Interview: Heidi Burton

Good Monday everyone!

I’m so happy to present our next interviewee up at Pikaland: the lovely Miss Heidi Burton who is based in Cambridge, UK, whose illustrations never fail to make me chuckle!

An illustration for Illustration Friday’s theme called “Fierce”

Name: Heidi Burton
Location: Cambridge, UK
Illustration media: Just about anything I can get my hands on, but mostly paint, pencils, fine-liner pens and Photoshop.

Tell us a little more about yourself.
My nephew recently described me as a ‘big five year old’, not sure whether that was a compliment, an observation, or an insult! My hair is my aerial. I’m a hardcore tea-drinker, and swear it is the key to a fully functional creative mind. I love the simple things in life, and aim to one day live in a cabin in the woods with my own veggie patch, and a pet llama. Oh, and I’m fascinated by forensic psychology.

How did you get your start in illustration?
My educational background has ‘art’ written (or drawn) all over it. After school and college, I took a diploma in Fine Art, and realised that everything I created was infact illustrating ‘something’ such as narratives, poetry, and my own observations. I went on to study for an illustration degree at UCCA in Kent, and graduated last year. Since then I’ve exhibited my work here and there, opened my Etsy shop, had my work published in magazines, and have partaken in many a project! If it wasn’t for persistent self-promotion I really don’t think any of these opportunities would have transpired.

Winter greeting cards!

Could you tell us more about your thought process when you start a piece?
Ideas cunningly snowball themselves at me from all directions. This is why I always have a journal handy to scribble ideas down before my sieve-brain releases them, never to be remembered again! It isn’t a choice, I have to explore and process these thoughts into images. Kind of like when you get an annoying song stuck in your head, and it will only go away if you sing it out loud and proud! Usually my first drawing (of said idea) is ‘the one’ because it has that fresh energy that will then deplete with each further attempt. If I’m working on a project, a lot more thought goes into developing concepts, characters, composition, etc, but even with these I find my sketchbook work is the strongest.

Do you keep a journal/sketchbook, and would you mind if we had a sneak peek?

I have a mighty stack of Moleskine journals and sketchbooks packed full with writings, scribbles, ideas, and illustrations. A train journey is never complete without sketching the passengers – I love to observe people when they are unaware as they reveal their subconscious self, and you can discover unique traits which can be used in further illustrations to make the characters more quirky. I’m currently experimenting in a new watercolour journal, and continuing with my extremely-mini-enterprise of altering Moleskine journals with holes and drawings!

What or who inspires you?
I love to draw people when they are unaware of it, their natural state-of-being inspires me a lot. If you closely observe – you learn their quirks and vulnerabilities. Nature blows me away – forests, thunderstorms, the sea, sitting by the window with a cup of tea watching the rain. My sister Tiina started me out on Etsy, she’s just ridiculously creative and talented, we’re always bouncing ideas off eachother. I’m greatly inspired by artists/writers such as Ernst Haeckel, Tove Jansson, Cy Twombly, Sylvia Plath and Haruki Murakami. At the moment, the music of Yann Tiersen, Kimmo Pohjonen, and Kronos Quartet is really doing it for me, as are films like ‘Once’ and ‘Amelie’.

Cards for her other Etsy shop:

What keeps you motivated?
When people give me positive feedback for my work it warms up my little cold heart and keeps me focused!

What’s your favourite tool?
Other than my newfound enjoyment of power tools, I’d have to say my Wacom graphics tablet. With the work that I do, I’d be lost without it. And tea.

Are you a full-time artist?
At the moment it is more of a part-time venture alongside whatever other work I’m involved with. Though I see it as full-time because the creativity is switched on always, and used in all aspects of my life.

Postcards by Heidi, with a quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti — made for World mental health day during October 10th 2008.

So what are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on greeting card designs and exploring the path of illustrations for children. My journals get a good daily dose of love, sometimes resulting in new prints. There are a few side projects as well, such as the International Moleskine Journal Exchange (MolyX #4), and I’ve just finished some work for Underground Art Magazine. A spot of calligraphy-dabbling is next on the list!

What advice would you like to give people who would like to sell their works online?
Promote your work at a ridiculous level, nurture a blog (link to it everywhere!), and put maximum effort (and love) into creating a special package to send to each of your lovely customers!

One of Heidi’s doodles on her packaging!

Where do you see yourself within the next few years?
You never know what’s around the next corner! (Secretly hoping for that cabin in the woods, and the llama)… I’d like to think my work will continue to develop and branch out, and it would be fantastic if illustration becomes a full-time venture for me. Tea-drinking for sure!

What message do you want to send out to people about your work?
I hope my work does the talking, and also hope it conjures a little smirk across a face or two on an otherwise tedious day!

Looking Winter in the Eye, part of her HOLEY MOLEY altered moleskine journal range that’s one of a kind

Tell us something random!
At the zoo a couple of years ago, a tapir turned it’s backside to me, and peed on my leg through the fence. (My sister said it must have liked me. How very cute indeed.)

{Thank you Heidi!}

4 Replies to “Interview: Heidi Burton”

  1. Jessica says:

    i have been a huge fan of her work for a long time ,she is really really talented.

    If I haven’t asked you already I would love for you to be a guest blogger on the up coming Truant blog that is set to launch in January. We are looking for fantastic bloggers like yourself to be involved.

    let me know!

  2. Paul says:

    Heidi’s work is great! It’s a wonderful combination of whimsy and pure talent!

  3. toby says:

    A very inspiring read – and lovely work… think I might make a cup of tea 🙂

  4. Cathy says:

    Lovely interview. She is a great illustrator.

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