Stephen Cheetham interview: coffee, curves and Parks & Recreation

London-based illustrator, designer and graphic artist Stephen Cheetham has found clients in Google, Wired, Creative Review, Penguin, Bloomberg and Oxford University, as well as contributing to Computer Arts. We caught up with him to see what makes him tick

Computer Arts: Describe your average working day ...
Stephen Cheetham
: I usually get up about 7.00am, then lie in bed and watch an episode of whatever series I'm currently into – Parks & Recreation, at the moment. Oh, April! Then a bowl of porridge, an espresso and sit down at my desk to work. I answer any emails that need replying to, then look at my list of things to do and get on with them. Lunch about 1.00pm, then back to work until I've finished what I need to do. Occasionally I'll venture outside for some biscuits from the local shop, if I've deserved them. Apart from that, work is broken up with tea breaks and deliberating what music to listen to.

CA: You keep an ideas book of words, rather than sketches. Why is that?
Well, there are little scribbles in my sketch book, but definitely more words. I can get my ideas down quicker on the computer than on a piece of paper. I can never sketch what I want to see with pens, but if I'm away from my computer I'll write a few words down just so I remember it. My sketch book is just a means of remembering things, nothing else.

CA: How have your illustrations changed since the beginning of your career?
My work is constantly changing and developing. I introduce different ways of drawing characters and shapes, and I'm currently playing with outlines and shadows, pushing myself and seeing where it goes. From the beginning until now, I guess the main difference is I've got better at curves. It's a lot cleaner now than it was at the beginning.

CA: What's the secret to great illustration?
There's no secret; you just have to try and produce work that you're happy with. Then, hopefully, other people will like it too.

CA: If you could choose one person – dead or alive – to illustrate you, who would it be and why?
It'd have to be Roger Hargreaves. I grew up with his artwork, and I'd love to be a Mr. Men character.

Check out more from Stephen on his website, Tumblr and Twitter.