Interview Illustrative Talents: Pencils, Paper, Scissors Collective

Today we showcase the work and introduce to you all the work of Illustrative collective; Pencils, Paper, Scissors Collective. This group comprises the talents of; Madi, Joanne, Kerri, Avril & Gemma. It was great for us to interview these five great minds who are clearly turned on and working hard to make a name for themselves in the tough illustrative industry.

Here we discuss all things design, illustration and social media. We ask the girls how would they survice on a desert island? Who were their biggest design influences? Is university the best route to be an illustrator and more. Thankyou to the girls who helped to make this interview possible and be sure to check out their work where you can.

You can follow the Pencils, Paper, Scissors Collective on Facebook and @pps_collective on Twitter.

Hi PPS Collective, its a pleasure to introduce yourselves to the Design Juices readers. Can you firstly tell us what PPS are about and where the idea has come from?


Madi: Pencils, Paper, Scissors is an illustration collective created by five girls who all share of love of handmade illustrations, children’s books and woodland creatures.

Joanne: Our collective came to life after a conversation on Twitter between Kerri-Ann, Madi and myself. We were discussing how collectives give people a chance to work together, inspire and motivate each other and meet new people. We then invited the lovely Gemma and Avril to join us on this wonderful adventure we are about to embark on.

Kerri: The name itself took a lot of tweaking but we eventually decided on Pencils, Paper, Scissors. It suits us all really well as it revolves around a playful childhood theme (rock, paper, scissors), while also showing that we are hands on and create handmade illustrations/designs.

What are your individual design backgrounds? Are you all from different walks of life and areas of the UK?


Kerri: I am a freelance illustrator from Cheshire and graduated with a degree in Illustration last year. Since graduating I have done pieces for various magazines and taken part in many competitions. I am also currently writing and illustrating my own children’s book, which I would love to see as a published book.

Joanne: I’m from the lovely South West of England in a little corner of Somerset. I graduated from the University of Wales Institute Cardiff in 2010 with a 1st Class Degree in Graphic Communication. Since then I have been trying to do as much freelance as I can whilst looking for a more permanent design job in the area of Bristol. Until then I keep myself busy doodling. One day I also want to write a children’s book but I have too many ideas at the moment! (If that can be a bad thing?)

Madi: I’m a freelance illustrator from Dorset; I graduated in 2009 with a 1st class degree in Illustration, and since then I’ve been working hard creating work for various magazines and getting involved with a range of collaborations and competitions. My work is very collage and mixed media based, resulting in hand-created illustrations often combined with hand-drawn typography.

Avril: I’m an illustrator from Dublin, studied graphic design for four years and decided that my main focus would be illustration as it is an area that I’m very passionate about. I’ve done a lot of work for magazines such as Amelia’s magazine, Who’s Jack, Ballad of, Flamingo and much more. I have recently designed a series of posters for Oxfams’ Oxjam events and illustrations for a fashion book called Fashion Africa that’s just recently been published.

Gemma: Luckily for me, I have been born and bred in North London and have always had the inspiration, galleries and eccentricites of London Town to influence my creativity. I graduated this July from Middlesex University with a 2:1 degree in BA Hons Illustration, where I loved studying the broadness of the subject and developing my own stlye. I’ve always held a passion and natural flair for creativity, which has taken many different directions throughout my life and education, yet I couldn’t be without it, it makes me who I am!

You all took the route through university to get where you are today? Would you say that would be your advised route for designers and illustrators? Or should consideration be given to other ways to get employed?


Gemma: I definitely think that the university route is advisable and beneficial in more ways than one. University not only shapes and moulds you into the illustrator/designer that you’ll become, but gives you so many more opportunities that I don’t think you’d get other wise. In whatever way you look at a degree, no one can deny that 3 years of dedication and enormous amounts of hard work is impressive and also shows potential employers that you’re serious about what you want as a career. Saying this, a degree is just the qualification, you still need to add the passion and drive yourself.

Kerri: Knowing what I do now I would have definitely thought a lot harder about if university was for me. At the time it just seemed like the next step in my education but having a degree has gotten me no where. I’m even back working in the shop where I was before I went to uni! There are so many designers and artists with degrees that it is really your portfolio of work that will sell you, not your degree certificate.

