Balancing Complex Collages with Eleanor Shakespeare

Only a few years after finishing her studies, Eleanor Shakespeare has carved out a diverse career for herself as an illustrator and educator with two books published and a third on its way. She talks to us about the wide range of projects she’s worked on and how she creates her images.

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Eleanor’s designs are seamless constructions that do a good job of understating how many varied elements are at work. Using carefully selected colours and a choice set of drawn marks, she is able to bring balance to the bustling and complex collections of pieces she uses.

She goes into more detail about this process as well as about finding inspiration in the work she does with her students.

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I am a photomontage illustrator, combining hand-drawn elements, textures, colour and ephemera to create my images. I work predominantly in Photoshop, digitally collaging using everything and anything I can find.

I create page after page of inky textures, cut out paper and scribbles, which I then scan and layer into my illustrations. I rely heavily on my Wacom tablet and copious amounts of tea—vital ingredients of my practice!

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I find almost all of my found images from online archives of copyright free or ‘no known copyright’ material. They are absolute treasure troves for people like me.

I have been illustrating for three years since finishing university and have worked on a really broad range of briefs for editorial clients worldwide. I’ve done food illustrations for Waitrose, politically charged work for Times Higher Education and really personal work for Therapy Today and The Globe & Mail.

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It’s such a privilege to illustrate those kinds of stories. It gives illustration another layer of significance—to visually depict a very intimate piece of text.

When I’m not at my desk, I work as artist in residence for a school in South London. I also run collage workshops at schools around the capital and the South of England.

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Teenagers tend to bring a different level of enthusiasm and inspiration which you simply can’t get scrolling around the internet. It also encourages me to work manually, something which I continually strive to do, but don’t always have the time.

My first book ‘Collage and Keep’ was published in the UK in September 2015, and is now available in The US and various countries across Europe. My second book ‘Cut, Paste, Create’ is out in September 2016, so eyes peeled!

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© Eleanor Shakespeare, 2016

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