Interview with Mark Boardman for his series ‘Random Google Street View’ illustrations series.
Hello Mark, can you tell us who and where are you?
Hi! I’m an illustrator based in Bristol, UK.
When and why did you begin your great illustration series from random places found on the ‘street view’ tool of google maps’?
I started the random Google street view project at the beginning of last year with the idea that it would be a quick and easy way to knock out some illustrations whenever I have an hour or two between working on more serious projects. The intention has been to use it primarily to improve my technical ability; occasionally it’s nice to have a quick concept that I don’t have to spend too much time thinking about, I can just hit a button and get straight to work.
Is it really random or do you spend a lot of time choosing the places and point of view?
I started off always choosing the first result but noticed after a little while that the random generation algorithms on the sites I was using were giving me results from smaller countries in disproportionate numbers to their size. I started to pick and choose a bit more carefully so that I didn’t end up illustrating Lesotho every 5 images and then once I hit the 50th illustration I decided to refine the random selection to get more interesting locations. It can get pretty old drawing similar stretches of flat road no matter the country.
Can you tell us more about all the steps of creation?
I learned to paint with oils originally so I take a lot of that with me now that I work digitally. I use only Photoshop and work up an illustration in much the same way you would a painting, starting with blocked out shapes, adding layers of colour and refining gradually. I’ve become more and more interested in hard, graphical edges and I like that they are a truly digital result, not something that you can get in a traditional painting unless you spend a lot of time masking.
Which one is your favorite and why?
That’s a difficult choice to make but I think number 28 (first image below), Mongolia is my favourite. I was really pleased with the simplicity and softness in the shifting hues and it isn’t too geometrically rigid as some of them were around that time.
Do you feel that there’s been an evolution in your style throughout this whole project?
Definitely, and I think it speaks to how useful it has been to have a purely technical challenge that I’ve been able to try out new ideas quickly and add them into my general workflow. I’ve improved my confidence with colour, which was not great at the beginning. You can see how the first dozen are pretty limp in that regard.
What’s the future of this series? Will you do something special with all those illustrations?
It might be cool to put together a collection of them somewhere, whether it’s a book or something else. Regardless, I’m happy to keep doing them every now and again when I feel like I need to work on a certain technique.
What do your days look like?
I have a plan in place every morning so that when I wake up I know exactly what I need to get done that day. I usually start the day by running through any promotional work I need to do, like updating portfolio sites or answering emails. Then after lunch, yoga and an espresso I focus on illustration completely for the rest of the day. In the evenings I generally have at least one coding project I use to unwind, which leads on to the next question…
I’ve seen that you’re working on a video game- can you tell us more about this project?
This project is a collaboration with Matt Javanshir with the idea that it’s a different showcase of both our skills. Matt is a musician and is providing a fantastic soundtrack while I’m translating my normally 2D work into a 3D space. Coding has been a hobby of mine for a while but this is the first time I’ve brought that together with illustration. I don’t know for certain where this will lead but ideally I’d like us to end up with a short abstract narrative experience. So far a lot of my time has been spent implementing techniques to make an efficient workflow and I’m just now getting to the stage where I can start putting together some interesting spaces to walk around in.
What’s next for you?
I’m going to keep pushing myself to do better work. A year from now I want a new portfolio to show, a better understanding of the fundamentals and perhaps a little game to put out there.
Thank you Mark!