An Interview With... Laura Yates

An Interview With... Laura Yates

When I was little my bedroom was my favourite place. I was always content spending time by myself, drawing, reading and playing make-believe. My bed could become a hide-out, my soft toys became characters in made-up stories. Growing up near Sherwood Forest I would run around in my Robin Hood costume, pretending to chase bad guys through the trees. I loved myths, legends and traditional fairy tales, anything with talking animals. I particularly treasured a beautifully illustrated version of The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson, and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis. My favourite contemporary picture book series was Percy the Park Keeper by Nick Butterworth, especially After The Storm which had a huge pull out poster of a giant tree with all the animals in their treehouses. I’ve always loved illustrations of animals and plants and not much has changed!

An illustration of a tiger standing sideways on. He is holding a flag in his mouth.Flag says forever fearless.

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

When I was little I used to love copying illustrations from comic books (particularly Wonder Woman!) so I thought I wanted to be a comic book artist. Not a million miles away from what I do now but my illustration style has definitely moved away from that!

 

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

I always loved doing anything creative, whether that was drawing or making things. I didn’t really know where it would lead but I was always encouraged by my family to pursue what I enjoyed, so I continued down the creative route and love what I do now!

 

Who or what inspired you to be an illustrator?

Growing up, I always loved to draw, but never thought that it would be possible to do so as a job. Not really knowing how to turn my love of art into a career I was directed towards Graphic Design, which I studied at uni, but quickly realised I had little interest in “true graphic design” projects like branding, web design or magazine layouts. Thankfully I had two really great tutors, one who was an editorial illustrator, and they encouraged me to write my own briefs for more illustrative projects, which led to a more illustrative portfolio and ultimately the job I have now!

 

A triptych of 3 images . An art frame leaning against a wall. The art print inside the frame is an illustrated bouquet of flowers inside a vintage tin. The middle image is a zoom in of the detail and the far right image shows this same art print as a wall hanging over a wooden bench in a lifestyle image.

What are three things you cannot live without as an illustrator?

Unsurprisingly, the humble pencil is the number one! My Wacom tablet is also a close second as it would be much harder to edit designs and create repeat prints without it, as well as many cups of peppermint tea!

 

When or where do you feel most creative?

I think I feel most creative when I’m in a quiet spot at home, with a cup of tea, Fleetwood Mac on Spotify, and just a pencil and paper to roughly sketch out ideas.

 

Who is your illustration hero?

There are so many! Carson Ellis is an enduring favourite, whose picture book “Home” is one of my most loved. The work of Jonas Wood (particularly his still life paintings of potted plants) I can look at over and over again. I love the way he interprets foliage and incorporates patterns. I also really admire Richard Jones’ ability to create the cutest characters with wonderful layers of texture.

 

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

I always had a huge collection of soft toys: I loved how they made you feel like you had a smaller, even cuter version of your favourite animals at home. I still find inspiration in handmade heirloom soft toys as they always have such beautiful characterisation.

 

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

I’m easily distracted so I really like my workspace to be quiet and calming: I think being relaxed is key for letting ideas flow. My shelf is usually filled with beautifully illustrated kids books which are endlessly inspiring, and there are patterned postcards from travels, trade shows and exhibitions pinned above my desk. I also always love to have a small vase of flowers on my desk and a scented candle, just to really bring the chill out vibes!

 

How does your working process usually start?

I love to sketch as it helps me get an idea of style, pace and layout before colour is introduced. I’ll start with a few reference images and lots of loose sketches, which I’ll refine before moving on to colouring up a design with paint or digital brushes.

 

What inspired you to create your Fearless Tiger Art Print?

I wanted to create something gender neutral that was simple yet impactful, that embodied the fearlessness and courage of youth as little ones find their way in the world. I love drawing tigers as their stripes are a great opportunity for subtle pattern and texture, something I introduced further with the playful spotted neckerchief.

 

Talk us through your inspiration for your Boho Floral Vase design...

This design was inspired by European folk for a bohemian feel. I wanted the florals to be whimsical and wild, impossibly full, the canister overflowing with nature. An appreciation for vintage artefacts and the charm of mixing old and new led me to chose the tea canister to hold the flowers, aiming to create a playful narrative that children could replicate by filling found objects with flowers too.

 

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

The Forever Fearless Tiger is my favourite of my designs. I have a soft spot for cats, big or small, and I like how versatile this print is for little girls, boys or even big kids like me!

 

 

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