Simon’s Inky Forest Illustrations Simon J Curd

© Tom Crabb

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Inktober, a challenge founded by Jake Parker to develop his inking skills and develop positive drawing habits, has grown into a worldwide phenomenon and now has thousands of artists all over the world taking part. Simon J Curd is an artist living in Nottingham England and is taking part as well. 

Where did your interest in drawing come from?
‘’When I was a child I used to draw a lot. I would draw knights, dragons, and all sorts of other fantasy creatures. I think I just enjoyed creating things. Apart from drawing, I would gather things I found around the house like broken electricals and turn them into spaceships. There was a big period of time where I didn’t draw, which was in high school. There was an art class I followed, but I didn’t find it that interesting.”

You have a particular style of drawing. Very detailed use of dot work and lining. How did you develop that style?
‘’I suppose it developed very naturally, without thinking about it too much. Thinking about how I draw wouldn’t be such a good idea. If I put too much thought into it I could start to worry that I should either add much more, or much less detail. A lot of other people’s work, that’s very different from mine, I really admire as well. The less I think about it, the less I question my instincts. Usually, I draw animals from photographs, and you want them to be as life like as possible, you want to depict the textures of their fur. Fine pen work is necessary when drawing realistic looking animals.’’

What does your process look like?
‘’Well, concerning the Inktober creatures, I first roughly sketch them without any real detail. When I get something I want to line, I use a pigment liner to go over it, but you do need to rub out the pencils lines early on, before too much ink is on the paper. If you don’t, your ink gets all smudged and ruins the drawing. So yeah, I first sketch the creature and go at it with the inking after.’’

I was looking at a drawing you made of a Jackalope and noticed you draw on a pretty small surface, in comparison to A4 paper. Why so?
‘’Yeah, that picture is about 15 by 10 centimetres. The thing is that I don’t get too much time for drawing because I have a fulltime job. If I’d draw on an A4 paper with this much detail it would take me weeks to finish something. Drawing small means I can make something with the same detail over a smaller period of time.’’

What does drawing mean to you?
 ‘’I’ve never really thought of that. I find it relaxing. When I come home from work and sit down I can work on my art for hours. It’s a form of escape-ism for me. Creating a new world to live in with creatures and places is definitely important to me.’’

You have a fulltime job as graphic designer, how did you get there?
‘’I work at company that sells computer and I design marketing materials for them. After high school, I studied physics of all things at a university. An academic study seemed like the most responsible thing to do. I didn’t want to get a job in physics after all, which isn’t really the intended outcome after years of studying. After that I followed a photography course taking pictures of animals, I got familiar with some of the Adobe design programs like Photoshop. That lead me to a career as freelance designer, which got me ending up where I’m now. You see I got there in a kind of roundabout way. My job is probably why I’m enjoying creating so much, I want to do that more.’’

Nature is returning factor in your drawings, how come?
‘’I think it’s because of me growing up and living in a city environment, and working in an office. Part of me finds nature appealing because it’s not around me all the time. It’s different from my usual environment. Nature has always been a liking of mine. As a kid I used to read my family’s natural history book. Out of all the books in our house I chose that book. I don’t know if it’d be any different if I grew up in a forest. It’s difficult to say if I would have the same appreciation for natural, organic things. I think I would.’’

Let’s talk about your recent Inktober drawings. You chose to do mythical creatures, why?
‘’I wanted to break away from reference material more. When drawing buildings, I didn’t need references because I could already imagine how it should look. However, when drawing animals, I use photographs. You want it to look like the animal on the picture. Because my Inktober creatures don’t exist they can look however I choose. I can rely on my imagination. Just like in my childhood, I still want to create my own thing. It’s still fun.’’

Inktober drawing number 26

Where do you get the ideas for your Inktober creatures?
‘’Every year there’s a prompt list made by Jake Parker. Last year I didn’t use the list and it took me quite a bit of time to decide what to draw, which is kind of a silly thing to spend a lot of time on. This year I am using the list to send me into the right direction a bit. I play around with the direction the list naturally takes you. For example, today’s (26th of October) keyword was squeak, which makes you think of a tiny, kind of cute creature. I thought it would be fun to draw the biggest, scariest monster I could think of and then make up a backstory for it, which is something I like doing too.

If you wish to see more of Simon J Curd’s work you can check out his Instagram page. We hope you will check out On-Art in the future again.

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