Interview with artist Adam Pryce

You may have noticed on our Facebook page and Twitter and Tumblr accounts recently that we have posted illustrations by Manchester-based artist Adam Pryce. Adam is an up-and-coming freelance artist and illustrator who has worked with several magazines, publishers and websites such as Hallmark, Walker Books, The Illustrated Ape, Juxtapose, Design Week, Amelia’s Magazine and CreatureMag. In July 2012 he wrote and illustrated his first children’s book entitled “Mr Ordinary’s Prize” with children’s writer Emily Capstick, which was released in partnership with the People’s History Museum in Manchester.

He is now currently working on a his own new range of children’s books and a multimedia animation to be released later this year as well as teaching and leading workshops and painting murals in and around Manchester. We love Adam’s creative and quirky designs which follow an almost standard style throughout, no matter what he’s drawing or who his audience is, and the fact that they are something different and fresh that cannot be seen in other artists’ work. We caught up with Adam to talk more to him about his work, his artistic inspirations and his hopes and dreams for his future as an artist.

Adam’s first published children’s book, “Mr Ordinary’s Prize”.

1) When did your love of art start and when did you begin realising your talents as an artist?

I have always drawn and I’ve always got excited at the possibilities my imagination can create; I remember the thing that would make me happiest as a child would be to be given a pad of white paper and before I’d even draw on the front page I would think for hours of what characters I would draw and what adventures they would go on.

Growing up I’d always make my friends and family handmade cards, posters and comics and that’s when I realised that what I do is different from other people and then began to think about how to build a future that includes me drawing everyday. Luckily things went well and several years later I’m waking up each morning and drawing all day!

“Milo & Duke”.

2) Which artists or what animations inspired you when you were growing up and as you developed your skills and your own artistic designs?

Disney was a huge inspiration to me – I used to watch the animated films countless times and then practice drawing the characters by freeze framing old VHS tapes. These films made me realise my true passion was for character design and so I began designing my own characters and writing stories that I hoped one day would be made into a Disney film.

As I went through College and University, my inspiration changed as I found out about wonderful artists such as Paula Rego, Sara Fanelli and Grayson Perry – all of whom shaped the type of artwork I was creating back then. I then began researching outsider art and the works of Henry Darger and the possibilities of the type of work a person can create when they have limitless imagination and no boundaries.

When I began working professionally as a freelance illustrator, my inspiration found its way back to Disney and the fantastic works of Mary Blair and the bold colour and composition she uses. I’m also fond of modern day illustrators such as Marc Boutavant and Jon Klassen and the worlds they create in their books.

Adam working on his art and displaying it in public.

3) You mainly do illustrations for and write children’s books, but what kind of work have you done in the past that also appeals to a wider and older audience as well?

My work has fallen into children’s books as its a perfect vehicle for my characters to get from inside my head and onto a piece of paper. I also create posters, logo designs and most recently branded a local festival – from the banners to the T-shirts. I also design for Hallmark cards on a freelance basis and design artwork for friends’ bands and tour posters.

I’ve recently started taking pet commissions, which I have found to be a really fun creative outlet and reignited my love of drawing animals and I love seeing and hearing people’s reactions when they see my illustration of their pet. I have also experimented with animation and shadow puppetry – something I wish to continue doing more when I get some free time.

I feel as an illustrator you really can’t have a set way of working – my approach has always been to not disregard a commission if its something you’re not used to doing – do it and surprise yourself!

A selection of Adam’s “Happy Friday” illustrations.

4) Your “Happy Friday” pictures are quite popular with our Facebook fans and our followers on Twitter and Tumblr. Where did you come with the concept and how do you get ideas and keep it fresh and innovative every week? 

I used to draw these characters and then put them to one side and nobody would ever see them, until one day a friend remarked how much they loved them and said “why not create one character a day for a month and post them on Twitter?” So I did that and soon got a lot of interest on Twitter and Facebook and approached the website CreatureMag about becoming a regular contributor, and thankfully they loved my work and readily agreed.

The “Happy Friday” item was already a weekly thing on CreatureMag with contributions from several illustrators. The creators of CreatureMag felt my characters fit the brief so well that I’m now the main contributor and have been for the last year or so. It’s a great working relationship we have for in exchange for weekly promotion through social media sites, and for them we create a character.

The main inspiration is the world around me and when that fails to inspire me I either close my eyes and the character just appears or I simply start drawing and surprise myself by what character walks onto my iPad.

An image Adam created using his iPad.

5) Where do you hope to take your art in the future and what kind of work or illustrations would you love to do if you got the chance?

My dream is to be a concept artist for Pixar and Disney so that’s where I’m working towards at the moment and without intentionally doing so my work is becoming more and more “Disney”. I’m about to have my second book released later this year – both in the UK and America in digital and printed paperback so I’d really like to do more books and write some more stories. I’m really happy with the direction my work is going in and my work has evolved so much in the last 12 months I can’t wait to see what type of work I will be producing in 5 years time!

You can “like” Adam’s Facebook page, follow him on Twitter and Instagram or watch his art and music videos on YouTube.

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