Monochrome Designs of Johanna Basford

Posted at 11 pm on December 6, 2009 by

Posted in: Fabric Design, Ink Illustration, Linear Illustration, Pens and Markers, Photoshop

I’m happy to talk to Scottish designer and illustrator Johanna Basford for this feature who’s pattern work is outstanding. She has a host of awards and has had her black and white pattern designs used by clients like the BBC, the V&A, The Body Shop and Hendricks Gin.

Her detailed and controlled work exhibits a very finely tuned drawing skill with a strong natural element to them.

Johanna has answered a few questions about her style and process for us.



How did you first get into illustrating in the style that you are now known for?

I began working with intricate, hand drawn pen images at art school in my final year. I was studying textiles and whilst everyone else seemed to be creating digitally manipulated images, or bold graphical silhouettes with lots of flat colour.

I decided I wanted to do something different. My style of work was born out of an attempt to make my work different to my contemporaries at the time.


How do you go about planning and developing your typical inked piece?

Every piece is different, but if I know the outline shape of the design, circle, heart, square etc, I draw that out first. I then start filling in the shape, working in pencil first before going over the lines with fine liner pen.

I sometimes draught out where large elements are going to to be placed such as birds or big blossoms, but generally its a fairly organic creative process and I just start from a point and the design grows to fit the shape.


I work with layout paper, pencils and a lot of fineliner pens. After I’ve created the pen and ink drawing, I scan it into Photoshop and do any tweaking / sharpening / flipping I need to do before finishing the piece.


‚ďí Johanna Basford, 2009

What are you working on at the moment?

A Christmas Card design for a large high street store, illustrations and brand identity for a new luxury spa opening in London and 3 large hand painted canvases for a cocktail bar.

That sounds excellent Johanna, thank you.

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