Garage­land Aus­tralian il­lus­tra­tor David Dun­stan, aka Loopy­dave, opens up to his stylish stu­dio and in­tro­duces his head­less muse…

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When I first started as a free­lance il­lus­tra­tor, I would visit clients or, oc­ca­sion­ally, they’d come to my stu­dio. Now ev­ery­thing’s done over the phone or in­ter­net, and it’s en­abled me to move to a small coun­try town where I can re­duce my liv­ing ex­penses and in­crease my chances of be­ing tram­pled by ru­n­away horses or ra­bid sheep.

My con­verted garage stu­dio fits a four-me­ter-long work desk, seven book­shelves and Har­riet the head­less man­nequin. My pre­vi­ous stu­dio was larger, and it was quite chal­leng­ing to re­house the ex­ten­sive collection of art and ref­er­ence books when I moved. The re­sult looks like some­one crammed a com­puter desk in­side a crowded sec­ond-hand book­shop, low­ered the ceil­ing, stole the light­bulbs and ran away.

I cur­rently have a two-com­puter setup: a 13-inch lap­top run­ning a 30-inch ex­ter­nal mon­i­tor for work and a 20-inch screen, us­ing an­other com­puter, for emails, mu­sic and TV. There’s a scan­ner, laser printer, one of those mul­ti­func­tion colour print­ers that claims to do a thou­sand things but does none of them well, and a draw­ing desk, just off to the right. You may have no­ticed there’s no tablet or dig­i­tal draw­ing de­vice. I cre­ate my roughs and de­tailed sketches on paper, scan them in and paint them us­ing a mouse.

I usu­ally start work­ing around 10am, when I’ll deal with emails and check the in­ter­net for any new grumpy cat memes. Around lunchtime I’ll take a walk – avoid­ing any ru­n­away horses or ra­bid sheep – and be­gin il­lus­tra­tion work when I re­turn, stop for tea and then work un­til 2am – my own stuff if things are quiet, and client work if it’s not.

Loopy­dave used to be a graphic de­signer be­fore be­com­ing a full-time free­lance il­lus­tra­tor. Check out his work at www.loopy­dave.de­viantart.com.

There’s very lit­tle wall space in the stu­dio, so I’ve had to cut it back to a few prints and post­card art from friends and people I’ve met on­line – oh, and a John Howe print of Gan­dalf walk­ing in the rain, which still blows me away.

Skinny Al, the plas­tic skull, is an­other very handy re­source who also keeps me com­pany while I work. At one stage

I toyed with buy­ing a com­plete replica skele­ton.

This replica Vik­ing hel­met was part of the pay­ment for do­ing some il­lus­tra­tion work for a sword and movie prop com­pany – less a ref­er­ence and more a just-coz-it’s-cool kind of thing. I tend to lis­ten to mu­sic, au­dio­books and pod­casts dur­ing the day, and play DVDs or TV shows on the sec­ond com­puter in the evenings. I’ve been col­lect­ing art and ref­er­ence books since my teens and un­for­tu­nately had to ditch a cou­ple of book­shelves full when I moved to this smaller stu­dio. Now I have to think quite care­fully be­fore buy­ing any new books, be­cause it’ll most likely mean I’ll have to dis­place an­other one. I al­ways thought it would be cool to have a man­nequin in a stu­dio, and have found Head­less Har­riet sur­pris­ingly use­ful as ref­er­ence

over the years. I’m sure I’m far from unique as an il­lus­tra­tor in hav­ing a lot of knick-knacks around my stu­dio – mostly char­ac­ters from artists or movies I love, ref­er­ences I’ve picked up for dif­fer­ent jobs and a work­ing Sal­vador Dali melt­ing clock.

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