Featured artist: Interview with Matthew Britton

Featured artist: Interview with Matthew Britton

This interview is part of our series featuring designers and illustrators whose work we admire. We caught up with Canva contributor Matthew Britton to learn more about his creative process and find out how he created one of the world's largest stock illustration porftolios.


You have a few different styles of illustrations you seem to focus on. Do you draw what inspires you that day? Do you draw what others seem to enjoy the most?

I do runs of drawings at a time, so pretty much I just draw whatever comes into my head. Unless I'm doing digital painting or larger illustrations I try to think of the next thing to draw as I'm drawing the last.  I don't analyse keywords or look up popular sellers or anything like that.  I'm terrible at guessing what people want, so I just tend to draw at random.

On average, how long does it take you to complete one illustration?

Anywhere from ten seconds for small clip art to ten hours or more for a detailed digital paintings.

You have the 3rd largest stock illustration portfolio in the world. That’s incredible, how long did it take you to reach that milestone?

Thanks and yeah, thats crazy isn't it? I'm not sure what the rankings are now but I am very pleased to be up in the top few. It's taken me a while -- three years -- doing it alongside my regular work.

What are some of your thoughts of more traditional fine arts versus today’s art in the digital age? Do feel that technology has affected your work?

There's a bit of nostalgia around the old image of an illustrator posting off original pencil sketches to a publisher and maybe a bit of bad feeling that technology has 'killed the old ways', but in the end it's still starts with artists and illustrators drawing things with a pen (real or electronic).

Fine art is where I began my art career. I still pick up a sketch book and just sketch as a way to think things through. Alongside the royalty free illustration I am also a 'normal' working illustrator... children's books, marketing campaigns, one-off things like that.

There was a feeling that the emergence of stock illustration on the internet impacted the value of traditional illustration but I think that feeling has been replaced now by a realisation that they are fulfilling different demands. The Internet has increased both supply and demand, so yeah there's a lot of competition but theres also a bigger market place — for both commission based and royalty free artwork.  Like it always has been, it's still just down to working as hard as you can to keep doing something you enjoy.

What illustrations (or collection of illustrations) in your portfolio are you most proud of and why?

My 'Day of the Dead Skull' series has been the most popular and that's great because I enjoy creating these, but the things that make me smile the most are collections like the angry vikings and halloween monsters, ghouls and ghosts. Possibly because it's just an excuse to draw crazy things all day!

Overall the pieces I like the best are made up of lots of individual drawings (which is how I do my regular illustration work), I like illustration that keeps you finding new quirks every time you look at it.

To see more of Matthew Britton's work, check out his Canva portfolio.