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Artist, Illustrator, Rebecca Hendin has her own magic touch and she shared her creative processes
Artist and illustrator Rebecca Hendin graduated from Central Saints Martins with a First Class Honours in Art and design. Her clients include Foyles Bookshop, Island Records, WPP, Estee Lauder, Eurostar… to name just a few!
If this wasn’t enough, Rebecca hendin’s work has also been used for the Edinburgh Fringe and in publications including The Economist, The Guardian, Grazia, and so on!
While wandering around Charing Cross Road, London you might see a 29 x 8.5m mural commissioned by Foyles Bookshop and Saint Martins Lofts!
Creative Mapping caught up with the lively and talented Rebecca Hendin to discuss her creativity and her approach. We had a long chat.
Illustrator, artist, designer…Rebecca Hendin refreshes the Art world and with flare!! In her world it seems nothing is off limits. Dive into a world of true artistic freedom and meet Rebecca Hendin:
“I wanted to create a scene of not only angry crowds, but one that was stereotypically, unmistakably London. Rather than use one photograph of one street, or oppositely, rather than try to imagine a London street/crowd, I used a combination of found photography and photos I took myself.” Rebecca Hendin
ABOUT REBECCA HENDIN
CM: Where do you live… and what & where did you study?
I live in Hackney, London. I received a 1st in the BA Graphic Design course at Central Saint Martins in 2010, on which I was on the Illustration Pathway. I transferred to Saint Martins in January 2009 after doing the first couple years of my degree in San Francisco at California College of the Arts.
CM: Tell us a little about what you do…
I’m a freelance illustrator, artist, designer… that sort of thing. As far what I do, that I don’t get paid for, I spend quite a lot of time drinking coffee, fending off our loving but aggressive house cat, and looking up images of seals and sea lions. I try to travel as much as possible, too.
CM: How did you become a professional, who are your clients and, finally, how do you market yourself?
I became a professional by seeking out freelance jobs while still at uni. The final year of Saint Martins illustration program was extremely open, allowing us students to more or less write our own curriculum. While I still made quite a bit of personal work, I also used a lot of this time to find paid work, which I was able to hand in as coursework, due to the open nature of the course.
My first editorial commission was for a company called Lyonsdown, who made a supplement magazine for The Economist magazine. So the first time my work was properly published was in The Economist! Looking back at that work, it was mostly awful, and I’m quite embarrassed about the quality now. That said, I’m sure I’ll think the same thing about what I’m doing now in three years time, too.
I’ve a smattering of clients. I’ve done quite a fair bit of work for Lyonsdown, which has allowed my work to be featured in not only The Economist, but also the The Guardian and The Telegraph on many occasions. I’ve done work for WPP, various magazines, and for quite a few independent bands, doing their EP/album/single art.
My favourite magazine to work for is AU Magazine, a Northern Irish music and culture publication which was one of the first places my art was printed, and which continues to employ me monthly. I like them because the briefs are always really open, which means I can usually do what I want as long as it ties in to the topic, and they are really lovely people. In addition to printed work, I also do painting commissions, which I really enjoy.
I market myself through mail-outs, and word-of-mouth, a LOT though internet. I keep an artist page on Facebook and Twitter and I have a website and an art-blog.
CM: What was the creative process of your project ‘Atlantics’; from the brief, through development, to the execution of your product?
This project I did was for the fantastic London-based band, Atlantics. The idea was to create something for them which could potentially be used as a record cover. I spoke with Nat, their frontman, who stressed that their music was inspired by politics and the contemporary social climate, but not in an overbearing or overly direct way ‚ in quite an uplifting way. The 2011 London riots had just occurred, and Nat wanted this‚ to be considered in the image, as well. It was his idea to have the band making their way through a rather riotous scene, as if they were moving beyond the madness, and rising above, so to speak. I wanted to create a scene of not only angry crowds, but one that was stereotypically, unmistakably London. Rather than use one photograph of one street, or oppositely, rather than try to imagine a London street/crowd, I used a combination of found photography and photos I took myself. Fortunately, for this project, I’d lived in London at that time for several years, and had attended the G20 protests in 2009, which left me with much relevant photography from which to draw.
In making a piece like this, which is quite detailed, I find it best to first make a digital photo-sketch. I collaged about sixty images together digitally until I had my composition sorted. The rioters are made up of a few dozen riot photographs and the street is a combination of a few dozen images of London streets and storefronts.
Ultimately, I hope that the final image conveys this sense of the band rising triumphant, and trying to make sense of of chao; keeping their calm amidst the storm.
CM: Do you work from the client’s brief?
If I’m doing paid illustration work, I work from a brief, yes. If I’m doing a painting commission, I sometimes am working to a specific person’s vision, if they know what they want.
