Lily Snowden-Fine Is a professional illustrator based in Toronto, Canada. She was born in London, England, then moved to Vancouver, Canada until moving again to Toronto to study illustration at OCAD University. As well as editorial illustration, Lily has worked in ceramics, jewellery, animation and painting.
Could you walk us through the process of creating an illustration from start to finish (phases, concept stage, finishing touches, etc.)?
I first read over the brief a few times with sketchbook at hand to jot down any quick ideas or key notes to focus on. I then draw out initial ideas and keep pushing different ways of looking at it or showing the same information in a new way until i feel excited about an idea. This stage can be days if I have the time, or a couple of hours if the turnaround is fast. I then pencil out the final at the right size but on cheap paper and use that to trace from over a lightbox. The paper I love doesn’t erase very well so tracing allows me to have a very clean final product as well as being able to move anything around or reference the sketch instead of covering it all up.
What is, in your opinion, the most underappreciated aspect of illustration?
I think illustration gets lumped into graphic design and people believe it is very commercial and that it lacks the same personal expression or quality that fine art does, but the work illustrators do is incredibly thoughtful and often involves a lot of self expression in the way they chose to present the information. Illustrators’ personal style and concepts are so creative and diverse and yet the information is delivered clearly. To me, that is very impressive and why I am constantly amazed by the minds of illustrators I love.
What kind of tools are used in crafting your images?
Gouache, black ink and sometimes pencil crayon.
How did you first start illustrating?
I’ve loved making things my whole life and have never been able to chose which type of artwork I want to make. I’ve loved everything I’ve tried including ceramics, jewellery, painting or making comics and books. I decided to study illustration because I thought it would give me a good base to better all of my interests. Illustration these days is not confined to only being on paper - it can be used for all types of products and I can work in many fields under the same umbrella.
Do you prefer to work on images one by one, or in groups/series?
Definitely one by one. The thing I love about illustration is that it is exciting, gets my mind going, and then is due before I have time to start questioning my decisions and scrapping everything I’ve done.
What’s your favourite illustration you’ve made? Can you walk us through the inspiration and process of creating it?
My favourite image is a riso print I did for TCAF because the process was new and I had a lot of fun trying to re-wire my brain to try this new style. The two-colour riso process forced me to have to think in a limited palette and how the colours interact when overlaid.
Where does your inspiration for images come from?
I find I am constantly finding inspiration from all over the place. I save images I come across that have an aspect I am drawn to and often go through the folder when I feel stuck or need a kick-start to sketching. I also love going to art galleries or finding vintage children’s books, collecting pieces of different images that inspire me to try something out.