Our latest notebook series is a set of three. Each with a commissioned cover illustration. We did a quick-fire Q&A with the incredibly talented creatives we worked with.
Kumi Matusmoto, Marie Holdaway and Abhi Topiwala.
Were you always creative? As a child did you doodle on any spare bit of white space?
Kumi: Yes! Doodled lots but never imagined I’d be a digital artist!
Marie: I’ve been creative since I can remember, whether it be getting a principal’s gold sticker for my creative story when I was 5 (mostly for spelling pterodactyl correctly) or filling up diaries with made-up Pokémon. My output of creativity adjusted as I grew older too: cutting outfits for Barbie, creating punk-band posters and jackets, to now designing in agencies and studios. My level of creative thinking hasn’t changed, it’s just outputted in different ways – less glitter and finger painting (mostly).
Abhi: Yes! I remember when I used to draw all the cartoons I’d see on TV as I’d watch them. Dragon Ball Z was a go-to toon for me. As for drawing in white space and margins, I did that and still do to this day. It’s almost a visceral task that I can’t resist carrying out. I like to think that it’s an accurate representation with where I am at that very moment. It’s my response at the time to wherever I am, doing whatever I am.
Does your illustration ever cross over with any graphic design work you do?
Kumi: They interact with each other, though illustration is basically for self-expression while graphic design is for a client.
Marie: It has, although my typical illustration style is childlike and messy so it can be quite niche for clients to use. That’s why I tend to illustrate in the evenings – after a day of making sure everything is digitally accurate and perfectly laid out it’s fun to get home and splash about paint with no restrictions.
Abhi: At first I really tried to force it because I as always wanted to apply my drawings to different mediums, but lately I’ve learnt via motion design that I can have ‘flavours’ of my drawings without literally using my drawings in the works I animate! I’m sure that doesn’t make much sense, but I just mean that I’m trying to take the mood of my illustrations convey and playing with how to communicate this through different ways of animation. It looks visually quite different, but I feel that personally I’m doing a very similar thing. It’s all on my Instagram if you’d like to take a look!
Where do you draw your inspiration from when it comes to your illustration work?
Kumi: In communication. I get inspiration when I communicate with humans / animals / nature.
Marie: From my surroundings. In a society where we try to have control in so many aspects of our lives, I love that nature is unexpected and untamed. It’s a fun contrast to our day to day order, and I try to capture those vibrant colours and that energy
Abhi: It’s no secret place! Just where everyone else gets inspo from - the world around us. Although, I just recently came back from a trip to Sri Lanka and I noticed that I get overwhelmed with ideas on plane rides. There’s just something about travelling in planes that seem to get my juices flowing. Besides this, when I get the chance, having a good book that interests me really gets me going too.
Who are your creative heroes?
Kumi: Paul Rand & Alexander Girard.
Marie: While there’s millions of unbelievably talented designers out there who I admire, my true creative heroes are individuals – across all different industries – who have trusted their gut and made a name for themselves going against the grain. It takes heroic courage to push past hurdles or nay-sayers and to chase after your purpose.
If you could do a collaboration with anyone, who would it be and why?
Kumi: Wes Anderson! I LOVE his world.
Marie: Deceased: Storm Thorgerson. His Semi-Permanent talk was fascinating to hear how he conceptualised such graphic, iconic work. Who wouldn’t want to work with the man who created Led Zeppelin album covers?! Alive: Debbie Millman. I don’t know how much work we would get done, as I would probably just chew her ear off the whole time.
Abhi: ADIDAS! I’ve been part of the Adidas family and a fan of the brand since I was a little boy. While on this creative journey I’ve seen that there are perks to this line of work - one of them being that you can work with whoever you would like to. I’m so glad that I am what I am. So keen to make the collaboration happen someday, some way or another. Not sure how but it will! Watch this space.