Artist of the Week: Michaela Pointon

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Michaela Pointon works under the quirky moniker of Marti Illustrations. Influenced by mid century design, her drawings are simplicity at its finest. She combines her love of travel and a vintage flair to produce distinctive illustrations that hark back to the golden age of coastal retreats and cocktail parties. We caught up with her to chat Tom and Jerry, growing up in Southport and what 2017 holds in store.

For those who don't know, can you tell us a bit about who you are and the work you produce.

My name is Michaela and I'm a freelance Illustrator (also known as Marti) based in North London. The work I produce comes from years of indulging in cartoons and colouring books so it's very playful, and quite nostalgic! Colour plays a huge part in the work that I do and so I tend to have a lot of fun on the projects I work on which makes me feel extremely lucky.

What made you take the plunge into freelancing full time?

I graduated from The Glasgow School of Art in 2012 and had been fortunate to fall straight into full-time work with an amazing company called Newspaper Club. They were a huge influence on me during the time I spent there so it wasn't an easy decision to move away from that.

Illustrating was something I had always committed to in the background, and I think I wanted more of that in my everyday life and realised the only way I could do that in a way which would make a difference was to delve into the unknown whilst the opportunity was there. It was probably one of the biggest decisions I've had to make so far, but ultimately one of the best.

You say that you're hugely influenced by travel. Which place(s) have you travelled to that have had the biggest influence on your work?

I have had some amazing moments in Spain over the last few years and I'm already itching to go back, but I guess the most important so far has been Southport, the town I grew up in. It's a small seaside town in Merseyside, where for a long time not much had changed since the 1960s so it always felt like it was stuck in time! There are lots of places I'd love to visit, but for inspiration time travel is sometimes the best way to get about.

You've said that with illustration you can tell a story through a brush stroke. Which stories are you trying to convey through your work?

It depends on the job really, if it's editorial then the content already plays a big part in the message you want to get across, which is always a great challenge - with personal projects sometimes it's nice to let the brush decide! I usually opt for big bold colours and something that I hope will make people smile.

A little birdie told us that you wrote your dissertation on the Festival of Britain, what design aspects do you love so much from the exhibition?

Yes! I realised so much of the design and architecture that I love had in some way stemmed from or had been inspired by the festival, so when I first discovered what it was I couldn't get enough of it. The attitudes towards how design should appear and function for everyday use were so relevant, and still are. I get a lot of joy out of the simple things and love how much impact they can have.

Which are your favourite techniques and mediums to incorporate into your work?

Colour plays a major part in my work, so I would say my colour pallet is one of my most treasured tools!

How do you find working by hand differs from digital illustration?

I love how precise you can be with digital illustration, especially for printing. A lot of the jobs I've worked on recently have been editorial and working digitally makes a big difference to time when making alterations.

I used to work solely by hand, but over time my brushes have sadly been cast aside. I hate to admit that because it's something I never want to lose touch with.There's just something about traditional illustration that you don't get through using a tablet or a piece of software. Beautiful things can be achieved when you get the perfect balance of both, it's a real skill - Satoshi Hashimoto's work is a perfect example of that, I absolutely adore his work!

You're influenced by the simplicity of mid-century design. What is it about this vintage approach to design and illustration that you love so much?

How things communicate to us when we use them can make the world of difference and I think experience plays a big part in mid-century design. The big bold colours and simple shapes are a real treat.

You say the playful aspect of cartoons is something that you would love to incorporate into your work. What do you like so much about them and which are your favourite? We hear you're a sucker for Tom and Jerry.

Tom and Jerry is right up there on my list, Solid Serenade is probably one of my all time favourites!

UPA also made some stunning animations and TV ads during their time. I spent endless hours feasting on cartoons when I was growing up and it's amazing how much impact they can have -a good story with bursts of colour and loveable characters make for the perfect cocktail.

Who are your favourite artists/illustrators from the 1950s-'60s period?

Hmm It's hard to pick favourites, as there are so many! Fredun Shapur's illustrations and toys are incredibly beautiful and modern. I would really love to have more of his items at home. Mary Blair has also been a huge female inspiration over the years. Paul Rand and Miroslav Sasek also get regular readings before bed!

Any exciting projects on the horizon?

I've been busy working on my first children's book which I'm hoping to have finished by Easter, it's something I'd wanted to get started for a long time, so it's been great finally seeing that beginning to take shape.

I'm really excited to see what 2017 holds, hopefully some nice collaborations and exciting projects ahead - I'll also be opening up a shop on my website in the New Year so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!

Keep up with Michaela on Instagram or visit her website. Interview by Danielle Morgan.