Helen Rabbitte is a recent graduate in illustration (July 2013) from Liverpool John Moore’s University.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my studies, and ever since have been trying to gain as much knowledge about the industry as possible. My main goal is to move in to apparel design, for a company that produces street wear (I’m a fan of Puma, Adidas Originals or Vans.)
Like most illustrators I know, I’ve been drawing since I can remember. I went through endless sketchbooks, and used to love rainy days as it meant I could sit in and draw all afternoon.”
“I have no set routine when it comes to my design process, however I usually get all my brainwaves at night when I should be sleeping. I make sure I keep a notepad by my bed so I can jot them down and work on them in the morning (if I can wait that long!). Sometimes I can hit a wall, so I do whatever I can to get more ideas flowing. This could be listening to music, or going on design blogs but usually I go on a long run and come back buzzing with new ideas. Often I sit at my desk and just draw, without any specific idea. Filling endless sheets of paper with doodles can often lead to something brilliant.
I have a dark sense of humour and my personal work reflects this. I like to create surreal characters (lots of monsters and goo!). I am very much influenced by my childhood, love of comics and culture. I like to travel to see how much my lifestyle contrasts with others, and remind myself of how diverse an audience can be.”
“When given a brief, I spend a lot of time researching the topic, and what designers have done in the past. I find this helps me move away from the predictable, whilst still conveying the subject matter. I tend to draw very bold illustrations, using colour to create a focal point. I apply colour using a whole mixture of materials whether it be watercolour, pencil or digitally on Photoshop. I draw everything by hand, usually with black indian ink to create depth and detail, combining thin and delicate lines with thick and strong. I just love bold, clean lines!
This may be the main reasoning for my major influences, such as Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins and Alex Pardee. Although I find a wide range of illustrators to be influential in my work, my illustrations are my own and shouldn’t be compared to closely to anything or anyone else out there. I have learnt that originality is key in the world of design and I am full of fresh and exciting ideas and cannot wait to get out in to the industry.”
“As well as apparel design, I am very passionate about picture books. Not only are they a pedestal for artists to showcase their talents; they also create a platform for the author/illustrator to convey their opinions and attitudes toward topical issues, whether it be social, cultural, economic, or political. I love how strongly the format and imagery of a book can affect the readers opinion on a story. I have always admired Shaun Tan for how perfectly he portrays his picture books, forcing the reader to have their own take on the stories told. His wordless novels prove just how powerful an illustration can be. There is no language, age, or gender barrier and, in my opinion, pictures tell a story so much more powerfully than words ever could.
As for current work, I have recently designed Christmas cards for Home Bargain as well as posters and leaflets for local bars. For one of my most recent projects, I designed an A2 book called ‘Nursery Crimes’, which was aimed at young adults and contained illustrated nursery rhymes made up by myself, about modern day issues such as binge drinking and technology. It was designed to be educate, without patronising the young audience. The dark humour gains their interest, and doesn’t feel like a ‘lecture.’”