Despite being based out of the “sticks of Devon” where the illustration scene is not as fully flourished as some other regions of the UK, freelance illustrator Darren Shaddick is proof that you can still acquire clients such as the likes of giffgaff and Ralph Lauren, and not live in London.
Recently added to the books of Roar Illustration Agency, Darren relishes in the challenges faced by the illustrator to portray a whole concept or story in a single image, all while staying true to his own visual language. “Creating an illustration which fulfils a brief as well as my own leaves me feeling more satisfied than any other career could,” Darren tells It’s Nice That on his chosen career path.
“Having the option to work as an illustrator is a real privilege,” says Darren. After graduating with a degree in art in the summer of 2016, Darren found that it wasn’t until he was “left alone in the wild” that his visual style really began to develop into what he is creating today. “Gradually, I started to feel more confident in my work and my ability,” he adds, “which has also led me to become slightly more proficient in sharing what I am making today.”
He draws influence from the aesthetic of film, delving into how scenes are shot, the colour palette, and how filmic techniques and narratives overlap to create a story. “Currently I’ve found a lot of inspiration in older technology,” Darren adds on the matter. He cites the old Packard Bell computers and vintage Sony radios in particular. “I like the yellowish hues of the plastic and the graphic design” plastered on the casings. And in this vein, Darren utilises the pastel pink tones of old plastic goods to provide his illustrations with a certain kind of earthiness.
Living in the rural countryside has also helped furnished Darren’s aesthetic recently. “I’ve seen the emergence of more brown and green colour palettes within my work along with more fauna and rocky imagery.” Absorbed by people watching, he jots down visual cues from his day-to-day experiences; “especially amongst the older generations,” Darren adds. “They seem to wear clothes that have an interesting style which are often oversized in a lot of cases.”
In turn, these myriad factors culminate in the character repeatedly drawn throughout Darren’s practice. This character comes from Darren’s attempts to “figure out what the ultimate cool person is.” It started off as someone “who would definitely listen to jazz”; Darren’s personal idea of a beatnik. “But now, I see him more an extension of myself,” says the illustrator. “He can be mostly uncool and shy on occasions while also enjoys the sight of his trouser legs flapping in the wind. He’s almost like my own version of an action figure which I can manoeuvre in any way I like; dress how I see fit and place in any scenario that I want to.”
About the Author
Jyni 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. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.