Jo: I’d say it depends on the type of person you are. I learnt an incredible amount at university so I wouldn’t dismiss it entirely. However, you can get a decent amount of experience doing placements and internships. Although I’ve noticed that for all the jobs I have applied for they want you have a degree or at least qualifications at college level. If you do do any courses don’t come out of them with your head in the clouds! I got a 1st Class Degree in Graphic Communication and I’m still job hunting. It’s a very difficult industry to break into.

Avril: I am thankful that I went to college to pursue an art based course as it was at college I discovered which area in the art world that I wanted to work in. However I think that in the area of illustration, it is a learning curve and you can only learn and develop your own unique style by experimenting with different techniques and learning the design programs yourself. There are a lot of amazing artists and illustrators that are self taught and did not go to college so I think that having a degree/ going to college is helpful in some aspects but really it is the talent and determination to succeed in the industry which is most important.

Madi: For me, university just seemed like the next step in my life – I felt like I was expected to go, and at the time I never considered any other options. That said, it was definitely a invaluable experience as not only did it make me realise that illustration was the area of art that I wanted to pursue, it also gave me the opportunity and time to really experiment and develop my own way of working. I realise now that there are many successful illustrators and designers who don’t have qualifications – a lot of whom are doing a lot better for themselves than I am! It takes much more than a qualification to make a name for yourself in the industry, and although I think uni was a useful step for me, it’s definitely not for everyone. University can’t teach you the determination you need to succeed despite all the knock backs, and having a first class degree means nothing if you don’t have that.

What kinds of projects are you looking to take on as a collective?


Avril: We are looking to take on interesting projects that will motivate us as a group and as individuals. It’s so great for us to organize projects and see how each of us have such different styles and ways of seeing thing

Madi: We’re currently working on our first collaborative project, which is a circus themed colouring book. It’s a really fun project to work on, whilst also being quite challenging, as creating black and white line drawings is quite different to how most of us are used to working. I’ve wanted to create a colouring book for a while, and it’s definitely more fun working on it as a group. It’s all coming together nicely at the moment and we’re very excited about revealing the finished book sometime in the near future. :]

Joanne: In the future we’d like to create a number of things for example a zine and maybe, once we are a little more established, an exhibition. But the at the moment we are concentrating on one thing at a time 🙂

What work have you undertaken or are working on now? Any sneak peaks we can share with our readers?

Joanne: As mentioned above, we are currently working on a circus themed colouring book! Hmmm a sneak peek? Cheeky!

Do you have any plans as a collective to come together to work on projects as a more conventional design studio? How does work get shared between the collective?

Avril: Wow it would be super to have a studio where we could work together in person on all our projects, maybe something we will look into in the future. At the moment, we keep in contact by email, twitter and MSN where we arrange our projects, deadlines to work towards and we talk through our ideas. It’s a really interesting experience and a great learning process.


Jo: I’ve never actually thought of the collective coming together within a studio! It’s not really a bad idea but at the moment its very impractical with everyone being at different ends of the country! As far as work goes we try to share it out as evenly as we can so that its only fair 🙂

Madi: I’d love to have a shared studio with the other girls – if only it were practical! It would be an ace experience to all share the same work space and bounce ideas off each other – I think we’d end up with some awesome projects. We tend to share the work evenly between us, although in certain situations it depends; we know each other’s strengths and will use those as effectively as we can.

Where can we find PPS across the web?

You can find PPS in many places! Check the links below:

Our Blog:



What is the best way to contact you all if readers wanted to discuss a project?

If anyone would like to discuss a project with us you can use either of the social media platforms above or simply pop us an email –

If you prefer, you can also contact any of us through our individual websites, or our individual Twitter accounts, and we will share your ideas with the rest of the group.

What were you biggest influences in your early design career and in education? Has this since changed as you have grown as a designer?

Kerri: First year of college I discovered the work of Harry Clarke who illustrated many famous children’s stories and fairy tales as well as some darker tales by Edgar Allan Poe. His work opened up a world of similar illustrators such as Aubrey Beardsley, Kay Nielsen and John Bauer and I have been fascinated ever since. Though when I was in junior school I always said I wanted to work for Disney/Pixar, I was determined that I would help animate Toy Story 3!

