Welcome back to Inside the Sketchbook — a series dedicated to exploring the methods, mediums and mindsets of the next generation of artists. In our next instalment of blog posts, we’re talking to more incredible, up-and-coming creatives who are making their mark on the world, through their sketchbooks.
Last but not least, we talked with Laura Page; after graduating from Falmouth University and delving into the world of design, she recently took the opportunity to step back from digital creation and rediscover her love of simply picking up a paintbrush.
What’s your artistic backstory?
I always knew I wanted to do art at school and that I was going to end up in the world of art somehow. I did an art foundation year and that’s where I realised illustration was for me as it allowed for commercial work as well as going off the grid to do some of your own painting.
After graduating from Falmouth university I specialised in packaging design and I was driven to get a job in the design industry that was very computer-based. Just before lockdown I did an internship in New York and it was amazing but so full on. When I came home afterwards, I thought I needed a break from the computers and the design element to just get back to painting again and doing what I used to really enjoy. So, during lockdown I started creating my own business as an illustrator and tried to find work whilst making sure it was all enjoyable. I hand paint because that’s the stuff I love to do.
What’s your proudest artistic achievement to date?
I’d probably say that creating my own website and shop that I’m happy with and can sell my own work on. If all else fails or I have a moment where I don’t have many clients then I have my own shop to fall back on. I can even send out my website as a portfolio to get my name out there. I feel like it was such an achievement to create, even though it took a long time, and now I know I have it behind me.
What do you want people to feel when they see your work?
Most of my work tends to go to the lighter, pastel side with warm colours so I hope when people see my work it brings a sense of calm. They can just enjoy looking at it and I like to think maybe it takes their mind off something for a moment whilst they just get absorbed into the feel of it.
I really try to get brush strokes in my pieces as much as possible to add texture, so it feels real and earthy – which all adds to that sense of calm.
Who or what are the people in your work inspired by?
I think because I started painting again during lockdown, I was escaping a lot through imagery and people who were abroad. I love Scandinavian culture and saw quite a few people who were posting pictures, they had really fun clothes on and looked like they were having a good time so it was definitely an escape.
Mostly I want to capture a variety of people and a cross section of society. Although it can depend sometimes on the job to determine who I’m painting and what they need to look like. It’s nice to try and get a bit of everything in there to appeal to different people.
There’s a real sense of travel and exploring new places in your work, what draws you to exploration and why is it so important for you to include in your pieces?
I think it goes back to that idea of escape again. When I started painting again, I didn’t plan on it leading to becoming an illustrator. During that time I didn’t have a job or know what was coming next, so I set myself an hour each day to make one thing and then it slowly grew and grew. Those things were inspired by imagery of holidays, or places I wish I could visit – so naturally it became quite travel-orientated and a bit of an escape.
Then people started contacting me based on that so I was doing more projects about places abroad. Some of them were commissions and recently I’ve finished two children’s books, which was something I had never pursued before. Someone had written about travelling the world and it was a really nice project to work on!
How do you alter your approach (if at all), when you’re given a new editorial, publishing or advertising commission?
If it’s for my own work, I’ll see or think of an image, sketch it out and straight away just fully go for it with the paint. But, as soon as it’s a commercial project or for someone else it all becomes about what they want.
For clients I just really want to capture what they have in mind, but making sure I keep to my style and how I illustrate. There’s also way more planning, sketching and really nailing the details down before I start painting – which is not how I do it for my personal stuff at all.
How do you stay true to your original style?
I think painting everything naturally creates a ‘style’ even though I never really try to capture any certain look. So sometimes, you will see some of my own illustrations in a slightly different style, some might be more free or simple, and some are more detailed. I do think chasing a style can hold people back – I found this at university when we were all trying to find our own but that’s where you can get stuck in a rut and be closed to new things. So I love to mix it up, but also make sure it’s genuine and authentic.
You can’t get hung up on other people’s styles either. There came a point in lockdown where I was getting absorbed looking at other artists’ styles – it was a really good learning curve because I realised you have to trust yourself, power through and go with your own flow.
Why is it so important to use quality materials?
Simply because you can tell if things aren’t up to scratch! Like at university when we started using the medium gouache, the lecturers said to make sure we got a certain brand, but I bought a cheap one and you could definitely tell – you can’t cut corners because it shows.
Paint brushes are important, paints are important, because if you spend time on something and then look at it and think “oh gosh, that got a bit destroyed because the paint was cheap”, it’s just not worth it. And paint lasts a long time, so it’s really worth investing in.
What does Derwent mean to you?
Derwent is a company that creates products with the artist in mind. They know the importance of quality and how that affects the artist’s practice. The materials used completely shape the outcome. It’s incredibly refreshing to be using products that not only do exactly what you hope they would do, but they elevate the work with their sheer quality. I’ve used Derwent my whole life, throughout school, during university, and now as a freelance illustrator. They are a brand you know you can trust!
How has the Pastel Shades Paint Pan Set helped you to best create the piece you’ve designed for this campaign?
The lightweight paint and vivid pigment of the colour has allowed me to create work with washes of colour and layer these to add tone and shadow to the painting. One stroke of paint creates a vibrant consistency that can be layered upon with pencil or more paint. I was really surprised how fresh and bright the paints looked on the page. The colours didn’t blend into each other either, remaining really strong and solid in their appearance, which means you can experiment with really detailed painting too!
Can you give us a three-word review of the Pastel Shades Paint Pan Set?
Vivid, fresh, fun.
How do Derwent’s art supplies help you create the perfect piece?
They are reliable, high quality materials, meaning without much effort, you can create something incredibly beautiful and powerful. The products complement one another, whether that’s through layering different paint sets, like the Pastel and Metallic paint sets, or adding coloured pencil on top of paint. The products blend together beautifully and you can rely on painting straight on to quality paper without the paper getting damaged!
Thank you for Laura for taking some time out of her day to speak with us.