Interview with the illustrator Adam Batchelor
– 26 year old, living in England
Who are you Adam?
I’m an artist from the east of england, currently living out in the countryside.
You wrote in your submission email that your current artwork « focuses around our relationship with the animal kingdom from a modern perspective. » What do you mean by that?
I’m very much interested in the way we perceive animals in our society, what we think we know about them and their ecological roles and what we have incurred onto them as well, how they’re living around and in-between us and our messy lives, for example i have a drawing titled ‘Exiles’ and both animals in the drawing have become extinct in the wild due in large part to what humans have done to their environment, both these animals have a strong mythological history and now they have to live in captivity in order to survive.
Another drawing, that i’m currently working on is of a Yangtze Giant Soft shell turtle, it’s the largest fresh water turtle, but there’s about 4 left, it’s modern history is mired by stories of human involvement, eating them, pollution, turtles getting bashed round the head by cro-bars, monks keeping them as sacred deities. So i’m doing an Audubon-esq Buddha styled portrait of one of the last turtles with a hand in the corner wrapped around it’s foot ready to yank it away. And i got another drawing that’s an imaginary fever dream of the brutal Belgian dictator King Leopold II who terrorised the Congo, he’s dreaming that he’s a Gorilla and maybe like karma or something, he’s seeing another point of view. If the image works, i’d love to make a whole series on this kinda concept, but it sounds nuts.
Could you tell us more about your process of creation?
+ What’s your favorite tool?
I draw everything with coloured pencils, i used to use a 0.2 mm mechanical pencil for most of the work but i just use that for illustrations now and I stick to coloured pencils on a watercolour paper for the artwork, materials anyone can buy and use, and i think that’s really important. I do work from photographs and recently I’ve got a camera to help with research and making primary source images to help me construct more complex original work. I prefer the simplicity of the coloured pencil and i definitely support the art of drawing as being on the same level as painting or sculpture.
What’s the intention behind this illustration called « Merger »? [see below]
As the landscape of the UK changes, through urbanisation or climate change Merger focuses on the connection between two species and how they might co-exist on an island where space is ever dwindling. I imagine how human action has forced these two species together. The visual language of the Red Fox and the Cormorant, connected through either the regurgitation or consumption of a Conger Eel is also my way of exploring the weirder side of the natural world, one that i think frequently occurs but is rarely shown, and quite beautiful in it’s own right.
How did you get into illustration?
At university i found it to be the less controlled and blinkered subject, quite unruly really, which is what i love, stories have always been important to me as well, Illustration is a great form of communication and our tutors really encouraged us to explore.
You also said that your current work is « stylistically and technically more accurate and detailed » than what you’ve done before, why are you going this way?
t’s just the next stage for me. When i started working 4 years ago, i’ve had to teach myself everything through trial and error, just constantly work, non-stop, starting to develop larger work makes sense, to push peoples perception of drawing and my subject matter, illustration, this kind of art, it has to be bold and eye catching, whilst have this message that can be thought provoking, maybe shocking sometimes and also little bit strange.
Give us some references you had when you were a child which still influence your work today.
Well i’ve always been around nature, farming and that, and when i was at school i felt embarrassed about it, when most the other kids lived in towns and that, went to the shops and played video games at the weekend, you feel like an outsider, but now i feel strongly that it’s been the most important experience to have, now i prefer to be the outsider, it’s good to be a little different, a knowledge of your environment, where your food comes from, how to feed yourself is so important. When i was a little kid, i would want to play with the cardboard box more than the thing that came in the box, to me the box could be anything, whereas the toy couldn’t. I think a weird imagination is the best influence i still have.
What are your current projects or plans for the future?
More drawing, got a few illustration projects slowly ongoing, trying to plan another trip somewhere, last year i went to Norway twice and was in good company, I was taught a lot about ecology and sustainability, it was an amazing experience.
Give us a song and a book you like.
I’ve been reading Game of Thrones and listening to Jon Hopkins.
What are you going to do after having answered to this final question?
Finishing off a commission and drafting up a new bag head drawing of a vulture with a hermes bag wrapped round its head.
Thanks a lot for you answers Adam!