Laura Barnard is a Peterborough-based illustrator, who’s complex patterns, highly detailed cityscapes, quirky typography and characters caught our eye quite a long time ago. We love her work and, evidently, we’re not alone. Clients such as Sainsbury’s, The British Council, Ted Baker and The RIBA Journal have commissioned her brilliantly styled and witty illustrations.
We asked Laura to take part in our Ten Questions series and she was kind enough to get involved. Here’s what she had to say.
1. How do you describe what you do?
I’d describe myself as an illustrator. It was a proud moment to write that on the census form.
2. What made you want to do what you do?
I can’t ever remember not wanting to do this. The path’s wiggled a bit, but I don’t think the destination’s ever been in question.
3. How would you describe your workplace?
I work from home in what is called the ‘studio’ on a good day, and the ‘back room’ the rest of the time. My partner Paul is now also my work partner and we sit opposite each other at a giant table talking about ideas, listening to records, and drinking our own body weight in hot beverages. I use a 13″ MacBook Pro and what is now a slightly ancient Wacom.
4. What is your favourite colour?
Heinz tomato soup. Underwater at the lido on a sunny day. Dirt.
5. Who is your favourite artist or writer?
A writer that’s recently blown me away is Jonathan Safran Foer, although my all time favourite is Richard Brautigan. I tend to be more interested in things other than art (books, objects) for some bewildering reason, but Ed Ruscha‘s a bit of a favourite.
6. What was your previous job?
I’ve done everything from working in a warehouse to shoveling popcorn and working in a call centre. The job I did before going freelance was in a design agency managing their print production and doing a bit of finance and project management, which has all turned out to be really useful now I’m self employed. I’ve learnt useful things from all the jobs I’ve done.
7. Do you work within a team? If so, how many people do you work with?
I worked by myself for a long time, but Paul and I have just started working together. We are both still alive, which means it’s working so far.
8. Do you listen to music whilst working? If so, what do you listen to?
Whatever Paul puts on. Music’s his responsibility during the day, as music’s his thing, and I can’t be doing with making decisions about that sort of thing while I’m working. We have BBC Radio 4 on as well. Friday afternoon Gardener’s Question Time followed by that programme about dead people is my countdown to the weekend.
9. Who inspires you to do what you’re doing?
I’m part of the Mighty Pencil, and I don’t think there’s a day goes by that one of them does something pretty amazing, whether it’s a great piece of work or a bit of advice or the way they tackle something. A hell of a bunch of people there. Ben O’Brien (bentheillustrator.com), the founder, is a damn inspiring fellow – always up to something amazing. Oh, and paying the mortgage is a pretty big motivator as well…
10. Which advice has helped you the most?
One brilliant bit of advice I read as I was leaving school was that you think you’ll struggle to make friends at university, but actually, you’ll spend the whole year trying to get rid of the friends you made in the first week. Not only was that good social advice, but it holds true for freelance work as well. You worry that you won’t get enough work, but it’s often when you turn something down that doesn’t feel right that something perfect comes around the corner.
As ever, thank you for reading. You can read plenty more responses from a host of talented, creative types in our other Ten Questions posts.
Tom and Phil