Creative in association withGear Seven

Jelly London Takes Us Behind the Scenes with Illustrator Matt Johnstone

London, UK
Rachel Guiver gives us an insight into the mind of a 'meticulous inky cyclist'

Ever wondered what inspires the jelly talent? What drives them? What a typical day is like? jelly London's Rachael Guiver went behind the scenes with illustrator Matt Johnstone to find out just how he uses his trusty pencil, pen and ink to create his playful illustrations.

RG> Tell us how it all started.

MJ> I loved to draw cartoon characters and read illustrated puzzle books when I was younger then when I gave up Maths A-level I had to make it work.

RG> What’s a typical day like for you? How do you come up with all your new concepts?

MJ> I cycle into my studio, make a coffee and then just get on with it. Sometimes I get random ideas that pop into my head and I know exactly how to visualise them, it might just be a few words that I write down in a notebook. Other times I have little elements of ideas on a recurring theme that nag at me but build into a bigger idea over a period of time.

RG> What do you love most about your job?

MJ> It’s fun! I can be creative and playful and I draw pictures for a job; which is nice.


RG> What is the most challenging part?

MJ> I probably need to find more time to do personal projects. I tend to be less productive when it’s me setting the deadline rather than a client.


RG> You’ve got an impressive portfolio, tell us a little about what it was like to work for such super clients.

MJ> I try and do the best I can within the time and limitations of the brief. I’m more productive when working to deadlines, which is handy in the commercial illustration world.


RG> We know picking a favourite piece is like picking a favourite child, so how are your projects special to you in their own way? 

MJ> Some of the illustrations you can look back on and they remind you of a particular time or place. My pub map of Brighton will always be special because it was my first real big commission after graduating, and I invested a lot of time and effort into it. I’ve also been lucky enough to regularly work for The Guardian Sport, which is fantastic. Recently I’ve been doing a lot more live art and murals at events, and it’s grown to be a big part of my work now.

Cheltenham Literary Fest 2014

 Eurostar celebrates its 20th birthday

RG> What do you think will be the next big thing in illustration?

MJ> I think that illustration is going to used more and more in a digital interactive way animated for tablets, phones and websites.


RG> What does illustration do that other mediums can’t?

MJ> You can imagine anything with it. Anything!


RG> What would be your perfect brief or dream client?

MJ> I’d love to work with Arsenal to design their football kit, perhaps drawing a detailed illustrated history of the club that is then used on the fabric of the shirt. If anyone from Puma HQ is reading this “Hallo Ich heiße Matt Johnstone und meine Bilder sind sehr gut...” *German probably inaccurate as I just used Google translate.


RG> What do you have planned for 2015?

MJ> I hope to get a project I have been planning for ages off the ground. I have lots of bits written down in notebooks and a few sketches but I need to make progress on making it a reality.


RG> What’s your favourite snack whilst working?

MJ> I seem to get through a few of those Eat Natural fruit bars, usually almond, apricot and yoghurt style.


RG> What’s your favourite music to work to?

MJ> I listen to random stuff on Spotify, football podcasts or comedy audiobooks.


RG> What’s your favourite decade and why?

MJ> This decade, because there will be new things that will happen.


RG> Describe yourself in 3 words.

MJ> Meticulous inky cyclist

RG> Tell us something about yourself that we didn’t already know. 

1. I once concussed myself trying to do an overhead kick while playing football.

2. Someone I share a studio with pointed out that most of the time the colour of my socks match my t-shirt but weirdly this is not deliberate.

3. I do not wear shoes indoors.

Work from Jelly London
Redbreast Irish Whiskey