Bonnie Baker – Macabre Illustrator

By September 4, 2009 May 11th, 2013 Features
Staffie of LondonBonnie Baker is an artist with a darker side, drawing creatures in
contorted angles, using the dead and decaying to create jewelry and
photographing macabre situations, manipulating them to appear
beautiful. She has recently turned her talents to illustrating a
graphic novel due for release soon and talks to Sphere about her
inspirations, how she started and where she hopes to go.

"One of my favourite pieces was just a doodle of a foetus"

S: When did you first realise you wanted to be an illustrator?
BB: Drawing has always been my form of expression, since a very early age.
As for deciding to study Illustration, that happened at college. After
struggling to complete a year of Fine Art (I hate the
bullshitting...!!) I moved over to Graphic Design, and that was too...
sterile. However within Graphic Design we did illustration modules and
it was inspiring, the happy medium between stuck up fine art and money
grabbing, potentially souless, graphic design. So I applied for
illustration and never looked back!
My qualifications include an ND in Fine Art (first year) and Graphic
Design (second year) and an Upper Second Class Degree in BA
Illustration (Hons).

S: Who are your inspirations & idols?
BB: I've always been a bit in my own little world- we studied all the
famous artists at college and uni of course- but generally I would
spend my time drawing my own artwork than researching other
people's... However if forced to choose I would easily say Dave McKean
(of Sandman covers fame). His style is so rich and textured, and yet
he has such a great eye for composition, and his work (up until more
recent children's books, at least) looks incredibly organic. I don't
have workshop space to create sets for my images in the time that I am
generally given, but give this same feel in my work when it's put
together in the computer.

S: What are you working on right now?
BB: I always have a few personal projects on the go. I'm not giving any of
these away at present! But I will say I have been inspired, and quite
freaked out, by recent things I've found out about the Illuminati and
New World Order, I have a cynical eye to everything so no fear of
extremism but they have some great imagery! Over the past year I have
been completing a Graphic novel collaboration with writer Neil
, called 'Lap of the Dogs' which we are in the process of self publishing, with the
hope of getting it picked up by a publisher over the next year or two.
That is an exciting project, it was hard to find a market for it
already, as it was a children's poem refused by New York publishers,
with a previous illustrator, some 15 years ago, for being too
pornographic! So we rethought how to present it and decided that
instead of fitting it into a medium suitable for children,
compromising the story and beautiful writing, we would compromise the
target market, making it more niche, but successful. It is not in
traditional comic book format, but more an art book. The story is a
political and sociological metaphor in the form of a hunt, in which
the prey befriends an allie in order to help both parties escape. You
heard it here first!

Lap of the Dogs

S: What is your greatest achievement to date?
BB: I guess this graphic novel is my greatest achievment to date, it was a
struggle, ten months of problem solving! But entirely worth it and I
am excited to see it printed, and the response it gets.

S: What is the worst job that you've ever done?
BB: The worst job I've done was a well known hell job, street fundraising,
that's predictably bad. In terms of illustration, there was a
commission I got off the back of my Illustrations for children's
poetry book Give Us A Chance (available now). The commission was for a
book cover for a self help book, and the author had no internet, and
so I presume she had just seen my cute simple line drawings of animals
and liked them, and had no idea of my other work! I spoke to her on
the phone and she seemed like a sweet old lady, who wanted a picture
of a child and woman, all pastels and pretty... not my style at all! I
really didn't want to do it but it seemed like easy money so I tried
it but did terrible work, sent it off hoping that she wouldn't pay me
and just leave me alone but she wouldn't. I think she even used the work and I dread to see it on book shelves and hope it doesn't have my
name on it!

S: What is the most challenging aspect of being an illustrator?
BB: When you work for other people, it's generally always challenging to
meet a brief. No one is going to like exactly the same things as you,
and within illustration, you have to please the client. The example of
the book cover is perfect, hopefully from here on in people will have
seen my work and know what to expect, what I can do well! That's the
idea, to create a portfolio of work that you enjoy creating, there's
no point showing work you didn't enjoy making to clients because they
just might ask for the same.

 S: Do you have a favourite drawing you have done?
BB: One of my favourite pieces I have made was just a doodle of a foetus
that I drew from a museum specimen, and very simply put into photoshop
to make it look old. It was one of the first pieces in this style for
me, and not even my best drawing, but I just love the serenity in the
little guy's face, the way he looks like he's thinking! It was an
important point in my style, in the textures and methods I used a lot
from there on in!


'Lap of the Dogs' is due for release in a few weeks, updates and
 purchasing information can be found on the offical website

And see more of Bonnie Bakers' work
on her