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Freelance Illustrator Chris Howker

Chris Howker is a 26 year old illustrator, living and working in Manchester. Here we showcase his illustrations, designs, artwork and talk more about the life of a freelance designer in the UK.

This is my first year out of university after spending 3 years doing a photography course before going to Stockport to do the Illustration degree there (ANOTHER 3 years)… Keeping motivated and active with freelance illustration (or any design job) can be difficult sometimes, so straight out of uni, myself and a few friends decided to rent a studio space in an old mill in Ancoats so that we had somewhere to go to work and stay creative outside of our own homes.

What is your working method? Everything starts with a sketch. Pencil and paper is my favourite medium to work in, I get to play more, experiment and also achieve some nice textures and shapes which is sometimes lost when you take a sketch into the computer and vector it – with that said though, there’s a sort of “finished” look to vectored artwork. I often refine my sketches with a light box, sometimes adjusting the position of elements or width etc, but this is only because I get a little precious that I can’t recreate the same thing twice 😉 Recently, I have used my original pencil line work in the finished pieces and began screen printing them or I have been lucky enough to have a wall/glass as a canvas meaning I have to paint directly on to it and able to retain a hand drawn element, but more often than not I take my refined sketch, scan it, then vector it before playing with the colours to get the right combination, resulting in the finished digital piece.

I enjoy looking at other artists work and can sometimes be distracted by it, but my main influence comes from the cartoons I used to watch (and still watch). Anything is possible in a cartoon, things dont have to be accurate or in proportion and its this exaggeration that draws people into the fun of it. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve remained a big kid – collecting toys, reading comics and watching cartoons – but also graffiti artists have informed my work, only their canvas and medium can be a little different to mine, but at the heart of it all is still a sense of fun and play.

D&AD & Don’t Panic winning piece : Running With Scissors running with scissors sketches to link with my working method bit. The idea of this was “resistance” but im not exactly an anarchist so, I thought back to my childhood and how you were always told NOT to do something but still did it anyway 😛

Music astronaut: painting on glass at DesignByMusic agency in manchester plus sketch, Informed by the track “circling” by Four Tet… it made me feel like i was in space.. nuff said :)

Lightbulb boxer character plus sketch, an editorial illustration idea.. how the “normal” old style bulbs even though they are being replaced, were still around and not going down with a fight.

Star wars Roll call: a hand drawn piece that I did a super limited run of 1 screen printed image for the May the 4th art show in leeds (curated by The Hang Gang aka Barry).

Freelance life: this is me just having fun, a little joke at what me and a fellow illustrator friend of mine were going through at the time.. posca paint pens on wall.

Check out Chris Howker on his Website and follow @howker on twitter.