Peter Edwards is a traditional illustrator hailing from London Old Town who excels at creating fantastic worlds and wonderful characters. Peter mostly illustrates using pen, pencil, paper and occasionally dabbling into the digital realm.
We were fascinated by Peter's use of traditional techniques and the amazing detail in his illustrations. His fish illustrations are to die for and always show you more every time you look at them. We chat with Peter about what's new, his techniques and a little about some of his illustrations he has available at our wall art shop.
Welcome Peter! How are you doing? What creative delights have you been conjuring this past year since joining us? we can’t wait to see more! Can you give us any spoilers or insight into illustration work you have been creating since we last chatted?
Hello there! This year I've been working on launching some t-shirt designs and various art prints. In my career thus far, I've mostly concentrated on big commissions but I've more recently been trying out some more ideas for 'merch'. It would be nice to see as many people as possible wearing or hanging my designs! I've also been practicing my spray paint skills. This is something that in the past has been a bit out of my comfort zone but I love the social aspect of street art and the feeling of creating something huge. Also, I like the idea of leaving a big piece of mine behind when I travel, leaving my mark on the world, as it were.
Milly Burst - Illustration Art Print
It's clear to me you have been creative since birth. I was the same and my mother was my main inspiration in art from being little. I was also inspired by retro video games back then. I would love to hear more about your early days! your kind of talent does not grow on trees.
Your experience does not sound too dissimilar to mine! My mum was and is a major inspiration, she used to work in an art shop so I got all sorts of wonderful materials for cut-rate prices. I've always been into fantasy and sci-fi, be that in videogame, film, cartoon, book or comic format and these started my interest in illustration and continue to inspire me to this day. I'm also a big nature and science geek and I love inventing my own versions of animals, creatures, machines and the like. At school, I was the kid who always got told off for drawing all over my books and tables :)
Since joining us have you had any exciting new projects to tell us about?
I recently competed in a competition called the Illustration World Series UK. This involved timed head to head battles with other illustrators which were then judged by a panel of industry experts. Unfortunately, I did not win but I went out to the overall winner so I didn't feel too bad about that! Also, it was very motivating to meet so many great artists who were in the same boat as me. Sometimes, freelance illustration can be a lonely life and it was nice to realise I'm not alone in this! After the competition, I stayed in touch with many fellow competitors and have been working with some of them on some large scale murals. I've also been working on a science fiction graphic novel project called HERITAGE. This is a bit of a magnum opus and may still not see the light of day for a few more years yet!
You are very talented with traditional techniques but you have done some digital art. How do you find the transition? Does it all just flow into the digital workplace or do you encounter challenges you can otherwise avoid with pen and paper?
Most recently, I have been working almost exclusively with fineliner pens and alcohol markers. I feel this combination has the best of both worlds: The accuracy and flat, bold colours of Photoshop / Procreate with the immediacy, charm and textures of using paints and inks. I have a bit of a personal issue with exclusively digital paintings: I find no matter the skills of the artist, all the pieces end up looking a little too similar for my liking. Digital painting and design now seems to make up the bulk of the industry and I feel this is a little bit of a shame. The artists that I'm drawn towards always use more traditional techniques, at least in part. I like to use digital techniques to clean and perfect my work, not to create it.
We know you have travelled a fair bit over the years. How do you think this has affected your artistic style and has is opened the doors to new ventures and opportunities? (I firmly believe travel broadens the mind to coin the cliché phrase)
Yes, I certainly feel travel has influenced my work a great deal. As I mentioned before, nature has been a great inspiration to me throughout my career and seeing curious beasts in their natural environments is incredibly motivating. I think to a certain extent, all artists like to play 'God' and seeing the work of the 'real deal' in the flesh inflames this desire! If I could bioengineer some bizarre new lizard / fish / bug hybrid, I would! Alas, I can only draw such :) Being surrounded by differing human cultures and foods will also trigger the imagination. And lastly, being an artist is tough! But one of the best things about it is that it can be done in any location. I like to embrace this idea and work and travel as much as possible. Last year in Thailand, I painted one wall piece which lead to a local hotel commissioning me to produce one for them, then his cousin wanted me to produce one from his shop etc. In theory, this dynamic can be continued indefinitely.
How have you found social platforms have benefited your career in illustration? We found you on Instagram but how much engagement and work do you feel you get from it and other platforms in these incredibly competitive times?
Instagram has become a great tool for me, not only for networking but also for providing immediate feedback to work that otherwise would remain on my website at best, and rot in my sketchbook at worst! I've had lots of work come in through Instagram and it is now an invaluable source of commissions for me, however I'm still not the most social media savvy of artists. Maybe I'll try some other platforms in the New Year!
Fish - Art Print by Peter Edwards
Do you listen to music when illustrating? If so what album gets the creative juices flowing the most and why?
I used to listen to a lot of music, however these days I've become somewhat of an old fart. Any modern music you could recommend? I mostly listen to audiobooks as one can stop and start them and not have to change the album every 45 minutes. At the moment, I'm listening to the unabridged 'A Song of Ice and Fire' audiobooks. The current book I'm on has more than 48 hours of material (and there are 5 of them!). If I've got a deadline, however, I find heavy metal to be the most motivating music to listen to. It's tough to zone out to Slayer or Metallica and it keeps one sharp!
If one piece of art you created defines you as a designer, which would it be and why?
A tough question. I love painting and drawing fish and those works have garnered me a lot of attention. I will always come back to this topic, which variations in style and technique. ONE piece, hmm. I have an old piece (10 years old perhaps?) called Dark Throne. This was exhibited at my degree show and drew the interest of a company who I worked with for many years. The success of that piece was my springboard into the world of professional illustration. I like to think my science fiction work, however, will come to define me eventually.
If you could tell your younger self one bit of illustration advice, what would it be?
Be inspired by other artists but do not attempt to emulate them! It is your unique style and ideas that will get you the most attention and your passion is what will make your work stand out against the competition.
Finally, we ask all the designers this question. What is your favourite movie and why?
Again, a tough one. One of my favourite movies this year has been Alita: Battle Angel - some seriously creative cyborgs and wonderfully outrageous death scenes! I hope they make a sequel. If you twisted my arm, The Fly 1986 by David Cronenberg would be my choice for the GOAT. An amazing soundtrack, a beautiful, tragic romance between Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis (who I have a huge crush on and who were in a relationship when this was filmed). Also, some of the best body horror of all time!
You can see all of Peters Collection here.