Welcome to our sixth Artist Spotlight featuring Georgia illustrator and artist Lydia Futral! Every three months, we interview a fellow creative to showcase their work and ideas, and peek into their very own Lake Michigan Book Press sketchbook. Interested in being featured? Use #lakemichiganbookpress on instagram posts featuring your own Lake Michigan Book Press sketchbook!
How were you first introduced to the arts?
My interest in art started at a very young age with my mother. We would read history books together for school and she suggested that I try drawing the events that I read about to better help me remember the content. It worked and became a habit. I started getting more serious about art in high school and eventually applied to SCAD where I was accepted into the Illustration program. I am a reader and my love of storytelling made Illustration the natural choice of study.
Your work leans heavily toward mythic and science fiction themes, filled with illustrations of humanoid creatures and characters in mechanical suits or militaristic uniforms. What drew you toward these genres? Is there a specific science fiction series that has influenced the direction of your work?
My love of military history and science fiction I must blame on my dad. WWII quickly became a mutual interest of ours and was the favorite topic for discussion which culminated in us watching “the World at War” a series of 44 hour long episodes detailing the events of the second world war. It is a bit of a obsession. Likewise, I started reading from his library which included all the works of Issac Asimov, the Dune series, and many other great classic sci-fi works. Those early cultural influences can still been seen in my artistic aesthetic today.
The official BBC site for Doctor Who featured your Ood wallpaper for May 2016’s Monster Month! How did that come about? At that time, you were still in college - by having your work featured and recognized on an international scale did you feel it sort of ‘legitimized’ you as an illustrator?
Do personal work is the moral of that story. Passion is contagious and creators love to see enthusiasm for their work. I am a fan of Doctor Who and did work as a fan just because I wanted to show my appreciation for the show and its creators. No one could have been more surprised than I when they reached out with this commission. I was thrilled and still have to pinch myself.
It's hard for artists, especially for freelancers, in the beginning of their careers. It takes of lot of perseverance and this job for sure solidified that what I was trying to do with my life would work out and be fulfilling.
You’ve also written and illustrated your very own children’s book, The Lost Animal, about a young boy who finds and befriends a lost ‘peculiar' creature and helps him find his way home. What was your inspiration behind this story? Do you have plans to continue both writing and illustrating your own stories, perhaps even a graphic novel?
I don’t really remember the beginning seed for The Lost Animal. I just started sketching the boy and the octopus in a class one day and, looking at them together on the page, thought that that was a story I wanted to hear. As far as future plans for children books, YES, ALWAYS, the ideas never stop. One project I have been playing around with is creating a graphic novel about the polar explorer Ernest Shackleton and his harrowing adventures in Antarctica. He's a hero of mine and rendering the stark, alien-like landscape of Antarctica would be a thrilling challenge!
When embarking on a new piece, what does your creative process typically look like? (btw, loved the tumblr post detailing your Ood process)
Thank you! In school I followed the Illustrative process which is thumbnail, refined sketches, color comps, final detail, finished work. that process works really well for very specific commissions with set concepts and content (like the Ood piece) but some of my favorite pieces started out as sketchbook studies that slowly morphed into more developed works. Sketching has always been the such a joy for me, so it is only fitting that some of my best wok comes from the pages of my sketchbook.
Can you give us a peek into a series you’re currently working on and tell us a bit about it?
Yes, something I'm very excited about is a children's book about creatures that hide in plain sight and are responsible for many of the strange things that happen in our world. I have many sketches done and ideas for many more but nothing ready to show just yet. They will be fun, weird, and I hope more than a little bit scary.
As a newly minted graduate from the Savannah College of Art and Design, do you have any big plans for the coming months (travel, personal projects, new job, etc.)?
I recently finished a pair of murals in downtown Atlanta which was an awesome project! The city commissioned them for ELEVATE and can be found on MLK and Peachtree St. and MLK and Broad St. Currently, I work as a concept designer for ID3 Group, an experiential, large scale fabrication company in Atlanta and I love it!
You’re now on your second LMBP sketchbook! What can be found inside of the pages of these two books?
People have always been one of my favorite subject to draw. I love to “collect” faces; to draw all different sorts of faces and expressions and, hopefully, learn in the process. My sketchbook is all a running history of where I've been, not just geographically, but where i have been in my head as well. The war drawings have been an ongoing trend, I have a whole set of Dracula drawings (not the modern version but the old, dangerous, man in a ancient dark house) for a while there I was in a middle earth kick, I have a series of lion and elephant drawing just studying textures, there are astronauts scattered throughout, both real ones and not, because space is endlessly fascinating.
Recently, I have done a few studies just on architecture, which is a weak area in my work. I use sketchbooks first and foremost as a way to work out problems; as a testing field for my art. Artists should be scientists, trying new theorems and pushing the boundaries. Sketchbooks are essential to that, and mine are like old friends to me.
Lydia Futral is a freelance illustrator from Atlanta, Georgia. She loves making illustrations that evoke a sense of intrigue; images that make you linger, hungry to know the story behind them. Her work is often inspired by the past; from myths and fairy tales to gothic novels as they bring a little bit of magic and wonder to the present day. Futral received a BFA in Illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design. When not working, she can be found poring over old books trying to find stories to illustrate, or working on eccentric craft projects.
FB: Lydia Futral