Gwennan Rees

Blogger and Illustrator

An Interview with Jonny MG Illustration.

An Interview with Jonny MG Illustration.


It's day 10 of my blogging advent calendar and today I have the first of what I hope will end up being many guest posts!

On Sunday I wrote this post as an FAQ of myself and my business and today I have used the same questions to interview Jonny Garrett of Jonny MG Illustration.

Check him and his work out on his website and all social media accounts!

Website: www.jonnymg.squarespace.com

Twitter: @jonnymgdraws

Instagram: @jonnymgillustration

Facebook: jonnygarrettartwork


1. Who are you?

I'm Jonny, 25, a freelance illustrator/portrait artist from Wrexham in North Wales!

2. Describe your illustration style.

 For illustration commissions I would say that my style is very loose and 'quick'. I tend to scribble my line work (with care!) and flood colour on afterwards so that all elements of my work has a fast and somewhat lively feel.

3. What materials do you use/ what is your working process?

I use my trusty set of Uni Pin fine line markers, usually either a 0.2 or a 0.5 depending on line thickness of my line work. For colour I use a set Windsor & Newton watercolours, my favourite brand! As for my working process, it's simple but can be slightly repetative. As I tend to illustrate no bigger than A5 in size, it's easy for me to end up with alot of roughs of the same image in a short period of time. Within half an hour I could have about 20 roughs of one image until I am happy with it! Then, using a lightbox I will go over the line work "neater" but still in a speedy way so not to lose the loose feel to the illustration. Then I will loosely add watercolour to the image, in the same speedy manor as I did the line work as I learnt that loose line work doesn't mix well with tight, neat colour! As a final step, I will digitally enhance the image so that the colour levels and contrast are how I want them!

4. What 3 things could you not work without?

My absolute necessities are my fine liners, my watercolours and my computer!


5. Why did you start illustrating? Who inspired you?

I started illustrating as a small child and was started off by my Grandfather. He was somewhat of a painter himself, mainly working in oil on canvas (some of which I now own). I remember every time I would go to his house to visit, which was most days, he would get out pencils and a sketchpad and give me subjects in his living room to draw like the television, his armchair, himself etc. Sometimes he would draw something on one half of a piece of paper and I would have to copy it on the other. At the time I thought I was drawing exactly what he had but now when I look back my drawings were VERY crude! I even did some landscape painting as my first taste of watercolour with him, painting the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct nearby (which could be seen from his back garden) and from then on I was hooked on paints!

6. How did you find being an illustration student?

I did enjoy my time as an illustration student but when I look back I wish I'd have pushed more to do more projects that I wanted to do really. I tended to stick to "safer" options and some of my other ideas were not well recieved by my tutors (for example an idea I had about a set of portrait illustrations about the infamous "27 Club"). However saying that, the work I did during my time at univeristy I'm very proud of, especially in my third and final year. I got to really develop and tune in to my loose style of working, meet some amazing people and grow in confidence with my work.


7. How did you find New Designers?

Being able to exhibit my work at New Designers in London was an amazing experience - I really got to discover what interested the people there most about my work, had interest from publishing companies, saw my 'competition' in fellow graduates from around the UK and made great contacts within the industry. A really rewarding experience that I would urge anyone to capitalise on!

8. What have you been working on since you finished university?

Since leaving uni I have worked on editorial illustrations for Japanese magazine MilkX, have submitted greeting card designs to Hanson White after they contacted me (they saw my work at New Designers) and more prominently, as a bit of a contrast to usual illustration work, I have been mainly creating portraits for people as well as celebrities (which I put on social media - a great way to get your work out there in the public eye, especially if the celebrity you're illustrating is 'big news' at the moment).


