by Adam Callaby
Having grown up in a deadbeat northern seaside town (those are her own words.); reading bad goth comics, playing Zelda games and listening to Bright Eyes. Today’s interview is with recently graduated Illustrator, Clio Isadora. An artist with work that is influenced by the grotesque, self-deprecation, her crippling anxiety and unhealthy obsessions, cat lady vibes and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Having already made quite a successful path for herself, exhibiting in places such as the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, in Gateshead. And the Hundred Years Gallery, in London. We catch up with her to discuss he current work.
1. In one paragraph, could you describe yourself to our readers. Talking about the work that you do, and who you are?
My name is Clio Isadora and I have recently finished my Graphic Design degree at Central Saint Martins, specializing in Illustration. I do a lot of painting and make comic books, usually about human interaction and relationships, and loosely based on people I know or from my own experiences.
2. What kind of Art Education have you done, if any? And do you think it’s important for an illustrator or graphic designer to pursue some kind of educational qualification, whether that’s in terms of learning, or simply having something to put on your CV? And what is your stance on self-learning vs teaching?
I think it’s difficult as an illustrator to get jobs with or without a qualification. You have to be aware of what people want, to work commercially, or do your own thing and be commissioned. But, I think I’m too inexperienced to really voice anything beyond that. Most of my education at CSM was self-taught, other than printmaking and book biding. I’ve definitely improved since I started the course, the most valuable thing I learnt was changing my way of thinking and approaches to projects, but that was through trial and error. I don’t think you can’t teach anyone to be ‘good’ at art and design, I think its more about feeling inspired to push yourself.
I never thought of going to Art school for CV purposes, I just wanted to enjoy spending 4 years of my life playing around and furthering my practice because I probably would never have that opportunity in life again.
3. Looking at your – ANXIETY PORTRAITS – project. What is the process you go through when composing your image. How do you start it? What techniques, software and skills do you use? Do you create lots of sketches beforehand? Are you inspired by something? Do you have a specific direction? And why did you start it?
I guess I started the project when I was at my parent’s house last summer. I was very bored so I just sat in the attic trying to figure out what colour schemes I liked working with, since a lot of my work in second year was black and white. I’m not sure what exactly inspired me to do that project, I’ve always enjoyed doing portraits and drawing expressions. I enjoyed the process of experimenting without a specific direction, I just found it quite therapeutic sitting alone painting. I really like working on larger scales, so I normally sketch out loads of compositions that utilizes the size of the paper. My tutor was super nice and lent me his light box so I would be able to paint over my sketches. I preferred working this way because it was quick and I didn’t have to use thick amounts of paint to cover up alterations.
4. Walk us through your LIMB project. Tell us about it. How it works. What it involves. And why you did it.
LIMB was a collaborative project I did with Raja Lockey and Edward Carvalho-Monaghan. We worked together to make a comic with a continuous narrative spread between 3 comics as a set. We each worked on our own comic book and developed the story with our own narrative style as well as visual. So for example, my story was about a pathetic man who stalks his ex-girlfriend but finds himself caught up with a swamp monster’s leg fetish, which then carries on into Raja’s comic that explores a weird romance between my character’s leg and his swamp monster. We did the project together because we had a mutual liking for each other’s work in class and thought it was be nice to do a collaborative project before we finished the course.
5. Something that is apparent in your work is the use of character, whether it’s humanoid of monstrous. Why exactly do you have this obsession? Were you always so interested in the varying shapes of humans and the way you exaggerate certain features such as the nose?
I do really like noses, they’re glorious and by far the best facial feature because they give the face so much character. But maybe I feel this way because people used to say mean things about my nose? I used to draw ‘realistically’ until Art Foundation, where I basically had to forget everything I knew and experiment with different techniques until I found my own way of drawing.
6. You grew up in a ‘deadbeat northern seaside town’.. Do you think your chosen career was affected by your childhood? As a means of expressing yourself or escaping?
I don’t really want to bad mouth Whitley Bay, I liked growing up by the seaside, but it’s a painfully dull place, especially when you’ve lived in the same town for most of your life. I used to make silly books for my parents and family when I was a child, but I didn’t really have anything to express or escape from at that age. But when I turned 17-18 I definitely saw Art school as an opportunity to leave Whitley Bay and to move as far away as possible.
7. You mentioned that you’re a fan of the Zelda games, and like to listen to Bright Eyes. How much do video games influence your life? How often do you listen to music and how much does it affect what you do? Do you think they’re both important parts of your life? Or are they simply hobbies?
I didn’t really have that many friends in middle school so I played a lot of Zelda and that was the only thing I enjoyed doing because I really hated school, and Bright Eyes were the first band I’ve ever really loved. I think Bright Eyes and Zelda are still important parts of my life because I can be really embarrassing and have intense conversations about them and scare people away with my enthusiasm. I’m not exactly sure how video games have influenced my life other than having lame obsessions with Zelda and Pokemon where I collect and decorate my room with little figures and plushies, which the older I get the creepier it seems. These days I spend more time reading about games than actually playing them. I spent a lot of my final year listening to music and video game soundtracks whilst working, I don’t think it really affects what I do though, I just need constant sound to work to so I don’t become tired.
8. Your site says you currently work at Blackhall Studios in London? Tell us a little bit more about that. What’s it like? What does your average day involve?
I did an exhibition there with my Illustration class in April for our work in progress show but I don’t work there. But my time spent there during the exhibition involved setting up and looking after the exhibit with my classmates. I enjoyed taking part in the exhibition, since I spent a lot of final year working by myself at home, so it was nice to see everyone’s work displayed in a gallery.
9. As a finishing question for this interview, do you have any wisdom that you might be able to impart, to inspire and motivate our readers that are also interested in starting/improving their own illustrative career? Any tips you think are key to being successful with your work?
I’m not really sure if I have much wisdom to give since I’ve just finished Art school. But the best advice I’ve received was from the AOI (Association of Illustrators), which was to produce a portfolio with a consistent body of work because apparently people won’t hire risks. So I’m spending a year working on my portfolio because there’s still a load of projects I want to do!
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