Madi: The first illustrator’s work that I remember totally falling in love with was Sara Fanelli’s – I discovered her work during the first year of my degree and it was a massive inspiration to me for a long time, especially in terms of using collage and using hand-drawn typography. I also was very inspired by the work of Lauren Child for similar reasons. During my third year, I discovered the work of Kate Slater – I still love her work, and have so much respect for the detail that goes into it and the patience it must take. Another designer whose work has remained a constant inspiration to me since third year is Rob Ryan – his work is incredible and I really admire the skill that goes into creating it. Since joining Twitter, I seem to discover new illustrators whose work inspires me almost daily, so nowadays my influences are much more broad and varied.

Jo: When I was at college I was obsessed with the likes of Vault49 and Jon Burgerman and whatever other lovely people I found in the many books I bought. As I’ve grown as a designer I find myself discovering new people all the time and I find myself being influenced daily by different people. As I went through uni I’ve become a lot more open minded about what I like and what I don’t. I think that now I understand how these things are created I have an awful lot more respect for peoples work than I may have before.

Gemma: I’m not sure if this counts but – the internet. I can’t specifically say one website in particular because there’s an endless amount of inspiration on there and i’m forever learning new things from it. During my foundation course at college I was looking through graduates websites, fashion blogs, design blogs etc. every day and i had a little notebook filled of ideas and notes on images that inspired or excited me. I believe this gave me the realisation that what i had a passion for was not just a hobby or talent, but a career and craft that so many other people around the world cared for, all with their own individual ways of what it meant to them. The internet is a powerful tool and i’m not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing!

Avril: My biggest influences were Roald Dahl books with illustrations by Quentin Blake. Eric Carle who I discovered at college along with quirky fashion illustrations by Liselotte Watkins who I still love today. I also am inspired by Kris Atomic, Lauren Child, Such beautiful and colorful illustrations.

What are your current setups for working? Do you enjoy to work at home? Local coffee shops? Share creative workspace?

Kerri: I work at home but I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it! I would love to have the confidence to be able to sit in public and work but I can’t do it, I’m too self conscious about my work. I wish there was a studio where you could go and work with fellow designers for free, like a library but where you can talk and it doesn’t matter if you accidentally spill paint on the floor.

Avril: I currently work at home. I have a little office room or I particularly love to work in my kitchen on the dining room table looking out my window for inspiration.

Madi: I work at home too – I have claimed the spare room as my studio. It’s a good space to work in, although I think I’ll probably have to invest in a desk and chair at some point – I’m not sure how much longer I can work sprawled out on the floor! Coffee shops are totally impractical for me, as I’d have to take so much paper and materials with me and I’d make far too much mess! I like the idea of working somewhere a little more buzzy though- working at home does feel a little isolating at times. I like the idea of having a shared studio at some point in the future.

Jo: I have a day job on a pepper farm so I only get time to design and draw in the evenings or on the weekends. So my favourite place to create has to be in my lounge 🙂

Gemma: I always need to be in an organised and inspired mind set. I normally start work at home in my room as it has everything I need and I feel isolated enough to get swept away with creating images. I would definitely love to eventually have my own studio/work place (with a chair so I don’t have to work on the floor.)

What has been your most popular individual pieces of work? Have you garnered any national attention for any work you have produced?

Avril: One of my collages was awarded in the National Tree Week poster design competition in 2010. Most recently, my illustrations were published in a book called Fashion Africa featuring the best of eco-friendly African fashion design. My work has also been featured on the pages of Amelia’s magazine, Ballad of Lola Bacon, Who’s Jack magazine and soon to be featured in a brand new exciting magazine Lionheart.

Kerri: I would say my illustration of a Caspian Seal and Madi’s illustration of an Northern Spotted Owl for Creature Mag’s Endangered Creature Alphabet e-book have been our most successful illustrations, as the e-book as a whole is starting to get some recognition.

Madi: I totally agree with Kerri. I think my owl illustration as part of Creature Mag’s Endangered Creature Alphabet is probably the piece of work that has had the most attention recently. Earlier this year, I also designed a monster-themed alphabet for a Don’t Panic competition, which was displayed at Pure Evil Gallery in London.

