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TRCH David Suchet

Art Works: Hedboy

12 September 14

Pro-doodler Jonathon Upton (aka Hedboy) lets us in on his illustrative secrets...


I set myself a goal to create 31 characters throughout May and to post each one to Instagram. I wanted the pressure of coming up with a new piece each day, I feel it helps to produce my best work. It was great in the morning thinking that by the end of the day I’d have a new character, but I’d have no idea at that point what they would look like. I teach art in a secondary school and a friend asked if any were based on my pupils... I suppose they could have been because they do inspire me on a daily basis. I always start my character doodles in my notebook, then, when I’m happy with them, I import them to Adobe Illustrator, vectorize them and add colour. I’ve drawn ever since I can remember, along with football it’s been the thing I always turned to. As a kid I loved drawing Nintendo game boxes and Beano characters - I’ve always been into the crisp, strong outlining and smooth, vibrant colours. I’m inspired by various street and pop artists from Mr Penfold of Cambridge to Greg Mike of the US. I also take inspiration from a friend from Belgium, Musketon, who I met through Instagram; he is a strong example of how to build a brand around your art.

I love digging into my imagination and any time I have a lighter workload I create my own personal projects, which usually generate interest and lead to commissions. Doodling is an obsession; I have to do it, so it may as well be something constructive! I draw quickly. The concept for a character could take minutes for a rough look, but then I refine them to look neater. My favourite bit is drawing them digitally as they often develop or change without me knowing it, and that’s an exciting part of the process.

One of the reactions I love is when someone random comments and tags their friend who looks like one of the characters. The idea that my artwork is seen by new people each day is my favourite aspect of the internet. One person even got a Hedboy character logo tattoo. Crazy but awesome.

I teach full time, which is difficult because I sometimes have to turn projects down. The positive side is that I hand pick which projects I take on, and I love my day job. I’m currently working on designs for SKON (Some Kind of Nature), a Notts-based clothing label. I’ve also recently done a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles inspired image for Suede Bar in Hockley, and I’ve just finished some packaging designs which will hit a nationwide store this Christmas.

Hedboy on Big Cartel
Some Kind of Nature website

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