Running for Crayons Interview - "Music fuels my illustration."

Running for Crayons Interview - "Music fuels my illustration."

As part of our East London special, we interviewed Running for Crayons...

Get to know a bit more about this small but mighty, Brighton based but London-loving illustrator. Find out her favourite bagel filling, where her creative adventures have taken her lately and who she bases her characters on!


Hi Tilly aka Running for Crayons! What's the view from your studio window right now?

Trees! They are currently green and bushy but when it's winter you can see all of the pigeons bobbing away, trying to chill out.

Night owl/early bird? When do you tend to work best in the studio? 

I like to start a project first thing in the morning with a fresh brew. Though I can often be found working late into the night quite often too, an all rounder I guess.

How would you describe Running for Crayons style in 3 words?

Colourful. Humorous. Eccentric.

What materials do you use to create your artwork? Can you talk us through your process?

For the South East London map for example, I used my trusty pencil and a Staedtler 0.05 and 0.01 fine liner. 

For a map I plot everything first so I can make sure it is going to be evenly balanced, then I sketch my characters and buildings on a layout pad, fine tune them, ink them up, scan everything in and start plotting and collaging the drawings in Photoshop. I'll then start colouring and applying textures, I have a big bank of textures and pencil marking which I will use, maybe add in some more elements, then I'm done! I always do all of my artwork at 200%, this map was original A3, so luckily it's also available at A2.

Are all of the characters in your work based on real people or do you imagine them? 

I am a huge people watcher, I have lots of photos of strangers I see that grab my attention, I tend to take bits that interest me, maybe a big bushy beard or an extreme hipster outfit and then develop them from there. I have a lot of sketchbooks filled with these characters that I call 'My Made up Friends', I love imaging what people will be like, cat or dog lover, whether they go to Ballroom dancing or watch Eastender's with a box meal on a Friday night. I don't tend to draw on location, I like to lock myself away in my studio with my headphones on.

Your work involves lots of illustrated maps and characterising different areas and regions. Do you travel to lots of different places to do the research? Or do you visit them in your imagination/through desk research?

I've travelled around a lot of Europe and Asia which has certainly helped some of the maps but most of them are commissions for the National Geographic Traveller. I illustrate a different city each issue, so most of my research is done online, from the supplied text and my imagination. It really is my dream job, I get to learn about places all over the world and then draw them, WIN!

We see you've been to India recently. That must have been pretty inspiring! What did you find most striking/inspiring about it for your work?

Yes it was amazing! I was lucky to go to Nepal, India and Japan all in one big trip. I have mountains of character drawings inspired from the trip. India is a fascinating place, I think the most striking thing about the place was the mix of aroma's and colour's, they were like nothing else, you really are transported into another world and the people were incredible, so interesting and happy.

You are only allowed to have 3 crayons. What colours do you choose?

Black, grey, blue.

You've featured Brick Lane's iconic Beigel bakery in one of the EEP prints. What's your favourite bagel filling?

Ooh tricky, I think I'd go for a Reuben, gherkin lover.

Have you got any favourite prints by other artists who are part of the East End Prints collective? Which would you choose to have on your walls?

I love Jess Wilson's 'National Anthem', think I may have to bag that one actually.

What are you working on at the moment? Or is it top secret?

I'm working on a few book proposals which are very exciting, I'm also about to work on another map for the National Geographic Traveller and I've started plotting my next personal map of London which is going to be a big'n and cover the whole city. You will be the first to see it!

Do you follow any particular blogs/websites/twitter feeds/magazines for inspiration and info on art and illustration?

It's Nice That's feed and website are always filled with inspiring and unusual illustration. Magazine wise, I love Frankie and Computer Arts.

Do you listen to music whilst you create your work? If so, what's on your playlist at the moment?

Yes, all day long. It really fuels my illustration and depending on what stage I am in a project decides the choice of music. At the moment it's a mix of The Horror's, Nils Frahm, Throwing Snow and Rodriguez.

Thanks, Tilly! It's been lovely chatting to you and finding out more about your work. We can't to see what you're working on next!

You can take a look at more art by Running for Crayons and buy her prints here.