Amy Adele Seymour - Autumnal palettes and timeless characters, album covers and plush toys, Beatrix Potter and... Adam Ant? It’s been at the back of mind for ages to grab Amy for an interview and see what makes her tick. I asked, she said yes, so here we go…
So where do you get your talent from? Does creativity run in your family?
I’m going to repeat the old cliché of saying I’ve drawn since I was a child – it’s always been a part of my life. I remember winning the school art competition when I was eight with a drawing of Basil the little mouse from the Brambly Hedge books and it was announced on the playground, must have been my calling to carry on! I think most of my family have an appreciation of art, my Grandad passed me on some lovely paintings. My Dad is very good with photography and used to develop his own film whilst in the cupboard under the stairs! My mother is very creative and crafty, she’s currently making cakes to order, and my sister is also starting up a polymer clay jewellery venture, so we all have our different interests under the creative umbrella!
You created the album cover for the Plantman CD ‘WhisperingTrees’, how did that come about?
It started when I worked in a music venue and a friend who was promoting local music knew of my work and asked if I could produce a piece for a limited vinyl release of one of Plantman’s singles; The Tide, which he was releasing. After that Plantman and I kept in touch and they asked me to create the album art work for Whispering Trees which is their second album, the music and art just seem to ‘fit.’ There may be another project with Plantman on the horizon…but I will keep that to myself for now! By the way, check them out, their music is beautiful.
Looking through your folio, there’s a strong autumnal palette running through your work. Animals also feature predominantly. Are you inspired by nature perchance?
I’ve always been a nature nerd – from finding bird skulls in the woods when I was little to birdwatching today, I’m only an amateur but I know a few birds by their calls! I love being amongst nature, it clears my head and calms me down. The colours I use aren’t really planned as such but looking through my wardrobe it is a sea of autumnal colours so I guess it’s built in, my favourite colour is definitely the reddy brown of conkers and animals such as fox fur and chicken feathers.
Tell us a little about your 3-D work…
Ah, this is a fairly new slant to my work, It was just playing around at first but when I need a break from painting but am desperate to create it’s nice to have a alternative outlet to continue, I find it hard to leave paintings unfinished, but it’s nice to have a little character sitting there that you can add to over time and slowly sew in their personality. It’s more of a personal project, but I have sold a few critters, which is always a little bit sad to see them go!
Some people find the transition into working fulltime at illustration a difficult one, as the love you pour into your own work can get diluted with deadlines and mundane commissions. Would you trade your obvious passion for your own work for a chance to paint full time?
A question which has been on my mind a lot since my MA! I’ve been working hard since completing my MA to build a portfolio of work that I am confident in and want to show to potential clients. All I want to do is paint for a living, it’s where I’m happy.
I’ve recently had to take on a full time job, and although it’s a job I enjoy, I would definitely jump at the chance to paint full time. I hope that from building a portfolio of work I am confident with and is true to my style and interests, any job I would take on would be based on that, and so would continue to inspire me to the deadline. Hopefully a chance will come along soon to test that theory.
I’ve found a few hidden gems through flickr, illustrators that seem to lurk under the surface but whose work I find mind-blowing. Which illustrators inspire you – famous or not.
I like a mix of others work – my old tutor Laura Carlin is a brilliant and prolific illustrator – I love others who use a ‘freer’ style to my own, I find myself with the smallest paintbrushes creating patterns and details and I love to look at work that feels looser than my own. I’ve recently come across Elena Odriozola and Jen Corace - her work is stunning – I love the sinister/dark feel to some of her works. I find Flickr a wonderful tool to connect and see other illustrators work, it’s a little community where everyone spurs each other on and offer constructive criticism.
I have some brilliant artists on my contacts list who create beautiful things every day, I also had some wonderful peers to work alongside whilst studying in Cornwall; which was very inspiring. I like the story of Beatrix Potter and for the future I sometimes imagine becoming a modern day version – complete with a little farm and animals to talk to., that would be my piece of heaven.
What aspect of illustration would you like to pursue full-time?
I dream of illustrating books – picture books and books for slightly older children. I would also like to write and illustrate my own, which I worked on through my MA. Working in a library is the perfect opportunity to keep an eye on new books and illustrators too!
I’ve noticed that you’ve started watermarking your work online. Have you had any experiences of your work being ‘borrowed’?
I haven’t had anything untoward happen like I’ve seen happen to others (as far as I know!)– I noticed my work was being mentioned on blogs regularly and I wanted to protect myself a little more now that it’s gaining more internet presence.
I love asking people this question – describe yourself with a song, a movie and a book.
Ah – very hard! For a song I’ll go with ‘Ocean and a Rock’ by Lisa Hannigan. I love to listen to her in my studio, her lyrics are very inspiring. I think for a movie I would have to say The Secret Garden – Maybe slightly cheesey – but I know the film word for word, it’s my comfort film, I love the wintery scenes when it’s all bare and frosty and the sound of the moors – it makes me want to put on some boots and a dress and go on an adventure. As for a book I will go with an ancient book I have ‘Birds Nests and their Eggs’ it’s page after page of beautiful intricate nests and egg paintings all categorized and labeled ..lovely.
Finally, Stuart Goddard – discuss…
Ah… you got me here! Maybe when I said I was a nature nerd was a small understatement, I am a full on Adam Ant geek! (The fault of my mothers influence when I was young) I pretty much know his entire back catalogue and have been to see him a few times now he is touring again. He is brilliant, he’s had a hard time of it, but he is spectacular live! I wish I was around the first time to witness Antmania!
Thanks to Amy for the pics and answers. See more of her wonderful illustrations at her website here..