Visual Female of the Month – March
– Abbey Watkins
I am absolutely head over heels in love with Abbey Watkins. Her illustration and pattern designs are to die for. Earthy, mysterious and deep, her subject matter is a treasure on its own, and paired with her amazing pencil skills, the finished work is phenomenal. There is something wonderful about a strong femininity that presents itself in an assertive, controlled way which is what I get from Abbey’s artwork. A splash of arcane energy seems present in each piece and I just had to get inside her head to see where all the wonder comes from.
Now for the interview….
You’re an amazingly talented illustrator and print designer. Tell us a bit about your print design work.
Thank you. My print design work was a large part of my studies at university as I was studying Textile Design for Fashion at MMU, which meant all of my work had to be in a fashion context. That’s how it started, with some drawing and some photo manipulation, then mixing the two. Now I mostly work with my drawings after a long battle of teaching myself how to work in Photoshop over a number of years. It’s something I really enjoy and would like to do more of. It’s really satisfying to see my work printed onto material.
If you had to pick only one to do from now on, would you choose illustration or print design?
That’s kind of an impossible question to answer as I think sometimes the lines between them are blurred and they both intertwine with each other. If I had to answer, maybe illustration for the freedom of subject matter. When designing prints I often have to consider the client and the end product more so than in my own illustrations.
What is your biggest artistic accomplishment to date?
I have no idea. I don’t feel like I’ve achieved anything worth shouting from the rooftops about. I think I’m more concerned with my own artistic journey and developing myself along with my work rather than any particular milestone of achievement. Although it is really great to work for brands like Volcom and The Kooples. I have some designs coming out in Urban Outfitters soon with Morning Warrior which was really great news. I think my biggest accomplishment is just that I am working as an illustrator and making a living from my artwork. I couldn’t really ask for any more than that.
What ideas do you hope to convey in your work?
I would just like to get to a place where what I feel inside and who I am comes through into my artwork. Like a well-rounded vision of everything I am and believe in. I would love for some things to trickle through, like my concerns about the environment, the destructive nature of mankind and our need to be closer to mother earth, but I’m not about to start preaching through my art work, I would just like it to flow naturally.
How much of you do you put into your illustrations?
When I’m working on my own things, I think it can only really be about me in some way, all the information I’ve gathered, the experiences, what I choose to draw and how I draw it, it’s all coming from me, so I guess I put all of me in there in one way or another. When working for a client it’s a little different, I’m often a little more restricted, sometimes completely restricted by a brief and I have to hold back on the personal touches and the weird stuff.
A lot of your work is in pencil. Have you done much (or any) digital illustration? And how does this compare?
I have had a few ventures into digital illustration and I love it. It’s hard to compare, they are both great mediums, I think digital illustration has a bad rep for not being as ‘authentic’ or whatever, but you only have to look at artists like Tom Bagshaw, Stuntkid and Feline Zegers to realise that’s not the case at all. For me I’d always go back to pencil, it’s kind of where I belong, but working digitally is great fun and full of so many different avenues. It’s almost overwhelming for an indecisive art freak like me.
If you somehow hurt your vision, would you choose to wear glasses or contacts?
What a strange question. I look and feel like a total idiot in glasses and I don’t trust contact lenses, so I’d probably say neither and continue to walk around in a blur as I do most of the time now. It’s kind of nice to not see everything so clearly, you get to make up the difference in your head from your imagination.
Excluding sight, what two other senses are your favourites?
Sound and touch. I couldn’t live without music, and touch is pretty self-explanatory.
5 most pleasant things to look at:
5 least pleasant things to look at:
Nature destroyed by humans
My ex boyfriend
Anyone from reality television
Who is the most inspiring woman you know and why?
Truthfully, I don’t know that many women, so here comes the obvious answer. My mum. She raised 3 of us on her own, held down multiples jobs, a house, a cat I made her get me which consequently had kittens. Sorry mum. I was a complete tear away when I was a teenager and she kept her cool and did her job. I couldn’t hope to have a better parent. She’s loving, generous, kind, a total idiot in the best way possible and never gets boring. She has shown me how to be a bigger person in the long run, even if a current situation drives you crazy, and to love your family more than life itself.
What is your favourite thing about yourself?
My imagination, the way I think.
What is on your bedroom walls currently?
Work by Shaun Beaudry, Naomi Nowak, Feline Zegers, a picture of Keith Richards, a Pink Floyd poster, a lot of patterns from nature, some sacred geometry, and a lot of drawings of decapitated heads and skulls. I’ve also got a cow horn and a sheeps skull.
Favourite clothing / accessory / product at the moment?
I am just eternally grateful to have a decent leather biker jacket and some boots to wear everyday. I also found a great skull ring on Brick Lane. But I am in possession of a Zana Bayne x Pendv leather harness which is a beautiful thing, and also a top by House of Widow which has long black hair coming from the neckline which I love.
Favourite artist at the moment:
That’s completely impossible to answer! But considering my new and uncertain leap into oil painting and my taste for weirdness, I’m going to say Michael Hussar. On another day I might have said James Jean.
And finally, any words of advice for people stepping into the creative sector?
Don’t expect it to be easy and follow your bliss.