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Livi Gosling is an illustrator with a love of snacks, countryside walks and chips at the seaside. She creates a lot of maps, which only feeds her serious desire to travel. She'd love to one day get paid in cheese (or airmiles!) Livi studied in Falmouth, Cornwall and grew up in Hertfordshire. When she's not drawing, you’ll find her either out on a walk or baking very wonky cakes in the kitchen. Follow her on Instagram here
Q&A with Livi Gosling (illustrator of Maps of the UK
You are an expert at illustrating maps – what is it that appeals so much to you about them? Thank you! My first editorial job commission was to create an illustrated food map for a food magazine. Illustrated maps often celebrate local food, beautiful architecture, rich history and amazing people. There’s something rather excellent about that. Another great thing about working on illustrated maps, is that the content always varies! No two projects are the same, even if they’re of the same area. Everybody always has a different view of the city. and something different that they’d like to highlight
How did you approach illustrating Maps of the United Kingdom? How long did you spend working on it, and did you have to do lots of research?
I worked on Maps of the United Kingdom for around 18 months. We tried to keep to a schedule of creating a county map every week or so. We also had to allow plenty of time for amends and factchecking. I can’t take any credit for the research that went into creating this amazing book. The author, Rachel Dixon and the team at Quarto Kids deserve all the credit here!
What’s your favourite double page in the book and why?
For completely selfish reasons… My favourite spread is the Herts, Beds & Bucks spread as it depicts where I grew up. My family and friends always race to admire their home county spread first. I think that’s probably something everyone has done when first getting their hands on Maps of the United Kingdom! I am rather fond of the Essex spread too as it contains my favourite fact in the whole book. “True Love: At the Dunmow Flitch Trials, held since the 13th century, married couples try to prove that they love each other, haven’t argued for a year and don’t regret their marriage - the prize is a ‘flitch’ of bacon.” I find it fascinating, and somewhat hilarious, that a local couple were very recently awarded a gammon.
Do you have a favourite thing to illustrate – and do you have any illustration pet hates?
I adore drawing food and working on anything where I get to research loads of delicious things! I would love to work more in children’s publishing. As a freelancer, it’s such a comfort to have such a huge project for such a long period of time. Especially one as diverse and interesting as Maps of the UK.
How old were you when you decided you wanted to be an illustrator?
I always knew I wanted to work in the creative industries. Art was the only GCSE subject that I looked forward to. I would be so disappointed if we weren’t given any homework. You’d often find me drawing in the Art block at lunchtime or after school. I’d never really heard of ‘Illustration’ until I did my Foundation Course at a local college and I always thought that I would try and be ‘An Artist.' The thought of being given a more commercial brief to answer appealed to me. Studying Illustration at University seemed like the next logical step.
What advice would you give to a young person who would like to be an illustrator?
Keep drawing and keep learning! I’d say the hardest thing about becoming an illustrator is finding your style. As a student, it’s easy to replicate other artists as you don’t often know what your work ’should’ look like yet. At school, we are often encouraged to copy the work of other creatives and there’s definitely a lot to be learnt from this. But at some point, you need to break away from this habit and try coming up your own approach. Just practise drawing and experiment with different techniques. Eventually, your style just falls into place. It will be an ever-evolving thing. My current portfolio looks COMPLETELY different to graduate portfolio but that’s a good thing. It shows that I’m always learning and honing my skills. My computer skills have completely altered how I now approach a commission. With the help of Photoshop, I work faster and with greater flexibility.
This fascinating and highly pore-overable book maps the United Kingdom not via contours or motorway networks, but through its people, habits and history. It takes readers on a journey round our green and pleasant land region by region, packing colour double page illustrations of the relevant bit of sceptred isle with representations of notable people who were born or lived there, of important things that happened there, of notable places and quirky local customs – well-dressing in Nottinghamshire, bog snorkelling in Llanwrtyd Wells, the spring cuckoo festival in Marsden. It lists each area’s favourite dish too, in short giving readers a true flavour of Great Britain. The text is lively and thoroughly engaging and the pictures are equally energetic.