Sune Watts

Sune Watts

Sune Watts Interview

Sune Watts

Children's Illustrator

Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?

I loved drawing from an early age, and was encouraged by my parents. In school, I was scolded for always drawing during class, so there is some irony that I am making a living doing just that. I started selling work at 16 years of age, and have never looked back.

Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?

Yes, I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Illustration from The Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. It was a four-year program, in a vibrant art school where I rubbed shoulders with silversmithing and photography students to mention just a few.

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Where do you currently live and where did you grow up?

I live just north of Copenhagen. I grew up in Danish countryside, and also lived in London and Scotland. I love the English-speaking world, but feel primarily Scandinavian.

Who or what have been some of your major artistic influences?

So many. I love the Danish illustrator Ib Antoni, with his wonderful twist on a midcentury modern geometric style. These days, scrolling through Instagram is like drinking from a firehose - there are so many talented artists out there.

What was your first commission as a professional illustrator?

I've drawn for a living since I was 16 years old, and I honestly don't recall my first commission. But I fondly remember illustrating Danish school books while I was still in art school.

Talk us through the process of creating one of your latest illustrations or books.

I research a lot - drawing sheet after sheet in pencil, in order to understand the subject. After that I draw a bunch of thumbnails, and work them up in size iteratively on the light box. At this point, I'll submit a colour rough to my editor or client for feedback. After edits and corrections, I pencil the final, scan it into Photoshop and work up the final piece in line and colour.

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Take us behind the scenes and describe your studio / workspace.

My shared studio space is way cozy. Reference books line the walls, and my picture frames get recent work rotated into them regularly. My lightbox is the cornerstone tool, as I am most loose and creative in pencil on paper. I love music, and work with tunes playing on my desk monitors or headphones.

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What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

"Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard" - that old saw has been stated in a number of ways, and reminds me in a world where the idea of 'talent' is sometimes overvalued, to put in the hours of necessary practice. Or to rework a finished piece to make it just a tad better.

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