5 minutes with Alex Latimer

I thought it would only be appropriate to introduce you to Alex Latimer, the fantastic illustrator who helped bring my recent website re-design to life with some beautiful header and footer sketches. Alex spent 5 minutes with me telling me a bit about his background, comic strip – The Western Nostril – and the design process involved when illustrating. Enjoy!

Man's best friend
Man’s best friend

I am a writer turned illustrator and I work from my home office/studio in a terrific little valley on the coast of Cape Town. After working in advertising for a little while (where i was in a creative team with my oldest brother Patrick – me copywriting and him art directing) I decided to go it alone and freelance. But a lesson I soon learned was that the best way to make sure of a steady income as a freelancer is to diversify. So I began illustrating as well as writing. Nowadays it’s mostly illustration for me, which is great – plus a bit of cartooning work in The Western Nostril. But I haven’t stopped there – I have recently completed my first children’s book called The Boy Who Cried Ninja for which I have an agent and soon (I hope) a publisher.

the western nostril

The Western Nostril is a cartoon that my brother and I started nine years ago while I was still at university. Somewhere along the line the good people at Business Day saw it and loved it and offered to pay to have it in their paper four days a week. Currently we’re gearing up to publish our second collection of Western Nostrils which will be out in South Africa in time for Christmas. We’re still patiently awaiting our breakthrough into the global market.

Latimer Design Process

My work process: I don’t really like to put pencil to paper before I have a good/weird idea behind what I’m trying to illustrate (and the same goes for writing). Often a stroll up a mountain with my dogs will help that along (see picture) – fresh air and exercise does wonders. Once the idea is there, I return home and sketch it with pencil onto sheets of A4 paper and scan it in to my computer. Then in Photoshop I fix any skew lines with the liquify tool (it feels like cheating, but apparently it’s not) and I begin colouring and adding textures and shadows. I usually don’t know what an illustration will look like before it’s done – so the process is quite exciting as I watch strange people, creatures and buildings take shape.

Design Version 3

It’s been 2 and a half years since I launched my version 2 design for this website. Today I’ve finally clicked the publish button and launched version 3 sporting a very different look.

about_mark

I’ve lost the Digital Farm branding, seeing I am no longer freelancing under that intended name and it only causes confusion. I’ve changed my vibrant, bright colour palette for a more pastel, earthy one, and I collaborated with the awesome Cape Town based illustrator Alex Latimer to design me some header and footer graphics.

I gave Alex quite a detailed brief as to the illustrations I wanted, but the end result far exceeded my expectations. The illustrations portray my personality and half baked nationality to a tee. The little springbok and warthogs being chased by the big dinosaur from South Africa (represented by our lovely Table Mountain and the Johannesburg skyline) to England (represented by Big Ben) are all us South Africans flocking to the money, adventures and travel opportunities Europe has to offer, whilst the lone springbok that appears when you hover over my logo represents the urge we all face in wanting to go back to our fantastic country as soon as possible, especially in the winter months 🙂

re-design

I’ve definitely placed more emphasis on my twitter stream, as us lazy WooThemes designers are tending to micro-blog these days. The ajax powered sidebar module tracks not only my tweets, but the chit-chat I have with others.

The “underground” footer section represents my sometimes claustrophobic home office setup with news from the office and my latest photos.

My page and post content styling still needs some work, as does my portfolio. I also still have some ideas for my Web Startups pages, but after sitting on this design for a good month I think it is time to unleash it.

Please do let me know what you think and if you would be so kind share the news via a tweet.