Meet incredibly unique and very talented It's Nice That Graduate, Joe Lillington

10 July 2014

Much like the content of most of Joe’s work, opening the email attachment of his portfolio when he applied to The Graduates was like stumbling across buried treasure in ancient ruins. To see such honest, informed and unique work that shows dedication and a two-fingers-up to common, trendy illustration is just such a joy that I can barely contain myself.

Joe has just graduated from Falmouth University and is already collaborating and doing freelance work, but then again why wouldn’t he be? With draughtsmanship skills this good he could probably have just skipped out on University altogether. My one piece of advice to him would be to get his hands insured, those babies are precious. Here he is.

Why or who or what made you go to art school?

I think I just knew that art was what I really wanted to do, then during my foundation course I was sure that I definitely wanted to go on to do illustration, and just went from there.

Tell us about your best project

One of my favourite recent projects is probably my 7 Wonders of the Ancient World booklet. The concept was quite simple, just introducing what they were and where they were built, but I just really enjoyed creating the different atmospheres in each image and interpreting the research I did on them to create what they might have looked like, as well trying to create a sense of a narrative happening in a real place around each wonder in each illustration.


Joe Lillington: Romani Book of Words

Tell us about your worst

I found the illustration I did for Ambit magazine pretty hard work, mostly because it was aimed at a much more mature audience than my usual work. The first version I did looked much too like my young audience illustration. It was a bit of a challenge to tweak my visual language to suit the story and eventually I just redid the whole thing, which was a good idea in the end because I think it turned out nicely, and contrasts well with some of my lighter work.

If you could show one person your portfolio, who would it be and why?

I don’t think I can think of a particular person, if someone has an idea for a fun project or just likes my work, I’ll show it to them!

What was the best moment of your three years at uni (extra curricular included)?

This year I went with the illustration course to New York, which in itself was great because I’d never been before, but it was made better because we were able to get appointments with lots of art directors from various publishers and other places to show portfolios which was a really encouraging end to the degree. I just wish I had gone for longer because I was so busy I didn’t get to see as much of the city as I would have liked!


Joe Lillington: Ambit Magazine

A lot is changing – would you recommend art school to someone who is considering going?

I would if it was possible for them to go, because I think there are lots of benefits from going which aren’t just what you get taught on the course. I think that developing your visual language while you are surrounded by people who are also trying to develop theirs makes it more fun and makes you want to push yourself, I think it leads to more opportunities for collaboration and interesting ideas than if you were just working away by yourself. 

Finally, if your dreams come true, where will you be in a year’s time? 

Hopefully I’ll be freelancing, maybe illustrating a book or two? Working on illustrations where I can have fun with interpretation, like in my 7 Wonders, maybe for museums. And also helping to develop Fold Collaborative – a group of illustrators I’m a part of. If I’m busy and finding exciting new projects to work on, that would be great!


Joe Lillington: Zaftig zine


Joe Lillington: Fold Collaborative


Joe Lillington: London Stories


Joe Lillington: London Stories


Joe Lillington: Light Grey Art Lab


Joe Lillington: Light Grey Art Lab

Supported by Represent

We are very pleased that The It’s Nice That Graduates 2014 will once again be supported by Represent Recruitment. The graphic design recruitment specialists have developed a peerless reputation working with designers of all levels and matching them up with the right positions in some of the top agencies around. Represent’s support has helped us grow the Graduate scheme over recent years and we are thrilled they have partnered with us again in 2014.

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About the Author

Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and worked across online, print and events, and was latterly Features Editor before leaving in May 2015.

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