Submit Saturdays: Patrick MacDonald’s rich and characterful monochrome illustrations

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Welcome to Submit Saturdays, a year long series of articles in partnership with Squarespace. Squarespace. Be it a professional work website, a shop, a social enterprise or a site that hosts a personal project, Submit Saturdays will showcase the work of creatives around the world who use the online platform Squarespace. This is a great new opportunity to share your projects and ideas with our readers. 

Illustrator Patrick MacDonald studied illustration at Camberwell and graduated two years ago. His black and white works feel rich with ink and many images have the aesthetic of lino prints with the texture he works into them. Taking inspiration from his trips abroad and his other life experiences, the illustrator’s work has been exhibited in various venues across the UK including The Canterbury Festival and Toploski Studio. We caught up with Patrick to find out how he got into illustration the first place and his recent projects.

How did you start out as an illustrator?

I’ve thought illustration was cool since I was 15 when a guy I looked up to was going to art school – he got me a sketchbook and I thought it was so precious I didn’t draw in it for two weeks, that was the moment that sparked my interest in art. Soon after I went to UCA in Canterbury and had an excellent teacher called Rob McDonald who helped push me out of my comfort zone and work on my style. I lived in a small tourist town and then went to Camberwell to study illustration and finished with a first class honours degree in 2014. 

How do you create your illustrations ? What’s your process?

I use ink and brush rotring pens, Tippex and then photoshop to add texture and neaten things up. There’s a lot of trial and error.

Where does your style derive from?

My influences are my mates that also draw; Elliot Freeman, Gaurab Thakali, Dan Singer, Rich de Courcy, Mike Driver and Blast Skates to name a few, also the outsider artist Jack Taylor. Most of the time my work is autobiographical with a bit of what’s going on around me, so in that sense I am more of an artist than illustrator.

The majority of your work is in black and white, what does this palette offer that colour doesn’t?

Black and white is good for fresh, striking images. Films such as Down by Law directed by Jim Jarmsuch in 1986 demonstrates this by choosing to strip everything down and show what’s really happening. I like to play with texture and make bold images.

Can you tell us more about your ongoing project Going to Easter Island? Where did the idea for the book come from?

It started very naturally. I just drew a group of people waiting for a coach but instead of the coach I drew a dock and boat, so I could keep it square and put it on Instagram. I did the next drawing of the people in the boat and imagined they were going Easter Island – it was the first island I could think of. I did a few more drawings and then contacted my writer friend who’s now working on the story with me. When its finished I would like to have a show in London somewhere. 

What you got planned for the rest of the year?

I just came back from Berlin which was great fun with my friend Elliot, so we’re going to make a zine out of some of the drawings we did, but mostly I’ll be working on on the Easter Island book. After uni I spent three months in hospital and that’s lead me to a great interest in art therapy as a career so I want to explore that more. 

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About the Author

Rebecca Fulleylove

Rebecca became staff writer at It’s Nice That in March 2016 before leaving the company at the end of 2017. Before joining the company full time she worked with us on a freelance basis many times, as well as stints at Macmillan Publishers, D&AD, Dazed and frieze.

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