“The first paid commission I did was a life-size painting of Jesus for the church beside my school, I got a cheque from the school for something like €11,” illustrator Mica Warren tells us. Since moving from Wicklow in Ireland to London, Mica’s commissions are a little less church-based and a little more meaty, involving the illustrator constructing ambitious worlds in bright hues and thick black linework.
His style is an amalgamation of all the things he loves mixed with the way he sees the world. “I’m definitely inspired by other artists’ work, most acutely by the illustrators and animators I got into when I was young,” says Mica. From his childhood a list of his references include Quentin Blake, Horrible Histories, and Calvin and Hobbes. Nowadays glimmers of the work of Martina Paukova and Andy Rementer can be seen in the faces of Mica’s characters. It’s the illustrator’s colour palettes and compositions that offer a point of difference though, with his clustered scenes of Morph-like characters that seem to overlap and interlink.
The illustrator combines abstract shapes with more figurative elements. “I remember being a bit wary of anything abstract when I was young because I couldn’t understand it and I suppose I thought that all drawings had to have a meaning that was easy to understand,” explains Mica. “But now I’m down with abstract things. I like to draw people that I’m interested in, people dancing, people at the beach, places from my memory.”
The challenge for Mica is always finding the best way to communicate an idea and his process changes depending on what or who the illustration is for. “If there’s a brief or the illustration has to be of a particular thing I’ll research the thing and then try to make a good representation of it,” he explains. “If it’s personal work I’ll just listen to music and draw and see what comes out. Or if I’ve had a particular idea for something I want to make then I’ll try to bring that straight out of my head. In terms of the physical process, I always start with pencil in a sketch book and then finish everything in Photoshop or Illustrator.”