We had the pleasure to speak to a number of exceptional human beings making an impact in some shape or form in the creative industries this year. There are so many passionate, driven creatives that we would have loved to feature here, but after scaling through our best interviews of 2017 we’ve curated this list in case you missed them.
The year began with our feature unveiling an industry-wide desire to improve diversity, and we found out from different agencies how they were tackling this, as well as the founder of the Creative Mentor Network, Isabel Farchy, on how her program helped under represented school students in London have a better understanding of a creative career. We also spoke to Timothy Goodman about his People of Craft project, an online directory of creatives of colour available to speak at conferences.
We also wanted to get insight into the work of creative agencies across the globe, so we profiled The Working Assembly and Templo in London. We investigated the London art studio crisis and published guides on how to design for people with disabilities or struggling with mental health.
We also spoke to an array of artists about their creative process, including doodle king Jon Burgerman about his cheeky Instagram stories, ex-UK Laureate, children’s illustrator and political cartoonist Chris Riddell on his recent work on J K Rowling’s The Beadle and the Bard book, and advocate for women empowerment Kelly Anna. We spoke to Malika Favre on the interplay between negative space and erotic art and Dave McKean on illustrating a beautiful new hardback of Neil Gaiman's American Gods.
Here are our best interviews of 2017, in no particular order.
Malika Favre: Artist & Illustrator
Stunning new work by the artist and illustrator, who talks to us about her new exhibition of artworks based around a dancer lit using geometric patterns and shapes.
Desire is an emotion that underpins a lot of illustrator Malika Favre's work, and her latest series of artworks for Outline Editions taps into that directly. Rendered in Malika's iconic style of patterns of simplified shapes and surfaces, Le Crazy is based on a dance show called Désirs (Desires) at Parisien cabaret institution Crazy Horse.
Isabel Farchy: Creative Mentor Network Founder
Earlier this year we spoke to 24 leading designers and creative directors to find out what they were expecting for 2017 – and many touched on diversity, or rather the lack of, within the creative industries. This sparked an in-depth look into practical ways some leading creative agencies aim to facilitate a team made up of ethnic, socio-economic and gender diversity.
This is how we met Isabel Farchy – ex-teacher and founding director of Creative Mentor Network; a programme which pairs creative professionals from top London agencies with under-represented school students from greater London. The 16-week programme helps students gain connections, understand what it looks like to have a career in the creative sectors such as graphic design, advertising, music, illustration and fashion – and how to get there.
In this feature found out what impact the Creative Mentor Network has made over it’s two-year life span, and how you can get involved.
Francis Rowland: UX architect
We spoke to senior UX architect at Sigma, Francis Rowland, about what’s involved when designing a website for people with mental health issues and how these design principles can be used universally by any digital designer.
Earlier this year global user experience (UX) agency Sigma called for UK digital and tech companies to design websites and apps that are more inclusive and accessible. Sigma has moved on to tackle an entirely new website design for UK mental health charity, Mind.
Dave McKean: Artist
Dave McKean tells us about his new artworks for The Folio Society's edition of American Gods, just before a TV series based on Neil Gaiman's celebrated novel comes to Starz and Amazon Prime.
The words of Neil Gaiman are inextricably linked to Dave McKean's art. Though they've rarely collaborated since the 1990s – Neil writing the script for Dave's 2005 feature film MirrorMask – Dave created the covers for Neil's iconic Sandmancomic series that first made him famous and still have a huge cult audience.
It's fitting then that Dave has created illustrations for a new edition of Neil's most highly regarded novel, 2001's modern mythology American Gods. Released by The Folio Society just before a US TV version of the novel comes to Amazon Prime (in the UK) and Starz (in the US), it's as lusciously designed and produced as you'd expect from the imprint.
Timothy Goodman: Graphic Designer
Following Timothy Goodman’s joint initiatives with Jessica Walsh to encourage Americans to vote for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential elections – I’m With Her and Build Kindness Not Walls – the New York graphic designer has focussed his attention on a new social crusade: creatives of colour.
"I have a platform and I want to use to talk about white privilege, which is what we have in this industry, and how to make it more diverse and more inclusive," says Timothy.
Timothy and his friend, product designer at The New York Times, Amelie Lamont, both saw a need to highlight designers of ethnic minority in an industry where the level of inclusion is still not satisfactory – and created the People of Craft website.
I sat down with Timothy at Adobe MAX in Las Vegas to discuss his latest projects and gain an insight into his process – and it was that stood out most. Although Amelie was initially listed as speaking at the show and I wanted to interview her about the project too, she wasn't in the final line-up.
Ciara Phelan: Grand Matter founder
Ciara Phelan has been working as an illustrator for seven years and is fed up with the ongoing tension between personal and commercial projects as an artist. Teaming up with producer Dorcas Brown, the pair has now launched Grand Matter – a boutique talent agency.
Grand Matter aims to provide other artists with a service born from goodwill; an agency that will nurture creativity.
Pablo Marques: Executive creative director
We sat down with Possible’s executive creative director Pablo Marquez in London to find out what working for a leading digital agency with clients such as adidas, Aston Martin and Specsavers looks like in 2017.
Joining the Possible team from his own digital production company Wilderness, the Brazilian-born, motorcycle enthusiast (who wears black even in mid-summer) has been in the creative industry for more than 20 years. With obvious passion the size of a mountain for what he does, Pablo tells us what to expect from brands in our current digital-saturated, globalised world, and what he expects from his creative team – no doubt a seismic shift from when he began his career in 1996.
Chris Riddell: Illustrator and political cartoonist
Children’s book illustrator and author (Goth Girl, Ottoline, The Edge Chronicles) – and The Observer political cartoonist – Chris Riddell has just spent the last two years as UK Children’s Laureate. He’s now about to publish his first children’s book in 10 years – Once Upon a Wild Wood – and has begun creating artwork for a new illustrated edition of JK Rowling’s book of children’s stories, The Beedle and the Bard.
Before leading a live art class at the London Apple store on Regent St for the The Big Draw Festival – the beginning of his journey from analogue to digital art processes – we spoke to Chris about art education in school, illustrating for both adults and children, and his upcoming children’s book.
Jon Burgerman: Doodle artist
Here at Digital Arts we’re big fans of Jon’s spontaneous, colourful and playful doodles, as we’re sure many of you are. This year was a busy one for Jon.
Between vegetarian meals and watching his neighbourhood become even more gentrified, he’s published his first colouring book and now Splat, volunteered himself to the phenomena of animated iPhone sticker sets, discovered the potential of Instagram stories and commented on political happenings such as Brexit and Trump’s election.
Jon talks about keeping a mental scrapbook, how he makes his recent Instagram stories and the benefits of working digitally over traditional media. Whilst doodling using Procreate on his iPad Pro, he explains the process behind his animated stickers and whether we can expect to see more animated work from him in the future.
Kelly Anna: Print Designer
Kelly Anna is the British designer behind increasingly popular figurative prints that are energetic, bright, bold with confident mark making – and most of them celebrate modern femininity in a way that’s captured the attention of the likes of Cara Delevingne and Beyonce.
Kelly's subjects are often athletic female figures in the midst of remarkably elegant movement, accompanied by inspiring quotes like 'Work it like everyone's watching', or 'Survival of the slickest.'
We spoke to Kelly Anna about her unique style, creating bold slogans and what femininity looks like for the modern woman.