Courtney Finch tells epic stories with her fantasy watercolour illustrations

Bauhinia Blackeana © Courtney Finch

"I see myself as a narrative illustrator," says Courtney Finch, another great discovery during our recent visit to this year's D&AD New Blood. "I work largely in watercolours and coloured pencil and have recently started gold leafing my illustrations."

Based in Manchester, the recent University of Central Lancashire graduate and illustrator enjoys spending time researching and scrawling thumbnails down of ideas and inspirations she sees, almost like an idea diary. "I prefer to know about my subject before I start creating paintings, especially on cultural concepts which deserve respect and thoughtfulness. I always aim to have visually interesting paintings, that when the viewer reads the backstory they can take a second look and see a whole new perspective within the illustration."

Her biggest inspirations are stories. Any kind too. But mainly whimsical fantasy cultural/traditional stories that have evolved over time. "Things such as fairy tales, folk tales, ghost stories," she continues. "You find stories like these all over the world and I love to read and research them and retell them through my illustrations.

"A lot of the stories are hidden to people outside the culture or sometimes forgotten, and that's why I love to bring them into the modern world. I recently did a project/mini storybook illustrating tales of Japanese Yokai which are essentially ghosts and demons, and when researching them I found myself surrounded by so much inspiration from traditional imagery to these majestic, detailed fantasy stories."

Courtney adds: "Personally, I feel I am more drawn to females, I naturally sway to an almost dark fashion illustrative style, and I am highly inspired by graceful but sorrowful characters. My latest project was to illustrate a selection of tarot cards in my own way. I found that this allowed me to explore a darker illustrative style which I feel brought a strong emotional feeling within the illustrations."

Now that Courtney has graduated she's hoping to be hired to illustrate these stories. "I would love to see my images on things like books to coffee jars, things that people can touch and see. My biggest dream would to feature in a book filled with work, or even make my own book filled with my illustrations, processes and research/stories on each piece, to maybe explore Yokai in more detail."

Follow this promising illustrator on Behance and Instagram.

Death © Courtney Finch

Death © Courtney Finch

Hannya Twins © Courtney Finch

Hannya Twins © Courtney Finch

Her Heart was a Bird © Courtney Finch

Her Heart was a Bird © Courtney Finch

Lovers Rock © Courtney Finch

Lovers Rock © Courtney Finch

The Devil © Courtney Finch

The Devil © Courtney Finch

The Magician  © Courtney Finch

The Magician © Courtney Finch