dominic-kesterton

Edinburgh College of Art Illustration

With Degree Shows finally over… Analogue Books brings you two interviews with Edinburgh College of Art graduates Emma Alqhvist and Dominic Kesterton.

EMMA ALQHVIST

Berta // Emma Ahlqvist // £10

Small Town Stories // Emma Ahlqvist // £10

What drew you to study Illustration?

In my foundation year, I considered studying fine art or sculpture but in the end I decided on illustration. I like the accessibility of illustration and I dislike the elitism of fine art. I also wanted to tell stories and illustration and comics is great medium for that. I probably should have studied comics, but at that point I did not believe I was capable of coming up with stories that would be good enough.

What are the main inspirations and themes behind your work?

I try to find inspiration in lots of places, other illustration and comics but perhaps even more in books, films and real life. Most of my stories are in some way inspired by people I have met or places I have been. My last two comics Berta and Small Town Stories are both a lot about the place and the people where I grew up in Sweden. The narratives have a few themes that keep occurring in my work such as the forest, feeling at home, homesickness and loneliness. I like for my stories to have a bit of dark humour but combined with comments on society or issues I feel strongly about.

For your final project you focused on making a comic called ‘Berta’, can you tell us a bit more about that?

Berta is a comic book and it is only half of what ended up being my main project. The second half of my degree show work is a collection of short stories in comic format, called Small Town Stories.

Berta is a middle-aged care worker living in a city somewhere in Sweden. She is lonely and unhappy but not simply because she is single and alone, there is something else at the root of her distress. Suddenly she starts going for walks in the forest at night, completely nude except for her Crocs. Her behaviour gets stranger as the story continues and she becomes obsessed with the forest. Through this narrative I am questioning how we value people like Berta in society. If someone is a single, childless, 55 year old care worker they can often be seen as a failure. I invite the reader to question the way we live completely detached from nature and what could happen if you don’t have the dreams and goals in life that you are supposed to have.

What types of skills do you think as an illustrator do you need to showcase your work effectively?

I think that digital skills are really important and I do not understand illustrators who refuse to ever use Photoshop or have their own website. Also I have recently realised the value in being able to verbally explain your ideas and convince clients that your ideas are brilliant.

 What’s a project that you’d love to work on? Anyone that you would like to collaborate with?

I would love to collaborate with some Swedish comic artists such as Nanna Johansson or Sara Hansson. That might be a pretty boring answer as no one will know who they are. I have to say that I am not a big fan of the alternative comic scene in the UK. I find that a lot of comics here are too focused on looking trendy and there is no substance to the stories. 

At some point I would also love to collaborate with a film-maker to make film out of my stories.

If you could have your work anywhere, where would it be?

I was going to say that I want to have my work in a bookshop, but I guess I have already succeeded in that as it is in Analogue! It would be amazing if I could have one of my comics in a public library for everyone to borrow and read.

Are you currently working on anything you can tell us about?

I am currently working as an illustrator in an agency but I am also working on a larger comic project on the side.

Any advice you’d give to any aspiring illustrators?

Find inspiration in lots of places, not just illustration. Your work will look really boring if you only look at other illustrators.

What are your plans for future? How do you see it years from now?

I will be living in a tiny little red house in a forest.

Berta and Small Town Stories are available to buy in-store at Analogue Books. 

Websitewww.emmaahlqvist.com

DOMINIC KESTERTON 

 Hoss Bay // Dominic Kesterton

 Blessing // Dominic Kesterton

What drew you to study Illustration?

I just wanted to spend lots of time drawing.

What are the main inspirations and themes behind your work?

I am inspired by most things that are slightly odd or weird. I’m generally interested in work that implies the workings of some large-scale crazy universe or meta-narrative. I also enjoy the soul calming effect of drawing patterns.

You have a lot of characters in your work, how do you find inspiration for them? 

I’m not totally sure - really they just come out. I watch a lot of cartoons and look at books. I like science fiction costumes and cults and religious figures. There is so much stuff I pay attention to its hard to pinpoint where I’m getting stuff from, I think its just a culmination.

For your final project you focused on making a film, can you tell us a bit more about that?

Loads of the characters I draw seem to be wearing costumes or masks so I’ve always been curious about weather I could make them in real life. I’ve always messed around with making films and writing music. So this idea formed of a weird film about a lizard priest blessing a follower on the beach. I immediately knew that I didn’t want any of my characters to move at normal speed so it’s all in super slow mo. All round it was a super challenging project; assembling the costumes was tricky and lugging all the gear on foot to the beach for three days was poop. Of course it was also super rewarding. I found it particularly interesting to see people moving around in my costumes. That will definitely feed back into my drawings. The film should be online soon.

Tell me a little bit about the process of researching inspirations for your creations, where do the ideas come from?

For my last comic ‘Hoss Bay’, I just searched for all the elements I required to build up that culture. It’s about a coastal settlement that revolves around the harvesting of cave plants by a workforce of pickers. I got out books about marine plants and books about cave systems and books about colonial architecture and collected images of ancient Chinese workers. With small slices of knowledge like that the whole universe of it just became a lot more convincing.

What types of skills do you think as an illustrator do you need to showcase your work effectively?

I think it’s very important to make sure you finish your work to a good standard in the real physical world seen as things circulate so much online. I like work that speaks for itself.

What’s a project that you’d love to work on? Anyone that you’d like to collaborate with?

I am a fanboy of too many things to be able to pick one dream collaborator. It would be cool to work with an animator on something. I just finished drawing a collaborative zine thing with Matthew Swan and I thought it was really fun swapping incomplete drawings with each other and finishing them off. Its refreshing and mind expanding. I’d like to do that sort of thing with loads of artist/illustrator people.

If you could have your work anywhere, where would it be?

This is quite broad but I would love to get some of my patterns onto fabric. I’d also like to do some big painted wall murals because I haven’t done that yet and it seems appropriate to my work.

Are you currently working on anything you can tell us about?

I’m starting a new comic that follows on from my last. Hoss Bay was about the harvesting of seaweed so the next one is about the processing of the seaweed. I’m going to catalogue what happens to the seaweed once it is shipped off from Hoss Bay. I want to start working on another film as well based more around inanimate props that I make rather than costumes.

Any advice you’d give to any aspiring illustrators?

Produce and share good content and it will hopefully spread far and wide.

What are your plans for future? How do you see it years from now?

I’m not very good at answering this question. In terms of my future I’m pretty open at the moment to just seeing how things play out. That’s not to say I’m not driven, obviously I’ll keep making work forever. I guess in the next few years I’d like to get to work for some juicy clients and get some stuff published.

Website: Dominic Kesterton

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Runes on sale.

Dominic Kesterton who I featured a couple of months ago, has created a limited edition screen print of his Runes composition.

Rendered as a two colour screen print, it measures 57cm x 81cm and is printed with Lascaux pigments on heavyweight Somerset 300gsm stock.

If you fancy a copy, don’t hang around - Runes is available as an edition of ten from Dominic’s online shop at bigcartel.com.

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Video for Hoss Bay - Zefs Chasing Cara