Questioning Creatives


This article was written on 10 Dec 2012, and is filled under illustrators.

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Rowan Wendes

Hi, my name is Rowan Wendes. I am 26 and I live in South West London. I would say I have been an illustrator since I started making books in infant school. My mum is an artist who decided to focus on teaching instead. Both my parents gave me a lot of encouragement with art and my mum read me a LOT of stories. Especially The Little Mermaid, which was my favourite. It’s still a favourite story, and a long incubating project.

I loved to draw and write books with my best friend at infant school. They were the laminated paper version of the pretend play games we played, involving dragons and otters. At college I wanted to be an abstract artist.

As well as fine art, I studied sculpture. It was during my sculpture lessons that I was illustrating, because I wanted to show plans for very big surreal sculptures.

My pre-degree tutor loved my pen and ink drawings and recommended illustration at Kingston University to me. It was really at Kingston that I learnt what illustration is and can be, and I am still discovering how that relates to me. I probably always will be.

When did you decide you wanted to be illustrator?
My tutor kept whispering the word ‘illustration’ in my ear, whilst I worked on a circus project. I had also discovered ink at that time, and fell in love with it completely. Often my work is inspired by the materials themselves, and their sensual qualities. Reading about the illustration course at Kingston, I decided it was for me.

Would you recommend studying at art school?
If its what you want, go for it!

How long was it before illustration became your primary form of income?
It isn’t just yet. I work full time, and draw on my days off.

Could you describe your typical day?
My day job is stressful so when I am not working, I like to have a lie in. Then I will pack a bag and head out to draw whilst the light is still good. Recently I have wanted to draw shop fronts. I keep a look out for somewhere good to sit, with a good view. Then I get a coffee, and draw for about 2 -3 hours. When I get home I scan and Photoshop the images and share any I like online. Then I have dinner and work on other projects or watch TV.

What do you wish you’d know when you first started out? 
I wish I had known that I could succeed at other careers too.

What’s the best thing about being an illustrator?
Self expression and meditative states of mind. It makes the world more beautiful and keeps your memories safe. It doesn’t matter how old you are. You can draw at any age.

What’s the worst thing about being an illustrator?
It’s easy to become very solitary.

If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be?
A fine artist with an illustrative style!

Any other tips you could share?
Success is an internal thing. Listen to great music, read great books and lead an interesting life and that will be reflected in your work.

One Comment

  1. carol moore
    December 27, 2012

    hi rowan , very nice article .
    your paintings are amazing – glad you found your calling , and when you are snatched up with full time employment , you will never “work” another day , of your life !
    hope you and jim are having a great christmas and wishing you both a wonderful NY .
    new zealand is about the most dramatic scenery in the world, if you get the chance , you won’t regret coming here , plus the people are so happy , always ready to laugh and look at the bright side ! with love carol x

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