Posted by Nate Williams
Chris Arran has been creating illustration for a wide variety of media for many years now. He studied illustration at Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK, his tutor being the legendary children’s book illustrator Tony Ross. Having left University he then moved to live and work in Munich, working exclusively in 3D for clients such as MTV, Swatch & Cosmopolitan etc. Upon his return to the UK in 2002 he decided to get back to basics and start drawing again and re-launch his career using a totally different media. Since 2008 he’s been working with paint and collage.
Please describe a typical day?
Up at 6 am and listen to the radio, start working out how I am going to split my day up, wait for my family to wake up and then it’s all hands on deck preparing breakfast and getting everyone ready. I work best in the morning so after an intensive burst of work I will pop into town with my three year old son or go to music and movement where we will both sing songs and pretend we are tree’s in the wind. Back for lunch & email check, then back at my easel or computer in my studio. Last week I did a job for Canadian Elle and worked two, 22 hour days. Its fair to say that sometimes illustration can be pretty intensive. I am also an associate lecturer in illustration at Southampton Solent University. It’s a very exiting course with a brand new studio and facilities to die for.
What is your working environment like?
I have a studio near to my home and so its rather nice because I can spend a lot of time with my wife and children and sneak back to my work at any time. The studio is a great industrial building full of stuff. People store all kinds of things there. Its run by a theatre prop maker so there’s always something interesting to look at. I share the space with a couple of really good artists.
How did you get into illustration?
After Art Foundation studies I didn’t want to do fine art or graphic design. Now there are many forms of communication media you can study but then there were maybe 4 or 5. Illustration seemed like a happy medium to me and it turned out to be a life altering decision.
You use lots of different mediums and styles in your work. Do you think it’s important for an illustrator to have “a style”?
Yes and No. Yes because it can make their portfolio more consistent and not as if they’re jumping about from style to style.
No, because illustration comes in many forms and variety is the spice of life. Most illustrator’s website showcase a variety media they work in alongside their main portfolio.
I have a distinct style in each medium I work in and whether it’s 3D, digital or paint there are certain techniques and uses of colour or imagery which are common throughout my portfolio.
Can you tell us why you think experimentation is so important?
Illustration never stands still and fashions change as does technology. It’s easy to get into a formulaic way of working and all of a sudden you can find that you no longer love doing what you do best or perhaps what you do goes out of fashion never to return.. Constant experimentation enables you to become more flexible with your skill base and ways of seeing and expressing yourself so that your work constantly develops and remains relevant.
What creative endeavors are you involved in outside of illustration?
I am an associate lecturer at Southampton Solent University which has a first class illustration Degree course.
What do you like about motion design?
The ability to combine real footage with illustration based motion graphics.
What is your favorite type of commercial project and why?
When the clients brief is similar to the kinds of briefs I set myself every week. Because I know I can then bring to the job the experimentation that I have been working on at that time.
Do you have an art rep? Why or why not?
“Colagene” They rep me in UK, USA, Germany, Spain & Canada. They have a fantastic group of artists of which I am very proud to be associated with. Why because they find interesting clients for me to work with from all over the world, negotiate the fee and all I have to do is create the artwork.
Who / What are some of your influences and inspirations?
Robert Rauchenburg, Peter Blake, David Hockney & Jasper Johns
What is something new you have noticed or learned recently?
When you have a 3 year old constantly asking you questions such as “Why is the sea salty”? then you learn lots of stuff rather quickly. The answer well…Its because of all the minerals that have over millions of years leached into the sea via rain fall, rivers and the mineral deposits in the sea bed that make up the Ocean floor. ( I think..)
Top 5 favorite things in life
family, creating artwork, teaching, playing football and cricket
Top 5 bands/singers
I have a collection of records from charity shops which I buy cheap (£1) and see if they are any good. My favourites are. Jonny Doreli (italian crooner), Los Paraguios (Paraguayan harp playing crooners). Joni Mitchel (Legend) Neil Young (Legend) and Triny Lopez (Lonesome cowboy crooner).
Can you suggest 3 artists or illustrators we should check out?