Beautiful editorial illustrations by Sarah Tanat Jones combine physical and digital drawing

After being selected as a D&AD Best of New Blood winner in 2009, illustrator Sarah Tanat Jones has carved out quite a name for herself.

Represented by Handsome Frank, and known for her love of portraits, maps, buildings, chicken shops and characters, Sarah's work is hand drawn using pen and inks before being scanned and digitally edited.

"I always loved drawing," she explains. "And I wanted to make sure that, even though illustration has become very digital these days, I could embrace that without losing the hand-drawn element that is so important."

"I began with a lot of printmaking at art college and this method of layering colour and using transparent colour really influenced the way I use Photoshop in my work," she continues. "So I like to combine both digital and analogue methods.

"I don't like to be limited to a uniform colour palette for all my illustrations. And always I come back to an energetic line; that's where the individuality lies for me. I have made neater, more considered work recently but I don't want things to get TOO neat."

Sarah's process

When she gets a commission, she likes to get straight on it. "I get the brief and on a good day the ideas start flying around straight away." she explains. "Often the first idea is the strongest, and makes it to the final piece.

"A lot of the time I'm working on editorial, so you have a couple of hours' turnaround from that first email from the art director to handing in your roughs," she adds. "I really enjoy the quick-snap idea-generation part of my work."

Sometimes though, Sarah, who normally works in black ink with thin brushes on 260gsm paper, needs more time to get the ideas flowing. "So I'll take a walk and listen to music, or go and make some food and that allows me to think with less pressure

"If it's a longer timeframe, then I'll do a lot more visual research and try to plan how I can use this piece to improve my style as a whole. I do believe you're only as good as your last good illustration, and I'm always trying to get better as an illustrator."

Collaboration and travel

She recently got some extra inspiration from a week in Antwerp in the company of D.A.T.E. (Discover Antwerp Through Experience), a project that brings together international creatives to discover the city and collaborate on an exhibition (you can see what she created for that here).

"D.A.T.E was a really great week," she enthuses. "It was almost to good to be true to be invited to this cultural, fun, beautiful week in Antwerp, meeting interesting people, some of whom I've hung out with back in London.

"As a freelancer who works alone a lot of the time, was nice to get together with other creatives. It really kicked off summer in an amazing way for me."


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