Lucy MacLeod

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am Scottish. I like sandwiches. I am barefoot and pregnant. I can't put my own shoes on. I think I may have revealed too much already.

What was your upbringing like?

0-10 years old- "groovy" longhaired parents...much wearing of pinafores, bad homemade haircuts etc
10-17 years old- parents lost their groove*, unfortunately my haircuts didn't improve as a result.

*Somewhere in the nineties, my parents re-discovered their groove... It had fallen down behind the ZX Spectrum+ (soft keys).

What is your educational background?

Studied painting at Edinburgh College of Art.

What are some of your earliest memories doing art?

My first painful memory is of me and my younger sister taking part in a pavement drawing competition in the summer of 1982... I passionately put my all into my multi-coloured pastel portrait only for my sister to do a pitiful low-rent version of it ("MUM!!! She copied me!"). She won first place. Even talking about it now can summon a pathetic little tear to my eye... It wasn't long after this that I realised I was quite competitive *ahem*.

How would you describe your style?

Please don't make me...

What tools and techniques do you use most?

My hands, my scanner, my computer.

Describe how you commonly approach making illustrations?

It depends really...if it's for a client, I put it off for a couple of days until I feel afraid of missing the deadline. The fear factor helps me focus my attention. If it's of my own free will, I tend to work on a few things at the same time and try not to restrict myself in any way.

When do you do your best work, what time of day and what kind of mood are you in?

I tend to start late and work late. Weirdly, I work best with the TV on but with the volume low. I was ashamed of this until I read that Andy Warhol was the same. It is obviously a mark of genius. LOL

What were some of the most difficult situations you had to overcome in your career so far?

The two years following art college were so horrendously depressing that I was considering throwing in the towel...I had become extremely bitter about anyone I knew who was doing well. After one whiny phone call too many, my good friend thankfully told me to "quit your boring shit" and get a-working. It was the best advice I've ever had.

How do you feel about such a large number of aspiring and talented designers and illustrators coming out these days? Do you feel threatened and resentful or inspired and motivated?

I feel wholly inspired and motivated...I only wish that there were more people to commission them. There's not alot of work to go round.

Do you feel that constant exposure to the work of others is healthy or degrading to ones' talents and abilities?

The one thing I really loved about the art college environment was being surrounded by other artists and creatives...My favourite thing was to wait until most people had gone home and snoop around all the different departments and their studios. I suppose you could just say I'm nosey but I found it totally inspiring to see what all these people were up to. It always gave me a renewed sense of excitement about imagemaking.

What do you love about being an illustrator?

I love that it gives me a sense of complete freedom, knowing that I'm not so restricted by the fine-art world's tendency to harshly judge art that is aesthetically pleasing. In the UK, things seem to have swung towards really paired down, faux-naive imagery that is heavy on the irony. Although a big fan of irony, I find it pleasing to allow myself to sometimes just make some marks that I think look shit-hot. Also, in Illustration, there are less demands for "artist's statements"- the mention of them makes me cringe...having to work in words like "juxtaposed" makes me want to cry. Obviously, I love being commissioned and paid money by clients.

What do you hate about being an illustrator?

Generally, illustration is underpaid and undervalued...

What would be your ideal project?

I want to do more album covers and finally get working on putting my images onto fabric and exploring the fashion side of things. Next year, I'll have a store set up on my website to sell prints, cards and clothing, hopefully with some collaborations with some great artists.

What would be your advise to aspiring illustrators today?

It's a tricky industry and you need to be very pro-active to succeed in it. My main advice would be to say no when people want you to do stuff for free, which will happen...that is a very slippery slope. It damages the whole industry as editors and art directors are less likely to offer decent money to illustrators generally. Take yourself seriously.

What was your most rewarding project and or life experience?

My ever evolving baby bump is without a doubt the weirdest and most exciting thing to ever happen to me...

Do you feel that education is important for illustrators?

It's important that illustrator's starting out learn what their rights are and how to go about interacting with a client in a professional manner. Asides from that, art college gives you the time and space to develop something but it's whether or not you have the persistance to make things happen, that counts.

What one event drastically changed your life?

Probably when a friend donated his clapped out computer to me... With absolutely no expectations, I bought a scanner and started mucking about with Photoshop. One year later, I had a portfolio, a website and an agent. On a personal note- the obvious appendage that is currently using my ribs as leverage to move around.

What does your life partner or best friend do?

Kenny, is a music producer (under the name Grand Unified), actor/writer and superdooperfather-to-be (vomit)

Who are your favorite illustrators and artists?

Oooooooooooooooooh, Too many to mention...*stares at wall for hour* OK, Hockney, Bacon, Jasper Goodall, Peter Jeroense, Linn Olofsdotter, Peter Saville, Michael Gillette...I have broken my brain...there are loads, loads more.

What book has affected you most?

Charles Bukowski's books always inspire me- sometimes if only to feel a bit sick LOL... I like his brutally honest approach to writing. Roald Dahl's books with Quentin Blake's illustrations were a firm favourite growing up and I could quite happily re-read any of them. I think this may mean I am, essentially childish.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Hopefully with a different haircut (I have a peculiar inability to grow my hair without attacking it with blunt scissors), living by the sea with Kenny and a fleet of infants, with enough money to keep me in chocolate/crap magazines/pencils. I don't ask for much.

What did you do today?

Stared at alot of walls, made workmen cups of tea, answered alot of emails and cut my hair with blunt scissors. Not so productive but to quote Ms O'Hara- Tomorrow is another day.

Article added by andrei on Wednesday, Aug 31, 2005.

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Name: Lucy MacLeod
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland