Creative Conversations : Dave Merrell, Illustrator

Creative Conversations is a new feature series focused on shining a light on creatives under the radar. We aim to have 'creative conversations' with some of the most innovative creatives in the world today. Next up on the series is 39 year old Illustrator, Dave Merrell from Manchester.

What inspired you most to become an Artist/Illustrator?

It's something I've always loved doing. Illustrating is something I've always been obsessed with and fortunate enough to be be good at it. Being inspired by movie posters, video game covers, comic books and sport probably cover all the major factors of my work from subject to technique.

You have worked for big names such as Nike, Adidas, Nivea, ESPN, just to name a few, how has that been like, is there a lot of pressure?

Working with any client, not just major brand names, is something I handle as professionally as I can. I always come away having learned something new, which is also very important to evolving your knowledge and techniques. There is a lot of pressure, yes, but you can only do the job you're given in the time your given to do it, to the best of your ability. This often means finding the most efficient way round a problem without cutting corners.

Since your time creating, What has been the best and worst thing about it?

The best thing is being paid for doing something you love doing. The worst thing is the stress levels that come with tight deadlines.

Where or how do you find inspiration for your work, Is there a process you go through beforehand? 

There is always a process, without one you run around like a headless chicken, waving your arms in the air, achieving nothing - or maybe that's just me. I always start with research and gathering reference - this forms a solid foundation from where I start my sketches.

There is a stigma that designers, animators, painters, illustrators, creators, don't get enough credit for their craft and are sometimes 'forgotten' about? do you agree and why?

I don't know about 'forgotten', there is still a lot of love out there for the craft. Although, I do find often people don't treat it as a serious career path. I've had comments like " All you do is draw pictures" and " I wish I could just sit there and draw all day" - I'd like to think I speak on behalf of most professional artists and illustrators when I say, there's a bit more to it than that. Like creative conception, composition, years of training and evolving different techniques, etc and don't get me started on the people who think you need their help to promote yourself by offering exposure instead of payment. Mini-rant over.

Give us one interesting fact about yourself away from your profession, are you a sports man?

I used to be very active, but now I'm normally sat in my studio with a pencil in my hand rather than on the pitch. I am also an award-winning toy designer.

What is your favourite painting or design from a purely creative point of view you've come across and why?

I love designer, Olly Moss's angle on his work, there's always something more beneath the surface of his designs. His ' Legend of Zelda ' is a great example. He produces work which you wish you'd thought of first. Like any good invention, really.

What advice do you have for young illustrators growing up today?

Be wary of people offering exposure instead of money. Evolve - never stay static. Try not to wait for the procession of feedback about your work, do your work, promote it, and move on to the next piece. You will get rejected - That's just one stone unturned. There are many stones to unturn. Always concentrate on your own work and be courteous and polite about other peoples work. Always be honest.

If you could pick one iconic design or illustration from music, movies or TV you wish you created yourself, which one would it be?

There's a bunch of Drew Struzan posters I wish I'd created - although very difficult to choose a favourite, I'd have to go with the poster from the 1982 version of The Thing. Purely because of the story behind the design process. In a nutshell, he had 24 hours to come up with the concept, design and execution of the artwork - which even by today's standards would be deemed unrealistic. 

And finally, What has Dave Merrell got planned for the future?

I plan to venture into more than just sports illustration and to acquire an illustration agent, feel free to get in touch

Follow Dave Merrell on Twitter - Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with Dave's future projects or Visit his website to purchase Art on