Since the last time we spoke to illustrator Leomi Sadler in 2018, her work has evolved in spades. Now with a successful Breakdown Press release (Tummy Bugs) under her belt, it’s no wonder that Leomi has procured a dedicated online following. People are drawn to the idiosyncratic world of her cartoon-inspired illustrations and repeatedly find themselves coming back for more. “In the last year or so, I’ve definitely noticed a shift in the way that I assemble images,” she tells It’s Nice That. “I've noticed an inclination towards pattern and repetition, and using cut-up drawings as jigsaw puzzle pieces.” Whilst Leomi refers to these practices as “apolitical and decorative,” they’re nonetheless working to inform her current mode of work. “I’m still making comics too, and I think that’s where the important stuff takes place,” Leomi explains. “The comics are still the core of my practice.” She avoids honing in on any one particular style, still working with the freestyle creative visual language she mastered at the time we originally spoke to her. The only difference now is the broadening of her process. “By using the puzzle technique, I found a way of making stories that I would probably not have made before,” Leomi adds. “Through this approach, I’ve been trying to do more collaborative collage and drawing projects with friends and people I’ve met through Instagram, and that’s added some really welcome surprises to my diet.”
As Leomi ventures forward to new things, her previous successes still orbit around her. Having co-ran the publishing group Famicon Express for many years, Leomi talks about its fluctuating levels of productivity. “At the end of 2020, we put out Famicon Collection 04 since we hadn’t done a collection book for 13 years,” she tells us. “Famicon Express is slow and disorganised as ever, but that's fine, we are not aspiring to be like other publishers.” The latest issue at the back-end of 2020 came from Leomi’s desire to work away from an isolated practice and more collaboratively with other people. “It's cool that people are into what I do when I work alone, but so much of my development and my ideology comes from the things I've learnt from artists around me,” she explains. Now, Leomi, tells us “Famicon is just producing things as and when we feel like it.” For Leomi, Famicon ultimately serves as an “anti-ambitious entity” that interrogates the notion of ambition being the default setting for artists.
As for her published work, Tummy Bugs, Leomi states the concept behind it was “just to make a cohesive collection book really.” The work is, essentially, just that: a collection of works already published in prior anthologies and brought together under one mood and tone. “I couldn’t help but feel like if I made a big compendium of everything I’d ever done, it would be intensely incoherent, and would also feel like I had died,” she explains. “So instead we decided to do a library of books, each one centred around a separate channel of my output.” The first volume in question is Tummy Bugs, and “readers can expect to see cartoon characters being mistreated, performances of wisdom, and a sense of joy, simple-ness and perseverance.” Most of the arrangement of the book came easily to Leomi, such as picking the front cover. However, it was designing the book’s spine which proved to be most difficult as Leomi found it had to fit into a consistent design that worked with the Leomi Library series. “It was stressful trying to imagine a spine that would be appropriate for all the future books, which will be quite different in content to Tummy Bugs.”
Like many other artists in the ongoing pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, Leomi confesses that it’s been “a long time since I felt truly inspired.” It’s a tale we’ve heard countless times over the past 18 months, and one many can sympathise with. “Sometimes I feel inspired when I get really pissed off and upset... the act of drawing and making has shown itself, for me, to be a form of pure escapism,” she says. “I think I might be addicted to being in the state of flow, where the rest of the world falls away.” Right now, she’s working on being “more funny and interesting” with her work, and putting herself in “some potentially inspiring situations.” Mostly, she’s not an artist to dwell on the future. “I don’t really expect anything from the world,” she tells us. So what’s to come for the inventive illustrator? “I'm excited about the 3D project I'm doing with [Famicon Express partner] Stef,” Leomi says. “I’m excited about finally releasing the Mr Birthday Cake comic book, as well as some new clothing stuff I'll be releasing through Tydrax618.”
GalleryLeomi Sadler (Copyright © Leomi Sadler, 2021)
Leomi Sadler: Copyright © Leomi Sadler, 2021