Illustrator Amy Moss on evoking a feeling over formal technique

The Edinburgh-based illustrator discusses how she came to accept that “how I draw is how I draw.”

27 April 2021

Amy Moss first developed an interest in illustration through reportage drawing, using the medium “as a kind of information gatherer.” Having grown up in Canterbury, Kent, Amy stayed local for her foundation diploma before venturing north to Edinburgh where she studied for her degree. The art schools in Edinburgh and Glasgow appealed to her because both “had a full-time desk in a studio space,” she tells us, and having moved up there a little over five years ago, Amy hasn’t looked back since. Graduating in 2019, she now works part-time in a contemporary art gallery in the city and freelances on the side. Her clients include Little White Lies, Popshot Quaterly and Culture Trip, just to name a few.

Looking back on her education in the arts, she credits her courses with helping develop observational drawing; something that’s key to Amy’s practice. She also keeps an observational sketch book: “It’s a really nice way to look around, specifically to record things and catch moments, then come back to them later. When you’re drawing from life you understand the story of what’s going on in your own image, because you were part of it.” For Amy, observational drawing feels easily achievable, predominantly because “you need to do so little.” All you need is a pencil and a piece of paper, and then you draw.

Through illustration, Amy crams in bags of personality and narrative. “I like the challenge of taking something I like, or have researched or experienced, and see how I can translate it into a little vignette or something more.” She experiments with zines and comics to capture certain feelings, all the while thinking about what she is communicating through image and text. When it comes to Amy’s illustration style, it’s pretty simple: “I just draw what I see most of the time.” Taking up her trusty 7B pencil (or darker), Amy usually turns to a colour pencil (or even a cheap watercolour if she’s feeling like a change) but all in all, she adds, “I use nothing too complicated and instead rely on being confident in my drawings, rather than on the medium.”


Amy Moss (Copyright © Amy Moss, 2021)

Stylistically, Amy never rubs anything out. The boldness of her work comes from her accepting “how I draw is how I draw.” Capturing the nuances of movement through her observational drawing, she indulges in the free flowing energy that comes with looking, then illustration. She adds on this sense of un-precious creativity, “I hate to say that my work is often unfinished because I don’t think it is, but I do definitely tend to leave it a little undone, again, it just feels more natural.” This process extends to her digital work too. When she changes colour while working digitally, it’s only with a slight tweak. Thus, Amy’s creative process is consistently immediate with splashes of spontaneity.

She continues to talk us through a couple of recent projects which demonstrate her process, the first being a zine titled From London, Heading South. A self-initiated project, Amy documents the feeling of unwinding from a fast-paced trip – an experience Amy bases on coming back from D&AD New Blood with two friends. Having commuted into London on consecutive days back-to-back, she remembers going from the sticky hot heat of inner-city London, to getting picked up by her parents at a far away train station where they took Amy and her friends to the white cliffs of Dover. Then, they travelled to Ramsgate beach for fish and chips and to watch the sunset. “It felt like such a special, golden moment,” says Amy, “and I couldn’t stop thinking about it until I put it on paper in some kind of way.” Focusing on the memory of the trip, the intense emotion of the day overpowered the creative process for this zine. And much like the rest of Amy’s work, it evokes the sensations of the day over formal technique.

Elsewhere, Amy recently illustrated the cover of the Minari issue of Little White Lies. A “dream commission” for Amy, who’d bought the magazine since she was a teen (long before she knew she wanted to pursue illustration), Amy was thrilled with the commission. For Amy, the most fun aspect of the brief was capturing the feeling of Alan S Kim’s character from the film. It’s a challenge she never had to master before, but the final illustration displays the warmth and innocence of the character through the energetic line work and colourful detail.

As for the future, along with a few commissions, Amy notes that there is a large stack of unread books and TV shows beckoning to her call. With a new zine idea on the horizon, she’s also been working on a lot of self-reflection, meditating on the last year and the precarity of freelance life. All in all, she hopes to find a way to balance her creative expression with stability and, most of all, have fun along the way.

GalleryAmy Moss (Copyright © Amy Moss, 2021)

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About the Author

Jynann Ong

Jynann joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. She went freelance in 2022.

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