Beau Brannick makes striking, colourful and instantly recognisable illustrations based around nature, folklore and medieval history. We chat to them about their practice, the challenges of social media in the creative world, and their current obsession with trees!
What was your route into illustration? Did you always think that you’d end up doing something creative?
I’d always enjoyed making art since I was younger. After going to college and studying Fine Art and Graphic Design, I studied BA Illustration at Camberwell College of Arts. From a young age, I always knew I was creative, I used to love reading a lot and thought I would end up being a writer of some sort. I grew up working class from a council estate and none of my family does art, so the chances of me doing something creative were pretty slim! I’m proud I pushed myself to pursue art and continue to do it today.
How would you describe your work?
My work is a mixture of hand and digital draw illustration and hand embroidery mainly. I began embroidering when I moved to London for University after my mental health took a dive. It helped me cope with my anxiety and gave me something long and fulfilling to work on. I still love embroidering today, but at the moment I’m trying to branch out and develop my hand and digital illustration skills.
A lot of your work is centred around nature and natural things. Is this the main inspiration for you?
My work revolves around my own identity as a queer, non-binary person. I love creating work that talks about trans, LGBTQ+ and disability issues. Alongside nature and natural things, I take a lot of inspiration from folklore, medieval history, and mythology. I love incorporating old information and art into my own current day identity.
What would be a career highlight of yours so far?
I wouldn’t say there is a particular commission or piece of work I would call a ‘highlight’ so far, I’m prouder of myself for working 5 days a week 9-5 separate to my art and still find the want and need to create art daily. It’s tough not doing the thing you love full time and can be a bit of a downer sometimes. But I’m thankful it’s something I want to pursue every other moment of the day and I can’t wait for it to one day, hopefully, be the thing I do full-time.
Can you talk us through your creative process?
It depends on what I’m doing, but for example, at the moment I’ve started drawing a series of tattoo flashes. To find inspiration, I normally turn to books I own on topics like medieval history, folklore or botanical paintings and photographs. From here, I normally touch on something in particular I think is beautiful or interesting. At the moment I’m really into trees! I’ll then use the books to make sketches or google the symbolism of different plants, trees, animals and maybe have a look on Pinterest. Using my sketchbook or iPad I’ll then start doodling some sketches to begin my illustration. Sometimes I’ll turn these into a full-page illustration or I’ll take the sketches and use them to create a hand embroidery.
Your illustrations take the form of multiple mediums. Is there a favourite format you like to work with?
I’ll always have a special place in my heart for embroidery, just because it’s the thing that helped me through a lot of bad mental health patches. Sometimes, when my mental health is bad, I can’t think up new ideas to draw or make. With embroidery, even if I’ve not started something new, I can just take an old drawing and stitch that. I love being able to turn a flat image into something that’s textured, blended and full of sequins and beads. I recently started drawing a set of queer tarot cards, and when my health wasn’t great, I stitched up one of the cards. The magical and whimsical aura I was trying to create on the digital illustration came out so much better and more to what I wanted when I stitched it with sequins and texture.
What piece of advice would you give to someone starting in illustration?
Don’t worry about your style! I wasted so much time in school focusing on trying to ‘find my style’ instead of just creating work and not worrying about it. It’s so easy to constantly compare yourself to classmates, people on the internet and friends. Sometimes you lose yourself or beat yourself up constantly. There’s always going to be someone better than you, sometimes it’s better to use them as inspiration and be happy for them rather than being unhappy with your own progress.
How has the response to your work changed since when you first started?
Honestly, I have no idea! Putting all my work out on Instagram is a minefield because Instagram is always messing with the algorithm. Sometimes I create a piece of work I love and I’m so proud of and I’m certain it’s gonna do amazing on social media, and then it flops. I’ve been feeling recently that I want to create a website portfolio of my work and the things I am most proud of because then I won’t be looking at the likes and comments, it'll just be a collection of my favourite pieces of work.
You can find Beau on instagram here
And you can buy from their store here!
Words: Grace Goslin