Short interview by our member KaiYee Tay over the phone in London after meeting Mr Brian Grimwood at his recent exhibition.
KY: Being labeled as the “Man who changed the face of British Illustration”, how did that tittle come about and what made you stand out from the crowd?
BG: Well, I’m older then the rest.(laughs) And I didn’t say that, that was a quote from Print Magazine from back then and i’ve used it ever since. I’ve expected my peers to have a joke about it but they sort of agreed with it instead. There was a change, I think it did free up a lot of people, in terms of working, it also freed up a lot of advertising. Going to Singapore for instance, I noticed there were people there, who were really influenced by what I was doing. And it did change the look of how illustration was going at that time. But I don’t take it that seriously, (laughs) It’s just a good tittle, and i’d rather have it then have someone else have it.
KY: Is there any part of your creative process that you can share with us?
BG: I’d share it all! I’m a bit of a show off! There’s no secret of technically what I do. Certainly at this moment in time, I’m playing around a lot on the Ipad. And really I’m just relying on approaching things in a quite graphic way, and most of the work I’ve ever done is been quite layered. So I just use that same process now. It relies on an idea which you have to come up with yourself. But technically, it is just sort of getting better at something you were fairly good at in the first place. Its just trying to improve and in my case, I rely on drawing and showing off drawings.
KY: Being an Iconic illustrator who works around the globe, is there a specific way you work in certain countries?
BG: No, not really. Sometimes the subject matter changes wherever I am, I did a whole lot of paintings in Thailand last year, and it actually relates to where I was. So I was drawing insects and plants and things like that. I try to reflect where I am if I’m working from that place. But stylistically, its more or less the same style. Certainly when I’m in the far east, I use the brush a lot – It feels right somehow.
KY: Last question, do you have any advice for new illustrators?
BG: Right. (laughs) This is a cliché line that I’ve come up with, but I’ll try and elaborate on it. I mean, if you’re good, you’ve got to show people that you’re good and you’ve got to make your work look important. Don’t make it look throw away, also think big – I quote the Donald Trump Quote which is “Think big, because everybody else thinks small.” So I like that idea of trying to make your work look important and good, and therefore people will treat it that way and also more importantly they’ll pay for it. And the other thing I tell people when you’re starting out is to have a hero. Somebody whose work you can relate to and you can see what they work on and how they do it and how they solve problems. It gives one an idea of how to approach one’s own work. So have heroes, thats something I say a lot.
Bio: Brian Grimwood is one of the most innovative and influential illustrators of his time. He is also a founder member of the Association of Illustrators. Credited by Print Magazine as having ‘changed the look of British illustration’. He has designed posters and contributed to numerous popular magazines worldwide. Notable British clients include the BBC, Johnny Walker, Eurostar, Britannia and the Royal Opera House. In 1983, Grimwood founded The Central Illustration Agency. His commercial work is instantly recognisable around the world, and has influenced and inspired many other Illustrators.