Every month we highlight the work of a different artist or illustrator through the title banner of our monthly newsletter - Penorama. If you don't already receive Penorama, you can subscribe here.
Until now, only subscribers to the newsletter got to enjoy these unique banners, but this blog series is changing that.
In this issue, we speak with Johanna Basford, artist of the month for March and the first person to design a banner for us, which you can see below:
And here is how it appeared in the March newsletter:
Cult Pens: Tell us a bit more about yourself? Johanna: I am a illustrator and ink evangelist who prefers pens and pencils to pixels. I create intricate, hand drawn illustrations predominately, although not exclusively, in black and white. My creativity is cultivated by a curious imagination and a delight in the fantastic. Much of my work has roots in the flora and fauna that surrounded me growing up on my parent's fish farm in rural Scotland.
Cult Pens: How would you describe your work? Johanna: Every piece I create starts life as a simple pencil sketch, evolving into a rambling pen and ink drawing usually spanning several sheets of paper. I love the tactile nature of the materials I use and the joy of smudgy fingerprints. My delicate hand inked designs intend to charm and delight, inviting you to peer closer and discover the hidden intricacies.
Cult Pens: What got you into drawing and illustration? Johanna: I've always loved drawing, I can't remember a time when I didn't. Even as a pre-schooler at playgroup I can remember the drawing and painting table was my favourite place to be. Growing up I drew on everything and anything: walls, books, myself, my clothes, furniture.... luckily my parents nurtured my creative streak and didn't get too mad about all the inky vandalism...
Cult Pens: If you weren't a illustrator, what was the back-up plan? Johanna: A florist. I adore flowers.
Cult Pens: What are your favourite subjects/topics to draw? Johanna: Funnily enough, flowers. Anything nature inspired - I think there's nothing more beautiful than something the earth has crafted. Failing that, I'm partial to penning the odd robot.
Cult Pens: Where do you get your ideas or inspiration from? Johanna: We all subconsciously soak up the stuff around us and filter it back into our work. It may be a walk out with the dog, a book in the library, some packaging, a magazine article, an amazing photo gallery on the web... It all sort of gets pulled in, mashed about a bit then emerges as a drawing on my desk.
Cult Pens: What are you currently working on? Johanna: A beer bottle label for BrewDog, my next colouring book with Laurence King and some work for Abbotsford House, the ancestral home of Sir Walter Scott.
Cult Pens: How long does it normally take to complete a project? Johanna: This depends completely on the brief and the client. It could be 2 days or 12 months!
Cult Pens: What pen or pencil couldn't you live without? Johanna: Staedtler Pigment Liners
Cult Pens: Do you know when a work is finished or are you constantly tweaking? Johanna: The temptation to tweak is huge. I could probably go one forever with a project, but likely the client deadline usually draws things to a close. I always look back and spot things I could do better or change, but I think that's just part of the process.