More is more

by Alice Pattullo6th July 2012


I was brought up in a creative family; my mother is a textile artist and printmaker and my father is an architect and astounding draughtsman. I would not ever have said I was pushed in a creative direction but the encouragement, materials, and visual stimulation around me at home while I was growing up made it an easy path to take. It was always what I felt most comfortable and proficient at, both at school and at home. I think I am incredibly driven and find it hard to relax (a downfall at times). Basically I have worked hard to get where I am. I have not just been waiting for things to happen.


I loved studying at Brighton University and I think it influenced my work in the fact that I chose illustration, and the course placed emphasis research and concept driven projects. I always assumed I would do a textiles degree but when it finally came to it I thought it would not be challenging enough and I am so glad I chose to do illustration. Now I have learned to visually communicate ideas and concepts and can also draw: it is the best of both worlds! I was also given an amazing opportunity to study in the U.S. which was such a fulfilling and insightful experience. I went to a technically led college there and that experience, teamed with the more-concept based education I received at Brighton University, meant that I received a well-rounded training in illustration, and I also met very inspirational people.


When I graduated I knew I didn’t really want to pause with my work otherwise I might just fall out of the loop and ‘I might forget’ how to do it, so I just carried on with projects that I wanted to pursue, which I still do now. I think I probably have enough ideas and research material to last a lifetime but I keep finding more things to inspire me! I have always enjoyed the print side of my work, so I started doing a series of prints inspired by superstitions which a few galleries took, along with some of my degree show prints and word kind of spread from there.


I have been really lucky in that most of the commissions I have had have come through people seeing and purchasing my personal work. I have been given a lot of freedom in the commissions I have done and have been given really familiar and personally interesting projects to work on. I have still had to show my portfolio and discuss ideas but the art directors I work with are really open to listening to what I have to say or what I think might work! I think I have always stayed true to myself too which I is really important.


I do a great deal of research and love reading about strange superstitions or tales of things that make me laugh. I find the world of folklore an endless source of inspiration.


I think I have always been nostalgic for a time I wasn’t living in. I love 1930’s American musicals with their over the top costumes and overt stage sets and love the fashion design from the 1940s and 50s. I basically only wear old dresses and lambswool cardigans. I am a cliche of my own self!


Similarly, I love the graphic style and sensibility of mid-century designers such as Edward Bawden, Barbara Jones, Eric Ravillious and Enid Marx to name a few and have always strived to reflect the colours and design synonymous with this time in my own work as I love the aesthetic so much. I am also inspired by over decorative Victorian packaging and adverts, 1950s screen printed Gilbert and Sulllivan record sleeves and the idea of “more is more”. I think you can see this demonstrated in my work. I would love to do a really simple, “quiet” image sometimes but this just does not really reflect my personality!


I work at home as I only moved to London at the beginning of the year. It has it’s pros and cons really: it is good being able to just get on with things right away and have a constant flow of coffee, but I really miss the social interaction of University studios and being able to bounce ideas off other people and have a conversation. I think being an illustrator is a pretty lonely trade - nearly all commissions are completed through email so even then you don’t talk to the art director. I love what I do and am pretty self-motivated but hopefully I will be able to find a studio sometime soon to stop me losing my own sanity!


At the beginning of a new project I tend to start by researching whatever it is I am working on, then from there I start drawing loads of elements in my sketchbook - I don’t like to plan too much. I think a more intuitive approach works for me. I pretty much solely draw with indian ink and a brush, with acrylic for texture and white ink for detail. From there I scan in my sketchbook pages and start playing around with compositions and colours on Photoshop till I reach a finished image I am happy with. Sometimes this can be really fast and other times I can spend days deliberating over where to put a head for example. I usually screen print my own work so I figure out the layers for this and then print it. With editorial commissions the final piece is the digital composition. I like this combination of techniques as it means I still have a hand-drawn feel (because everything is hand-drawn) but composing it on the computer gives me the freedom to play around and not immediately commit myself to a composition or idea.


For the future I would like to keep doing the sort of things I do now and I definitely want to be able to keep selling my personal work - this, I think, is what is most important to me. It would be great fun to do a book cover and I think my dream commission would be to illustrate a cookery book in a 1960’s Fanny Craddock or Marguerite Pattern sort of way - brilliant! I would love to get into surface design and design fabric patterns and I would also love to do illustrations for packaging as I enjoy the tactility of having illustrations on a 3d form. That should keep me going for a while I think...


If I had to advise a young person who wanted to become a professional illustrator I would say work hard and be true to yourself. It is impossible to sell yourself as something you are not.

Further Information

Alice Pattullo:

Follow Alice on Twitter: @alicepattullo


About the Author

Alice Pattullo is an illustrator and printmaker based in London. She graduated in 2010 with a First Class Honours in Illustration from Brighton University. She works predominantly in screen print producing limited edition prints for sale in various outlets across the UK and online. Research is at the heart of her practice and her work is often inspired by British folk tradition and superstition, 1930s American musicals and celebrity culture. You can see her work in her website at and follow her on Twitter @alicepattullo.

All illustration Copyright Alice Pattullo at

All illustration Copyright Alice Pattullo at