David Foldvari has been working as an illustrator since the late 90's. His client list includes Nike, Penguin, The New York Times, Random House, The Museum of London, The Guardian, Newsweek, Le Monde, Historic Royal Palaces and countless others. His work has been exhibited globally, and it appears in print weekly in The Observer, where he illustrates columns by David Mitchell, Stewart Lee, and Charlie Brooker amongst others. David currently lives and works in London, and is represented by the Big Active agency. Here he talks us through his process.
I’m in transit right now so my studio space is temporary, I’m in the middle of house selling/buying which is no fun. But under normal circumstances I work from a home studio. I like working really late at night, and I also like working alone, so having a place which is solitary and relatively isolated, but within easy reach is really important to the way I work. I teach at a university a couple of days a week which involves a lot of interaction, and that counter-balances the solitary work set-up really well. I have 2 cats, they’re generally sitting around me in the studio, and I treat them like they’re my children (it is 100% pathetic).
In terms of equipment, there is nothing particularly unusual that I use. I have an iMac, a Wacom Cintiq, a mountain of sketchbooks, paper, pens, pencils, ink, brushes, prints and found printed matter, and the process is usually determined by the nature of the work, I don’t have a single way of doing things because repetition gets very boring.
When it comes to my process, again, this really depends on what I’m doing, but drawing is always at the core of everything. I work mostly on quick turnaround editorial stuff—the weekly illustration I do for the Observer usually has to be done from start to finish in about 4 hours—so I love anything that helps me generate ideas quickly. I find it difficult to generate ideas without drawing, so I have a sketchbook and random pieces of paper with me all the time, and I put ideas down while I’m researching, as well as directly afterwards, otherwise those ideas just disappear. If I don’t have a sketchbook with me I just use a drawing app on my phone, I can’t remember which one and it doesn’t really matter. The purpose of this is not necessarily to generate nice looking work, it’s just to record ideas. I’m not precious about sketchbooks at all, most of my sketchbooks are full of half-baked ideas and random drawings, but a lot of the things I put down quickly make it back into other things I’m working on later. I like to work on the wall, and because of the hecticness of the idea recording process, sometimes that’s a necessity so that I can get a better overview of things. I’m sure my process would seem like a nightmare to other illustrators, but the intensity helps me, especially in terms of making creative decisions quickly.
I've got a couple of projects on the go right now. I’m just starting on an animation/record sleeve project for Yuko, a Belgian band who I’ve worked with for many years, that should be ready sometime in the summer.
I’m also working on a book cover which is going to feature a bed bug wearing a baseball cap (title/author withheld for now), so subsequently I spent most of last night drawing bed bugs.
I’ve been working for the Guardian and The Observer for about 12 years, I have work in The Observer every week, I illustrate columns either by Stewart Lee or David Mitchell. That’s probably my favourite thing to work on, partly because I love the writing but also because of the fast turnaround.
I did a really quick one for the New York Times a couple of weeks ago, had to do that super fast on a Sunday night.
I also worked on a series for Warchild recently.
Here's a selection of other work I've done over the years:
Design Editor, Painter, Designer, Lifelong bibliophile.