The bold patterns and bright colours of this Poole-based illustrator have been featured in advertising campaigns and magazines, and may soon be helping those struggling with mental health.
Arts University Bournemouth graduate, Immy Fooks, tells us about the inspirations behind her eye-catching illustrations and designs, and her plans to study Art Psychotherapy…
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME AN ILLUSTRATOR?
I think it was during my childhood, going round different art galleries and seeing other people’s work. And I enjoyed art the most at school — it was always my favourite subject. I also liked seeing other people’s work in magazines, like editorial work, which made me think, “Wow, I wish I could do that and have those skills”.
HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH YOUR IDEAS? IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR THAT INSPIRES YOUR WORK?
I will jot things down as soon as they come into my head before I forget, and then start mind-mapping my ideas on a page. Then I would probably do some initial sketches, to get an idea of what it is that I want to visualise. I’m inspired by artists such as Vincent van Gogh and illustrators like Katie Scott, who makes botanical illustrations, and Camilla Perkins. Her artwork is amazing, I really like it as it’s very colourful and I’m drawn to colour and pattern.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT CREATING ILLUSTRATIONS AND GIFS?
Probably just being able to communicate an idea and getting what’s inside my head out onto the page. I think I’m quite a visual person, and certain things will make me feel certain ways, especially bright colours which I’m drawn to. They cheer me up in a way.
WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU USE TO CREATE YOUR ARTWORK?
It started off more with mixed media, like painting, collage, using acrylics and watercolours. But then during my time at the Arts University Bournemouth, my tutors taught us to use Adobe software, so my work became more digital throughout my degree. That’s something that I think makes you more employable, having those skills, so I was willing to learn how to use things like Photoshop and InDesign. Because I think that’s what employers will expect from you nowadays. If you don’t have the skills to use things like Adobe, you probably won’t stand a chance at illustration, just because that is a lot of what illustration is now. But since I have graduated, I’ve gone back to using paints and making messier work really. So now I’ll use more mixed media; I might paint something and then I might scan it and edit it on Photoshop, so it’s a bit of a mixture now of digital and hand-painted or hand-drawn.
WHAT KIND OF PROJECTS HAVE YOU WORKED ON PREVIOUSLY?
I applied to do some work for Voxi, which is a phone company which works alongside Vodafone — it’s a mobile network specifically for young people between the ages of 15 and 24. They invited me to create some concepts for the brand. Their theme was ‘Endless Possibilities’, so they would give me a theme such as ‘Endless Fun’ or ‘Endless Laughter’, and I would have to create a piece based on that theme. They had to be moving images, like a 5-second-long, repetitive GIF, because they wanted something eye-catching for their branding on the TV. So, I created concept designs for that and then they were able to choose what they really wanted from it. That was a really good experience; obviously Vodafone are such a big brand and I was amazed that I was picked to do it. I was really lucky.
I also created some horoscopes for a magazine for a girl who was studying MA Fine Art. She was making this magazine as her final year project, and needed someone to design the horoscopes. I took the traditional Pisces symbol and had to link it with a digital element, so I had the Pisces fish hooked onto something which represented Facebook, to suggest that it was ‘Hook, Line and Sinker’ for social media. The idea was people being drawn to Facebook and Instagram and social media all the time.
YOUR WEBSITE FEATURES PHOTOS OF YOUR DESIGNS ON CUSHION COVERS. ARE THERE ANY OTHER PRODUCTS ON WHICH YOU WOULD LIKE YOUR ARTWORK TO FEATURE?
To be honest, in an ideal world, probably everything! Curtains, cushion covers, duvet covers… things that could be used in interior design. Or stationary, like notebooks, pencil cases and so on. That would be really cool! Hopefully something like that will happen in future, but at the moment it’s just about juggling everything and having the time to really commit to a project whilst working.
DO YOU HAVE ANY PROJECTS YOU ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON?
I’ve been developing a portfolio of work which is kind of more relevant to me now. I have a place to study Art Psychotherapy and I start next month, so I’ve been creating work which visualises mental health and things like that, moving more towards fine art. I’ve been trying to visualise and paint things that I think show feelings and mental health, as I needed to develop a portfolio for my interview. They look at the work you do that is relevant to the course. That was really good, because it’s something I hadn’t done before. I also work part-time in a care home, so I’m juggling that and the art, which means I don’t do as much art as I want to. Hopefully when I have more time, I’ll be able to focus much more on that.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR YOUR FUTURE AS AN ARTIST?
I have just moved to Bristol, which is very much a creative city. I have lived in Poole for most of my life, and I think that Bristol has more creative opportunities for me. My aim would be to have my work featured in some of the small individual art shops there, as it would be really nice to get my work out there a bit more. I’d like to potentially do more exhibitions, as I’ve done a few already in Bristol, London, Salisbury and in Bournemouth as well during my final year at AUB.
See more of Immy’s work on her website and follow her on Instagram to never miss another post! Visit our Art, Design & Photography section for similar local stories. And you can also follow HQB Media on all our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.