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Q&A with Livi Gosling

Illustrator based in the UK

I’m an illustrator based in the UK. I grew up in Hertfordshire and currently live with my boyfriend, Josh Hurley. He’s also an illustrator but is also great at screen printing, animation and design. I love that we can discuss our work together. It really helps having someone to bounce ideas off. Most of my commissions tend to be map-based. I also work on editorial illustrations, food illustrations and I’ve worked on two children’s books. If I’m not drawing then I’m probably cooking.

What would you tell about your studying in University College Falmouth? What are the most important things that you learnt from the university?

I loved my time at Falmouth University. I made the most amazing friends and got to live by the Cornish coast for three years. I feel very lucky to have had such a wonderful university experience.

I would say the biggest thing I learnt at Uni is time management. We were encouraged to be in the studio every day 9-5 and I think this helped install a good work ethic in me. Obviously there were days when I just went to the beach… But I’d say that overall I handled the work / house party balance pretty well.

What was the first step towards your career? Did you look for some job at illustration agencies, full-time job? So why did you decide in favour of freelance?

When I graduated from Uni I felt a little lost. I got a part time job in a cafe for a little while. I also started teaching an art club for kids. The first year after graduating I was mostly just earning enough money to still see all my uni friends and maintain some sort of social life. I worked part time for 3 years and the majority of that was teaching. It got to the stage where my part time job was limiting my illustration opportunities. Since going freelance full time I really haven’t looked back. However, I would still recommend getting a part time job when you graduate. It eases the financial pressure and keeps you socialising.

My first commission was for Jamie magazine. It was an illustrated food map of Dublin. I’m very grateful to Adrienne Pitts, the Art Director at the time, for giving me my first job. My boyfriend and I have since been to Dublin and we visited as many places featured in the map as we could. It was pretty great.

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Where do you usually meet your illustration inspiration - at your studio, in Hertfordshire or outside?

As I work on a lot of maps, most of my commercial work just seems like a logical response to the brief so I’m not sure I could say anything necessarily ‘inspires’ me… However, when I work on personal pieces they tend to be inspired by food, family and the sea. I’m always thinking about my next meal or daydreaming about travelling. I’ve got my sights set on Iceland, California and New Zealand.

Who are the inspirational illustrators for you personally and what is the wellspring of your work inspiration?

I love Carson Ellis. The detail in her work is insane. I wish my style was a little more refined like hers.

Most of my work tends to end up a lot scruffier, wonkier and less polished than I would like. I’ve started to accept that I can’t seem to find a way around it.