Maddy Vian is a lizard queen illustrator based in the UK, and she’s awesome. Below, she talks about mean caterpillars with suitcases, nostalgia and humour, and her affinity for dinosaurs.
where are you from?
I’m from a seaside town in Kent and grew up with a lot of fields and old people in my peripherals.
where are you right now?
Right now I’m in my final university crit, at Kingston, London, England, Earth.
have you always been drawing? do you remember the first thing you ever drew/painted?
I think so yes! I don’t really remember my first drawings but I’ve seen some drawings in my old school books and I drew a pretty mean caterpillar with a suitcase once. I remember my mum would help me make books/do the writing and I’d draw the pictures!
how do you begin an illustration?
Depending on the scale of the image I’ll usually do a little pencil sketch thumbnail just to get some shapes down before drawing it properly or taking it into photoshop. Quite often I’ll wing it though.
what are you currently inspired by?
I have been watching a lot of documentaries that inspire me lately. I love watching things about unexplained world mysteries and I think I just like learning new things to generate ideas!
was there a particular moment when you thought of doing this as a career?
I get a few school students asking advice for getting into illustration and I just have to tell them that they are so much further ahead than I was at that age!!! I didn’t really now you could BE an illustrator until after I left school! I think putting my work online has really helped me realise that I do have a place in the creative world though!
imagine you were trying to describe your work to someone who’s never seen it - like that dreaded question when meeting new people: “what do you draw?” How would you describe what you do?
I work with a nostalgia and humour, taking inspiration from those cartoons I used to record on VHS on Saturday mornings as a kid.
favourite bands/artists at the moment?
Always have tons of different songs floating about my head when I’m working and recently it’s been Pogo, Grimes and The Mars Volta are pretty great work soundtracks. Also…Disney soundtracks.
what is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
I had the privilege of working with an illustrator just before I began uni and she gave me so much wisdom. I think the thing I always remember is that when you are young it’s the best time to not get held down with a style because out in the real world, once you’re known for something you’ll be asked to keep doing it forever!!! Not being afraid to experiment when you can is something I always think about!
two, three hundred years from now, if people were to remember your work (found a zine, or a comic of yours, or maybe a print) by one thing and one thing only, what would you want it to be?
Amazing question! Probably a comic? A comic I haven’t done yet though. I feel like I’m on the edge of doing something memorable….but maybe I’ll feel like that for the next three hundred years!!!
you’ve been making clothing designs - it textile printing something you’re interested in? do you think you’re going to make these (the pizza and the night sky dresses are badass, by the way)?
what city/country would you like to visit?
I haven’t been to so many places it’s hard to narrow it down. I’d love to visit New York…but then perhaps somewhere with quite different culture too like Japan or Thailand…
where do you want to be?
I’ve had a craving to be in Disneyland for FAR too long.
dinosaurs, zombies, aliens, or kittens?
I mean kittens are the least likely to hurt me. But I have a strange affinity with dinosaurs.