The delicate work of illustrator Rosanna Tasker has a serenity and peace that makes you wish you lived within her drawn world. Millie Bruce-Watt chats to the artist about her work, what inspires her and how, in turn, she’d like to inspire others.
Rosanna Tasker’s illustrations seem to be the very essence of peaceful beauty. A palpable sense of serenity hangs close to her delicate drawings and the idyllic landscapes of her invented worlds create a form of escapism. With nature’s bounty appearing to be the common thread that binds Rosanna’s work, we are reminded of its calmness, the richness of organic foods, the unrivalled quality of a local market and thereby the benefits that they offer us.
Rosanna – who has lived in Bristol for eight years – achieved first-class honours in illustration at UWE in 2014. After she graduated, she was lucky enough to get regular work with a company called Moon Architect and Builder. “At least for two years they were my regular clients, giving me different types of projects. It was so unusual to have a client to start off my illustration career. I really owe a lot to them for getting me used to landing on my feet straightaway.”
Rosanna went on to set up her own studio in Hamilton House in Stokes Croft before moving to her current space in St Pauls where she has produced work on a commission basis for the likes of The New York Times, The Guardian and The Washington Post to name just a few, developing her style and refining her techniques. By drawing and painting onto separate layers of rich paper before finishing the illustrations digitally in Photoshop, Rosanna is able to create unique hand-crafted pieces. “A lot of people do things entirely digitally, but I want that hand-drawn, hand- painted look. In order to do that for clients where they need changes, I hand-paint all the colour and draw any elements on separate bits of paper, then scan it and put it together in Photoshop. That means if there is suddenly some extra text that needs adding, I can just move the tree slightly rather than re-paint the entire thing… Illustration is really unique because of the fact that you can be really playful with it. There are not really any rules to being a good illustrator.”
With the use of fine pencil lines and gouache paints, Rosanna endows her characters with poise and elegance. Her admiration for Golden Age fairytale illustrators like Edmund Dulac, Kay Nielson and Arthur Rackham, from whom she takes much of her inspiration, also shines through. It almost makes you wish that you, too, lived in the worlds that she creates. “The motivation for me is the creativity of it. I get thoughts and ideas all the time… Sometimes I’ll have an idea and I haven’t done it yet and it’s burning in me… I think it’s integral in me and it forces me. It’s like I don’t have a choice, I just need to get it out sometimes.”
Bristol itself has also had a profound effect on Rosanna’s work. Its pockets of creativity and the levels of artistic opportunity for up- and-coming illustrators helped her build her career, and the artistic community warmly guided her through the process of artistic self- discovery. “The community is such a beating heart in Bristol. I feel like that’s made it possible, really, not so much the impact on my work itself but it’s made being a freelance illustrator possible and enjoyable.”
Having grown up surrounded by the great outdoors near the historic town of Ludlow, Rosanna often reflects the happiest memories of her childhood in her work. “We lived right in the countryside down a dirt track. There were about four houses and several children there, all around the same age, outdoors and running around 24/7.
“I feel that had a really big impact on the type of subject matter I was interested in. I also never thought I’d want to live in a city. I came to Bristol and I thought, ‘This is what a city’s like; this is amazing.’ It’s got everything going on – it’s special in terms of creativity.”
With the dream of creating a children’s book at the forefront of Rosanna’s mind, her ambitions are ultimately very simple. She would like to one day inspire a child to embark on a similar path of creativity. “The main goal is to inspire people’s imaginations, not only for me to express what I’m wanting to say or what I’m wanting to draw but, also, for that story or those images to really spark something in a child. I think back to the books I had when I was a child and how those ideas and imagery built my imagination and fuelled the fire, so to be able to do that for someone else would be amazing.”