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Serco Prize for Illustration 2014 :: Finalists Nicholas Stevenson & Eric Chow interviews

posted by Lo Parkin February 28, 2014

As I was blessed to be a part of the AOI Serco Prize for Illustration London Stories exhibition, I was lucky enough to catch up with finalists Nicholas Stevenson and Eric Chow at the awards ceremony about their fantastic artwork, press + to read interviews with the talented illustrators…

Winning the silver award Nicholas Stevenson is an Illustrator that is currently based in North London who creates imagery that is fun, lively, mysterious and occasionally a little bit unsettling.

Please can you tell us a little about the inspirations based behind your project;

I was researching London history and plumbing the depths of the web for good London stories… I found out about ‘Whipping Tom’ a sinister character from Hackney in the 1600’s who used to spank women in the streets, then run away yelling ‘SPANKO!’ There were plenty of other good stories, but none quite right for the project…
Eventually I went to see a play at Shakespeare’s Globe, and was waiting in line, staring at the Thames, when my housemate suggested I depict London’s Frost Fairs. After researching them, I found there were lots of great stories surrounding the Frost Fairs. Shakespeare allegedly had the Globe moved piece by piece across the ice to avoid toll charges on the bridges, while pubs shifted their business to tents on the ice. I was particularly captivated by the idea that an Elephant was brought out for a stroll under Black Friar’s bridge.

I love your hand-rendered approach to Illustration, what do you love most about working with paint?

I love how unpredictable it is. I usually work with Gouache on un-textured paper, so it tends to move around and bleed quite easily. No matter what my intentions are when I start, it all goes out the window once you start putting paint on the page, and that’s really exciting for me! The Frost Fair piece I created is part drawn, part digital, part scanned textures and a few hand painted textures too.

How do you go about approaching a project and what methods / materials are included in your process?

Often I’ll just start drawing ideas in pen or pencil. Once I have something down on paper the central ideas and challenges of the project usually make themselves known. Then I move on to paint or digital. I have quite a big postcard collection that I rifle through sometimes for ideas; I often sample textures from them too.

If you were to describe your style in 3 words what would they be?

Fun, lively, mysterious.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I’m working on exhibiting some paintings in London sometime soon. I’m also working on my animation a bit, I’ve got myself in to quite an ambitious music video project, so we’ll see how that goes!

http://www.nicholasstevenson.com

Gaining the bronze award Eric Chow is a London based illustrator originally from Hong Kong. Since graduating from London College of Communication in 2012 Eric has been working as a graphic designer whilst steadily building a career in illustration.

Please can you tell us a little about the inspirations based behind your project;

This piece and my whole portfolio is based on the idea of recording life and thoughts, this is something I have been focusing on during my first year since having graduated from university. My thoughts are mainly based on what I read and think, movies I’ve watched and chats with my friend. I firstly regarded this as a training to visualise my thoughts, and it turned to be a big part of my process in developing my style of illustration.

Your work is surreal but has a strong sense of narrative, would you say this is a characteristic across your illustration and how do you manage to render your ideas into an image?

Yes, I would say surreal and narrative is the core element of my illustrations, which make it speak rather than just a good-looking picture. I enjoy the way to speak through pictures without words; it’s fun and challenging which is something I try to do every time I create new work. In some ways, it gives more space for the interpretation.
Normally my idea comes with a rough picture in my mind simultaneously. I just need to do some sketching, mind-mapping and research about the subject matter. I think the hardest part is to step back from the original idea when it doesn’t work well enough.

How do you go about approaching a project and what methods / materials are included in your process?

I will normally do a quick brainstorm to plan my knowledge about the subject matter first, and then I move straight towards my ideas and compositions before doing any research. This is because I find handling too much information can easily sidetrack me, and sometimes research will limit my thoughts and ideas at an early stage. Later I will do more research to refine my idea. The choice of colour is the last step I will consider.

If you were to describe your style in 3 words what would they be?

Surreal, Humour, Narrative

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I am working on a series of work about the path of being an illustrator. I will keep it updated on my Facebook page and twitter for you to see. I’m also applying to two competitions, D&AD and AOI illustration awards, you may see my works if I am lucky enough.

http://ericchow.co.uk


Lo Parkin

Lo Parkin

Freelance Illustrator & Fashion Editor at People of Print.
loparkin@peopleofprint.com
Lo Parkin

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