Isabella Bunnell

The patterns and illustrations of this recent Leeds College of Art graduate betray a wonderful eye for detail and the idiosyncratic, while leaving you mesmerised.

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Jungle (1), 2014

How would you describe your approach to illustration?

I draw every day in my sketchbook on the Tube when I commute. My drawings are often messy and a bit crap but occasionally something really beautiful happens that I can develop into something bigger. I develop these wonky sketches using gouache and crayon; I am a massive fan of contrasting textures and bright colours and I always try to inject some humour and playfulness into my work.

Professionally I always try to approach commissions with minimal pressure, as if it’s a self-initiated project. This way I’m not putting limitations on myself and I can focus mainly on the joy of creating something out of thoughts and paint – that’s what has always excited me about illustration.

What inspires you to keep drawing?

Not drawing for me after graduation was never really an option. Moving to London as a graduate with a full-time job has taught me to embrace my limitations. As long as I am creating something, no matter how small, all is good. I love the constant challenge of re-imaging imagery, figuring out how you can visualise a scene or object in a whole new way. It's exciting stuff.

Tell us about a professional brief you have recently been pleased with.

I recently did a half-page editorial piece for CIMA financial magazine. It played on my favourite subject – crowds. I have an obsession with tiny details. As I have quite an impatient personality, it’s good for me to slow down and focus on something small that commands my time. This commission was exciting as It was my first proper encounter with the professional illustration world. I got paid to draw and it was brilliant.

What are you working on at the moment and what’s next?

Currently I am working on some really exciting commissions. I can't say what they are right now but it's wonderful to be working with some fantastic people and inspiring companies. Personally I’m focusing on developing my work for surface pattern and developing playful illustrations for textiles. It’s interesting how materials influence your practice. I’m realising that imagery that responds well on paper doesn’t necessarily work on fabric. It's exciting to change and adapt.

If you could collaborate with anyone on a project, who would it be?

I would love to work with Liberty on a jungle or crowd fabric design. I've been obsessed with their in-house design studio for a while. For me, creating a fabric makes my work more accessible and transformative – someone could take my pattern and create anything they want. That's the type of collaboration I get really excited about.

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