Louise has been drawing ever since she first held a pencil and she is so happy to be doing it for a living now she is a grown up. Based in a small town in England, she takes inspiration from the every day things around her, such as hand painted signs, food packaging and old toys. Her work is colourful, jolly and playful as well as being unusual. She creates her designs by drawing, printing, cutting and finding collage material and textures, then compiles them using a computer. Never one to follow current design trends, her work has a folk art aesthetic and a timeless feel. She has her own little company called The Printed Peanut where she applies her illustrations onto household products, books, toys and games.
1. What’s the first piece of art you can remember making?
I loved doing those self-portraits for school tea towels. I still like drawing on tea towels.
2. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people.
Last year as part of the Tour de France coming through Yorkshire where I live, I created a huge line drawing on a hillside that the public could cycle around. It was a giant leaping lady, symbolising the freedom that the invention of bicycles had given women at the time (bloomers were invented). The muddy line created by the bike wheels made it look like a dark continuous line drawing on the hill. The BBC TV program Countryfile filmed us cycling round it. It’s the biggest drawing I’ve ever done and was seen by a possible 6 billion viewers of the Tour de France around the world!
3. Tell us about your typical working day.
I wake up naturally (my dreams are too good to interrupt) usually around 8am. I get some coffee straight away, then I sit at my desk and look at emails. If I’m working on illustrations I’ll be glued to my laptop for most of the day, only tearing myself away for parcelling up orders and cycling to the post office. I create my images by collaging drawings and paper cut outs, so I’m surrounded by little scraps of paper. I’ll be ready to stop at 9pm and actually spend some time with my partner Paul.
4. What music do you listen to while you work?
I can’t work without listening to music! I have my iTunes on shuffle and an eclectic mixture of music from Francoise Hardy and Jake Thackeray to Pulp and Hank Williams accompanies me throughout the day. Bob Dylan is a constant. I love listening to Radio 4 and BBC 6 Music too.
5. What do you like to do when you’re not illustrating?
It’s strange when you turn your hobby into a way of making a living as you can’t stop yourself from doing it all the time! I find it difficult not working and feel guilty if I spend even one day off a week. I think the only way I can switch off is by rifling through charity shops so I do that a lot. We’re currently doing up an old textile mill which will one day be a home and a studio, so that is taking up lots of time.
6. What 5 things can’t you live without?
I’ve made a Phrenology map of my brain, which is an example of the one available to buy on my website. 5 of those things in my mind are:
– Tunnock’s caramel wafers
– Charity shops
7. Which book illustrations have stayed with you from childhood/influenced you?
I really loved Roald Dahl books (and still do)! The perfect marriage of his writing and Quentin Blake’s illustrations is very inspiring for a young illustrator to see. I also avidly read comics like The Beano and I learnt a lot about life from them. I love 1960s illustration and I think it’s having a resurgence at the moment. It’s a very exciting time for illustration and I keep buying children’s books! I think they are more exciting now then it was when I was a kid in the 90s.
8. When are you happiest?
I love it when I’ve been designing a product for The Printed Peanut and it comes back from the printers, or wherever it has been made, and I can hold it and see it as a 3D object, rather than as something on the screen. I also love travelling, and exploring foreign cities is one of my favourite things to do.
9. Your illustrations have been applied to lots of different mediums, from stationery and games, to fashion and soap packaging! What’s next for you and who would be your dream client?
I absolutely love designing packaging. Creating the wrappers for my soap was a joy and I love thinking about what to design next. I would love to collaborate with a food company to design something like chocolate bar wrappers (and get free samples). I’m currently working on a children’s activity book all about food with pages such as ‘Design your dream packet of cereal’. I’m always expanding my range for The Printed Peanut and working on more greetings cards, t-shirts and temporary tattoos. Wearable illustrations! I won’t stop until I’ve illustrated every possible surface in the world!
10. What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators?
I’d say they key is drawing. You must draw every day otherwise you become rusty. It’s no different from an athlete having to train every day. Also, get on Instagram, it’s a great way for other people around the world to see what you are creating. I like showing my work in progress as well as my finished pieces, people can really connect with you that way.