Q + A with Melanie Chadwick
Melanie Chadwick is an illustrator living in Cornwall, UK. As an active artist, she hosts Creative Conversations and Sketchwalk Workshop in Porthleven. Follow her on Instagram to see her daily sketches of the Cornwall area!
1. How did you get into illustration?
I graduated back in 2002 with a degree in Fine Art specialising in textiles and installation (basically creating creative spaces with found objects, fabric sculptures and photographs) and really enjoyed my time studying and learning new things. However like a lot of fine art graduates at the time, working out how to make a living from what you love to do is a tricky one and the path to where I am now hasn't been without its ups and downs.
We lived in Hong Kong from 2006-2008 and it was during that time that I was switched on to illustration and design as so many shopping malls and places had elements of decoration and colour. When we moved back to the UK I was determined to explore illustration more and started drawing and creating work- financially supporting myself through running art parties and art teaching. We moved from Aberdeen to Falmouth in February 2011 and it was there that my illustration career really started going and I gained illustration work purely through showing my porfolio and reaching out to people. I have recently moved twice in the space of 10 months first to Porthleven where I started my current sketchbook habit and am now living in Mullion, a beautiful village right on the Lizard Peninsula of Cornwall.
2. You create many of your images from real life. What is your creative process?
I love to observe and study things around me so when it comes to creating a new piece I like to know what it is that I'm drawing and will try to find the real thing. However if that isn't possible I will seek out a variety of reference images to give me a good idea. Sketching everyday has helped immensely in building up a mental library of references and I love to use my sketchbooks for inspiration too.
3. You run Sketchwalk Workshop in Porthleven. What has this experience been like for you?
This is the first summer of running these sketchwalk workshops in Porthleven and so far I've been enjoying the experience of taking small groups of people around, sketching as we go. It's amazing how easy it is to miss details when you're rushing around. These sketchwalks force participants to slow down and observe everything in their path. We draw a variety of things, from groups of objects, to shop fronts, landscapes, signposts and buildings and I encourage people to use their sketchbooks like visual diaries and log their thoughts as well as the date and time of each sketch.
4. What is the one thing you struggle with the most as an artist?
Sometimes I struggle with persevering with a project once I've passed the initial excitement of starting something new especially if I'm not seeing what I want to see or I realise it is going to take a lot longer than I originally thought. I work best in short bursts and need to have variety- I think that's why I enjoy sketching so much. I can immerse myself for 30-40 minutes in the work and then move on, however, the beauty with having a sketchbook habit is that it grows into a larger project, without a lot of effort other than the short period of time you commit each day.
5. What's next for you in 2018?
I have a couple of things in mind for 2018. I would like to publish my Porthleven sketches into a postcard book and am currently looking at how feasible this is. Secondly I've recently bought a concertina sketchbook and would like to sketch the villages on the Lizard Peninsula (where I live) and include maps, signs, interesting buildings, flowers and boats, and hopefully at the end of summer I will have a beautiful illustrated book of Cornish landscape and life to share.