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An Interview with Lydia Hignett (aka Intangible Objects Illustration)

Hi Lydia! Can you introduce yourself?

Hi! I’m Lydia, I’m an illustrator from Liverpool, under the artist name of Intangible Objects. I studied illustration at Sheffield Hallam and have been freelancing since I finished university!

How did your journey as an illustrator begin?

I have always been interested in art and have had other arty phases aside from illustration, such as sewing, knitting and origami. I think a major influence in becoming an artist was watching and drawing from Studio Ghibli films like Spirited Away as a kid. Also, I would sit for hours, making little digital flipnotes on an app on my Nintendo DS. This made me even more interested in drawing and this was when I started to create my own animations.

From this point onwards, I just kept drawing. Eventually I went on to do a Fine Art A level, which led me to do Illustration at university rather than Fine Art, because I realised I didn’t enjoy just drawing. Realistically, I'd rather turn drawing into something less literal and I feel illustration is more broad and creatively freeing.

'Heatwave' A3 on recycled paper

How did you develop the style you have now?

I’m not really sure to be completely honest! It derives from so many factors, such as other people's art as influence, the things that I’m interested in at the time, what colour palettes I’m feeling in the moment, and, just in general, discovering from daily practice what I do and don’t enjoy drawing. I think a mentionable influence on my style would be that I’ve always loved hip hop. Hip hop cultural connections to street art has always been influential to me, because of its unapologetic boldness. This is something I've always tried to replicate in my characters/ illustrations.

How do you typically begin a piece of work after receiving a brief?

I always sketch with pencil and paper as my first step. I find that if I try to sketch digitally it is almost an automatic reflex to tap the screen to ‘undo’ if I do a line I don’t like. So, when I sketch on paper, I try not to use an eraser either. This is so my thoughts can just flow and I can't be too cautious about what the initial sketches look like. That way I’m better at getting my ideas out of my head without interrupting my own flow of thoughts/ideas.

Who would be your dream client (aside from us obviously…)?

Aside from yourselves OBVIOUSLY, I’ve always wanted to do something big like a hip hop music video, or promotion work for some Nike trainers (or trainees if you’re a Scouser)… something involving my character design and being able to incorporate real life people and/or products (such as a new pair of trainers) onto my characters! If I had to give specific examples, I'd love to do artwork for Action Bronson in particular. He is someone I've created fan art of before, but I'd love to one day be commissioned by him or another musician like Loyle Carner, Thundercat, Onoe Capone, Mick Jenkins… my list could go on. I think the tie between good album artwork and good music is more crucial to the success of an album than people realise, or at least in making it something ‘iconic’.

'Zen/Welcoming' isometric drawing

What is your go to for overcoming a creative block?

I’m still working on a cure for this one myself… creative block is a very real problem for me! Honestly, rather than trying to force my brain to be creative when it doesn’t want to be, I find that letting myself have a break for the day and trying to get back to it tomorrow is the best remedy. For the times when you can't escape a deadline and can't afford the time for a day off, I’d leave my desk for a while and listen to music, watch tv, do something that has nothing to do with work for an hour or so, and then try and come back to my desk at least feeling a bit more refreshed!

If you had to pick another medium for your art (other than any digital software), what would it be and why?

I would love to give ceramics a go! I’ve seen a few artists I like translate their work into ceramics and I think it’d be so cool to bring a character into the ‘real world’ as a physical thing rather than just an image! An artist I love that does this really well is ‘syddd.viciouss’ on Instagram. It is something I have on my bucket list, along with giving 3D rendering a go, and doing a large scale outdoor mural, hopefully all of which I'll have the opportunity to try some time soon!

Romantic Batman

Pick three artists that readers should Google search right now (or after they *finish* reading this interview…). And why?

In no particular order…

Number one, and who is probably my biggest inspiration at the moment, Wren McDonald (wrenmcdonald on Instagram). He is an illustrator who creates beautiful, mostly risograph printed scenes filled with characters, often in a futuristic setting and in the form of comics. He inspired me to give isometric drawing a go recently!

Second, Seo Inji (yes_seoinji on Instagram). She is a digital illustrator who is in your face. Her almost glowing, bright colourful characters are a big influence on my work. I’m borderline obsessed with her work, it's almost unhealthy.

Third, Christoph Kleinstuck (christophkleinstueck on Instagram). They are an amazing printmaker who has done some amazingly clean woodcut prints, with such a funky style, and with obvious traditional tattoo influences.

I have so many more I could have mentioned but these were the three off the top of my head!

We think your design for Portmanteau Issue 3 ‘Day Dream’ is *chef’s kiss*. Can you weave together the story behind it?

Well, after being given the brief, I immediately knew I wanted to show someone ‘stepping out of their mind’ into somewhere peaceful and magical feeling, and knew it had to be in pastel colours for that ‘dreamy’ feel! After I had that figured out, I pretty much just freestyled by thinking of places my own mind wanders to when I daydream. Whether that is thoughts of wanting to go on holiday (dolphins), thinking about food (the lil burger man), or thoughts that go a bit deeper, thinking about life/existence and how abstract the concept is (the mysterious gateway). Then, I added in the flower and the mushroom for the ‘dreamy’ landscape feel. After that, it all pieced together! It was really fun to work on, and I love how the final image turned out. :)


If you've enjoyed this blog post and love Lydia's illustrations as much as we do, make sure to follow her over on Instagram and visit her website. Make sure you are following us on our social media channels to be the first to know about any updates on Issue 3 - Day Dream. We are on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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