• Fooooo
  • Folio2

    Syd Brak: QI

  • Folio1

    Syd Brak: Sexy Beast poster

  • Folio3

    Tony Meeuwissen Kingfisher

  • Folio4

    Tony Meeuwissen: Queen of Diamonds

  • Folio5

    Jason Brooks: Beach House 04

  • Folio6

    Swiss Casinos – Blackjack

  • Folio7

    Andrew Ingamells: Cambridge

  • Folio8

    Andy Watt: Illustration for FHM

  • Folio9

    Clear as Mud: Illustration for Work Life

Illustration

Folio

Posted by Rob Alderson,

We love birthdays – the cake, the gratuitous singing, the sadly-now-out-of-fashion birthday bumps. Nothing like a knees-up in our opinion – and we’re sure they’ll be celebrating in style down at illustration agency Folio, which has just turned 35. Founder Nicholas Dawe was good enough to take a few minutes to talk us through the highs, the changes and give a bit of advice to anyone trying to break into the industry.

Hi Nick, what would you say has changed the most over the past 35 years in the industry?

Undoubtedly the advent of computers in the last 15 to 20 years: not only have they added another, digital string to the illustrator’s bow, they have also completely changed the way of doing business, allowing artists, agents and ad agencies to work remote from each other and quickly with each other, increasing efficiency, allowing changes to be made more easily, and cutting down on errors.

This arm’s length working has also meant that agents must work even harder than before to build and maintain relationships – with clients, with agencies and with the artists themselves.

What things have stayed the same?

The enthusiasm of our illustrators – it’s still a thrill, even after 35 years in the business, for me to team up with creative minds and superbly skilled artists, developing work and expanding possibilities. At Folio we cherish the freedom to work independently – in contrast to many other agents, none of the artists who work with Folio work under contract; we feel this allows for greater flexibility and creativity.

You’ve worked with some massive names – which talents stand out in the memory?

To mention just a few – Syd Brak, with his iconic 80s Athena posters, now in vogue again; Paul Hogarth, the consummate illustrator’s illustrator, an inspiration to so many other artists; Tony Meeuwissen, who won the coveted D&AD Black Pencil award twice for his wonderful, detailed work; Michael English and his terrific airbrush oeuvre; Jason Brooks’ stylish and fashionable work, that continues to evolve – and so many more.

Do you always know when someone is going to really change the game, or do illustrators develop in different ways?

At the outset there’s often a sense that someone might be big, but it’s not infallible. I look out, first and foremost, for people who can draw, and who I feel have the potential to develop their own, unique style and evolve over a long period. But great talent always shows and asserts itself eventually – I see myself as a facilitator in this regard.

What advice would you give illustrators starting out today?"

Absorb all the influences you want, but aim always to develop your own style. Even when that’s done you can’t sit content, your work must evolve – fashions come and go in commercial illustration as in any other creative industry, so you must be prepared and able to adapt. You in your turn will influence others coming along behind you.

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Illustration View Archive

  1. Main

    It’s not only the level of detail in Laurie Lipton’s drawings which is crazy; the illustrations are too. With charcoal and pencil she creates bonkers worlds in black and white which look like pictures for a short story written by the love child of Charles Dickens and George Orwell. The blacking factory meets Big Brother.

  2. List

    Ping Zhu is a force to be reckoned with in the world of illustration. Not only is she talented, mastering an inimitable style in every way imaginable, and then using it as very efficient bait to reel in the big clients, The Sunday Times, Pentagram and Nobrow included, but she’s also future proof – developing her style with every project she undertakes to make her as exciting as she is reliable, and delivering consistently good work to a broad spectrum of briefs.

  3. Mt101top

    There’s some schadenfreude at play in Masami Tsukishima’s illustrations. His series Life Of A Salesman follows lonely suited blokes trudging to and from work, talking on their phones and lugging their suitcases. I like how he plays with the angles of his illustrations; life is literally an uphill struggle for some of these poor office drones, as they plod along lanes slanting up and away from them. There’s also some sort of alternate universe in the series, where trains go up in flames and spread-eagled salesmen fall through the sky and run away from looming giant iPhones. One second the salesmen are sedately reading their emails, the next everything has spiralled out of control. The sentiment is a tongue-in-cheek 21st century Japanese rendering of “Slough”. I’m guessing Masami Tsukishima doesn’t wear a suit to work.

