Friday, 18 July 2014

Illustrator.

An Artist Named Anna: The Cartooning Career of FYFT’s Resident Illustrator


I like to think that I have been an artist my whole life. However, this isn’t strictly true; I did not emerge into the world holding a pen in one hand and a work of genius in the other. In reality, I spent my early years partaking in cliché infant activities such as learning to speak and walk, and really only started the whole drawing thing at the ripe age of four. It was in my first year of primary school that I created my very first self portrait. Here it is. 





Not exactly Da Vinci, I’ll admit, but it was a beginning of sorts. My primary school life was filled with artistic ventures, from a penguin painting in primary two where everyone copied my ideas (Bitter? Me? I’m not bitter about it, honestly) to a huge, overflowing scrapbook of photos and drawings dedicated to cats from my “I’m ten and I love cats” era. If you didn’t have an “I’m ten and I love cats” era, you are either lying or in denial. Or both.

As I grew older, my parents and teachers discovered that they could take advantage of my secret powers and use them for evil in the form of birthday and Christmas cards, as well as the occasional school leaflet. At twelve, I designed the programme for our kiddie production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream:


One thing about the drawings I did was that I never used a pencil first. That’s right, you heard me. No safety net. No room for mistakes. Call me a mindless rebel, but there was something about that graphite contraption that I just didn’t - and still don’t - like. I instead learned the ways of the artist through a magical present, given to me by a neighbour. The Megasketcher, a magnetic drawing board, became my inseparable companion throughout my childhood years. Ah, the laughs we shared! The games we would play! This device allowed me to practice strokes over and over, simply erasing my work after making a mistake. To all of you with children, please invest in one. I guarantee you that your kids will become world-revered artists, or at the very least be able to play noughts and crosses without using up all the paper in the house.

Nowadays, my style is a little different. I prefer to do black and white line drawings like these, and seldom use colour unless it’s for a very good reason. 



I especially enjoy doing scenes with little tiny details, like the beach cartoon above. Sometimes, I draw comics and greetings cards with a special character I invented, called Bea. She’s a little bee who has secret super powers, often confronted with issues such as super villains and genetically modified snails (yes, I am seventeen years old. Yes, these are the things I choose to spend my time doing). 


When FYFT asked me to create some drawings for their resources, I was thrilled! I had met them at the same time as Ellen (the blogger below) at a session they at my old school, Glasgow Academy. 

For FYFT, the drawings I do are a lot more serious, but I try and make them sort of fun as well. Even when talking about things as serious and shocking as the holocaust, I think that adding illustrations makes it much more accessible for people. I have always used my drawings as a way of presenting information in a user-friendly way, and to be able to do this for FYFT is a great opportunity. 



Drawings are great because they are universal; where language barriers can sometimes prevent a message from getting through, a picture really is worth a thousand words because any person can understand it. No matter what language you speak, or what level of education you have, a picture transcends words, and that is why I am trying to use my illustrations as a way of getting across an important message of tolerance. FYFT is all about combatting prejudice of every kind, be it homophobia, racism, sexism or any other kind, and the drawings I create are all about promoting this cause. My name is Anna Rickards, and I am proud to be FYFT’s resident illustrator. 

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