Work inspiration with
Sam Gilbey

I’m a husband, father, freelance graphic designer and also an illustrator. This is what I do, but I guess also who I am, in that you can’t ’switch off’ the first two when you start work in the morning, or the latter two when it’s 6pm.

How did you get started in visual art? What is your background?

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember – I’ve just always been really happy with a pencil or paintbrush in my hand. Every day after school I drew for a couple of hours before dinner, whether it was Spider-Man, Transformers or any other craze that happened to be in at the time. For months on end I remember inventing Nike and Puma trainers (or sneakers depending on your preference!). I stuck with it over the years, always having something new in mind that I want/need to get out of my system. As a result, I am now fortunate enough to be able to create graphics professionally.

What tools (software) and materials do you use for your work?

For my illustrations, Corel Painter is where the majority of the brushwork is done, but I then bring it into Photoshop for adjustments and embellishments. I’m also finding that Kyle T Webster’s fantastic Photoshop brushes are really streamlining my process, so I’m moving over to Photoshop earlier in the process, where I can both paint and start to add final touches in terms of effects, colour balancing and so on. As a graphic designer, I’ve gravitated over to Illustrator for the majority of projects, in terms of interface design, logo designs and so on, but of course Photoshop is still very much part of the arsenal, and still can’t be beaten for some things. I’ve also been getting stuck into Sketch of late, and can see why a lot of people are really swearing by it for interface design. It’s very streamlined towards creating user interfaces and can definitely have a noticeable impact in terms of improving workflow.

What are you working on now?

On the illustration side, I’ve just come to the end of a series of pop culture exhibitions and I’m deliberately taking a break to focus on some personal projects that have been on my mind for some time. I’m also working on a couple of private commissions. In terms of graphic design, I’ve just started working on a new customer experience design project, looking at interface elements and identity for a well-known retail brand, but I can’t say more at this point.

What is your ideal work environment?

I love my home setup for sure, where I have everything just how I want it, but equally, it’s good to work in different studios on collaborative projects too. It tends to be that I’m drawing things at home, and designing things in the offices of agencies and clients, but sometimes that flips the other way around, and that unpredictability is what I love about freelance really. I might not know what the next project is going to be, and when it’s going to come my way, but it keeps me from getting complacent. In short (!), if I have something creative to do, I will make the most of any given environment, but a balance of quiet and collaborative time is always needed.

Where are your favorite places for art?

It’s going to sound like a huge clich?, but art is to be found everywhere. Whilst I love to visit the big London galleries, sometimes you’ll just stumble across a great photography show by accident. It’s amazing to live in an age where you can have a really good camera in your pocket and are only ever a couple of seconds away from capturing something interesting, inspiring, or anything else in between. So I’m always looking for a great composition, whether it’s something that’s happened by accident or has been designed that. Tumblr is fantastic too of course – I know I’m going to find something amazing whenever I go there.

Who are the artists you admire most?

That changes every day really – growing up it was everyone from David Hockney (and I still admire him greatly now, both in terms of the quality and quantity of his output) to John Romita Snr, but it’s always exciting to discover new artists. I still get great joy from discovering something new, and I try to share the new artists I discover pretty regularly on Twitter.