Eastbourne-based illustrator Beth Tibbles specialises in creating colourful illustrations brimming with joy and humour. We caught up with her to learn more about her journey so far, how she looped back into illustration, and what it’s like to go freelance.
For Beth Tibbles, drawing has been a life-long passion. Having been scribbling away ever since she can remember, she went on to study illustration at college before completing a degree at the University of Westminster. She’s since gone on to work with clients such as BBC Teach and Channel 5.
However, like many creatives, her path hasn’t been as straightforward as it sounds. After graduating from university, Beth became a graphic designer for a London-based football club and put illustration to the side for a while. “I found I wasn’t enjoying it much and was unsure
how I could have a career in it at the time,” she tells Creative Boom.
“However, as time passed, I found it was something I missed, even just as a hobby. I started drawing more in my free time and having fun creating again. I then went on to be a designer for a giftware and stationery company, where I really started to learn a lot about designing for products, packaging and the whole process that goes with it.”
This graphic design detour would have a positive impact on Beth’s illustration work, though, as it helped her develop and shape her skills. “When I am illustrating, it has helped me to be very aware of the design’s final use and how it might appear printed on products or sit on a page with other components,” she says.
“It’s also helped me understand layout and how to incorporate and balance typography with my images. Through designing logos, marketing content, and packaging, I’ve gained a sense of conveying messages and stories through my imagery. This helps me achieve this within my illustrations and informs how I approach a brief.”
After four years and with all this experience under her belt, Beth felt it was time to make the leap and go freelance. “It was always something I had dreamt of doing but never really found the right time,” she reveals. “I was quite unprepared for it, which in hindsight was maybe not the best idea, but it felt like the right move.
“I have been a freelancer for nearly a year, producing illustrations for many clients. From designs for products to book illustrations and even illustrations for TV. My career so far has been trying out a range of jobs, but they have all helped me get to where I am now.”
Design isn’t the only thing to inform Beth’s work, though. Art seems to be a family affair, as her biggest inspiration is her sister, Amy, who also works as a freelancer in the animation and illustration industry. “Seeing the people close to me be so successful within the creative industry is super inspiring and was one of the reasons I actually decided to be a freelance illustrator,” she says.
“With that being said, I also find inspiration in the simplest things and in the things I enjoy most. For example, being outdoors, in the food that I eat and the places I visit.” This enthusiasm is evident in Beth’s work, as her style is bold, simplistic and playful. “I would say it’s very contemporary and consists of simplifying objects and people into chunky shapes,” she adds. “The chunkier, the better!”
People, food, and travel are recurring themes in Beth’s portfolio, so it’s no surprise that these are her favourite things to illustrate. One recent project based around the Channel 5 series Jersey & Guernsey allowed her to show off these passions in various map illustrations.
“This project was great. Firstly, I had the pleasure of working with a great motion design studio, Tracks and Layers, and secondly, it was quite surreal to see something I had created appear on TV every week,” she explains.
“I would also say that creating work for companies I love is important to me. In the summer, I was asked to create a design for my favourite bakery in Eastbourne, so to go from a frequent customer to someone designing their merch for their shop was a proud moment for me. I’m proud of much of the work I have created, but I am also really proud of the connections I’ve made from those projects.”
This sense of pride, which ties together Beth’s portfolio, is accompanied by a sense of fun, which can be seen in how she plays around with different compositions and shapes. “This is what I enjoy producing the most, and I think it’s super important to create the work that feels the most authentic to you,” she says. “It’s a reason I set myself my own creative briefs, to allow myself to display the work I want to create.”
It’s a commendable attitude to work and creativity, and it’s one that Beth wants to carry over into 2024. “I’m hoping this year has just been the very start of my freelance illustration journey,” she concludes. “I want to venture out and try lots of new things creatively.
“I’d love to work on some large-scale pieces, such as murals and installations, and it would also be great to collaborate with more creative people on projects. Lastly, I want to continue developing my artistic practice and to keep testing out new ways of designing and growing as an artist.”