Interview: Cartoon Network’s David Ryan Robinson by Business Boom Collective
It’s time for our latest interview from the world of illustration, this time with designer, graduate of the University of Salford and one part of the Cartoon Network Creative Department David Ryan Robinson! Here, we exhibit some of his widely-known projects, including his acclaimed map of London, and ask the man himself about his experiences so far and advice on breaking into the industry.
Hi David, it’s a pleasure to continue our interview series with you, how do you fit into the creative world?
Hello! I’ve always considered myself as an illustrator. For a while my sole profession was a freelance illustrator, mostly editorial and advertisements. However since working at Cartoon Network and working there as a designer, it’s really hard to pin point me within the creative world. In university the tutors often used the word “designastrator”. Don’t really like the word myself, but I guess that could be what I am.
When did you first discover your flair for illustration, did your education play a large role in your artistic development?
Throughout my childhood I always had a thing for drawing. Mostly animals, dragons and Pokemon. This never stopped really. I remember just drawing a lot of Egyptian mythical creatures throughout the years of high school! However I don’t think education played a big part in my artistic development. I used to draw all the time anyway, it wasn’t until University that I realised that I could make a living out of drawing.
How would you describe your illustrative style?
I’m not too sure how you would describe my style. I use a lot of line work with limited colour. My normal routine when illustrating is to draw it out first, scan, then refine the strokes and add colour using photoshop.
We continue to see creative talent coming through the University of Salford, how did you find life there?
I didn’t mind it there to be honest. I thought my tutor knew what he was on about and really got me ready for the outside world. They had great silkscreening facilities that hardly anybody used, so once a week I used to go there and print work for the local art fairs. The one of the first things that I learnt outside of University was that there is a very fine line between illustration and design. The courses are split up into Illustration, Communication and Animation, which I totally understand. But going from a purely illustrative background to working on designs at Cartoon Network as well as animating/building environments in 3D/product design/art direction/etc was a fairly simple transaction considering I spent the 3 years of Uni thinking that Communication design is where you produced posters in Adobe Illustrator, and Illustration is where you draw pictures for magazines.
The map of London is a fascinating project, what was the inspiration behind it and what was the feedback like?
Ha ha, everyone talks about the London map. It was a great product to work on and the feedback I got was incredible. I managed to get it featured in the Daily Mail and I sold out of the whole edition within hours. Even now a year later I still get people emailing me about once a week to see if I have any available! I have, however, just recently finished another map for London Zoo, which seems to be getting a lot of attention at the moment (albeit not as much as the London map did!). That can be found on my online store.
Tell us more about your experiences and general life at the Cartoon Network.
Life at CN is great! They have a free coffee machine and I get to work on shows like Adventure Time, which is very cool. I work within the Creative department, creating designs for all commercial and consumer marketing. So, packaging, products, brand style guides, window displays, DVD, publishing… everything that comes from Cartoon Network on print has come from our small team! At the moment we are focusing our concentration on The Amazing World of Gumball, Adventure Time, Ben 10 Omniverse and Regular Show.
What advice would you give to newly graduated creatives looking to establish themselves in the industry ?
I can only go by my experiences really. So looking back at what I did..
Move to London. Get a crappy part time job somewhere to pay the bills (I chose Waitrose!). Freelance on the side while spending all day phoning up companies asking if they want you to work for them. Accepting that there is probably a 0.5% chance of them saying yes and not giving up until someone wants you!
Where can our readers find you online?
Thanks David! All the best from the BB team.
Funny little write-up by the official Tumblr blog, Storyboard.
David Ryan Robinson’s Fantasy Map of London
David Ryan Robinson doesn’t want to be known just as the map guy. Which is kind of difficult when you spend six months of your life drawing a huge A2 (that’s 23-and-a-half by 16-and-a-half inches) map of London.
It was fall 2011, and Robinson had just arrived in London. Like many young professionals, Robinson realised that the UK capital was the place to establish a firm career path. Robinson had always been into drawing, and he never got out of it. He graduated from university in June, taking a degree in art, and he knew that to advance in the creative industries he ought to move to London. “I’d only been a couple of times before,” he points out, on day trips and vacations.