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Mark Squire: Illustrate Me

How do you take your tea?

I like to make a big pot of tea, I’m a bit of a tea belly (I take after my Grandad for that) and will happily finish off the whole pot.

What do you have for breakfast?

I have to have at least two cups of tea before I can even think about eating breakfast which is usually (boringly) toast or cereal.

How did you get started in illustration?

Drawing has always been a large part of my life but I originally trained as a ceramicist, and I had been making studio ware for several years. I became interested in a form of decoration called sprig work (sticking relief designs onto a pot) so I started to make drawings for this, and I became more and more interested in the surface designs than the pots themselves and then more interested in the actual illustrations themselves,  I had so many other ideas that wouldn’t translate into ceramics and I really liked the freedom I got with illustration to explore these ideas.

Where does your inspiration come from?

It can come from anywhere, usually when I’m not really thinking about work an idea will pop into my head, or simply from previous work sparking off other ideas.  I’m drawn towards the darker side of life and I like a subtle humour in my work. If it makes me smile I will usually go with that. Animals are a constant source of inspiration, and at the moment I am obsessed with deep sea creatures and want to pursue this further.

Where do you most like to work?

I prefer to work from home so everything is easily accessible, and I shouldn’t really, but I like just working on the floor with everything spread around me, but I’m a messy worker and paint tends to get everywhere,  so to get over the problem of ruining the house I am going to build myself a purpose built studio in the garden this summer.

Do you have any creative rituals?

Not really but I do get a bit OCD when I am working, as I print a lot of my work I get a bit obsessed with the quality of the print and have been known to print an illustration up to 20 times until I get the right one.

What would you most like to work on?

I would love to illustrate book covers, it’s a challenge to create an image that represents a whole book, and hopefully, you can reach a much wider audience with your work.  I’m also currently working on a design for a shop/cafe window display at the moment which is really exciting as it’s like a blank canvas to do what you like.

What are you work habits?

I’m a bit of a night owl and prefer to work late into the night, I can’t seem to concentrate on my work while its daylight, night time seems to be more conducive to creativity

Who is your favourite illustrator & how does that influence you?

My favourite illustrator would be early work by Dick Bruna, he produced the miffy books, but I prefer his earlier work which included book cover illustrations and posters, I really like his simple style and its something I look at again and again as the work is a perfect balance of shape, colour and composition.  I’m also interested in artists such as R.B. Kitaj, I love how he constructs a painting using painting, printing  and drawing, and from my ceramics background, in particular, a ceramicist called Hans Coper, I think his attention to surface and form still influences my illustration work today.

Tell me a dirty secret…

Although I’m all about the hand-drawn and printing in my work I’m also quite addicted to digital processes, my favourite piece of kit is a laser cutter which I find I am increasingly using to produce my printing stamps. It adds another element to my work.

To see more of Mark’s work visit: