David’s Words

In Interview on December 18, 2012 at 6:38 pm


This is David Litchfield. He’s a super swell illustrator and fellow from Bedford, England. Litchfield was the first artist to send his finished ‘Say Anything Project’ piece back to me. ‘Do Better’ had enough energy to match the song it was inspired by, Say Anything’s ‘Do Better’. I invite you to read his words and wisdom and am sure you’ll end up admiring him as much as I do.

Hello David! How are you?
I’m fine and dandy, thank you. It’s been a crazy, busy year in many, many ways. So, I’m looking forward to Christmas and having a bit of a break.
Do you often reflect on the ‘A Drawing A Day’ Project, and what role do you think it played in getting you where you are today?
My ‘A Drawing A Day’ project has been helpful in a number of ways. It was supposed to be a very small, private project to help me improve as an illustrator but soon turned into a pretty big deal. I’m pleased because it got a bit of notice from galleries and magazines and built an online following. I am quite keen to move on from it now as some of the drawings are quite ‘ropey’. It’s quite nice that now people find out about me from other things like the Rue Royale drawings or the Beano.


What’s the oddest place you’ve ever doodled because you didn’t have a notebook handy? 
Oh goodness, anywhere really. Sometimes I do it without realizing. When I was younger, our telephone was in the kitchen at our house, so when I was on the phone chatting to people I would doodle on the walls. It pissed my mum off so much, but I really didn’t know I was doing it.


Do you ever approach folks/organizations about illustrating for them, or do others do the approaching? 
No, I do need to get better at that to be honest. Most of the commissions I have had so far have been from people contacting me.
Who or what organization do you aspire to create something for?
Nobrow books produce some of the best illustrated books around. I would love to take a project to them. This year I have fulfilled two ambitions by illustrating for The Beano and Anorak magazine. But, to be honest, I admire people who create their own industry and their own worlds. Maurice Sendak, Hayao Miyazaki, Jim Henson and Sylvain Chomet are all heroes who created their own universes to work in. Maybe one day I can do that too.
What has been the most difficult part of starting a career in illustration? 
I’m still very much learning about the industry of illustration and how it works. Sending a drawing off to a client and waiting to hear what they think can be horrible. I really panic that they are going to hate it. Working out how much to charge for an illustration is still something I have not figured out. In fact, the whole concept of getting paid to draw is something I still very much have not got my head around. Being paid to draw. That’s just absolutely mental.
Another scary thing is working out when and how to take that plunge into being a full-time freelance illustrator. I’m still only part-time. One day soon I will make the leap, but not yet. I’m not sure I’m ready yet. x

Three things illustration has taught you:
1. Focus on something you love doing.
2. Focus on something you are good at.
3. Keep your pencils sharp.
Three things fatherhood has taught you:
1. I can get by on very little sleep.
2. I can draw, paint, write an email and open a bottle with just one hand.
3. There are more important things in life than drawing.
What are some things you hope to teach your son, Benjamin? 
I can’t wait to teach him how to draw. I also want to teach him how to play the guitar and his mum is going to teach him how to play the piano. He may not want to do any of these things but we are going to try anyway. It’s been so exciting watching him grow and learn so far (He’s only 6 months, so still pretty brand new).
What place would you like to visit the most?
I visited New York last year for the first time which has been a life-long ambition. I spent the first few days just being super overwhelmed by it all, but soon settled down and loved it. Can’t wait to go back there. Other than that, I want to go to Canada and see my friend, Steven Kraan.
Can you tell a story that took place during a trip/vacation you took?
When we were in New York we went to see ‘Le Cage aux Folles’ on Broadway. After the show we managed to blag our way into the backstage area and met the old lady from ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ who was hanging around. She looked a lot like Yoda.
What are some of your favorite places to frequent where you live in Bedford?
Bedford has a number of great little places actually. The Embankment Pub on the River Ouse is lovely. There are great coffee places too, such as Hurpers Coffee and Freds. Myself and the writer Neil Fox go to Fred’s regularly to chat about our graphic novel idea. There’s a great little art scene building up around here too with lots of pop up galleries and events happening. It used to be that artists and musicians would be chased out of town by the hoodies, but recently we’ve decided to stand up for ourselves and be arty and proud.
What’s something you’d like to accomplish outside of illustration?
I want to be a good dad. I want to lose weight. I want to learn to drive. I want to grow a tiny bit taller. I want to live in the country or by the sea. Lots of things really.


What’s something you wish for your self, 10 years in the future?
I tend to work in 1 year plans to be honest. 10 years is far too scary a prospect to consider. In 2013 I have three children’s book commissions to complete, which are going to be so incredible. The writers I’m working for are giving me a great deal of freedom to be as visual as I possibly can, which is exciting. So, hopefully they will be published by the end of next year. I am also developing my own children’s book ‘Grandad’s Secret Giant’ which I’m having a lot of fun doing. As well as all that, Neil and myself are going through the Arts Council funding process for our graphic novel ‘Hospice’, which is also going to keep me busy for a large chunk of 2013. I guess though, within the next ten years I would like to think I will be more established as an illustrator and hopefully be earning a living from it. My ultimate goal however, is to make a feature-length animated film. That would be an absolute dream come true.

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