We caught up with Birmingham-based illustrator Megan Reddi to find out more about her passions for print, pens and her adorable pooches.
How would you describe your work to someone who hasn’t seen it before?
Probably quirky and colourful, with lots of texture. I try to avoid depicting things exactly as they should be – I like my work to be a bit playful!
What feelings, subjects or concepts inspire you as an artist?
I’m really inspired by printed textures. I work a lot with screen printing and I love going through my old mis-printed items and squirrelling them away to cut up and use within my illustrations! Other than that, I’m inspired by those weird little thoughts and ideas that pop into your head during the day when you’re not really thinking about anything in particular.
How does your creative process work?
I still feel a bit ‘new’ when it comes to illustration, so my process is constantly developing at the moment! Right now, I’m trying to find a comfortable balance between working traditionally and digitally. I usually start with my brush pen and my sketchbook where I’ll work really loosely to flesh out some basic ideas that I’ll then gradually refine into one solid composition. Then I’ll scan that into Photoshop and start using some of the textures that I’ve created or collected to add definition to the illustration. Up until this stage I’m usually working in black and white, so finally I stick in some colour and play with the colour palette until I’m happy with it – usually I work with a limited number of colours, which is a habit I’ve picked up from screen printing.
Describe your perfect day.
At the moment, my perfect day involves being super productive and getting a lot of stuff done! I’m in that awkward phase between being a student and being a ‘professional’ so I love those days where you feel like you’ve accomplished something and that you’re actually making your way in the world. My perfect day would be that, combined with a constant supply of chocolate and cups of tea!
How to you combat creative blocks?
This is a tough one because I always feel like I handle creative blocks badly! My usual tactic is to strip things back to basics and just work in my sketchbook with my ink pen. I try to be really fluid and not think about what I’m doing, so that I can get back into the joy of actually making something instead of worrying about it. Sometimes I end up not even drawing anything specific, I’ll just make patterns out of bit of old textures that I’ve collected. If all else fails, I’ll give myself a day off. Sometimes you just need to step back, take a deep breath and let your mind focus on something else for a little while.
What role do your dogs Molly and Floki play in your business?
They’re a really good way to make sure I don’t just sit at my desk all day! If I didn’t have them I’d probably spend 99% of my time at my desk, so they’re a good excuse to get out of the house for some fresh air. We live next to a nature reserve so I take them out for a walk there at some point during the day, usually when I’ve finished up whatever Im working on for the morning and need to recharge my batteries a bit. They also work as great (somewhat smelly) hot water bottles – whenever I have late night deadlines, Molly will stay up with me and sit on my lap to keep me warm.
You’re part of the Print Like A Girl collective. Tell us more about that.
It’s still in its infancy at the moment but Print Like A Girl is an all-female collective I’m part of with two other printmakers/illustrators, Charlotte Windsor and Gemma Pratt. We make screen-printed bits and pieces about silly things we think are funny. Last year we made and printed a little zine called ‘90s Baby’ about growing up during the 90s, and right now we’re working on a zine about all the ridiculous stuff you do when you’re procrastinating! Eventually we want to go out into the wider world and bring printmaking to other ladies through events and workshops.
What advice would you give to people who want to make creativity a bigger part of their life?
Try and do something creative everyday, and make a habit of it. People often think that to be a creative person you have to be working on a big project but life is busy and it can be really hard to keep up with something like that when you have to actively make time to work on it. Instead, try and fit creative activities into the spare time you already have – doodle during your morning commute, write a short story on your lunch break or play guitar while you’re waiting for your dinner to cook. The key to being creative is to do it regularly so that you don’t get rusty, and that’s going to be a lot easier to do if you fit it into your current schedule!
What 5 things can’t you live without?
My dogs and my partner, my snazzy brush pen, TV shows about houses (Kevin McCloud I’m looking at you), cute socks and a big mug of tea!
What’s your ultimate ambition as an illustrator?
I feel like this is always changing for me, but right now my ultimate ambition is to create illustrations that people want to engage with. I feel like people get bombarded with so much imagery now that it’s really easy to just gloss over what you’re seeing and block everything out. I want to make work that people actively engage with – whether that’s sticking it in a frame, sharing it with others or commissioning me, I just want my work to illicit a response!