Peter Rhodes

This London-based illustrator combines a finely honed drawing style with atmospheric scenes, whether working alone or alongside ten-strong studio Day Job. 

How would you describe your approach to illustration?

My approach is generally one of great enthusiasm when I get asked to explore a whole new subject every time a new project comes along. Illustration is the form but very rarely the subject matter of my work so this makes the job endlessly fascinating. I like to think that if you were to boil down my illustration, you would be left with a subtle form of social commentary. The aim is to create imagery that is instantly appealing but contained within it are hidden intricacies and comments that need decoding. 
My approach to image-making itself is ever-changing, but I have never been able to shake off my secondary school art teacher’s assertion about the importance of the balance between chaos and control in imagery. Mix this with some of the drama, suspense and imbalance created in William Hogarth’s etchings through his use of movement, and you have the basis of my image-making rulebook. 

Tell us a little bit about Day Job and how you operate as a studio.

Day Job formed after we graduated in 2012 with the aspiration of making a career within illustration, which is to say, make illustration our day jobs. Day Job effectively works as an agency for each of us as individual illustrators while also attracting commissions as a group. Clients seem to be attracted to Day Job because of the scale of projects that we can take on as a group of ten. Lots of our work as a studio has a playful and energetic quality that seems to fit well with the brand guidelines of many companies wanting to commission illustration. Finally I would say that the scope for keeping your practice in the spotlight when there are nine people alongside you Tweeting and blogging your activity really can’t be underestimated. 

What sort of projects do you most enjoy working on?

The ideal project is one where I get to dive into a new subject and have the luxury of time to distill my thoughts and create illustration in a form and medium that best suits the content. I am very rarely afforded this luxury. however the alternative is not too bad either. It’s almost a taboo among my peers to admit, but a guilty pleasure of mine is the commission you get where absolutely all the thought has been made for you. In these projects I am entirely commissioned on my visual language rather than my interpretation of a subject. Having a mix of both these types of project will keep me happy.  

Tell us about a commercial brief you’ve recently been pleased with.

Day Job was commissioned a couple of weeks before Christmas to create forty metres of wrapping paper for Vitamin Water as part of its Shine Bright campaign, which was great fun. I have such a laboured process to of? creating illustration and often contrive fluidity and expression to keep my images balanced. Being forced to work quickly and on a large scale on the wrapping paper was refreshing; it’s going to be interesting to see the effect it has on the rest of my illustration.  

What does 2015 hold for you?

For the past year and a half I have been working on a historical bookbinding manual for the Ligatus Research Centre, which is based in Chelsea College of Arts. The project consists of around 400 drawings detailing every possible element of a book’s structure that can shed light on its provenance. The publication of this book will a fairly major point of 2015 and a major milestone in my career so far. Oh, and Day Job has a new book coming out soon too.