Our favourite edgy illustrator, trepidatious egg-eater and champion of dogs : meet illwookie

Tell us a little about yourself, where you live and a bit about your life at this moment in time?
My name is Will Richards and I am an illustrator living in Brighton, UK. I specialise in branding and merchandising, mostly for bands, clothing brands & restaurants. I work out of a shared studio space with 6 other incredible illustrators and 3 even more incredible dogs.

How long have you been an artist for? Was it something you always wanted to do?
I have been an artist for about 10 years now and 5 or 6 of that has been full time freelance. While i've always enjoyed drawing, it's not something i've always wanted to do because I honestly didn't believe I could make a living out of it. I used to work two part time jobs and work on personal work/commissions on the evenings and weekends, until eventually I could leave one of the jobs and start cutting down my hours at the other as my freelance work got busier.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you do instead?
For a long time I wanted to be a guitar technician, but failing that I would have probably either been a carpenter, a gardener or a postman.

What’s happening in your near future?
My near future is looking pretty relaxed which is a welcome change for me as the past few months have been so crazy busy with travel, weddings, 30th birthdays and lots of work. I am hoping to get some time to do a little more painting.

What has been your career highlight so far?
There have been so many! In terms of my highest profile commission, that would be a couple of t-shirts with Nike for the US Olympic Track and Field Trials. Working with a brand I already buy from like Dark Arts Coffee or P&Co is always a highlight. But probably my overall highlight is being asked to create all the art for Canterbury based brewery FLOC, as a freelancer getting a regular gig is few and far between so to have this project to keep coming back to is a real treat.

“If they have taught me one thing over the years it is that working away to slowly build a following for yourself has more longevity than burning bright for a short time and fizzling out.“

What is a work tool you couldn’t live without?
These days it's my iPad and Procreate, I basically do everything on there. There are a few final touches I like to do to my work in photoshop using tools by True Grit Texture Supply too.

Outside of work, who inspires you a lot?
I am inspired by my favourite band as a teenager and still to this day - Alexisonfire. If they have taught me one thing over the years it is that working away to slowly build a following for yourself has more longevity than burning bright for a short time and fizzling out. This is something I carry with me into my work and is a great reminder for freelancers when work is a little quiet.

What do you do when you have artist’s block?
I put my pen down and take my dog for a walk, this usually clears my head and stops me trying to think of an idea, and eventually the idea will come to me.

What is your favourite book or movie? Or both!
My favourite movie always changes, right now it is 'Everything, Everywhere, All At Once'. My favourite hangover movie never changes and it is 'Paul'.

Where's your favourite place in the world? Why?
Kyoto, Japan definitely, my partner and I went there a few years ago and really fell in love with it. It's one of the only places I could really see myself living other than Brighton.

“I ate my second egg at the age of 27 and never looked back.”

Tell us a memory you carry with you everywhere:The first time I tried eggs I saw about 6 or 7 years old and I threw up in the bath. I couldn't eat eggs for years after that, even Haribo eggs were too close to the real thing. I ate my second egg at the age of 27 and never looked back.

What do you do to relax and have fun away from your work?
I hang out with my mates, whether that's playing Magic the Gathering, going for a bike ride or a dog walk, going to the pub or playing video games online.

Do you have any interesting projects or exhibitions coming up?
I am working on a painting currently for an exhibition later in the year about Bats.

Finally, who is your favourite artist and why?
Cleon Peterson is my favourite artist, he started out designing skateboards for his local skate shop and is now a world renowned contemporary artist, and the first artist to paint a huge mural underneath the Eiffel Tower. His progression constantly inspires me to work on my craft. Not that I necessarily want to take my work into the contemporary fine art world, but it is just a reminder that if you work at something hard enough you can make it happen for yourself.