January 06, 2020
Working as a freelance illustrator from her Bristol studio, Rosanna creates semi-surreal scenes and narratives, with a particular passion for the magic of the natural world. Delicate lines and rich handmade paper textures are woven together to depict elegant, elongated forms, complimented by a limited color palette of gouache. Rosanna works both locally and internationally on a variety of projects including editorial, publishing and branding. Clients include The New York Times, The Guardian, Heart Research UK, The Washington Post, Pizza Workshop, The Boston Globe, Corriere Della Sera, Editorial Alma, Immediate Media and The Scout Association. Outside of commission work, she is writing her own children's book, exhibiting and managing a studio space with artist friends. Explore her gorgeous limited edition prints for Toi Art Gallery.
I grew up in the Shropshire countryside in England. We were always outside rain or shine; swimming in the river, climbing trees, building hay bale houses, making mud pots, choreographing dance routines, sewing tiny clothes for the fairies, writing stories and performing our own plays. Those days were so perfect and my work often takes me back to the feeling of that era and being surrounded by nature all day. I often use my illustrations as portals to other places, and these worlds tend to have a basis in the comfort and magic of childhood.
Like many artists I've loved drawing for as long as I can remember. When I was young my dad would read me bedtime stories and I'd draw the scenes and characters from the story. I've always found that words and narrative spark my imagination very vividly, so becoming an illustrator has felt like a very natural process.
Inspiration for me is about maintaining a mental balance between fiction and reality; to respond to existence from a different perspective, to zoom in on the details and zoom out to see the broader picture, to allow my mind to open up new pathways and run away with a thought.
I became enamored with Scott anda Fitzgerald's love letters and the way they conjure up such a poetic, exciting impression of the 1920s. I love the aesthetics of flappers and speakeasies, and the idea of female social emancipation taking off in such a spirited way through androgyny, partying and flirtation.
Having a studio and being part of a creative community is so integral to my work. It provides me with a space to fully focus, and is a social outlet whilst doing a job that can be very isolating at times. Being surrounded by artistic friends is like being enveloped in a creative buzz, and being part of the group that set up the studio feels good, knowing that we are bringing all of those benefits to others too. The only downside is that I do end up spending 99% of my time there!
I'm sure there are many subconscious reasons for this, but I think mostly it's just that I can relate to those female characters in some way, so I feel more connected to what I'm drawing.
I am very much a synesthete when it comes to color. It's so closely linked with emotion and atmosphere, and if the color is wrong for what I'm trying to convey I will strongly feel the dissonance in the image. For more decorative pieces this isn't so important, but for illustrations with a story or message behind them it's essential for me to get the colors right for the tone I'm trying to express. The result is that often my palettes can be a little abstract or unrealistic.
So difficult to choose! Some that spring to mind:
'The Bees' by Laline Paull
'The Ocean at the End of the Lane' by Neil Gaiman
'The Time Traveller's Wife' by Audrey Niffenegger
Golden Age book illustrators Edmund Dulac, Kay Nielsen, and Arthur Rackham.
Social media is a wonderful tool to use as a free platform for your work, but I try not to let it affect how or what I create. I love to keep up to date with other people's art, but take care to avoid being too influenced by what they are making. We are constantly inundated with imagery via social media, so I make sure to limit the amount of time spent on there, and try to ignore design trends and themes so that my ideas and aesthetic can come from my own thoughts and surroundings as much as possible.
I recently got a radio alarm clock and it makes me so happy to wake up to good music and human voices rather than electronic beeps and my phone screen! My commute to the studio is a 40 minute walk with a lovely part along the Bristol Harbourside, and this is usually when my creative brain starts to wake up and begin wandering. Once I'm in the studio I'll be working on commissions or self initiated work; sketching ideas and roughing out compositions, painting at my drawing board, or doing editing or admin on my computer. I also run errands picking up prints from my favorite local printers/framers Niche, or packing and sending shop orders at the Post Office.
This year I took part in my first artists residency, living and working on a houseboat in California. It really helped me realize the importance of making time for my own self-initiated work, and this is definitely something I intend to put more focus on in the near future. I adore working on commissions, but over the years I've had so many ideas for personal projects bubbling away inside me that haven't had a chance to see the light yet.
do you want to see Rosanna's limited edition prints? click on: http://bit.ly/rosannatasker
your favorite gift guide: http://bit.ly/midcenturyguide
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