9. Do you have any advice for creative industry students or illustrators starting up as freelance?

Yes! Top of my list would be don't expect everyone to love your work - you can't please everybody. Each person or company has different tastes as to what they like and what they're looking for, sometimes you're it, sometimes not. Don't take it personally! Also, be prepared for rejection - you aren't always going to be snapped up for your work and alot of time you're not going to get any interest, that's just the way it goes. Again it's nothing personal. Just work hard, do what you do and be confident within yourself and your work. Finally, social media is KEY! For making contacts, showcasing work and seeing what others are doing currently within industry is priceless in terms of bettering you and your work, so many opportunities can come from social media.

10. What is your greatest achievement?

I'd say my greatest achievement is graduating actually. I won't go into detail but those who know me know that I've had a tough few years lately and it was a miracle that I even enrolled to go to university let alone graduate, so I'd say that is what I am most proud of thus day in life.

11. When you're not illustrating what are you doing?

When not illustrating  you can probably find me behind a camera at the moment, I'm trying to learn how to properly use a bridge camera and master shutter speeds and depth of field, it's tricky but I think I'm getting there! Otherwise you can catch me walking my lovely dog Hollie, catching up on soaps and reality TV or in the pub!

12. If you didn't become an illustrator what do you think you would have done?

I honestly don't think I'd have done anything of note if I didn't choose to become an illustrator as it really does seem to be the only thing I'm good at and the only thing that I have stuck with for years. I have a severely short attention span and I struggle to commit to anything really but I think illustration is a keeper!


13. How do you keep yourself motivated and busy?

I always advertise myself, contacting design companies and publishers with my work and links to my social media accounts/website just to get my name around. Also, I'm always available for portraits so that keeps me very busy when perhaps the illustration side of things is quite quiet. In the run up to Christmas especially I have been inundated with orders for portraits as they make brilliant presents!

14. Have you got any work for the new year? What?

As of now it's mainly my portrait commissions which will be keeping me busy after Christmas but I have a few ideas for new projects which I'm hoping to execute soon, including my "27 Club" project.

15. What do you hope to achieve in 2016?

I'd like to have some more commissions for editorial illustrations, those are always fun to do. I'd also like to set up a YouTube account where I can produce videos on my drawing, working process and also give people both in and out of the industry a real feel as to what makes me tick.

16. Have you got any NYE resolutions? If so what?

I have a few! Diet (obviously - let's just hope it lasts longer than until February this time!), set up my YouTube channel and master my camera as I mentioned previously. And of course, keep on working and seeing what happens!


17. If you had to invite 3 people (famous or otherwise) to a dinner party who would it be and why?

Number 1 has definitely got to be Salvador Dali. I've always been fascinated by this man and just how "weird" (in a good way of course) he was. His work, although it is probably polar opposites to what I do just shows me how far boundaries can be pushed and how surreal art can be. Secondly I would choose Amy Winehouse just purely for the fact that I was a huge fan (so much so I have her tattooed on my arm) and also she could provide musical entertainment after dinner and finally I would have to pick my Grandfather, just because he was such a legend and I miss him so I'd love to be able to tell him that I've chosen a career within "art", something he totally inspired.

18. If your life was made into a film who would play you?

I'd love for someone like Stephen Fry to play me because I'm obviously extremely posh, intelligent and witty. Lookalike wise though probably Brad Pitt?

19. What was the last photo you took?

The last photo I took was a funny face I sent to my friend Emma on Snapchat - I hope she didn't take a screenshot!!

20. If you were on desert island discs what 8 albums would you take?

1. Lauryn Hill - "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill"

2. Ministry of Sound - "Made in the 90's"

3. Beastie Boys - "License to Ill"

4. Erykah Badu - "Baduizm"

5. Amy Winehouse - "Frank"

6. Johnny Cash - "Live at Folsom Prison"

7. Mariah Carey's Greatest Hits

8. Disclosure - "Caracal"


I have known Jonny for a good few years now and he is one of my best friends so I knew what some of his answers would be but I really enjoyed reading his interview and found myself howling laughing at some of it. If you knew him, this interview just sums up his personality.

If you're interested in taking part in a guest post on the blog please get in touch!

Friday Favourites 5th - 11th December 2015

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