Beth is currently studying BA Visual Communication at Leeds Arts University.
"I have always taken great joy in decorating and arranging my bedrooms/workspaces. It’s really important for me to feel comfortable and happy in whatever environment I am spending the majority of my time. My friends would definitely describe me as a neat freak. I will always make sure my lighting is nice when I’m working in the evenings (I’m on a bit of an orange and pink vibe at the moment) and tend to always have a candle burning. I have recently moved into this new room and love the little cove my desk sits in. It means I have three walls where I can stick up work that I am currently doing and the work of other artists (you can see pictured in the middle of the wall a beautiful print I bought from an illustrator called h.e.r). Towards the other side of my room I have lots of space that I use whenever I am creating a larger scale piece of work. It’s right in front of the window and is a lovely place to sit and paint. I have some of my own paintings hanging above my bedside table. Having my work up on my walls really helps keep me motivated and will often help spark off new ideas. I also keep books that I turn to for inspiration on a regular basis on my bedside."
Q.What led you to start making art?
A: Art has been a part of my life from the get go. My mother is a creative. She has a studio up in the attic of my family home so from a very young age I was surrounded by creativity. When I was three I snuck up to the studio, climbed up onto the very high stool at her drawing board and coloured in all the line work she had just completed for a well known children’s book. To her dismay she had not yet scanned them so had to re-start all the drawings. She was not angry however and has continued to be the biggest supporter of my creativity.
Q.Who are your favourite artists?
A: Grayson Perry, David Shrigley and Basquiat have been big inspirations for me throughout my practice. More recently I have discovered the work of Henrik Delehag and Kate Prior. These are two creatives whose art is directly influencing my current work. I am also extremely inspired by political cartoonists Steve Bell and Martin Rowson. Their ability to illustrate witty, humorous and poignant narratives is something I look up to greatly.
Q.When and where do you get your best ideas?
A: I tend to get my best ideas and inspirations by reflecting on the day to day events of life. I find the human condition and analysing my own behaviours really interesting. For almost four years now I have been writing down things my friends say in passing in the notes on my phone. When these phrases are taken out of context they make great starting points for illustrations. I tend to get most of my creative ideas in the morning/afternoon. The more practical elements of my work such as style and technique seem to develop better in the evenings when I can shut off from the world and allow time for experimentation.
Q.What is important to you?
A: Humour and narrative are two really important aspects of my practice. I strive to make work that communicates with my audience in a witty and often childish way. It is important to me that my work has an impact no matter how small, whether this be a shift or affirmation of someone's opinion, making my audience laugh or narrating personal experiences that people might relate to. My creative style and voice are also extremely important to me. I always aim to stay true to my practice whilst still allowing for the flexibility that’s needed to suit different briefs. Feedback on my work is something that has always been an important part of my practice. It provides the space for creative development, professionalism and improvement.
Q.How do you get started?
A: When starting a project the research phase is super important to me and is an aspect I really enjoy. I will usually spend 2-3 weeks doing contextual and subject based research. This helps me inform and gain an understanding of the nature of my project. I also look into practitioners whose work I admire and begin to experiment with my illustration style and technique. Somewhere down the line I will get a creative ‘eureka moment’ and from that point on it often feels like the work makes itself.
Q: What makes you happy?
A: I am happiest when I am creating work in my bedroom (this has worked in my favour over the last year). Nothing beats the feeling of being hugely inspired and invested in a project. I get great satisfaction from bouncing ideas off tutors, peers, my mum and anyone who will listen really. Seeing and being inspired by the work my friends are creating is really exciting and the creative community I am surrounded by is something I treasure.
Q: If you could travel back one year (pre Covid), what would you tell yourself?
A: If I could travel back one year I would tell myself to make sure you don’t let time run away with you. Being in your final year at Leeds Arts has put into perspective how quickly your degree flies by so make sure you are making the most of all the creative people, tutors and facilities at your fingertips. Also don’t get too hung up on not knowing exactly what direction you are going in. Things will fall into place and you will develop as a creative in ways you will be proud of. I would also tell myself to hug my friends and family more (poor ever so slightly younger Beth, unaware of the impending doom that is Covid).
Q: What music do you listen to when making?
A: The group Jurassic 5 have been a constant motivator for my creative practice. Whenever I’m struggling with my creativity I put on their album ‘J 5 (deluxe edition)'. Their quirky rhythms, lyrics and dialogue greatly inspired much of my early A level works and continue to motivate my practice now. Throughout the duration of this pandemic Mac Miller’s music has acted as a rock for my mental wellbeing, creative productivity and inspiration. Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, Anderson Paak and EARTHGANG and are also some of the artists I have been listening to whilst creating work during the pandemic.
Q: What is the future of your artform?
A: I like to think once Covid 19 is behind us there is going to be a big art boom. Hopefully Gen-Z creators will be able to form a space where we can all showcase our work and support each other. With ever advancing technology I think the shape of the illustration industry will look quite different, and with popularised use of zoom meetings it will be easier than ever to collaborate with people overseas. This opens up a lot more opportunities for work within the illustration industry. I do however hope even with our society's ever growing rapid intake of media and digital art that people do take a step back to make sure we don’t lose all the other wonderful processes such as print and letterpress for example.
Q: What's next for you as an artist?
A: I will be graduating from Leeds Arts University in May and from that point on will be doing everything I can to establish myself as a professional practitioner in the creative world. I am planning to stay put in Leeds and develop a strong creative network within the city. I would love to be working with creative agencies, venues and clients, fully immersing myself in the creative hub that is Leeds. I wish to set up my own shop, selling products that feature my illustrations as well as developing and encompassing the clothing brand I created at the start of 2020. No longer being a student having to worry about grades will allow me to be extremely experimental with my work which is something I am looking forward to. I am going to continue taking creative risks and push my work in new and exciting directions.