Winsor & Newton recently had the pleasure of partnering with The Association of Illustrators to sponsor The World Illustration Awards. Hundreds of entrants at all levels took part from all over the world. We were inspired by the sheer talent showcased, so we decided to get to know some of the artists better.
We’ll be bringing you a selection of our favourite illustrators, sharing stories from their background, to what inspires them and how they have stayed creative in trying times.
Introducing Xavier Segers, an illustrator from Belgium and winner of the Professional Site Specific Category.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, what inspired you to become an illustrator?
I’m an illustrator from Antwerp, Belgium and I have been living in London for the last 6 years. My background is in graphic design and I usually freelance for advertising and design agencies.
Over the last few years, I’ve been getting more and more requests for illustrations. It’s been a great way to unfold a part of myself that I haven’t focused on for a long time. I love that I can alternate between graphic design and illustration. It feels like a natural fit for me doing the two, and on some occasions, they can strengthen each other
Tell us about your experience throughout this competition. What inspired you to enter? How did you create your winning piece?
It was the first time I entered a competition like this, so I was super thrilled that I made it all the way to the end. Being longlisted and shortlisted was already an amazing accomplishment. I entered because I really believed in my project. I put a lot of time and effort into it, but also it was a great example of how two unlikely creative worlds can work together. The traditions of opera and storytelling with the new technologies of augmented reality. You can see the project here.
What is your favourite colour and why?
I don’t have a favourite colour, but a rich, deep emerald green certainly captivates me. It’s a colour that has always had a magnetic power over me. It reminds me of a luscious jungle, of otherworldly opulence and spirituality.
What is your favourite medium to work with and why?
I usually work digitally. With a drawing tablet, I create my illustrations directly on my laptop. I love getting my hands dirty too, like making textures with inks and paint to add depth to my digital illustrations. It really adds something extra to my creations.
What would be your advice to artists and illustrators who are just starting out / learning?
Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. It was trying different things that lead to me finding out what I really like doing. Sometimes it’s good to lose control and to be more intuitive. Also, get in touch with an online creative community, to learn from and support each other.
Do you have a typical routine you follow when you start a new piece; if so, what is it?
I don’t have a standard routine, but I do treat smaller one-off illustrations differently to bigger integrated illustration projects. For bigger projects, I try to plan all the required steps so I can tick all the boxes needed to bring it to a successful end. Making mood and colour boards help too!
What inspires your work?
I have enormous love and respect for nature. It’s such an endless visual treasure chest of amazing patterns, colour combinations and textures. From when I was a child, I loved walking through wetlands, forests and botanical gardens. I enjoyed observing little details of plants and insects. This certainly has made a mark on me and inspired me to make my own botanical creations.
How did you stay active and creative through 2020?
I try to treat the 2020 lockdowns as cocoons. A moment in my life that I can really focus on my personal work and see how I can reinvent myself. It was also a great time to work and do things for charities.
What is your favourite W&N product to work with and why?
I love using Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks. Because I mainly work digitally, creating textures with drawing inks is really a treat. It’s a very liberating and fun way to get awesome results. By playing around and making the vibrant colours wash and bleed together, you can get very organic textures.
If you want to see more of Xavier’s work check out his website here.