December 08, 2013

Quentin Blake on his relaxed style

Quentin Blake is one of our most popular illustrators. Best known for his collaboration with Roald Dahl hid work is immediately recognisable and is full of joy and happy chaos. Quentin's father worked as a civil servant, his mother was a homemaker. At 14, he began sending drawings to Punch. At 16, his work was accepted by Punch. Quentin also produced work for The Spectator. 

Appearing on Desert Island Discs with Kirsty Young here, he was asked: "If we were to leave through some of those 1949 editions of Punch, would we recognise those drawings as notably Quentin Blake?" Quentin Blake responded:
"You might do. They were quite economical but. You might recognise them. But that way of drawing, that people now recognise, happened really when I was 20-something. Gradually I relaxed and in fact if you draw relaxed you draw much better. You're thinking about what that is, what that gesture is that that person is making. You're not thinking about, am I going to spoil it which is the important thing."
In a 2008 interview with The Telegraph here he said was asked about his idiosyncratic use of line to convey depth and movement. On that style he was asked: "is this because you're relaxed when working?"
"Not really. I remember someone saying I’m deceptively slapdash. Well, thank goodness for the deceptively. I think I’m relaxed in a way that is focused."
During his Reith lecture series here, the cross-dressing potter Grayson Perry spoke of the need for "relaxed fluency" and of the need to break away from "the crippling effects of self-consciousness."

2006 interview with Kirsty Young on Radio 4 here. 2008 Telegraph interview in full here. My blog post on Grayson Perry and "relaxed fluency" here.

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