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Beach Meets: Stella Murphy

We first came across Stella’s work at the Brighton Illustration Fair a few years back, and were instantly taken by her bold, colourful and nostalgic illustrations. Inspired by old-school comics, Stella’s work has been featured in The Face magazine, Ace & Tate, alongside multiple album covers. We caught up with Stella, to find a bit more about her work and to see how things are going during isolation…

Hey Stella, how’s the self-isolation going?

It’s been alright for the most part. To be honest I’m definitely a home body and I like alone time so I don’t think the restrictions are affecting me so much. It’s been hard not seeing friends and family though.

What’s the best thing about isolation?

Having loads of time to work on my drawing. My favourite thing used to be working at a picture for ages until I get them just how I like them. I haven’t had time to do this for a while as freelance jobs usually have to take priority.

What’s the worst thing about isolation?

Not being able to give my Mum a hug!

Has Covid-19 affected your work in any way?

Freelance work has slowed way down and I’m having to chase up invoices more. Luckily, I had a part-time job before all of this so that’s keeping me afloat. Usually, I’m part of a residency programme by HQI where I have desk space in a shared studio, but this has had to close for the lockdown. Now I share the desk with my sister at home which is still a nice set-up.

Is there anything you would recommend to fellow creatives, to help get them through these weird times?

I would say if you can, use the slower pace to make the work that you want to make. That said there is a lot of pressure at the moment to be productive all the time and when your work is at home you can’t really ‘leave’ work. I think it’s important to switch off from any form of work, and to not feel guilty for doing this. Also, the news is terrifying so maybe don’t watch it before bed.

We love the bold illustrative and nostalgic imagery that features throughout your work, is there any particular inspiration to this?

Visually, I draw a lot of inspiration from comics such as the Beano, and underground magazines from the 60s/70s such as Oz magazine. I think I’m naturally drawn to things from that era as the colours are so garish and the imagery feels really liberated and surreal. I’m also really into caricature etching art from the late 1800’s at the moment, the line work is seriously impressive

What’s the creative process behind your illustrations?

I might have a vague idea of what I want to draw in my head before, or I’ll see if there’s anything I can use from my sketchbook. I have quite a lot of small quick, instinctual drawings often from passing thoughts, overheard conversations or from TV etc. I also have a big folder on my computer too where I magpie collect any pictures I find interesting. So I might see there if there’s a particular colour-way or technique that I’ve seen that I want to steer my sketches towards. I draw everything in pencil first then ink it up by hand. Then I scan it and work on the image on computer. I’ll spend ages colouring the drawing digitally, cleaning up lines and creating textures, trying different colour combinations and compositions. They can be quite intensively worked on until I’m happy with the final image.

What’s an average working day like for you?

I usually get up early-ish and go for a run or go swimming. I need the structure and exercise otherwise I find I go a bit floppy the rest of the day. Then I go to my studio in White City that I’m really fortunate to share with some super talented visual and recording artists. It’s always nice to catch up with people to see what they’re working on or I might float some ideas if I’ve got a new project on too. I’ll toodle about on the computer, and get down to whatever it is that needs doing but there isn’t really a particular order to this. I’m quite a slow worker and get distracted easily so I usually clock-off around 6/7.

Do you have any good Netflix binge recommendations for self-isolation?

I prefer films and I miss going to the cinema since lockdown so here are 10 of my favourite movies that are on Netflix at the minute:

1. The Guilty
2. Good Time
3. I,Tonya
4. Lady bird
5. Blackfish
6. When Harry met sally
7. Mid 90s
8. True Romance
9. The boy Who Harnessed the Wind
10. Fighting With My Family

And finally, have you gained any new hobbies while being self-isolated?

I’ve been doing the lockdown classics; planting seeds, baking.  That’s it actually. I’m getting along okay with the baking but haven’t managed to get a hold of self-raising flour in the shops yet. The supply I have at home is 3 years old so I’m not getting that Mary Berry rise on my sponge cakes which is disappointing but I guess there’s still time.

Thanks Stella! 

Check out Stella’s site here.