Steve Simpson is an Ireland-based freelance illustrator / designer working in packaging design, illustration and art for children’s books and winner of numerous design awards. Here he talks about his work and what inspires him
Computer Arts (CA): Who are you and what do you do?
Steve Simpson (SS): "Originally from near Manchester and now based in Ireland, I have a background in comics (worked on the Beano), animation (Danger Mouse) and studied technical illustration in the age of Cow Gum and Grant enlargers (before desktop computing). For the past 20 years I've been working in Dublin as an illustrator (for advertising, design and children's books) and for the past few years I've been applying my illustration skills to print design, particularly for packaging projects."
CA: How would you describe your illustration style?
SS: "I guess it's quite design based, I spend a lot of time redrawing and tweaking my pencils, getting the shapes and balance right before I scan them into Photoshop. I use a lot of hand lettering and limited palettes. I don't really like the term 'retro' but I do try to make my Photoshop work look less digital and more organic with the use of texture overlays and gritty brushes, neo-vintage. My style is none too serious, there's always a whimsical factor in there too."
CA: Which of the pieces in your portfolio are you most proud of and why?
SS: "I usually like the last thing I've done best, but even though it's a few years old now, the Mic's Chilli Inferno range of sauces was the project that allowed me to side-step in to the area of print design. It picked up a good few awards for both design and illustration and really helped me get noticed. I'd say all the great design projects I've illustrated in the last three years have stemmed from those labels."
CA: What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
SS: "I'm passionate about being creative and experimenting with new ways to approach projects. My work allows me to do that every day and I get paid for it, what's not to like? The only non creative job I ever had was during school holiday making sausage rolls in a pie factory, it was very repetitive and long hours. If I ever get disillusioned with a project I think about puff-pastry-wrapped-sausage-meat and count myself a very lucky man."
CA: What are your biggest challenges?
SS: "Saying 'no' when I'm already overloaded and tidying my desk! Also, procrastinating over VAT returns."
CA. What inspires you?
SS: "I'm constantly inspired by the things around me. I enjoy the twist of putting together objects and themes that aren't usually seen together. I like the 'genius project' theory, where you combine a person with a thorough knowledge of a particular discipline, a problem than needs solving relating to that discipline and serendipity. Thus giving a genius solution. For example Newton, gravity and the apple. This can be applied to design and illustration but the secret is recognising the serendipity when it comes around."
Gathered below is a just a small selection of Steve Simpson's work. There's plenty more to see on his website.
Anatomical Study by Steve Simpson
A (roughly) anatomically correct piece influenced by the Mexican "Day of the Dead" (Día de los Muertos) holiday.
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da by Steve Simpson
Fade Street Social by Steve Simpson
Illustrated tapas bar menu cover for Dylan McGrath's Dublin restaurant, Fade Street Social
Signs Of A Revolution by Steve Simpson
7up Winter Wonderland by Steve Simpson
Silver Medal Winner in the Association of Illustrators (AOI) Images36 Best of British Illustration Awards