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Q&A with Joe Wilson

Illustrator living and working in Leicester UK

My name is Joe Wilson, I am an illustrator living and working in Leicester UK.

How did you get started in illustration? What is a turning point in your professional career?

I've always been into art and drawing, so moving in that direction was always a natural thing for me. I studied Graphic Arts at Leeds metropolitan university after not really being able to decide the exact direction I wanted to take.

I ended up spending most of my 3 years there in the print room creating etchings and screen prints, but they were always based around detailed drawings.

I was introduced to my agents shortly after I graduated through my cousin, (illustrator Oscar Wilson) and we struck up a relationship and they have been representing me now for about 7 years.

I'm not sure there was any particular single turning point in my career, but I produced a book cover for David Mitchell's book, 'The thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet' in 2010, and for some reason it really captured the interest of a lot of people, including commissioners, and to this day it still gets referenced when people commission me. It seemed to sum up my style and my skills in one image and a lot of work has come off the back of that.

What is your ideal work environment? Do you prefer to work in your art studio all day long or prefer to mix a few activities?

I have a beautiful studio in the centre of town, so I love spending time there and my usual working day is spent in there all day. This is a permanent space for me to work in and that is all I do there really. It's good to be able to keep everything I need to hand and not worry about living around it all. After so many years you can really end up with a lot of stuff.

Spending all day there is really the only way I can work as I have enough to keep me busy all week.

I like to maintain the weekend for myself though, I think it's important to have a separation from work like that and it allows me to spend time with my wife at home and do other things.

Where does your work inspiration come from? (Do you believe in 'inspiration' at all)?

I definitely believe in inspiration, I think it happens in a variety of ways and from many sources.

I sometimes feel like inspiration is more of a feeling than anything else. I find that I get inspired by things and it lifts my mood to want to create. For example, I am renovating a house at the minute and working with my wife to choose interiors and layouts and deciding what finishes to have, and that is inspiring to me. It lifts my mood to a creative level, and that then spans across everything I do. Its sort of self perpetuating which is nice. It's not always about images for me, it's nice to be informed by lots of different things.

Where are your favorite art places in your city or outside?

Unfortunately where I live has an extremely limited art scene, so no big galleries or  art shops selling things I am particularly into. so I tend to see and buy my art elsewhere.

I have been a collaborator with Print Club London since they first set up and it has been amazing to watch them grow and to be part of that journey. They always have great artwork to see and various exhibitions throughout the year that are well worth a look.

My wife and I are big collectors of stuff, so we are keen flea market/boot fair/antique market goers. Although not straight forward 'Art' places I get a real creative vibe from these places, and there is something about selecting pieces of furniture or ornaments to take away and treasure that I love. Newarke antique fair is great, portobello market is decent. We have just come back from a trip to Paris and clignancourt flea market is one of the best I have ever been to. So much to see!!