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Q&A with Laura Barnard

Illustrator of buildings and cityscapes from Peterborough, UK

I’m Laura Barnard, an illustrator who lives in Peterborough in the UK. I draw a lot of buildings and cityscapes but also weave in some hand-drawn typography, maps and infographics.

What inspired you to become an illustrator?

I trained as a graphic designer but have a background in fine art, so it was really just meeting in the middle. I love drawing, but I like the constraints of a brief so illustration fits perfectly for that. I also prefer working by myself, but enjoy the contact with clients and colleagues at the same time, so that works out well too.

What design tools do you use?

I mainly use Photoshop, 13” Macbook Pro and a small Wacom Cintiq. I do use Illustrator for vectors if needed, especially for the huge murals I’ve done, but I prefer the look of my work in Photoshop – Illustrator smooths things too much for me. I never thought I’d end up working completely on the computer but for tight deadlines and edits it works so well. I still do all my sketches on paper and go drawing once a month with my friend Sarah Blick – which is a very welcome return to paper and pencils. We made a little blog to show it off.

What is your ideal work environment?

I pretty much have it – a room with a big desk and some bookshelves! It’s got a huge circular chalkboard on the wall for planning world domination, too. There is a part of me that would love a garden studio for quiet working but the garden’s too important for growing vegetables and lounging around in to concrete over. A steady supply of black coffee is also essential.

Where does your design inspiration come from?

I'm hugely influenced by all my peers that I follow on Twitter and seeing their work, but I'm probably more influenced by non-illustrators like Ed Ruscha or Wolfgang Tillmans. I think there's a danger that if you only look at other illustrators' work you get caught up in trends that are currently doing the rounds, whereas if you look outside that world as well it can make your work a lot more interesting. I’m also hugely influenced by things outside art and work, like vintage encyclopaedias or magazines, and things like board games and maps and trinkets.

Who is the person you admire most?

That’s a hard question. I think I would say I admire lots of people I know personally for all sorts of reasons. I admire people who stay true to who they are and who keep on picking themselves up over and over again – I’m not sure I know enough about any ‘famous’ people to know enough to admire them. I can certainly admire loads of people’s great work though: Richard Brautigan, Andreas Gursky, Ed Ruscha, Wolfgang Tillmans, Tove Jansson, Richard Bell, Bill Watterson, Derek Jarman’s garden, Laura Cantrell, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, etc. I suspect I’ll kick myself for forgetting loads of great people on that list.