March 13, 2013

On a cold yet sunny day in central London, a man sits alone in a popular wrap restaurant; he carries nothing but a HP pencil and few sheets of paper, seemingly waiting for an event to occur. This particular man is no ordinary individual, no no, he is popular illustrator David Sparshott, a man with a long list of illustration credentials and an international portfolio of work.

The restaurant door opens and enters another young man. His name is Sam Mackrill, a Senior Graphic Designer for Urban Outfitters Europe and an illustration enthusiast. Sam peers around the restaurant, searching for an old friend he has scheduled to meet and ask a few questions for the UO blog. He spots a HP pencil and a few sheets of paper, takes a seat opposite his friend, orders a wrap, and the conversation begins…


Sam: So who are you and what do you do?

David: I’m David Sparshott. I went to Bristol UWE in 2003 after doing a foundation degree at Loughborough for a year. I studied illustration at Bristol and graduated in 2006. From then, I have been pretty much just working up until now. 6 and a half coming up to 7 years, and been working full time for the last 4 years; before that just bits and bobs really.

Sam: What made you want to do Illustration?

David: I have no idea.


David: I think when I went to foundation; I didn’t even know that you could do it. Well we weren’t made aware at all at school of what we could do. After foundation I sort of enjoyed drawing and it went on from there.

Sam: Can you admit, you got the drawing bug?

David: Hmm, but before I actually went to foundation, I never did life drawing or any form of drawing.

Sam: You had never done life drawing?

David: I have never done anything like that, never done any actual work that was purely based on drawing. It always had to be finished off in powder paint or ink… or some shit like that.

Sam: So when did you realize that you got the bug?

David: I think it was probably after the first year at Uni, I think that was when everything sort of clicked in. Even before then you always tried to do stuff that everyone else was already doing. The whole thing was to emulate people’s work that you like as apposed to actually “this is how I really like working myself”. So I’m going to follow this path.

Sam: So it took you a while to discover that you had your own style…

David: Yeah, and that was at least the end of the first year at Bristol. Then going from there, second and third year… the momentum kept on going and I really had an idea of what I wanted to do.


Sam: Lets play quick-fire… Favourite place in London?

David: Greenwich Park

Sam: If you could draw anyone, who would it be?

David: Peter Crouch


Sam: Peter Crouch? What would he be doing?

David: I dunno, looking like a beanpole.

Sam: Favourite Artist?

David: David Hockney

Sam: Favourite Illustrator?

David: I don’t really have one.

ILLUSTRATOR DAVID SPARSHOTT Sam: If you could have a studio where would it be?

David: Within 3 miles of my house and also will have to be warm!

Sam: What is your go-to pencil?

David: Pentel mechanical with a HP lead, has to be a blue pencil… I dunno why.

Sam: What is your favourite piece of work that you have done?

David: The football stuff that I did for The Times a couple of years ago.

Sam: Talk us through that really quickly…

David: I was commissioned by The Times newspaper, to go to a premier league football match every Saturday, and then produce a drawn match report from that game. Roughly like a cartoon strip showing what happened.

Sam: Nice. Did you get to draw Crouch?

David: Nope, I didn’t get to draw Crouch! I went to a Stoke match… actually 2 Stoke games and he didn’t do anything note worthy so I didn’t get a chance too.

Sam: Of course he didn’t, its Peter Crouch.

David: Exactly, of course he didn’t do anything. I got to sit by the touchline with all the photographers for all the games. So yeah, it was great!

ILLUSTRATOR DAVID SPARSHOTT Sam: What’s the worst job you’ve had?

David: I’ve had loads of horrible jobs… One of them I had to draw people from different Russian cities, and had to put a dogs head on every single one of them.


Sam: Why?

David: I don’t know, its not on my website I tell you that, and definitely not in my portfolio.


Sam: What’s your best memory from uni?

David: Drawing

Sam: Would you ever do a live draw-off?

David: No, I have tried but I hate it!


Sam: If we commissioned you to do a big mural in an Urban Outfitters store, what you reckon you would draw?

David: I don’t know, a dog show or something like that… hundreds of dogs! People love dogs, especially pugs, they are well trendy.

Sam: Pugs not drugs?

David: Exactly

Sam: So where have we come too?

David: We are in Soho on Brewer Street

Sam: At Jumbo wraps…

David: They do the most amazing wraps in London they are incredible! I used to come here almost everyday, When I worked up the road at Carnaby Street at Howies. Lunch was just spending as much time away from the shop as you can get away with; and eat some utter filth while you’re at it!

Sam: What’s your go to wrap?

David: Today I had New York Beef, humus and gherkins.


Sam: Where are you living at the moment?

David: I live in South East London, near Lewisham.

Sam: How’s Lewisham treating you?

David: Lewisham is amazing!

Sam: Are there lots of posh coffee shops?

David: There are no posh coffee shops; there are lots of pound shops and chicken shops.

Sam: Who do you live with?

David: I live with my girlfriend Sarah, in a little one bed flat with our dog and our cat.

Sam: What’s your cat called again?

David: Maude, we had a cat called Nathan but it got killed.


Sam: Where is you studio? Do you work at home?

David: Sometimes, I have a studio in Peckham, down at the back of Old Kent Road. Really nice industrial estate, but I’ve not been working there in the winter because it’s too cold. So I’ve been working at home all winter, which is nice, ’cause there are radiators.

Sam: Do you actually work? Or do you just chill all day?

David: I am way more productive in the studio, working at home has been tough because there are just so many excuses not to work all the time.

Sam: So how do you find motivation to work? Because you are self-employed, free-lanced…

David: Well because motivation for me comes out of being commissioned to do work, that’s it! I mean if I’ve got a commissioned on that’s the only excuse I need to put all my time in to doing it. Whereas if I don’t have any work on, I’m really bad at becoming incredibly lazy. I find it hard to actually do my own work!


Sam: How hard was it starting out? Or was it a gradual thing?

David: It’s been really really gradual, I mean its just luck really. You kind of get a few bits of work after graduating but that’s less than 10 jobs a year and none of those pay you more than a weeks wage. So it’s pretty much impossible to get straight in to working full time.

Sam: What is your hobby? What do you enjoy?

David: I’ve been really lucky to have quite a lot of jobs related to cycling recently. Which is amazing, because I am always out on my bike and I really enjoy doing that. On the weekends, I have time off and I go off on my own and get out of London and do some cycling.

Sam: What’s the best thing about cycling for you?

David: Just getting out of town and getting out and seeing some countryside and fresh air. Doing exercise and actually feel like your going on a journey. Your travelling by your means and it doesn’t cost you anything.


With that, Sam and David finish their wrap and bid each other farewell.

The End