How did you get into painting? Have you always been artistic?
Ever since I can remember I’ve coloured stuff in. I loved to draw from the first moment a pencil was given me at my infant school! The first picture I remember drawing and colouring in, and getting a positive reaction from people around me, was of a castle, complete with carefully drawn crenellations and turrets! I drew pictures, and created artwork because that’s all I ever wanted to do. I never dreamed in my wildest fantasies that someone would actually let me do it as a paid job!
Are there any other artists whose work you admire, and why?
I loved watching “Paint along with Nancy” in the 70s when I was a teenager. And reading about how Piet Mondrian’s famous red, blue and yellow composition began life as a drawing of a tree! I found all aspects of creating artwork completely fascinating. As a teenager I borrowed a book of artwork photos of Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the plates was a drawing of praying hands. I thought it was amazing, so in art class I did a copy of it. I remember all the class and the teacher reacting like it was the most amazing thing they had ever seen! One girl, who I had a bit of a crush on, said I was "very, very talented”. I went bright red, but felt like a super star. The teacher brought me back down to earth saying, “Don’t let it go to your head Taylor. No one makes a decent living as an artist”. For years I believed him! That was until I was offered a job with Andrew Brownsword Greetings Cards to create artwork for the Country Companions range!
More recently, I’ve been inspired by illustrators such as Renata Lewska and Shaun Tamm. I love incidental detail and they inject that into their work in spades.
Tell us about the process of creating, in your working day…
A typical day for me starts with a warm beverage and a load of emails! It’s then a case of prioritising my workload. Bebunni is only a small part of my responsibilities, small but very special!
I approach all my projects in much the same way. I get a brief, I then gather research from wherever I need. I’ll create a colour palette, which will carry through the whole range, or might be just for that one off image. Then I’ll start to sketch. Sometimes I do thumbnail sketches which I will scan into a Mac and drop into a file that’s set up to be the size etc of the finished piece. I will create a rough idea first and show this to my Creative Director, who will comment, and then I get on with it!
If it’s a traditional Christmas scene I will compose the sort of image I want from my own photos of churches, houses, people, Christmas trees and so on. The thumbnail or photo composite would then be printed to the size I want to work. I then use tracing paper to draft the image how I want it, adding things or taking them away as I see fit. I’ll then transfer the drawing, rubbing through the tracing paper onto pastel paper or watercolour paper. The next part of the process is colouring in! This would be done with the colour palette I want to use, and might be in pastels or water colour, acrylic or digital.
Sometimes I render the art in pastel pencil, scan it in then colour it up digitally in Photoshop. Bebunni is slightly different though. For that little dude I would do a drawing, transfer it onto paper, do a coloured smudgy pastel version, and a separate pencil drawing. I would then scan those in and lay one on top of the other in Photoshop, adding any bits and pieces I needed separately. Things like his tag, whiskers eyes and nose would be added by stealing them off a previous Bebunni! In fact I only ever created one set of each of those and duplicated them for each artwork. Tricks of the trade! After all, this is a creative process for a commercial product. Time is money.
I average two Bebunni artworks a day. My first drawing, or idea is usually the one I end up going with. My other work varies in style and time to do. A traditional Christmas scene will take a day and a half, whereas a trendy font based piece of artwork will only take a couple of hours.
When you have time, what do you do to relax?
I love computer games, I love my PS4. But mostly I love my wife Moira, and my son Patrick, who is 14. Moira and I have been married for 25 years. We go all over the place, visiting stately homes, walking around our local Arboretum at Westonbirt, Gloucestershire. We love to travel, drink cider and eat food.
What one Bebunni piece would be your favourite?
Funnily enough, my favourite Bebunni piece never got published! I did it for one of the fans on Facebook as a competition prize. It is of Bebunni playing in loads of Autumn leaves. I love this piece because it was done in pastel as a proper pastel piece, and I thought the colour and composition worked really well!
What do you think of Bebunni having a cross stitch fan base?
The fact that anyone likes anything I create is amazing. To see the little dude so lovingly transferred into cross stitch blows me away. I’m incredibly proud of Bebunni, and I love the fact that the little fellow can connect with people in ways I could never have imagined when I first sketched him in 2012.
Don't miss the fab free Bebunni covergift with issue 246 (available with the print edition only).
For some fun Bebunni stamps and craft supplies, visit Crafter's Companion for limited stock!