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  • Emma Venables

Q & A with Lawrence Gilson from Cosmos Illustrations: CASE STUDY

Emma jayne creative recently had the pleasure of working with Lawrence from Cosmos Illustrations to produce a children's book, mini zine and various marketing materials for his Little Spaceman series, which forms the bulk of his latest creative exhibition. Here, we chat to Lawrence and find out what inspired it all...

Lawrence of Cosmos Illustrations, with the finished children's book
Lawrence of Cosmos Illustrations, with the finished children's book

When did your passion for illustration start?

I would say that my passion for illustration has been present since my childhood. Growing up, I always loved comic art and illustrations used for animations as an avid Disney fan.

I admired people who were talented and could draw in such a perfect way, that it intimidated me, and I went through various stages of wanting to draw, giving up and wanting to draw again.

When I was studying as an undergraduate for my BA, I felt that drawings had to be perfect or else there was no point. As I progressed through my studies, that anxiety over drawing increased and declined, until I decided that enjoyment was better than perfectionism.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love that I can create worlds and narrative, with the freedom to explore concepts such as mental health and autism. I have always been inspired by the world of Disney and Harry Potter, where you are introduced to characters, their backstories, and their lives. Now, I have the skill sets and tools to create my own worlds, where characters have their own origins and story arcs, and I can combine my love of illustration, animation, and creative writing to inform and influence my practice.

Is your education background in illustration, or are you self-taught?

I have an UAL extended Diploma in Illustration, but the style of illustration I was doing then is very different to what I create and produce now. In college, I was still struggling with the concept of drawing having to be perfect and I mostly created 3D illustration, using very little drawing, with photo montage and collage.

After I began my undergraduate degree, illustration took a backseat for a long time as I had started to learn more 3D skill sets like 3D CAD modelling and printing. However, my 3D work always focused on narrative, and I think for most of my degree, I was very confused what it is that I wanted to do. I feel that although my level 3 extended Diploma was in Illustration, that I actually learnt a lot more about myself as an illustrator and illustration during my year break between my 2nd to final year in university, which I was able to apply for my degree show.

What was your inspiration for the Little Spaceman series?

I never had a plan for The Little Spaceman (TLS) series when I first began illustrating them. TLS at first, was just a way to enjoy my creative freedom and explore different ideas and drawing styles. But when I started to illustrate The Little Spaceman more, character origins and development came to exist because I felt a resonance with The Little Spaceman.

It was months later, that I realised where that resonance came from. I was creating worlds that were big and overwhelming, because that is how I have internally felt my entire life. The Little Spaceman was the narrative to self-discovery, as I realised, I was likely on the autistic spectrum.

A spread from the Little Spaceman children's book. Illustrated by Lawrence of Cosmos Illustrations and designed by Emma jayne creative,
A spread from the Little Spaceman children's book. Illustrated by Lawrence and designed by Emma jayne creative

What is the biggest lesson you have learned?

Drawing and illustrating does not have to be perfect, neat or represent what other people consider ‘perfect art’. Any form of art is an embodiment and extension of yourself, your personality, ideas, and your truth. I have also learned to never be afraid to experiment, to explore and to have fun with what you are creating, even if it is seen as ‘imperfect’.

What has been your hardest challenge so far?

Honestly, my biggest obstacle is genuinely myself. I am very logical and think in a one-mindset sort of way (everything is either black or white) and if I decide that something is not great, then there is no convincing me otherwise. So, I would say my hardest challenge has been adapting to new ways of working to accommodate my autism and building up my self-esteem, to trust in myself, that what I have ‘put out’ there is good enough.

What made you want to work with Emma jayne creative to put together your children’s book and your marketing materials?

I have previously worked with Emma jayne creative for a second-year brochure in university. I found that project enjoyable and Emma was easy to work with. I had no clue what I was doing, and as a creative collaboration, Emma had a lot of patience with me. I loved the quality of the brochure, so I decided that Emma was the perfect person to make my vision become a reality. It started with a logo design, and from that, I was so happy that I discussed business cards, postcards, and the children’s book. Emma’s eye for aesthetics, design, and quality resulted in the perfectly made children’s book as well as my advertising materials.

