In the Studio: Peter Greenwood

Brighton, UK

Peter Greenwood’s graphic style and bold colour tone has been utilized by many high-profile clients. Working cleverly with perspective and negative space, his concepts offer a dynamic viewpoint on a wide variety of subjects.

From iconographic jets to movements within music, your work offers a strong vector style across your portfolio. How would you convey your illustration in five words?

Iconic, graphic, humorous, chromatic and vectorised.

Working in Brighton must be an incredibly inspiring place with a joint studio! What do you find, for your illustrative work, are the pros and cons to working within a collective space?

Being in a collective space has a very positive effect on my work. To be able to chat about various subjects including inspirations, ideas, colour and composition as well as the everyday is very valuable indeed. We all get on well and have pub and gig outings and a Christmas meal to look forward to. It’s a mix here of mostly illustrators and designers there are three large rooms with about 15 of us. It’s an old 1930’s building that was part of the Brighton Technical College in the centre of Brighton. We all work as freelancers in different areas of illustration: from editorial through to children books. So there is a lot of experience floating around, I feel lucky to be here.

Cons: too much laughing and chatting. No I’m joking, as far as I can tell there are no cons only pros.

Pick three things that are most valuable to you in your working studio in Brighton and explain to us why you have chosen those and what story there is behind them.

My first would be my Wacom Cintiq! It has changed the way I work its very easy to use and makes the process so quick, accurate and easy. It’s like having a massive iPad to work on.

I have two sketchbooks that belonged to my Grandfather. He was an architect and was at art school in Manchester in the 20’s. The beautiful life drawings that he created are an on ongoing inspiration to me and are something I have kept near me all my life.

My cardboard letters that spell “IDIOT” remind me of my favourite valuable quote “everyone knew it was impossible, except for one idiot who went ahead and did it” Marcel Pagnol, film maker 1895-1974.

What are the first three initial steps that you take when a commissioner approaches you for an illustration project?

I like to find out which Illustrations of mine they have engaged with and find interesting, this can help in knowing which approach to take. I like to make contact in a friendly, enthusiastic way and find out what the requirements for the commission are. And thirdly, once I have the details I will look around for inspiration, be it from my old sketchbooks or my books, it might be photos or old Polish posters, that usually gets the ball rolling.

You’re a busy creative through entering competitions and becoming a successful winner in many! How do you feel working towards competitions is beneficial for your work?

I believe that creating my own personal work is very important. I connect with the things I’m very passionate about and put this into the illustrations I create for myself. Hopefully through this process there is a universal element to my work that people enjoy; I know I do. I want to showcase this work and get an industry perspective on it, so I enter competitions. If I get in, I feel an acceptance and approval from my industry, which you can’t beat.

Who and what keeps you inspired?

I’m inspired by a lot of things. Last year I went to a day workshop in London with James Victore, the Brooklyn based designer and Fearless Educator (as he calls himself). In the workshop we had to do various things but the highlight was pretending to be Muhammed Ali “fists in the air” and at the end, all of us had to dance to Michael Jackson, genius! His approach to releasing your inner creative is very inspiring . . . Other inspirations include Saul Bass, Rene Grau, Paul Rand, David Hockney and Ralph Steadman. At the moment I’m really into certain blogs especially the Graphilately Instagram feed.

With an extensive client list, you’ve worked your vector magic within the branding world having recently worked with MOMA Bircher Cereal for their new packaging. Which sector would you now like to direct your work towards and conquer?

I’ve got a massive obsession with music; both live and recorded, so anything music related would be great.

Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you…

I’m related to William Heath Robinson. I grew up with his work all around me and he was a big inspiration for me to be an illustrator from an early age. When I was 14, I painted a large mural of his Spaghetti testing factory illustration on the wall of our kitchen using Humbrol enamel paint and a very small brush, my first self-initiated commission. He is a total genius. I love his sense of space and humour.