My name is Mark Chambers, I’ve been a picture book illustrator since 2003 and I’ve recently started to write my own stories as well.
How did you get started in picture book illustration, what is your background?
Although I wanted to be a professional golfer when I was growing up I found that my skills were much more suited to a career as an artist. I studied for a degree in illustration at university and was fortunate enough to be selected to show my work at the D&AD exhibition and shortly after I was signed up to be represented by Bright Group International.
A degree in illustration gave me the time and creative environment to focus and develop my skills and I now go back and lecture from time to time to show the students how my journey in illustration has progressed over the years and to pass on what I’ve learnt from the industry.
What is a turning point in your professional career?
I’d say a turning point was when I started working digitally. I love playing around with styles, textures, brushes and techniques and working digitally has given me a great platform to do this. It's opened up a whole new way of producing images that really suits how I like to work.
What is your ideal work environment? Do you prefer to work in your studio all day long or mix a few activities?
I’m very lucky to have my own studio which is a short walk from my house, I’ve been working there since around 2008 and to have my own place of work is fantastic. There are a number of businesses that work in the building from graphic designers and photographers to barbers and masseuses. It also has a great little cafe on the ground floor which supplies me with coffee and cake!
Before my studio complex was available however I used to work from a spare room in my house when I first started out as an illustrator. While working from home has it's benefits, it's great to be able to leave the house and walk to work rather than just going from one room to another. I try and take breaks when I can and I think it's important that you do so. My studio has a balcony attached to it so a quick break on there to clear the head and stretch the legs works wonders. I try my best not to work at weekends as well and leave these free to do other activities.
My place of work is where I work and if I can keep it separate as best I can from my home life then it provides a nice balance.
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Where are your favorite places in your city or outside?
Living where I live I have the best of both worlds. The city where I live has a fantastic cathedral and castle which I can see from my studio building and from my bedroom back home and being a small city it takes no time to get around if I need something. Growing up in the country however I think I'll always be drawn to this way of life. I love open spaces and being around nature whether it's by the sea or walking in the woods, I guess I just love the peace and quiet that being in these kind of environments bring.
Who are the designers and illustrators, colleagues in your city/country or outside you admire most?
I'd say I admire many different illustrators, some that are my friends and some that I've never met. I take inspiration and ideas from different areas whether it's a new image that I've just seen or from some of the books that I grew up with. Some of my favourites are The Mirrorstone by Michael Palin, Alan Lee and Richard Seymour, a great book about a boy who gets lost in a secret world behind his bathroom mirror. Anything by Richard Scarry too as these were some of the first picture books I read when I was young, Lowly Worm is such a great little character!