16 February 2016
A stunning book cover by Rachael Saunders for Puffin Classics
10 April 2020
Amy Grimes’s illustrations are brimming with the human touch, her fluid landscapes are full of brightly coloured elements, soft textures and confidently made marks; reflecting the natural patterns found in her favourite subjects. Amy creates botanical motifs and leafy scenes that highlight the dense enclosures of the outdoors, while somehow giving every element of the page its own space.
There’s also the element of escapism, quietly tucked away in the wilderness are small houses, or even smaller people; distinct from their surroundings but still working to create harmony within Amy’s compositions.
Which is not to say that Amy’s skills are limited to drawings of the great outdoors! Her ability to translate the density of nature to other subjects; city scenes, abstract book covers, scientific depictions, have helped Amy attract clients like Quarto, Scribbler and UK Greetings.
We chatted to Amy about binging podcasts, the importance of drawing and good pizza…
Where do you live?
Where is your studio located?
I signed up to rent a studio in Croydon just before the lockdown started so unfortunately I haven’t been able to move in yet… I currently have a makeshift studio space on the dining room table at home!
Can you describe your creative process?
I work digitally using my computer or iPad, but I usually start with a quick rough layout with pencil and paper. I find it much easier to do the initial sketches this way but all my illustrations are created digitally in the end. I create hand painted textures which I scan in and use to give my images a painted feel, even though they are digital. I love working this way as you have a lot of freedom to change the colours, composition and scale of the image as you go along.
What does a typical working day look like?
I try to get up early as I find I’m most productive working in the morning, so I aim to start work at about half 8 (sometimes I’m not successful!). I usually work until around 6pm but it really depends on deadlines and what projects I have on. I’ve also learnt to accept that some days just won’t be as productive and that’s OK!
Do you listen to music or the radio whilst you work? If so, what’s on your playlist?
I only ever listen to podcasts! I need something that really absorbs me and I’m a big fan of true crime podcasts or mysteries which I will spend hours listening to… I’ve definitely binge listened to an entire podcast series in just one day before.
How long have you been with the Artworks for?
I joined in September of 2018, so a year and half now.
What drew you to Artworks?
I’d thought about looking for representation for a while when I was showing my work at an exhibition and I met the lovely Artworks team. I had always admired the illustrators on their books from afar so when they approached me I was thrilled and knew I definitely wanted to join.
What books or programmes did you love as a child? Have they influenced your work in any way?
My absolute favourite book as a young child was ‘Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?’ illustrated by Eric Carle which I think it must have subconsciously influenced my work. Eric Carle collages painted textures to create the images in the book, which is a similar way to how I’ve ended up working too, only digitally.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be instead?
I always wanted to work with animals when I was younger so I think probably something in that field, anything that would allow me to travel and get outside in nature more.
What was the most important lesson you learned at Art School, if you went!
One of the most important lessons was to just keep drawing and not be too precious about what you’re making. The initial sketches of an image are definitely not always pretty but it’s a work in progress and important to not become too attached to them, as often things will change quite dramatically as a project goes on.
What inspires you the most to create?
I’m always inspired by the different landscapes and plants from places that I’ve visited, I like trying to capture a certain mood or light from a place and I think the colours can really feel nostalgic.
Name three artists that you admire.
Michelle Morin, Chris Turnham and Heikala.
What kind of commissions do you enjoy the most?
It really depends, I love drawing landscapes and plants but sometimes the most enjoyable ones are when you’re challenged to try something new. It can feel a bit daunting but I think it’s important to get out of your comfort zone and in the end it improves your work.
What would your dream commission be?
Since joining the Artworks I’ve already had so many dream jobs! I really enjoy anything with a natural theme, so lots of plants and landscapes. My dream job at the moment would probably be a non fiction picture book.
Do you have any pets? If so, what and what are they called?
I’m currently living in my family home and we have a cat called Eric.
What 5 things could you not live without?
My boyfriend, my friends, cups of tea, my ipad and good food.
What is your very favourite meal?
Definitely a good pizza! I honestly could eat it everyday!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love going on big walks that end at the pub.
What is your current dream travel destination?
I would love to go on a big trip in America, down the west coast from Seattle to California. In the summer you can go whale watching along the coast which would be a dream!
To see more Amy’s work, click here.