Andrew Roberts Illustrator

This week we meet Shelford based Illustrator Andrew Roberts.

So Andrew, tell me where you trained?

Trained at Isle college Wisbech. Inspired by my brother.

Was the technology a far cry from what you use now?

No, It was so much more advanced in those days... no I’m being cheeky! Everything we did was hand drawn, hand made even, but it gave you a good grounding.

How have you found the transition from traditional to digital techniques?

It depends on the application and your attitude to it being just another tool. In some ways in has made things more complicated but less labour intensive. I still draw by hand for all of my initial ideas but I intensively use a tablet for the digital rendering, which mimics hand drawing pretty well. Ironically when i am drawing with a pencil and want to make a change I have found myself looking for the undo (apple z) buttons!

How do you produce your work now? Do you work on paper or straight on to the computer?

As I say, all projects start with sketches, whether it is a corporate brochure, mailer, logo, children’s illustration or technical illustration. After that I scan my ideas into Indesign, Photoshop or Illustrator. I then work over them with the aid of my wacom tablet. I use a stylus pen - its so versatile. I haven’t used a mouse for about 10 years!

Andrew Roberts Illustrator

Your working style has to be very flexible to appeal to different clients needs. Is it important to try and retain your own visual language?

When I first took my portfolio to London they said great, you're versatile, but don’t you specialise? I think I specialise in a bespoke style that will hit the target with the client and his market. I love this experimentation... trying to explore a new style for a particular client.

You seem very at home with producing both technical and children's illustration. What is your personal favourite?

I am lucky that I take on most of the projects and types of work I enjoy. So although technical illustration could seem mechanical and painting by numbers it is actually very rewarding and challenging. I love children's Illustration as it has its own challenges I am always trying to create something fresh. My challenge to anything I create is, is it the best I could achieve?

Has being a dad influenced your children's illustrations?

Yes. I have tested my work by reading to my eldest child one of the books I illustrated and it got the thumbs up! I am very conscious of the fact that I have several stories up my sleeve and want to get my ideas published before my children are too old for them.

Andrew Roberts Illustrator

You did a very exciting commission for the National Gallery. Tell me more about that.

I have been working with the NG for coming up to 4 years and each project seems to get more exciting. The first year involved me going to the galleries looking at not just the paintings and the frames but the surroundings. I used textures from the wallpapers, elements from the frames as well as elements from the intricate air vents! Last years cards, based on interpretation of Canelletto sold out and The Gallery won best Children’s Product through ACE (ASSOCIATION OF CULTURAL ENTERPRISES) for the Advent calendar I created for them.

What has been your favourite/weirdest commission?

I have many favourites including, along with the work for the National Gallery, retail merchandising work for RSC and Metropolitan Opera. The weirdest in the nicest way (well let's say unusual) was for my first commission where I was requested to do branding for a Gynecology Website administered from Harley Street! I had been recommended by someone through Facebook!

Andrew Roberts Illustrator

You recently finished building your workspace at home. Is is important to have your working environment seperate from home life?

Absolutely. It's your mindset. I was briefly working in our lounge until work had been completed on the office conversion and it was so difficult not to be distracted.

Any exciting commissions/ work on the horizon?

I have to say several. I have very exciting illustration work I am about to start and I will be working on some new branding for 3 new clients. Possibly a fourth!

What advice would you give to other illustrators and designers out there?

Always try to do what you do best, kept as original as possible and mix with a healthy dose of business savvy.. Although we are creative/artists it's also business.

Andrew Roberts Illustrator

Name your top 3 favourite things to do/places to go in Cambridge?

I like to do as much as I can with my family - I have done the first two with them already... 1.The best tea garden in just outside Cambridge, very tranquil (I think I might have to keep its location a secret). 2.The Picture House, when I get the opportunity. 3. Punting.. I have yet to take my whole family!

See more of Andrew's fabulous work on his website

Welcome to the Cambridge Creative Network where we invite creative professionals to promote their work through our gallery, find events and opportunities and network with other like-minded people in Cambridge. Want to join us? Apply here...

About Mandy Knapp