Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
Hi, my name’s Lara, I’m 26 and I like to draw things. I have just completed an MA in Children’s Book Illustration where I spent most of my time in the print room colour mixing and pressure washing screens. All my clothes are covered in ink.
Are you right or left-handed?
What appeals to you, or attracts you to, working in pencil?
I actually dread working in pencil. My hand constantly gets in the way meaning there’s always lots of smudging and I never think to work from left to right to prevent it. I also get really jealous when I see other people’s shading ability when I compare it to my own work. Being involved in Tiny Pencil has been a great way to get me exploring the medium again.
What’s your favourite pencil?
Red ones. Of any variety.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
No. I find sketchbooks cause too much restriction. You’re limited to the same paper size and the spine always gets in the way. I also think there is a risk of becoming too precious over your sketchbook which can restrict how you approach working. I always use loose paper when planning which takes away any pressure of maintaining a set standard of drawing. I go through a lot of paper.
Can you tell us about a favourite piece of yours, or a favourite creative experience?
My favourite creative experience repeatedly happens the first five minutes after thinking I have completed a piece of work. After that I rapidly spiral into a pit of self-doubt and anxiety and have to fight the urge to rework an image. Often the doubt wins and I’ll tweak for hours on end only to end up changing it all to how it originally was.
Do you have a favourite subject matter? What’s the particular attraction?
Blood and guts. And space. Anything science related really.
How do you conceptualise/construct a piece? Do you think of it as a story, snapshot, or abstraction?
I’m not altogether sure. My brain doesn’t seem able to figure that out. The more I think about it the more I have no idea.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process, from the initial image or idea to the finished piece?
I tend not to think directly about a project for the first few days. Usually an idea will form itself just as I’m falling to sleep and I have to hope I remember it the next morning. I know lots of artists and writers keep notebooks by their bed for such instances, which is something I should probably start doing. Once I have an idea I tend to work fairly quickly surrounded by complete mess of scribbles and notes.
What are the books on your bedside table?
I have way too many books. Here is what’s on the top of the pile currently.
The Psychopath Test – Jon Ronson
Rack, Rope and Red Hot Pincers – Geoffery Abbott
George’s Marvellous Medicine – Roald Dahl
Cosmicomics – Italo Calvino
Bedlam – Catherine Arnold
The Universe – John Gribbin
The texture of your drawings have a very tactile quality. Is this aesthetic something you actively cultivate, or is it a natural consequence of your style?
I think it must be a natural consequence of my style as I hadn’t noticed it myself. It’s interesting how other people view your work.
Coffee, nicotine, or booze?
What is your favourite image or photograph? What brings you back to this picture?
I don’t have one particular image but I love looking at old seance photographs with their doctored ectoplasm and ghostly apparitions. They make me laugh and shudder at the same time. It’s an unusual feeling. You can’t help but look at them. The most beautiful book I own is Robert Parke-Harrison’s ‘The Architect’s Brother,’ which is a series of otherworldly photographs; well worth a google.
What records or pieces of music are floating around in your head these days? Do you listen to anything while you’re working?
In the studio I tend to work with the radio on but at home I have to work with the television on at all times. I don’t feel comfortable without both audio and visual distraction. I used to revise for all my exams with it on as well. The trashier the programme the happier I am working. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills proves a highly productive time in my day.
Your work deals with text as object. Can you tell us about your feelings for typography?
I love typography. It plays such an important part for so many images and can so easily be overlooked. I hate when people create a beautiful image and then don’t consider the text placed with it. Typography in itself can portray a sense of place and history. I love old signs and posters where typography is the dominant feature. Letters are some of the most beautiful things ever created.
How did screen-printing enter into your creative vocabulary?
I have been screen-printing for years. I love the layering of ink and the deconstruction then reconstruction of an image. I think a part of me must like the risk of an image suddenly being able to go wrong with one pull of ink as well. As time has gone on screen-printing has become my automatic approach to an idea. It’s a bit like photoshop in that I think of everything in layers built up to create the final image.
How did it feel to be awarded a Macmillan Prize?
Happy as it came with a free dinner.
What are you working on now? What can we look forward to from you next?
I’ve got several picture books that are almost finished and are going through the final stages of tweaking. Hopefully one day they will find their way into bookshops. I’m also wanting to start work on a zine based around material properties with my friend Meg. We just need to get organised. Other than that I’m continuously screen-printing new works.
What directions are you interested in exploring in the future?
Most of my past work concentrated on themes surrounding the universe and I would love to go back and continue making work around that subject matter. The universe is a pretty big area to explore afterall.
Where can people get a hold of your work, or find out more about your previous projects?
I have a blog – lararobinsonillustrates.blogspot.co.uk where I post work, though not nearly as often as I should. I know I should get a website but I keep putting it off. I’m also on twitter – twitter.com/LaraRobinsonArt though my tweets are few and far between.
Lara’s work appears in Issue 2.0 of Tiny Pencil, Monsters, Mammals & Mars! Available to buy here.