Clare Mallison Illustrator Interview

Clare Mallison

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Can you recall the first time you realized you were going to be an artist? What were your earliest impressions?
I was lucky to receive my first commission quite soon after graduating,
it was for the Financial Times Magazine. I was asked to draw the Olympics in Athens. The day it went to print I was so excited; I remember driving my Vauxhall Nova at top speed screaming with joy all the way to newsagents to buy it. This gave me confidence to pursue my illustration career, I will always thank that art director for taking the chance and using a young unexperienced artist.

Who or what influenced your art when you were young?
When I was a teenager, I would paint large ‘realistic’ oil paintings of my friends, and myself. I copied masters from my ‘art today; book! We were lucky at school to have an art hut where my friends and I would paint and draw daily. It was great to have a creative older sister who was studying fashion at uni so I would often tag along to exhibitions with her.

Do you remember what your first artwork looked like? Do you still have it?
Not sure about the first but a water colour painting of a puffin I drew when I was very young is proudly framed and up in my parent’s hallway.

Why did you choose illustration as your life’s work instead of, for example, filmmaking, law, or even medicine?
After uni I was determined to make a living out of my drawings. I was not interested in any other career paths.

Did you study art in school?
Yes, I studied a BA in illustration at Kingston University.

Where does your inspiration come from; your impulse to make art? Do you have a source for your ideas?
I am always looking, sometimes the most mundane things are the most inspiring. A long bus journey people watching often inspires me to create personal work.
My photo gallery on my phone is jam packed full of people and places.

How would you describe the process of creating art?
For personal work it often stems from observation, I love wondering around galleries and public spaces people watching. For my commissions it all depends on the brief. If I have to think of a concept to illustrate, I chat to friends scribble down rough sketches. I love problem solving it fun thinking of your own ideas rather than drawing someone else’s

Do you remember your first set of paints, pens, or markers?
I guess it was felt tips that often exploded and went everywhere.
I had a pack of oil paints for Christmas and managed to squirt it all up my parent’s dining room wall. I discovered my love of dip pen and ink at university; I like the way it can create a different weight of line.

Why does art matter to you? Why might it matter to the world?
Studying the norm can bring new ideas and a different perspective, helping to generate new ideas and help people see differently.

Do you have a favourite artist supply, a favourite method, or favourite location, where you like to create artwork?
My favourite location always used to be at my studio, I have recently started to work from home. So, I hide away from everyone under the staircase where luckily my big desk fits. I enjoy working late at night undisturbed with pod casts playing.