Show and tell: Peter Locke, Illustrator

Peter Locke has been working as an illustrator for almost seven years. In that time he has mixed brand and media projects, as well as his own work. His clients have included The Times, The British Medical Journal, and recently a commission for Vélib and The City of Paris which culminated in exhibitions held at The Grand Palais and the newly opened “Les Docks – Cité de la Mode et du Design.” He also worked alongside Speak Media when we produced event materials for the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

We caught up with Peter to find out about his work, his inspirations and why he says he’d never make it as a chef.

Could you describe your visual style for those that might not be familiar with your work.

Hand drawn/painted/printed/smudged elements layered up, cropped, edited and composed. I’m often asked to combine multiple elements from a narrative or biographical information about a subject into a single image. It’s a kind of collage or assemblage of original drawn content.

What are your favourite projects/collaborations worked on to date?

I worked on some illustrations for Heritage Research (a fantastic menswear clothing brand that is handmade in Britain) for their publication The Quartermaster’s Journal. The brand’s collections are rooted in historical context and adapted with modern tailoring – bringing back life, to the original patterns and garments that simply aren’t made anymore. Every garment and fabric was part of a story or came directly from the guys’ own archive collections. The journal was published as a companion to each collection; detailing the themes, characters and stories that informed and inspired it. For me it was a really open brief, ‘You have this many pages, here are the subjects, go knock yourself out.’ Luckily I have a personal passion for they all the subjects, so it was really like being hired to do personal work. A real treat!

Peter Locke for Heritage Research
Peter Locke for Heritage Research

Who would you love to work with?

I’d love to collaborate with some printmakers. I have had screen prints made of my work, but I have had little to do with the process. I think it would be great to work together with an artist who excels in that method of production (or lithography, letterpress… I’m not fussy) to see what we can come up with together. My work is made in a pretty tactile way with lots of mark making experiments, layering of different textured lines and areas of colour. I have always thought of it in terms of printing, but I’ve never quite managed to recreate the loose, layered, feel of the work or the various line qualities through traditional printing methods.

Who or what has influenced your work most?

Heh… That’s a tough and open-ended question. Certainly early on in my school days it was Ralph Steadman, George Grosz, and Jack Kirby. At the moment I’m starting to look a lot at painters, one being Giorgio Morandi. I’m trying to learn from his brilliant use of subtle tones and composition that really draw the viewer into sustained observation of the image. Also David Stone Martin’s record covers for Art Tatum and Bud Powell. He was the master of the simple instinctive line. I love how he managed to use only the minimum of line work to describe his subjects but still kept his work full of gesture and immediacy. Not an easy thing to do.

Peter Locke for Artcrank
Peter Locke for Artcrank

Which brands do you think do visual content well and why?

Han Kjøbenhavn’s video ads are really splendid. They use wonderfully strange and seductive imagery. A mix of motion picture mystery, intrigue, suspense, style and saturated colours.

What does illustration bring to a campaign that other methods do not?

It’s hard to say specifically as it’s usually a ‘horses for courses’ kind of thing with the method fitting the content. I guess illustration can sometimes give something a more human feel. It is often easier to see the hand of the creator alongside the content/ideas/message of the client.

What makes or breaks a brief?

Honesty and communication. There is nothing worse than not knowing where a client is at with the work you are producing. Communication is imperative for one’s own good timekeeping and to produce work that both you and the client can be satisfied with.

Sonny Terry portrait used for a promotional mail-out
Peter Locke for a promotional mail-out

If you could learn how to do one new thing what would it be?

In life, I would really like to learn how to manage woodland. I just can’t seem to shake the Walden dream. For my work, a little bit of animation would be a treat.

What would you be doing if you weren’t an illustrator?

Definitely something using a skill or in a trade. No office work for this lad. Maybe some sort of chef. I always fancied going to chef school but was discouraged and a little bit intimidated by the kitchen dynamic. I’m not sure my, some would say ‘short fuse’, could cope with being shouted at all day.

Any wise words to leave us with?

“Everything is not enough and nothin’ is too much to bear. Where you been is good and gone, all you keep is the getting there.” – Townes Van Zandt

Thanks Peter!

Where next?
More posts from Johanna Pearson
More posts in Show and tell
See more of our design projects
View our portfolio on Behance
Peter’s site

Author: johannapearson

Junior designer at Speak Media

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