Bath-based illustrator Michael Cottage tells us more about today's image of the day, a unique take on the portfolio book
Computer Arts: Tell us about the project ...
Michael Cottage: I was so bored of trying to make the usual text-image-text-image thing interesting, and I realised that if putting together my portfolio was boring me, then it was probably going to bore those reading it. So I decided to tell a story with a narrative, which ran along side each piece of work, using comic strips to do so: a poster I designed with a lonely wombat on an unknown planet, researching UFO's on his PC, could sit nicely with a comic strip featuring me travelling to his planet in a space ship.
CA: How did you put the piece together?
MC: I always start everything with a pad and pencil, and build from there. Once I'm happy with an idea and how it's looking, I'll move on to laying ink over a final pencil drawing, then scan it in to Photoshop or Illustrator for colour and editing and whatever else it needs.
With the book, creating a short narrative for each piece of work and drawing it took absolutely ages – a lot longer than describing my work has ever taken before. I'd probably say that each strip took a couple of days to draw. I think that making the finished, printed book feel like one piece of work was the most challenging part, as it is a book made of snippets of other finished pieces. But that's where I think the story behind the whole thing helped the book take shape.
CA: How did you get into illustration?
MC: I've drawn since I was a kid, and,I suppose, I just never lost interest. I studied graphic arts and illustration at university and have kept drawing and designing ever since. It seems to be the thing I've always done. I would describe my style as quite clean but not necessarily precise. I generally draw from memory and don't get too caught up in making everything exact. People tend to think I make people I draw look a bit haggard and unhappy, and I think I agree with that.
Generally, I get inspired by seeing the amazing things that other people are doing. If I see a piece of work that makes me take a step back, then I'll usually find myself slumped at my desk for hours after, happily scribbling away. Most of my ideas come from daydreaming, or just thinking a bit too much about everything. I'm a bit of an over-analyser, so tend to run things around in my head, and find that a lot of ideas come from this. I might be unhappy about something and think, 'Imagine if this happened because of that.' Or, be ecstatic and want to design something nice, and then I'll just run with it and see what happens.
See more from Michael Cottage at wolfhead.co.uk