For July we are working with the incredible illustrator that is John Bond. John is renowned for his doodles of dogs, cat creations and is the illustrator behind our amazing Mr Men Little Miss range. With July's Papergang box being travel themed, we knew John was the man for the job. Having worked for some top clients, John discusses his illustration career and love of the sea. He’s also a pretty nice guy. Let’s chat!
Hey there John!
Let’s begin with a Papergang box themed question – where is one place on this magnificent Earth that you would love to visit?! (For the Ohh Deer office, it’s definitely Japan)
I might also have to say Japan. But trekking though the deepest part of the amazon rainforest would be amazing too!
Along with drawing travel themes for the Papergang box, we also noticed that you love illustrating dogs. Big dogs, small dogs, round dogs, slim dogs. ALL the dogs. What sparked this notion of doodling the pawed companion? And do you have a doggo yourself?
Ha, yeah - it's hard not to notice. I do love dogs! Their characters, personalities, shapes, movements. I relate myself as being quite dog-like too. I eat a lot, I like walks and I can be pretty lazy.
I haven't actually owned a dog since I was about 16/17 and only really started drawing them after this time - so I'm hazarding a guess - that I might draw them as some sort of therapy. Filling the void, if you will. Is that a bit sad?
Maybe a little bit sad...maybe. We love your use of illustration layered on top of photos! How do you go about this process? Is it simply seeing shapes and thinking “I see a cat, I shall draw one!” or something more?
It's an extremely organic process. I don't know how or why but I see parallel narratives over the top of real life. My own built in augmented reality or something. It usually shows up when I'm alone, out walking, observing day-to-day stuff. I'll just happily imagine one of my characters in that situation. Playing about with contrasts in scale, turning 'ordinary' objects into something 'extraordinary'. I guess these shape-shifting characters keep me company. Again - that sounds so sad. Ha!
We wish your shape-shifting characters were real! What does the everyday life of John Bond entail? Do you find you are more productive in the daytime or at night?
Having children creates a lot of routine and structure - which is a very good thing, because drawing pictures for a living can be the total opposite. Typically I'm more 'creative' the later the day gets - which often means I don't leave the studio on time. At university I always worked through the night. If I tried that now - I'd be dead (tired).
Being self employed does also mean there are less creative jobs to do too. Emailing, accounts, etc. so these tend to fill those creative block moments. All in all - it works out pretty well.
After working for a creative agency for 7 years, and going freelance in 2014 – what made you realise “Yes, I’m going to go freelance”? And do you have any advice to those who are seeking the same thing?
The agency I worked for actually decided to close its doors - so in a way - the decision was forced upon me. I knew I wanted to do much more of my own thing, so jumped immediately at the freelance life rather than another full time position.
My industry experience at the agency was totally invaluable! Understanding how projects operate, how clients think, how budgets are devised, how to fulfil briefs, how to deal with changes. And most of all, creating a list of important contacts.
For anyone looking to go straight up freelance - I'd say contacts is the number one key. Just get out there, mingle, network. The more people that know who you are and what you do, the more chance you'll get mentioned in conversation. Even if someone isn't in a directly 'creative' role, the likelihood is they'll have some contacts who are. And you can't beat word of mouth.
Outside of the studio what keeps you motivated? Do you have any super-secret hobbies that keep you inspired when you’re not illustrating?
Having a family, living by the sea and getting to mow my own lawn. As for my 'hobbies'...they must remain super-secret. Sorry.
Want some stationery featuring illustrations by John? Subscribe to John's Papergang Box! For £10.95 you will receive a box full of stationery goodness delivered straight to your door, winner winner.