Jo: In my second year of University I sent my portfolio to the Computer Arts Portfolio Clinic for some advice on my portfolio and they chose a piece of my work to print in the magazine and told me the good points of my portfolio and how to improve it which was pretty helpful! Crayon Skateboards also took on one of my designs to print up as a skatedeck after a competition they held. I didn’t win but they still wanted the design which was bit of a confidence boost! I have a few of the decks but I can’t skate so they just lying around doing nothing 🙁

What would you all describe as being a success as a designer? Is there a particular goal as individuals and as a group?

Madi: Ultimately, I would describe myself as a successfull illustrator if I was able to work as one full time, and earn enough money from it to support myself. I also think it’s about having your own style which people instantly recognise as yours. Most importantly though, it’s about doing something you truly love, and having hope that other people will like your work as much as you enjoy creating it.

Kerri: Personally, I would describe success as being well-known and having people recognise your work. Also being at the point where you making enough money to live comfortably and not need a part time job to keep afloat. I hope that being part of this collective will gain us a stronger place in the industry as a group and as individuals.

Gemma: To me a successful designer is finally finding a style and way of working that just clicks with you and is appreciated by others; You enjoy what you’re doing, the inital ideas, the process and the end result. As long as you can continue producing work that represents you and what you’re about, and it translates well to others then that’s that! Job done!

Jo: Personally I just want people to like what I do and to make an honest living out of it. I’m not worried about being a big player in the field of design. As long as I’m happy with my work and what I’m doing then that’s good enough for me! Although at the moment just getting a job in it would be a success in itself!

Avril: Being a success as an illustrator to me is being commissioned by people who want to have my illustrations in their magazines or books or lives. That is quite amazing to me.

What are the benefits of social networking and media in helping to promote the collective? And which members of your social media circles would you recommend our readers should follow on twitter?

Joanne: Social networking is a really quick way to connect with new, interesting and like minded people. If it wasn’t for social networking we as a collective wouldn’t exist!

As for people to follow, check out these people on Twitter:

@gemmacorrell @bennewmanillo @FeltMistress

Madi: As we explained earlier, we all met through Twitter, so it played an important role in bringing us all together. I also think that social networking has and will continue to play a fundamental role in promoting the collective, as it is a quick and easy way to make people aware of who we are and what we are doing.

I recommend you follow;

@LionheartMag @Creative_Boom @teaandcrayons

Avril: We are on both twitter and facebook. It’s how we all met and decided to put together an exciting new collective and how we keep in touch with present and future illustrators and creatives. It’s also a good way of discovering new projects and competitions that are going on.

As for which people to follow, there are so many amazing creatives around. For me it was just a matter of following some illustrative magazines and some of my favourite illustrators like KrisAtomic and Gemma Correll. Then you come across other inspiring creatives to follow and chat to.

The end of the world is upon us, but you’re allowed to rush back home and grab 5 things to take with you to survive. Which five items would you take and why?


– A backpack full of books so I don’t die of boredom.

– My phone (and charger) for obvious reasons.

– Sketchbook and pencils because who knows when you might need them.

– My favourite blanket so I don’t get cold.

– My camera to document the last few days of the world.

 Avril; I would take my laptop for illustrating, listening to music, watching films (Ah, multifunctional and clever mac). Photos so I don’t forget what people look like. A kettle. Teabags. And chocolate.


– Sketchbook and pen – To keep me sane, occupied and as an escape.

–  A blanket – I like to wrap myself up..

– My teddy – Lame I know but I love it! I even took it to uni, haha.

– Tea bags! – I’m a teapot you know. Well isn’t every designer?

– Some form of weapon – You never know, someone might get desperate   and try to eat me! Can’t be having that now, can we?


–       My phone (and charger), so I could keep in contact with everyone. It also doubles up as a camera in case there are any incredible end-of-the-world type pictures I need to take.

–       Photographs of people who are important to me, so that even if they aren’t with me, I’ll still have memories of them.

–       My duvet to keep me warm and make me feel safe. It would also make a good hiding place.

–       A sketchbook and pen – to keep me occupied.

–       A thermos flask of hot chocolate. wI reckon I might end up somewhere that I wouldn’t be able to plug in a kettle.


–       a black biro

–       the biggest jumbo pad of lined paper

–       iphone

–       my dogs

–       my Jeffrey Campbell Lita’s

We must extend our thanks to the PPS collective for taking their time out in making this interview possible, they were super to work with and I think we can all agree that this interview was a great insight! If you think you are a viable interview candidate or wish to be showcased on Design Juices contact us today.