  4. Glaserlist

    We adore this article from NYT’s T Magazine today, in which a heap of creatives sing hallelujah for old school artistic tools, with brilliant illustrations to boot.

  5. List

    There are several reasons why we love Kyle Pellet and everything that comes out of his Pellet Factory, but first and foremost on the list is that his work is good, plain, unadulterated fun. There’s no need to muse on his choice of medium, or the narratives which seem to run from one image to the next, or the squishy-faced characters who pop up again and again, because why would you when you can look at them, laugh and imagine you’re running through a gallery with a pack of assorted animals? Turns out he’s been incredibly busy churning out work at an impressive rate, so here’s an update on what he’s been up to! If you’re curious, you can also check out five of his favourite books over here on his bookshelf.

  6. Gflist

    Doodling isn’t just for school kids. It’s about discovery. “It’s a healthy way to let it all out, with no restrictions or external rules,” says Guy, a designer and illustrator. “You just go for it.” Every single page of his sketchbooks is packed with faces, animals, monsters, questions and squiggles. “Sometimes you’ll draw a face or a hand or a dog in a way you’ve never seen or done before and that’s always a good feeling. And sometimes you just make yourself laugh!”

  7. Main9

    Scrolling through Marcel George’s hand-painted watercolour illustrations is like going on safari. Lipsticks hiding behind palm fronds, flamingos stalking around sunglasses, the Lacoste crocodile roaring at trainers.

  8. Dadulist

    There’s something otherworldly about Dadu Shin’s illustrations. Miniature people wander about an overgrown fairy-tale forest, an avatar-like hand reaches out into a tie-dye galaxy, a man walks a lonely path over rocks which form the silhouette of a woman’s face.

  9. List

    As far as I can tell, there will always be a place for clean, stylish, witty illustration in the pages of today’s most esteemed media outlets, and for as long as that is the case illustrator Ben Wiseman isn’t going to have any trouble finding work. He’s nailed his aesthetic, communicating funny, satirical observations in neat, stripped back images and vibrant colours, and sure enough, clients have cottoned on. His portfolio includes a TIME magazine cover alongside work the The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde and This American Life, a corker of a list which just about makes him Brooklyn’s poster boy for editorial illustration. And thank god, because the black and white pages of the aforementioned publications sure would be dull without him.

  10. Main

    It’s very exhilarating to see people taking something destructive and turning it into something creative; with that in mind please welcome the Computer Virus Catalog.

  11. List

    Dutch illustrator and designer Eline Van Dam (Zeloot to her clients) belongs to the same circle of pals as Viktor Hachmang and Jordy van den Nieuwendijk, which goes some way to explaining why her work is so god damn beautiful. Although she’s about as versatile as image-makers come – her portfolio covers a variety of styles ranging from the niche to the commercial – it’s her posters that really stand out for their 1970s-inspired phychedelic iconography and bold, experimental use of colour; any colour she can get her hands on! Now we just need to work out what we can commission her for.

  12. List

    As our online editor Liv Siddall said, “If you like sex and you like lions, you’ll like these drawings,” and I think she’s probably right. Maria Luque illustrates naked couples hanging out with what I imagine is a pet lion. Her characters lounge around in the nude, lying across big beds in breezy looking apartments filled with luscious vases and intricate carpets, always accompanied by a big, red quizzical king of the cats. Maria is from Argentina, and she says that she likes to make people laugh with her work. We like her child-like hand and summery colours, and the fact that she’s definitely succeeded in making us giggle.

  13. Main

    Editorial horoscope illustrations tend to be a bit same-y: crabs, women holding scales, goats, fish, blah blah blah. I can’t deny I was surprised yesterday when I saw that Elle Italia had commissioned one of my favourite illustrators to bring their horoscope supplement to life, mainly because Sac Magique is a weird choice for a usually rather reserved publication. They gave him the task of illustrating the horoscopes with the theme of “beach” and my, did he deliver. How refreshing and fun to have something so ubiquitous illustrated with the most fun, summer drawings ever, especially by someone who gave us this Spice Girls image that will forever remain the best thing I have ever seen.