Artist English singer, songwriter and guitarist George Ezra took to the stage at his sold-out UK tour with our visuals that we worked on with Bryte Design and Ainsley Knotts.

Ainsley Knott has produced work for a variety of clients in the shape of books, animation, stage design, magazines, as well as live drawing events. So we decided to chat with Ainsley about his illustrations and get his perspective on working with us on this project.

1. What is it like working with Observatory? 

I’ve worked with Observatory on a few projects and can say they are super professional and have an amazing amount of experience, which is really conducive to the creative process.

Another great thing about working with them is the variety of clients they work with and the creative challenges that it opens up for me, it’s always different which is something I love. 

Ainsley work was animated by Observatory for George Ezra’s stage visuals.

2. What do you think makes a good illustrator/designer?

A good imagination. Essentially, the ability to visualise the image you want to create. Part of this is nurtured through observing the world around but the other part is exercising the imagination when theirs no visual stimulai. Reading and doodling are good for this.

On top of that, an understanding of how people read and perceive things. Essentially it’s visual storytelling, not necessarily a story in a traditional sense, it can be an idea or concept that evokes meaning or emotion. So to do it well you have to be able to put yourselves in other’s shoes and see if you convey the story in a way that makes sense, and has the emotional reaction you want.

Close up of the artwork

3. How did you get into Illustration?

I did a foundation course in Art and Design which is usually a prerequisite for a university course. I originally wanted to become an animator but during the foundation course I was introduced to illustration and it captivated me. I later did a three-year degree in illustration at Arts University Bournemouth and continued to develop my skills after that.

4. What differentiates Observatory from other companies you’ve worked with.

Well, they work with some of the biggest clients from around the world so it’s wonderful to be a part of those projects. A lot of the projects they work on are for stage visuals and set designs which opens up a hold bunch of different considerations when designing artwork say compared to print format. Also, the fact that they are very cutting edge means you get insights new on a project.

5. What have been some of your favourite projects you’ve worked on across your career?

The George Ezra stage visuals was a particularly cool project because it was creating the artwork to a particular song that I knew. It felt like a lot of responsibility was placed on me and I relished that challenge. Then to see it displayed at the actual live show was awesome.

6.  What equipment would you recommend for beginners and any tips?  

Pencil and paper. For one, you can take it anywhere and two, by drawing, you learn a lot about creativity and yourself. I feel it can open cognitive doors that you weren’t aware of. 

7. What projects are you looking forward to that you are working on in the coming months?

In the coming month, I’m looking to create more videos sharing my creative process because I think it’s wonderful to share that side of things, especially in an honest way. I think people might get a lot out of it, but I think I’ll also learn a lot about myself in the process.

8. Who inspires you as an illustrator?

I like Shaun Tan for his wonderful imagination and beautiful, traditional skills. I like Frank Stockton, as he used to create these really awesome and unusual perspectives in his illustrations – I don’t think he works in completely different style now though.

Christoph Niemann for his simple yet wonderful creativity. And the likes of Mr Bingo and Anton Gudim for their wit and humour.

9. How would you describe Observatory in three words?

 Stage projection magicians.

10. What was it like working on the George Ezra project with us? 

Great! The collaborative process of it was really cool. I got to work in a different style than I’m used to, which is always fun, and I felt a very valued part of the team and the creative process. The icing on the cake was seeing the result on stage.

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