How did you get involved in the project?
I have previously worked with the director Clive Judd at the Watermill Theatre and he got in contact to let me know there was an opportunity to do some illustrations for a show. We arranged a meeting to discuss the themes of the play and some of the ideas he had. I read through the script and thought it was fantastic so I was really keen to get involved.
Can you tell us about the illustrations?
What fascinated me from the beginning was that the illustrations had to be in the style of a child’s drawing but they also needed to tell the story at the same time. The images had to have that emotional intelligence that children have, but may not always manage to express in drawings – I had to try and merge the two together somehow.
Sometimes a child’s drawing can say so much more than an adult’s and it was just deciding what parts of the child’s style that I should use and what aspects of them would work well with the text. The play is a very emotive piece and I wanted to show the emotions of the characters and use expressions but of course from a young child’s perspective, you probably wouldn’t be able to show that in a drawing so much.
There were a lot of challenges that were really exciting and appealing and I love children’s drawings so the research element was great fun!
What kind of research did you do?
I used to draw all the time when I was little so I looked at my own work from when I was tiny and one of the things that stuck in my head from when I was about 2 or 3, much younger than the character in the play, was that I used to do stick drawings with tiny bodies and massive hands with legs and arms going off everywhere and mad faces, just scribbled drawings.
I look up a lot of child’s drawings on the internet too and one of the things I love is that the colours are always vibrant and they often draw monsters and aliens again with these big exaggerated features.
I love how all the limbs in both my own work and other children’s are out of proportion but there is a confidence in the pictures that adults don’t always have in their work. I thought it would be fantastic if I could try and bring back the confidence and those exaggerated proportions somehow.
Can you tell us about the character of Mark, Captain Amazing?
Mark doesn’t really give anything away in the way he is with other people but when he does it is very subtle, little glimmers of who he is.
Therefore I needed him to be less expressive than other characters in the images which is why I decided to draw him with dark circles for eyes rather than typical children’s eyes which are big and pop out.
By doing dark circles for eyes you could add circles that ran off for when he is tired or upset. You could emphasis a little and get away with it and it still be in the style of a child!
You’ve seen the preview of the show what was it like?
Really fantastic! I was so excited to work on this – everyone is so brilliant at what they have done. When I was given the script there was just so much I could work with, every line was fantastic and gave me a real insight into what the character needed to look like and the style of the piece. Clive had a really clear vision on what he wanted to do and he sent me images and music which I could feed into the drawings and seeing Mark perform it and still managing to make me cry after all the work we have done on it is just amazing. Mark’s performance is incredible and the emotions he brings into this very discreet character are remarkable. It was a wonderful experience and really rewarding to see it put together, I really loved it.
Captain Amazing is on at Live Theatre until Saturday 13 April. Tickets cost £14 to £10 with concessions from £5 and can be booked online or via the box office on (0191) 232 1232.