Māgoa presents Liz Rowland, a London-based illustrator, whose art explores the world and celebrates different cultures and lifestyles, that make us so diverse.
Hi Liz! First of all, thank you for agreeing to this interview and welcome to Māgoa. Could you quickly introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi! Thanks for having me! I’m Liz, an illustrator currently based in London. For the past few years I’ve moved around a lot, exploring the world in person and on page. I am interested in culture and identity, the different ways we live and celebrate the things that make us so diverse.
Could you describe your beginnings in the creative field, when did it all start and the reasons behind it?
I’ve always drawn, which led me to art school when I was 18. I studied Illustration but when I graduated I wasn’t at all ready for the creative world. I wasn’t sure of myself or my work and felt very lost. I was 21 years old, living in London, trying to figure things out. I managed part time jobs whilst interning, assisting in creative studios. I found my way into project management which I pursued for a while. I learnt so much during that time. Eventually I started to question what was important and took some time out to travel. During the trip, I spent most days painting, frantically recording everything in my little sketchbook. I ended up in Australia, where I stayed for a couple of years. I found a studio, which helped me to take my work more seriously. I started putting some images out in to the world, which led me to my agent and slowly work came in.
How do you feel, when you draw?
Where do you find your inspiration? Is it on social media, art history, everyday life or something else?
Everyday life. I’m interested in people and their habits, food and language, pattern and color and shapes and handmade objects and painted signs. Social media is a great tool but a bad place to find your inspiration. I need something tangible.
Which techniques and colors do you mainly use?
I mostly paint in gouache; I love the rich and dense color it gives and it’s water soluble which is great for touching up areas. I’ll often use watercolor and acrylic for certain elements too. I always paint onto coated paper; I prefer the way the paint sits on it. I’m an incredibly nostalgic person and this influences my color palettes as I strongly associate places with particular colors. I’ll usually make notes of color combinations and refer back to them later.
How do you get unstuck creatively?
I go outside and wander and watch people and visit galleries and read books and dance and eat and immerse myself in another world for a while. London is a great place to do that.
A few quick-fire questions. Your favorite color/app/song/season?
Green / Instagram / some sort of dad music / Summer
Which project that you have done so far is your favorite?
My favorite projects are those that come together easily. I don’t like over planning or over working an image. Sometimes it happens that I’ll sit and paint something up and I’m happy with that first attempt, the client is happy and the whole process is very smooth, enjoyable and I feel confident in what I’m doing. There are other projects which require lots of back and forth, reworking and self-doubt. Although they are my least favorite, they probably teach me the most.
Which artists do you value the most, or who really inspires you?
The artists I return to again and again for inspiration are Bhupen Khakhar, Laura Carlin, Hockney, Jesus Cisneros. I love painters, hand rendered work. The artists I value the most are my friends. They are the ones who have helped me get here, supporting my work when I was starting out, sharing contacts and advice. Illustration can be such a solitary job so to me it’s really important to have a network of friends working in the same field.
How do you want your art to impact people?
It’s not something I think about too much; I paint the things that attract me and that I care about and try to draw the world as I see it. I think if anything I want others to see the world in a positive and playful light through my work.
How much has social media shaped your career and design?
It’s had a huge effect. When I left university, Instagram was just starting up. Coming back to the industry 6 years later and Instagram had completely taken over. It was so uncomfortable sharing work at first, just to your friends and family. It can feel exposing and like you’re competing with the whole world. But on the other hand, the whole world has access to you. Most of my direct clients now find me through Instagram so it’s important, but I try to manage it and not let it affect how or what I paint.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
I’m proud of getting myself to a point where I’m making a living from illustration. My work has built slowly over time; it’s not been an overnight process. I’ve wanted to give up plenty of times and choose an easier path with guaranteed income, but persistence has paid off. I’m glad I came to it later when I was absolutely sure it was what I wanted, that has helped me to stay focused.
How does your normal day look like? Do you have a strict daily routine?
For the last few years I’ve moved around a lot, so every few months I’ve found myself living a different routine. I’m way more productive in the mornings so I like to start early, usually with some sort of exercise so I’m not restless during the day. Other than that, it really varies depending on what deadlines I have on. I don’t like too much routine; life can start to feel robotic.
Which websites, Instagram profiles or blogs do you like to visit on a daily basis?
Eek! Not many! I used to follow lots of industry blogs but now I get a bit overwhelmed with the online world. There’s so much content and I can easily slip into a bizarre internet hole so I try to avoid it unless I need to research something in particular. I listen to podcasts constantly while I work, so I keep in touch with the world that way.
What are your plans for the future? Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share with our readers?
I’m heading to a new city for the next few weeks which I’m hoping will inspire some new projects and give me some time for some personal work. I’m planning a trip to Israel in November, somewhere I’ve always wanted to see. Aside from that I’ve been quietly working away on a children’s book for a little while, if all goes to plan that will be out in the world before too long!
Liz, thank you very much for your time and answers. The best of luck with your career and upcoming projects!