The General by Emily Forgot

The process wasn’t at all systematic for self-taught Brazilian mixed-media artist Doug Alves (nacionale.cc). At first glance his illustrations appear to be ink-splattered, faded woodcut prints, layered over watercolour effects and scratched typography.

“I developed my style by constantly practising and exploring ways to let my illustrations grow organically, by trial and error,” he says. “I draw directly into Illustrator and rarely use traditional techniques.” His perseverance has led to a successful career in interactive design, illustration and animation, which recently saw him creating a series of characters for BIG Interactive, the digital branding agency.

The diverse and exciting examples of work by the artists in this feature should open up many avenues for you to explore, but for Suzie Webb, delving into the output of your peers can be counterproductive. “Never look to other people’s work for ideas,” she says. “It will cripple you once you have started a piece of work. You may forget about yourself and unintentionally emulate someone else.”

Another work from Ben Newman’s Masks show

Mathis advises spending time on developing skills in more traditional techniques once you are comfortable with digital. “I think both mediums are great, but [having been concentrating on digital] I am planning to start painting again. Every day I am inspired with new ideas, and I love to draw and experiment.”

All of the artists we’ve spoken to here agree that the potential to produce work that spans both traditional craft and digital forms exists in everyone. An innate creative skill to make something that looks good should transcend whatever tools you currently use. All you have to do is give it a try.

Image by Emily Forgot for a hoarding at a Selfridges store