There's something so nostalgic and comforting about Amy Leonard's illustrations. Perhaps it's because she loves to focus on British seaside towns or "strange" petrol stations in her work, bubbling up memories of childhood holidays. Or maybe it's because of the dreamy muted palette that resonates throughout her artworks.
Whatever it is, we're huge fans. Marked as one of D&AD's Ones To Watch this year, Amy grew up in a small seaside town in the very east of England. "I have loved art for as long as I can remember, and always thought it would be the path I would take," she tells us. "I had always loved painting and taking the likeness of people and places. It wasn't until I discovered illustration through my tutors at my college that I realised that I realised that was what I wanted to do."
So Amy enrolled on the Illustration course at Arts University Bournemouth and got into the illustration world. "I met some of my best friends there, who introduced me to so many artists I hadn't heard of before, but now make up most of the influences behind my work. I think there through a lot of experimenting; I discovered that although a lot of modern Illustration is very conceptual, I work best when sticking to my roots and what I loved the most - painting."
This also explains many of the themes behind her recent work, which features "atmospheric and emotive landscapes, from seemingly mundane urban settings," as she puts it. "My portraiture work combines realism with abstract elements, using digital media to imitate traditional painting techniques."
In terms of her style, Amy takes traditional painting techniques and combines them with a "surreal palette" to create an "eerie or dream-like quality". She says, "I like to try and find the places that most people would ignore or overlook to draw from. I like the idea of people to be able to relate to my work and feel nostalgic in some ways."
Amy believes she is mainly influenced by modern illustration with Joey Yu and Charlotte Ager being a big inspiration. She also looks to classic artists such as David Hockney, Erika Lee Sears, Timothy Horn, Nao Tatsumi, and Adalberto Ortiz – as well as photographers including Arch Mcleish and James J Robinson. "I also love the cinematography in films, and the way it can be used to create a coherent atmosphere and tell the story of a place or a person."