illustrator interview – amy harris

:: by Lizzie


Do you use old school or new school tools when creating your work?

A bit of both! There’s lots of physical making involved so I use different old school tools and tend to sketch by hand.  My laptop plays a part in the process somewhere though, either for sourcing materials and props or making patterns / creating details to use in my work. It’s often photographed for the final outcome too which involves a bit of digital wizardry.


Show and tell your piece of work. Describe your submission for Old School.

I made 3 pieces based around graphs, pie charts and pencils. They all took inspiration from minimalism and graphics I associated with school. When I was at school I’d keep my pencils until they were sharpened right down. I’d end up with a pencil in every length. I thought there was something quite sculptural about this and tried to carry this idea through each piece, playing with how you might expect to see this type of imagery.




What is your creative process?

I keep notebooks where I write down ideas and little thumbnail drawings. I’ll start with an initial concept and absorb information and visuals that inspire me. I normally try to take a step back from it and do something else, then come back to draw sketches and fine tune an idea. Once I start making I play around with the more specific design decisions as I go. If it’s for a client I’ll make more decisions before I start making. With personal work it tends to be more instinctive and less pre-planned.


Does your work represent your personality?

Probably certain parts. I think the work you produce is always going to be an extension of your personality and interests but if it’s for a commercial context that can make it less personal. I think the more self led, the more personality is probably seen in it.



Send in a picture of your desk now and describe your studio space.

I share a studio with a mix of photographers, prop makers, artists and designers. It’s an old NHS building in Hackney that was converted into a studio space known as The Dead Dolls Club. We have two studio cats called Louis and Cocoa who like to sit on laptops. My desk and walls are filled by objects that inspire me, scraps of ideas and visual experiments, a cactus, a wooden parrot and the usual mix of books, paper, pencils, and stationery.




What’s your earliest memory of drawing/creating?

When I was in nursery we watched the junior school play of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox. Afterwards, we went back to nursery to draw pictures of our favourite parts of the story. I’ve still got my own very worn out version of the book from around that time when I became a bit obsessed with. That was probably the first book I can remember reading too!



Did you have an imaginary friend?



Did you know at school what you wanted to be?

When I was really little I wanted to be a fireman and then a vet, but after that I didn’t have any clear ideas. Creative subjects were always important for me and it felt a natural progression. I decided to continue onto an art foundation so knew I wanted to do something in the creative industries. But I was never certain of what!


What advice would you give now to your ‘old school self’?

Don’t over think it.


Smug’s colour is yellow. What colour best represents you?

Light turquoise greeny blue – I’m not sure why, but it’s a colour I seem to be drawn to.


If you had to choose one Smug product what would it be?

Your dash-dot yellow bed socks – lovely pattern and I always have cold feet.





Amy has also made by hand these Wooden Christmas Decorations for SMUG.  They are for sale upstairs at SMUG in The SMUG Christmas SHOP.