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Behind the life of a talented cartoonist - #MemberSpotlight

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Clearly, being a cartoonist isn't for everyone. It requires mastery of a certain style, a flair and a very peculiar sense of humour. Simon Ellinas certainly has both.

Born with a pen and pencil in his hands by his own admission, Simon has been drawing for most of his life and has developed a beautiful black-and-white ink style that feels incredibly newspaper-y, often worthy of a credible political caricature.

For this Member Spotlight, we are learning more about Simon and what brought him from graphic design to illustration, as well as hearing some useful tips for all the aspiring creative professionals out there.

 

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How did you get into the industry?

I was born with a pen and pencil in my hands and drew all my life. During my career as a freelance graphic designer, designing and producing magazines I would often include cartoons and caricatures. Also, during the Eighties, it was possible to walk up and down Fleet Street and Covent Garden, popping into studios with your portfolio and get commissions!

Where are you based now and who do you work for?

I work for myself  from home in Barnet, North London.

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

I would rather like to be in magazine publishing.

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Can you explain your creative process?

For the London Underground caricatures project, the year 2020 was after I had spent a year filling the pages of a desk diary with caricatures of celebrities who were born on each date. I felt like keeping up the momentum and was looking for an equally longterm project to keep me busy between commissioned jobs. As a born Londoner, the London Underground has always been a part of my life and it seemed like a good idea to celebrate it with all the famous people associated with it.

How would you describe your style?

Classic Newspaper-style caricature and cartoon.

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Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

Early on, I was in awe of Gerald Scarfe and Ralph Steadman and I suppose I was inspired by their use of black ink cross hatching, although I could never emulate their styles. I was more influenced by other newspaper artists such as Charles Griffin and Trogg (Wally Fawkes).

If you had to pick one ideal client/employer, who would that be and why?

National newspapers with a rapid turnover of news and illustration requirements. There’s still a great thrill in seeing ones work in physical print (it’s not quite the same as seeing it online).

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How has technology affected the way you work?

No more phoning picture libraries for headshots. All the reference you need is there on Google. I always work with pens and brushes for the black linework and nowadays, almost always add colour (when required) in Photoshop or ProCreate.

What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

Keeping an eye on the news and the personalities in it. Thinking up another longterm project...

What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

Probably London Underground Caricatures, although it’s hard to ‘be proud’ for long, as you can always spot the flaws and see how some things could be improved. Also, I’m (mostly) happy with my Daily Mail work last year.

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How do you recharge away from the office?

Family time, playing the guitar, walking the dogs, swimming (getting to the beach as often as possible).

What is one tip for other aspiring creatives looking for work?

Always have personal projects on the go. Don’t just wait for commissions to come in. It’s often these personal projects that will attract attention. And constantly blast them out on social media where you know your target clients are (LinkedIn is good for me).

What is the one thing that you would change about the industry?

Find / invent a dip pen that doesn’t splatter at the most inconvenient moment!

Any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

The Mad Art of Caricature by Mad Magazine’s Tom Richmond. Britain’s Best Political cartoons 2020. And definitely the Professional Cartoonists Organisation.

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