RosieWilson

Artist Spotlight: Rosie Wilson

Hi Rosie, could you tell us a bit about how you first started out illustrating and how you got into doing what you do today? Hello! I was raised in a creative environment where my mum was always DIYing or painting random bits of furniture with Wilko wall paint. That, and art being the only subject I enjoyed, probably kick-started the urge to just make stuff!

I never even knew what illustration really was before doing my uni course at Sheffield Hallam. I had a cousin who did it, and I loved drawing really cursed fan art, which never saw the light of day, so I decided to take a gamble and study it at university. Luckily, I fell in love with the course and illustration industry.

Were there any key creative influences on your work as you were developing your style?
Spending a lot of my teen years on fan blogs, and getting my teeth stuck into groups who made art for shows or bands I liked was a huge influence initially. Wanting to be as good as the others, and then spending hours trying to understand how they were so good. This introduced me to illustrators across the globe, graphic novels, fanzines and, unfortunately, fan fiction. But looking back now, the internet and fandom culture is still quite a big creative influence for me!

“I loved drawing really cursed fan art, which never saw the light of day, so I decided to take a gamble and study it at university. Luckily, I fell in love with the course and illustration industry.” 

In recent years I’ve loved Kpop album packaging with its punchy colours, unique product designs and wacky concepts. Random vinyl record covers and retro horror movie posters, too. Music is a huge influence! The way a song makes me feel can sometimes manifest as an image in my head. The other day I was inspired by the flight safety guide while on a Ryanair flight – anything with bold, punchy, neon colours or just a bit odd.

It seems like it’s been a busy year for you work-wise, collaborating with a number of local organisations and events. Could you talk us through some of those projects?
It really has been a whirlwind! I work full-time and also volunteer whenever I can, so I pick up illustration projects if there’s some spare time in my week. From volunteering with the incredible Reel Steel cinema group, I was able to do a poster for their Hammer Horror Weekender at the Abbeydale Picture House last year, and then the Sheffield Showcase this year.

Around the same time, I got lucky, and won the Tramlines t-shirt design competition! That was a surreal experience having grown up next to Tramlines in Hillsborough Park to having my shirt being a part of the Sarah Nulty Music Foundation.

Since then, things have continued to pick up. Whether it was making a project putting up Pulp posters across the city, or being asked to do a poster for the Leadmill’s campaign, it’s always a real privilege to be able to create work for local organisations and to celebrate Sheffield.

Oh, and none other than Jarvis Cocker taking your Pulp artwork onstage with him! Could you tell us the backstory of that?
I set myself a project to stick my own Pulp posters across the city centre to celebrate the band’s homecoming gig. Having grown up hearing Pulp around the house and later falling in love with the band while being a student, it was the least I could do to share my passion!

In a ‘right place, right time’ moment, the guitar tech for the band happened to see me and my boyfriend sticking up the posters. I was very star-struck just from this interaction alone.

We had given the guitar tech a poster and said we were attending the show that Saturday. I didn’t really think much else would happen until during the gig Jarvis brought out the poster! I cried like a complete loser.

“In a ‘right place, right time’ moment, the guitar tech for the band happened to see me and my boyfriend sticking up the posters.”

Looking back, I still find it hard to believe it happened. Seeing a hero of mine hold up something I’d just whipped up in my spare time, at potentially their last-ever homecoming show, is something I won’t ever forget.

Most recently, you’ve been working on the #WeCantLoseLeadmill. Could you tell us a bit about how you got involved with that, how you approached the work itself and why it’s such an important cause for you to support?
Obviously, growing up in Sheffield has meant that Leadmill has played a vital part in my musical education. I went on my first night out there for my eighteenth birthday, saw artists that I’ve loved and artists that I’ve grown to love. The issues surrounding these arts institutions in this country are becoming increasingly worrying, and I believe that to lose such a cultural hub in Sheffield would be to lose an important part of the city’s spirit itself.

I couldn’t have been happier when I was asked to be a part of the campaign! For the poster, I wanted to showcase some of the iconic performers who have played Leadmill. Of course, Jarvis is there, along with the likes of Oasis, Def Leppard, Kate Nash, Arctic Monkeys and Culture Club.

Seeing a hero of mine hold up something I’d just whipped up in my spare time, at potentially their last-ever homecoming show, is something I won’t ever forget.

Finally, what advice would you give to any aspiring illustrators reading this?
When I first started doing illustration at university, I had ZERO confidence. I really struggled to see any value in anything I made, and thought everyone must have been born with some ‘secret recipe’ for being so confident! I still think the recipe thing is a little true, but my advice would be to just make stuff and shove it wherever you can.

By this, I mean entering random competitions, submitting to open calls, make a cool poster and just stick them up around the city. Not only will this give you a bit of a boost mentally (because it’s really fun), but you also might get some people asking about your work and commissions.

@rosartz




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