All clients are different as far as how strict their briefs are. Obviously, if I’m doing my own personal work, there is no brief, other than what I’ve imposed on myself.
CM: When do you know your project is finished?
I’m finished with a project when I’m not embarrassed to show it to people, I suppose.
Or when the deadline comes. Unfortunately, sometimes the deadline comes before the point of no embarrassment. Deadlines are good for forcing a finish, but not necessarily good for the most personally fulfilling, satisfying work quality‚ If there is no deadline, then I work until I like the piece. When there’s no deadline, that’s when I make the work with which I’m most pleased. Like this painting I made of an alien riding through space; I did that piece for fun, and without a deadline. It seems fairly rare that I genuinely like something that I’ve made, as I’m massively critical of myself and my work. But that one, I do like.
CM: Biggest achievement to date re work you’re most proud of?
I don’t know. Seeing my work in print, if this is an art-related question. Or making work that both I like – and other people respond to. If it’s not necessarily art-related, then probably my biggest achievement is getting this far in life without dying, or something. Or skydiving. Or the amount of miles I’ve racked up hitchhiking. Or perhaps my impressive seal collection. I collect seal-related objects and trinkets and books and such, and I think my collection is starting to get impressive.
CM: Biggest challenges as a creative (such as creative blocks)? And
how do you deal with them?
I don’t think I’ve ever had a creative block. My mind feels like it’s swimming with a million ideas most of the time. The only time I can’t work is when I’m feeling really down. I guess some people use their dark places as inspiration for work, but I work best when I’m pretty stoked and all is well.
I think the hardest part of being a creative is that there isn’t enough time to do all I want to do and to make all the things I want to make. I just wish days were longer, I don’t sleep that much as it is, and could use the extra work time.
As far as loneliness, I don’t get too lonely. I don’t mind being by myself at all. I quite enjoy it, though, I’ve always lived with other people who are pretty arty themselves, so there’s usually people around when I’m working (from home). Right now, I live in a house full of musicians-actors.
When I’m working, I listen to the radio and podcasts which keeps my mind from wandering too far into itself. And I do get out enough to remain sane. And so as not to become a full hermit I go out and see friends or sometimes just go on walks by myself – quite hard to avoid doing if the sun is out.
CM: Preferred working programs/tools/materials…?
These days, I’m working from my bedroom in London (very glamorous!). The work environment would be best described as cluttered. My room is the size of a large closet, but my house is in a lovely location on Regents Canal, and my room has lots of light. I have lovely flat mates who all are in various art-fields as well, so there is often someone about, which is nice, as this would be quite a lonely job without people around in similar situations. I’ll definitely never live alone as long as I do this.
I’ve been back in London for three months after spending the better part of a year being a nomad in Canada, during which time I took my studio on the road. And despite having no fixed address for over a year, I was able to continue working for most of that time thanks to the power of the almighty internet. So, sometimes my work environment is someone else’s living room where I’m also sleeping.
I recently went to Berlin and fell in love with a collage artist named Tim Roeloffs and I now have seven of his prints on my wall. I also have a rather silly number of seal and sea lion photos, books, and figurines. I have a Christmas wreath I found on a night out, which I’ve now named and now look after, a solar-powered rainbow maker, a string of fairy lights, about a dozen different scents of incense, two rather bad, large, framed Matisse reproductions which were in the room when I moved in, and I now use as pseudo cork-boards to pin stuff onto – and a bed in the ‘studio,’ among other things.
My favourite working tools are acrylic paint, ink, pen, pencil, and Photoshop. I’d make everything completely by hand if time allowed, but Photoshop helps when it doesn’t and allows for simpler changes to things. I never, ever, do anything completely digitally, however, and even if there is a large Photoshop component to a piece, much of it will still always be done by hand.
CM: Your favourite place to escape to?
I escaped to Canada for a year recently and kind of lived on the road and did my work on the road for that time. So yeah, I’d say ‘on the road in Canada’ is a great place to escape. When Canada or general travel shenanigans are not in the cards, though, I’d say the best place to escape is into a book. I love reading.
CM: What inspires you most about London?
Looking at other art is really inspiring. London is so good for that. The museums are almost all free, and there is such an abundance of galleries. Inspiring too, is just walking around and staring at things and places and people. I like going to parks.
I like sitting and watching life pass by. Everything interests me and I don’t know how to tune it out. It’s like I can’t turn my brain off, which is annoying sometimes.
It processes everything equally, be it ‘important’ or not. Everything from little spots and specks on the ground to adverts on the tube to the way that children interact with each other to cloud patterns to flowers to to signs to actual conversations I’m supposed to be paying attention to, to God knows what else. Everything is sort of equally inspiring (and equally irksome, at times). Either way, an idea or two seems to pop up from everywhere, every once in a while.
Images © Copyright: Rebecca Hendin. All rights reserved 2014.