Artists in residence
The Somerset-based illustrator of beasts and battle badgers invites us to nose around his corner of creativity
Explore the lair of Beast Quest illustrator Steve Sims, and see where Tony DiTerlizzi, the artist behind The Spiderwick Chronicles, makes his marks.
When I’m not in the studio busily scribbling away with the other creative types at Dynamo, this is where I while away the hours. It’s the perfect balance between a controlled creative atmosphere and my desire to live within a chaotic, overflowing archive of toys and reference art.
Having a work area that’s part of the main living area really helps productivity. I used to have a setup in a separate room, but found it a bit antisocial to keep disappearing into my cave. Luckily, when we moved house we had the space to incorporate it all in the lounge, which gave me more scribbling time.
I’m not the most tech-savvy person, so my drawing techniques rely heavily on traditional materials. Sketching, line art and ink work is something I’ve always loved to do, and will always aim to do traditionally. You just can’t beat the textures you get from working on good ol’ paper and pens.
My most-used piece of kit is my detachable, home-made drawing board. It’s something that a good friend of mine loves to give me stick about – he says it’s so unprofessional! However, it’s perfectly angled to my drawing position and is custom-made to my work environment.
The best art materials aren’t always the most expensive. One of the most useful bits of kit I keep on my desk is a bit of paper with three very basic bits of painting advice written on it. I think it’s important to be reminded of the basics, because they’re the foundations of all successful work.
However, painting is when I step into the modern age; working digitally in colour is so much quicker and more forgiving than traditional methods. After all, it’s a lot easier to store files than canvasses. Steve has illustrated the Beast Quest children’s book series for the past ten years. He also selfpublishes the Beast Hunting Battle Badgers comic book. You can see more of his work at http://blog.stevesimsillustration.co.uk.
I adore Asterix, I love rendering and drawing with as much detail as I can. However, I always return to the masters of cartooning in order to avoid characters looking stiff. Monsters, beasts and worlds of fantasy are the food that nourishes my soul. The words and worlds of various fantasy books were my home growing up and the fabulous illustrations that accompanied these tales were what started me on the creative path. A canvas of one of the early Beast Quest covers. One of many collaborations with the amazing colourist Gary McNamara. It’s always good to have someone you’re trying to keep up with creatively. It really helps to push your work. What’s cooler than an evil ninja covered in razor blades?! This cool dragon was a gift from my awesome partner Caz. Having a loved one who encourages your creativity and the things that you’re passionate about (even the geeky things) is the best and really only encouragement you ever need.