Why did you choose the print finishes you did? (Soft touch, spot uv etc)

I am a very tactile-seeking person as part of my autism, and I wanted the work to be eclectic, as my degree show project was about my own experiences of being on the spectrum and suffering mental health.

As a result, I wanted the textures of my business cards leaving people wanting to touch them and engage with them, to experience how I feel when I am touching pleasant, tactile objects. Therefore, I chose soft touch, with spot UV to create a sensory experience when holding my business cards.

Business cards designed by Emma jayne creative, featuring spot touch lamination and spot UV
Business cards designed by Emma jayne creative, featuring soft touch lamination and spot UV

How did you find the process of working with Emma?

Working with Emma these past two years has been incredible. She is very understanding; patient and I never seem to be waiting long for first to second drafts after putting down the initial deposit for the work requested. Emma is also quick and has ways of making your work look even more fabulous, with clever ways of design and aesthetics. I would recommend Emma jayne creative to anyone looking for a visual/graphic arts artist as she always does such a fabulous job.

Stickers, illustrated by Lawrence and designed by Emma jayne creative.
Stickers, illustrated by Lawrence and designed by Emma jayne creative.

What is your proudest moment so far?

I feel I have achieved far more than I ever expected too, this past year. I managed to get my grades up almost two classifications and I have been accepted for lots of exciting opportunities this year, too. I am very proud of finishing my undergraduate degree after six years. I had a lot of obstacles with my health, but I did it and I am extremely proud of myself.

Is there anything you wish someone had told you at the beginning of your journey and what advice would you give for other aspiring illustrators? At the beginning, I wish perfectionism were not so enforced as it strayed me from doing what I loved for a very long time. Nothing needs to be perfect, and a lot of the time my characters are not in proportion to that of ‘perfect’ standards. It has become a large part of my own style and I love it. My advice would be to stay true to yourself, do not try to fit yourself into a box that others deem is the only form of illustration. Also, experiment, play and have fun with what you are creating is so important for your practice. Focus on developing your own style and do not try to make your work match someone else’s style. Artwork is all about expression of self and the freedom to visually explore who you are, so take a subject or something that you are interested in or passionate about and start drawing.

Where do you hope to go next and what is your ultimate goal?

I have been very fortunate as a graduate to have been accepted into such amazing opportunities that are coming up throughout this year. I am exhibiting and selling my artwork at Bristol’s brand-new Pride CAF (Comic Art Festival) in September in Bristol, I have been accepted into Employ Autism, which is sponsored by Cardiff Metropolitan University, Ambitious About Autism and Santander as way to help autistic individuals gain paid work placements.

I am currently in communication with my work placement advisor, discussing internships at small animation studios in Cardiff, which as a disabled student, has been fantastic because I am only capable of doing one day a week due to my fibromyalgia. My artwork is on display in the Wales Millennium Centre, as part of an exhibition curated by Aubergine Café, who are an autistic and LGBT+ ran business in Cardiff. I am currently in the process of writing an application to Madeline Millburn Agency, for their mentorship program for writers and authors, which is very exciting. I am applying to publishers to see if I can get The Adventures of The Little Spaceman published, and I am also applying for more exhibitions throughout the year.

My goal is to become a freelance illustrator and animator, as well as being a published author. I am currently working towards this through everything I am applying for, and also starting my Masters in Illustration & Animation in September.

The marketing materials produced for the Little Spaceman series are a great example of a brand being applied consistently across multiple pieces. Items designed by Emma jayne creative included the logo and brand colour palette, business cards, stickers, postcards, children's book, mini zine and artist's book.

All illustrations © Cosmos Illustrations.

For more information about working with Emma to produce stand out marketing materials, get in touch here.


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