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