An Interview With... Becca Barker

An Interview With... Becca Barker

The library in the Beast's castle from Beauty and The Beast has always been my absolute dream for a workspace! 

                                        

  

When you was little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be an animator when I was little, I loved Disney so much I just wanted to work there!  Well before I understood what's involved in the industry, I just loved the thought of traditionally hand drawing and painting all the characters and scenery.  Aside from anything art-related, I also wanted to be a spy for a long time too - I’d make up imaginary narratives for the people who lived on my street and give myself secret missions from my bedroom window!  

 

When did you know that you wanted to become an artist/illustrator?

For as long as I can remember, to be honest! I can’t really remember ever not having a sketchbook and pencil case on me, I would doodle and draw everywhere, over everything, especially my school books! I also really loved reading when I was little and my imagination was always creating my own stories and characters so I would staple paper together and make little books, write and illustrate them with a front cover and back blurb.  When I was a bit older, I would draw mannequin templates and design my own fashion ranges, and then as a teen, I loved concept art and making up characters and landscapes for an animated movie.  All I have ever known is drawing and designing but it was only at University that I really got focused on illustration and surface design properly. 

 

Who or what inspired you to become an artist / illustrator? 

My Uncle Paul definitely - he LOVED animation, drawing, doodling and designing.  I’ll never forget the pots of hundreds of pens on his shelves, so many varieties from marker to Japanese brush to teeny fine liners.  He would roll out huge sheets of paper from work on his table and we would just draw and doodle for hours with tonnes of snacks.  He was always my biggest cheerleader as well when it comes to my art, his support and encouragement really helped - the smell of ink and printer paper always reminds me of him.

 large bunny illustration. A pink bunny silhouette on a cream ground. Bunny silhouette is filled with pretty intricate doodles of flowers and foliage.

What are the three things you cannot live without an an illustrator and when and where do you feel most creative?

Black ink pots, a mixture of pens and a really good quality selection of paper! I can edit colours and layouts on iPad and Illustrator, but I am absolutely most confident with a big a3 sheet of paper and a traditional pen and ink.
I feel most creative at the start of a new season, preferably doing Autumn/Winter or Christmas artworks when all the new concepts are rolling about in my head! I am also definitely more of a night owl than an early bird so I get much more confident and creative as the day goes on. Museums and galleries also always inspire me so much, I love antiques, textiles and ancient art - I would walk around the V&A every day if I could and constantly feel so creative!
 

Who is your illustration hero?

That is tricky because I do love so many modern illustrators but I definitely look at painters and artists such as Alphonse Mucha, Gustav Klimt, William Morris as my true heroes in art and design. Mary Blair is my icon for her role in Disney, concept art and use of colour - always been obsessed with her. Edward Gorey and Tim Burton are also illustration heroes to me for their characters and humour. Complete mixed bag of heroes there!

 

 

Tell us one thing from your childhood bedroom that you treasured...

A little French music box my Mum and Dad bought in Paris for my nursery with ‘Pierrot’ on it.  The design is very nouveau-inspired, with a little dancing clown on a piano - the colours are all faded now but I still absolutely love it and especially love that it is now in my own daughter's bedroom. 

 

Tell us about your workspace: is there anything you keep around you while you work to inspire you?

I can’t really function well in a mess, my workspace is (generally) always tidy as I feel like it keeps my mind clean! There is ALWAYS a cup of tea within reach and I need all my books in the room with me too - I just like to be able to spin round on my chair and have a flick through when I need a refresh from the screen for a bit.  The library in the Beast's castle from Beauty and The Beast has always been my absolute dream for a workspace!  It is strange, I am a maximalist when it comes to design, the more detail, decorative, heavily ornate the better - but I really need no clutter to focus.

 Photo of grey office chair at artists desk. Yellow blanket on back of chair. Dark black walls with bookshelf on left. On the desk are small tin buckets of tons of fine liners and pens.

How does your working process usually start?

I’ll always start with a mood-board and some reference images, from the internet or books, then have a sketch and go from there.  I love looking at a mixture of references and mashing them up to an artwork in my handwriting - that can be from Indian textiles, ancient runes, Middle Eastern ceramics, Chinese pottery - I absolutely love an archive! 

What is your favourite piece from the M i N i B E A U collection?

Floral Bunny - I really enjoyed creating her!  Anything that involves lots of tiny detail and delicate drawing has me hooked when designing and I like how she is whimsical and fairytale-like. I was thinking about classic children’s books and stories like Flower Fairies, Tom’s Midnight Garden, Lady Cottington’s pressed fairies, Alice In Wonderland and The Secret Garden, combining characters and super pretty garden elements.  She also has such a peaceful look about her!

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