became really excited about my studies! I was fascinated with the freedom and experimentation of Dadaism and Surrealism. It must have been incredibly exciting to be an artist at that time. I think I’ll go for early 20th century, because I could experience the playfulness of early Surrealism, with its exploration of dreamlike landscapes, as well as seeing how Constructivist artists were starting to experiment with geometrical shapes, bold typography, white space. As an added bonus I would catch the tail end of ‘The Golden Age of Illustration’ and be around while Arthur Rackham and Beatrix Potter were still at work!

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
When I was growing up, we would visit one of my mum’s close friends, Debi Gliori, who also happens to be an extremely talented artist and illustrator. I am a huge fan of her books to this day. I think I must have been about 8 years old when I first saw her working away in her garden studio, drawing and writing stories. I thought it seemed like the best job in the world. It also helped that I was lucky enough to have an incredibly supportive mum, who encouraged me to pursue a career in the creative industries.
Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often? Talk us through it.
I don’t yet have that dream garden-studio, but I feel like my current work-space is pretty close to that. I live in a small village, and from the back of my house I can see the sea, and a lot of trees. I have a desk by the window, so I get lots of natural light and have a lovely view (but I have set up my desk so that I face away from the window, otherwise I would stare outside all day and never get anything done). I have a big desk space, for making lots of messy marks. I scan everything in and play around with finishing it up digitally, using my Mac and Wacom tablet. There are a lot of books and other inspirational ephemera around the room – the collection is growing… and most importantly a space for my dog to curl up (or flap about) at my feet.

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
The sketchbook stage, where I get to develop my ideas. Before the pressure of creating a ‘final thing’ and after the pressure of not quite knowing where to start. I find the first marks on paper to be quite nerve-wracking, so I start by making initial notes, sketches and doing the first bits of research. Then I feel like I get into the swing of things.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
Look to the things that interest you for inspiration, not the things you think are ‘on trend’. Be a leader, not a follower. And keep drawing! Even if you think a drawing is rubbish, finish it and use it to work out what went wrong. The next drawing will be better as a result.

Eilidh lives in a wee village by the sea, not too far from Edinburgh. She studied at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 2013 with her MFA in Illustration. She now teaches part time at the college and work freelance from her wee home studio.

For more information, please visit Eilidh's website or follow her on instagram.