dot dot dash | all about U


Issue #1: a Stockport-born Illustrator who values good fun and nostalgia in equal measure.
Published: 12/03/2020
This is the first edition of PROFILE - a new category that spotlights individuals that have a passion, and have invested time in learning, doing or creating. Our freshman piece involves a chat to Heather Chambers, a Northern contemporary illustrator who works in a range of mediums, from digital illustration to printmaking. Being a very social artist, Heather has had the chance to dabble in all sorts of formats, and work on a community-basis - taking shape in workshops and book production/distribution. She also produced a three-piece series for dot dot dash: illustrations of her three favourite musicians. 

Where are you from? And did your growing up play a role in how your work looks now?

I’m from Stockport, a little hardworking town just outside of Manchester. Growing up in Stockport definitely had an effect on my illustration work. I studied my first two years of my BA at Stockport college, my tutors there really shaped me into a curious and playful illustrator. I think experimenting is at the heart of Stockport, not being bound by any restrictions, which is something I still live by today.

How would you describe your personal style, and what influenced it?

My illustration style is figurative, fun and contemporary. My work is translated into print (risograph / screen print) quite often, so my aesthetic is influenced by the textures and colours often found in printmaking.

Who are your main inspirations, musically, in art, design, or otherwise?

I love classic examples of good design from people, like Paul Rand. The kid’s book he did with Anne Rand - 'Sparkle and Spin' - is so beautiful. David Hockney is one of my major inspirations, he is so versatile and skillful, yet still has a signature style - which I feel is a hard mix to achieve. Helena Covell is another, I adore her illustration work as it feels very Avant-Garde. I love any work which pushes boundaries and has a freedom in its linework. I also love Brutalist German design, whether that be architecture, machinery or interior. I love the bold German logo designs you find on pieces of machinery. I look at a lot of vintage packaging and posters, anything with a sense of nostalgia inspires me. I love memorabilia of any form, but particularly British working class culture archives - photographers like John Bulmer and his subject matter is something I really resonate with, being brought up very lower/working class myself. I follow a woman called Ruthie Barone, a make-up artist who is truly authentic and playful in her practise, which I admire. She sees makeup as just another medium to produce art in. I usually take walks around Sunderland, where I am currently living. The way the sunlight reflects in the window of a quaint terraced house is the kind of thing that is constantly catching my eye and giving me ideas for new work.
What’s your proudest achievement (so far)?

I am proud of being ambitious in every aspect of life. Sometimes my ambition can be detrimental to my peace of mind, but I can always look back and know that I pushed a project as far as I could take it. I recently created a music video for Field Music. I decided to illustrate and animate the music video, which was very ambitious for the amount of time I had, and considering that I haven't done much animation in the past. I am happy with what I created in that time and for pushing myself to learn how to animate.

What are your hopes for your future?

In the future I would love to be living somewhere like Berlin, or back in Manchester making enough money from my artwork to survive, eat good food and have nice coffee! I have MANY plans/dreams I want to fulfil, if ever I get the chance to. I am very interested in collaborating with other artists and the community through printmaking. I would love to have a studio space slash print shop slash community centre that runs workshops and creates design for local businesses - I would like to be selling my own work in the shop too. This space would obviously include a huge independent publishers/zine section! I have more achievable goals - this year I want to design more posters for local events and do more print fairs. After illustrating the music video for Field Music, I am really excited by the prospect of animating my work, and taking it into other forms like 3D or ceramics.
Why did you choose the musicians in your portrait series? What about them stands out to you?

At the moment I am drawn to things that make me feel nostalgic. Nostalgia is such a powerful feeling that motivates a lot of my visual work. I like to romanticise the world around me, and nostalgic music helps me tap into that. ABBA is a massive part of my life! When I was very young, my nanna would put ABBA Gold in the CD player and balance it (precariously) out of the window which looked out onto the back garden. Me and my sister would be in the garden dancing to ABBA on the grass every Saturday while my Nanna did the crossword in the back of the paper. The musicians I chose to do portraits of are quite popular ones, and for good reason. I know most Northern women my age love ABBA too! They're just massive part of my childhood. I'm massively into the 70s sound and aesthetic, I'm definitely a hippy at heart, as cringy as it sounds. George Harrison feeds my soul on another level, the OG spiritual icon! I relate to his music and love his album 'All Things Must Pass'. I am interested in Hinduism and Buddhism, which a lot of this album takes inspiration from. And sitar music is just the best, isn't it?! Kate Bush is just such a floaty, divine, feminine spirit. I love listening to her music when I'm feeling witchy, which is 99% of the time. My dance moves probably resemble hers in the 'Wuthering Heights' video, as I have watched that far too many times.

Can you think of any advice for any budding creative?

Study! I think learning is such a nourishing thing to do, and if you're at University or College and are able to just soak everything up and learn, then enjoy it while you can. I would say to explore everything you want to, and remember that there are no restrictions on your creativity, let it lead you where it leads no matter what discipline you're from. A good piece of advice is to say yes! Take every opportunity and if there aren't any, make them for yourself. Do the grafting and be cheeky (but be polite) and ask for what you want. Always remember 'work hard, play hard' you need your rest! Don't take on something unless you think you can handle it.

Heather’s work is available to view here, and she is available to commission.



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