Carl Reed speaks with Layerform Design Magazine

An interview with Mr Carl Reed himself!

How did you get started with Illustration?

It sounds pretty cliché but my first interest in art was at a young age, not that I knew it at the time. I used to sit around scribbling out terrible drawings of characters from star wars and teenage mutant ninja turtles, although looking at my style of work now I wouldn’t say I’ve improved all too much. Art was something I always enjoyed through school but it wasn’t until I started a foundation art course that I started to take a serious interest. The course helped me determine which area of art I enjoyed the most and I ended up studying Illustration at university.


What are your tools of the trade & favourite techniques?

In terms of the tools I use, it ranges between traditional and digital mediums. Usually I’d start by sketching ideas out. There is nothing more fluid than a pencil on paper, no limitations. This initial planning and sketching process can be time consuming but helps you determine exactly how you want the piece of work to look. After this I use a drawing tablet to draw (or ‘Ink’) over the pencil lines using either Photoshop or Illustrator. The reason I find this method the most effective is because you can easily correct any mistakes. The Ctrl + Z command is hands down the best tool ever.


What artist(s) inspires you the most and why?

There is almost too many to name. I’m pretty sure this list constantly changes and grows, there are so many inspiring creatives out there. To name a few, Chris Ware, Brosmind, Mr Bingo, James Jean, Olly Moss, Luke Pearson and many more. Check them all out if you have a spare moment, worth a look.

Are degrees important or can you succeed being self-taught?

Be sure to check out Layerform’s article on How to Make Money as a Freelance Designer
In my opinion an art degree is in no way essential or necessary to succeeding in a creative career. If someone has the drive and desire to be successful, and the willingness to learn and improve their creative skills, it is achievable. Everyone has their own path.

I was quite lazy through school and didn’t have the right attitude towards working, too busy doing other things. So after much advice I decided to pursue the education route and studied Illustration at the University of Portsmouth. I met some awesome people and learnt a few tricks along the way. This helped me not only develop my style of working, but also helped me define my own character.

What (if anything) has made your illustrations better over the years?

Practice practice practice. I find good honest critique is always very helpful too, honest being the key word here although try to keep the balance between others critique and you’re your own thoughts. Another option is robotic drawing hands although they are expensive and pretty difficult to come by.


What music do you listen to while designing?

It varies depending on what I’m into at any given time. I’m going to have to have a look at my last played songs on iTunes. According to iTunes the last few artists I’ve listened to are Jimmy Eat World, Every time I Die and the Tron soundtrack by Daft Punk. Exciting stuff huh? I sometimes watch movies and television series while I’m working too, can’t beat a bit of Breaking Bad.

What are you most interested in apart from illustration?

I’ve had to sit here and think about this for a while which makes me think my life is fairly dull. I’m pretty active outside of work (oh I also have a full time job currently) and play a few sports here and there. I’m starting to get into cycling, although it’s a bit nippy for it at the moment. Other than that it’s mainly socializing with friends, drinking and eating.

What advice can you give to aspiring illustrators or designers?

Never give up. Work hard. Enjoy what you do and continue to learn, grow and develop, not only as an illustrator/designer/artist but also as a person. Some good advice that was given to me is to keep a small sketchpad/notebook that you can carry around with you daily and jot down ideas. Comes in handy.

What is your beverage of choice while designing?

Usually I stick with water. I’m not a fan of tea or coffee. On the odd occasion maybe a Mountain Dew or Dr Pepper but that’s about as exciting as it gets.

That’s a wrap, Folks!

Be sure to check out Carl Reeds Portfolio over at and show him some love!

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