Immerse yourself in Dylan Woodall’s wonderful world of playful, community-orientated illustration
We chat to the illustrator about the charm of children’s books and why he loves the “imperfect” nature of Risograph printing.
- Olivia Hingley
- 19 April 2022
“I enjoy the ways that art and design can be used as a communicative tool,” begins the Manchester-based illustrator Dylan Woodall. “It’s both an interesting and rewarding way of making.” This creative ethos and approach – which extends throughout the illustrator’s whole practice – is particularly present in his recent project with Building Bridges, an organisation that alongside Manchester Refugee Support Network puts on music nights in support of its local refugee community. And, in his characteristically warm style, full of endearing characters and playful happenings, Dylan’s posters perfectly emulate the organisation’s inclusive, community-focused work.
An element throughout the Building Bridges project that we just can’t get enough of here at It’s Nice That, is how Dylan’s designs make techno and DJ event nights – which can sometimes be uninviting or exclusionary spaces – appear much more fun, friendly and inviting. Interestingly, Dylan explains that this focus wasn’t initially a “conscious thing”. Instead, it was born out of the “creative reign” he was given when designing event posters for the art and music collective Semi Peppered. Quickly realising that they didn’t need to “conform to creating ‘serious’ looking designs,” Dylan and the Semi Peppered team have strived to incorporate storytelling and interactive concepts wherever they can, even creating a comic to go alongside a night in Bristol a few years back.
Upon viewing Dylan’s body of work, it probably comes as no surprise to hear that he’s always been particularly fond of children’s books. Particularly, those of his hero Roger Duvoisin: “his use of layering to find new tones and textures is a big source of inspiration for me”. But, in quite drastic contrast, it was Dylan’s discovering the work of Ralph Steadman, through his illustrations in Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that really instigated his love of illustration. “Stylistically, our works differ, but I’ve just always admired how he values spontaneity and the unexpected when making.” More recently however, Dylan has been obsessively finding and buying new zines and mags (such as Wobbly Club, Counterpoint and Beneficial Shock) to flick through and find himself “lost in the wonderfully crafted and curated illustrations they contain”.
Quite early in his creative journey, Dylan found his home in Risograph printing. Introduced to the method during his foundation year, he began to experiment with it more throughout his degree. “The reason I like working with Riso”, Dylan explains, “is because of its recognisable characteristics. It’s never perfect and is celebrated because of the imperfections it carries.”
These unique elements particularly shine through in Dylan’s collaboration with Kobean Coffee, an independent roaster in based in Stockport, Manchester. Focussing on ethically sourcing “rare and experimental produce”, in an early project with Kobean, Dylan created three Riso prints that paid homage to the places in which they source their beans, the characteristically rough edge of the Riso a subtle nod to the organic process of roasting. In a more recent project, Dylan worked on a rebrand for Kobean, in which they decided to introduce vibrancy and colour, something they hadn’t yet touched on. In terms of content, Dylan had the idea to “hone in on familiar home comforts, as a way of letting consumers know they can enjoy rare and hard-to-come-by coffee in the same way they would any other brand”. And, the final result – lively and charming in equal measure – will certainly leave you craving a coffee catch-up with your nearest and dearest.
Looking to the future, Dylan is broadly looking to “keep collaborating with like minded people, whilst also discovering more about what works best for me creatively (and what doesn’t)”. But, having not yet ventured into selling his work in person, Dylan is also super keen to get involved in some print fairs and makers markets this coming year. Safe to say, we’ll be at the front of the queue.
Dylan Woodall: Crown & Kettle BYOV (Copyright © Dylan Woodall, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.