The London-based illustrator dreaming of pastures new and (c)old
Having graduated from his illustration and animation course at Kingston University, Reece Wykes is now setting his gaze further afield. His colourful, textured illustrations boast strong concepts, inviting the viewer to spend just that extra bit of time appreciating each one. As seen in his 52 Dogs series – about the crew of Roald Amundsen’s 1911 South Pole expedition and the obstacles they faced along with their 52 dogs – Reece successfully eschews a merely decorative aesthetic, instead substantiating each artwork with an enticing narrative or conceit. Intriguingly, and it is in 52 Dogs that it’s most evident, Reece told us how “at the time of [a] project I don’t even realise it, but when looking back, [a sinister essence] sticks out”.
The style of conveying this, however, varies greatly. While there may be a thread running through each illustration denoting Reece’s work, each piece distinguishes itself from the others; such a feat is testament not only to his varied skill set but considered thought process, too. Reinforced during a brief internship at Print Club London, Reece’s screen printing experience has drilled in him a sense of discipline and preparation, an attitude which bodes well when intricately refining his drawings using a lightbox. While he does use a computer, he tends “to see it as a [compositional] tool, not a medium. [He] always [tries to] keep the handmade element within [his] work.”
From the South Pole, then, to the Orient. Reece is currently working on a series of illustrated maps of Japanese cities, and with a trip to the likes of Fukuoka and Yokohama in the works, “these maps [he’s] illustrating become a guide for the future”. We can’t wait to see the whole set.