“Art without a client.”
That’s how Lucy Adelaide describes her work. She draws her inspiration from personal experiences to create brave and honest illustrations nearly everybody can relate to. Whether they’re cute, gross or both, you’ll want to be friends with every character she conceives.
We caught up with Lucy to chat her old notes, an artist’s role and overcoming a creative block.
From spongy boobies to free willies, Lucy Adelaide illustrates the musings of the everyday like nobody’s business.
HAPPY: How would you describe your work to someone who’s never seen it?
LUCY: I always find it quite hard to describe my work to others, when people ask about it I usually just pull out my phone and show them. I guess I’d call it quite cartoonish, which is something I occasionally beat myself up about because I see other illustrators who are making a living from just illustration and their work is beautiful and understated and expressive, and mine is kind of… brash.
But then I think about the people who influenced me as I was growing up and drawing – Terry Denton, Ralph Steadman, David Shrigley, Reg Mombassa – and I can still see all those influences in my work. I’d still call those people some of my biggest influences today. So really I am happy with the style I’ve carved out for myself over the past few years. The fact that I find it hard to describe is surely a good thing.
HAPPY: Your work is quite critical. Where do you draw inspiration?
LUCY: It’s funny because I’m always telling myself that my work should be more critical, and I should focus more on current affairs. I would say 50 percent of the time I’m drawing from my own experiences or from conversations I have with friends, the rest of the time I’ll just draw some stupid thought that comes up in my head. Inspiration comes from anywhere. I’ve got tonnes of notes on my phone of things that popped up and I thought would make a good drawing, usually with no context or further information. Here are some old notes:
- WORM BALL
- family gangs?
- one strand of spaghetti is called a spaghetto
They’re still sitting in my phone, waiting to be turned into something more. They probably never will. Lately it’s become more of a goal of mine to create work that is more critical of culture and current affairs. I’m very interested in the effects of climate change so would like to do a series on that next.
HAPPY: Do you use art as a form of protest?
LUCY: Sometimes. When I started drawing and putting my work online I definitely didn’t. And even now I’d say I create work to protest something only half of the time. That’s the great thing about art without a client. You can do and say anything you want with no one to answer to. In my day job I work as an art director in advertising, which is the exact opposite.
I find work for a client much harder and more taxing. So I guess I use my own art to get my head out of work and everything else in my life. Whether that ends up as a protest of something, or a worm ball, probably just depends on what day it is.
HAPPY: Describe your creative process. What are the major steps?
LUCY: Usually when I sit down to draw I already have an idea in my head, probably something that came to me in a conversation. If I’ve got a new brief and I need ideas I’ll usually do some research. Research is one of my favourite parts of tackling a new brief, especially if it’s something super interesting, I’ll just immerse myself in it for a while. I usually chat to others about it too. If I need some visual inspiration I like going through tumblr and Instagram. There’s so much cool stuff out there and it’s not hard to find online. I bloody love the internet.
HAPPY: What resources and techniques do you use?
LUCY: A pencil, a solid 0.8 black ink pen, a scanner and photoshop. That’s it. I don’t really use any special techniques or anything… I don’t know any special techniques. I sketch up my drawing with pencil until I’m happy, then go over it with a black pen. Scan it, then clean up and colour using photoshop. I love colouring my work in photoshop ‘cause I can get my colour palette exactly right. I usually change the palette three to four times before I get it to a place where I’m happy.
HAPPY: Do you ever experience a mental block? If so, how do you gain inspiration?
LUCY: Oh god every day. I feel like I’m in a constant state of mental block until I get a sudden spark of inspiration. I’m most inspired when I look at amazing work by other people – an art exhibition, a movie or TV show, a book. Going to talks is really inspiring, hearing other people’s stories and witnessing their drive and passion can do a lot.
I often forget this and go through periods where I’m not inspired at all. I go to work and try to be creative then I come home and have absolutely no drive. Instead I’ll watch old episodes of Rupaul’s Drag Race and wonder why I’m not having any good ideas anymore. But as soon as you witness an amazing piece of art it all comes flooding back again.
HAPPY: How do you want people to respond to your art?
LUCY: In as many ways as possible, as long as there’s some kind of response. As long as it makes them feel something. A few weeks ago I sold some work at a market stall and a lot of people were coming up to my table and making disgusted faces at some of my work. I liked that. That’s one of my ideal responses, that and laughter.
HAPPY: What do you think is the role of an artist in todays society?
LUCY: Is there a specific role for an artist to play? It’s important that art reflects and criticises society, we need the voices of all different types of people telling their stories through art. But art can be more trivial than that. With the internet we can make or say anything we want and there will be an audience somewhere. I like that.
HAPPY: Do you ever want to pursue your illustrations as your main job?
LUCY: That’s the dream.
Lucy Adelaide has been the artist behind Happy Mag’s last two gig posters. They’re as juicy as it gets and we couldn’t be more thankful. Check out the latest below:
And if you’re in Sydney, come join us at the party.