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10 questions with martha ford

Zoe Zietman 

How would you describe your work in just three words?

Mysterious, Contemplative and Gentle.


What inspires your illustration?

I have always loved to read, I grew up on books like The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia and Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials and I think my work is highly influenced by these magical stories.What themes do you explore within your work?A lot of my work also explores people and their place within nature, themes of isolation and the effects and passage of time but I also love people coming up with their own interpretations of my work.

What would you say is the best thing about your profession?

Creating work that can inspire others or that people can connect with and enjoy on different levels. I am really grateful to the people who do like my images; they say some really kind, encouraging and sometimes very insightful things and it really motivates me to develop and improve further.  It is also great being a part of such a thriving, diverse and creative community.

Do you have a favourite illustrator?

James Jean is an amazing illustrator. I first came across his work on the covers of the Fables comics (a brilliant series of graphic novels) and loved everything about them. He creates bizarre characters and creatures with beautiful flowing forms and really dreamy colour palettes; they are really mesmerising images.

Do you have a favorite place in Bristol?

Quite a few but one of my favourites is sitting on the harbourside outside the Arnolfini on a hot summer’s evening, with a drink, and chatting with friends as the boats and swans go by and the buskers play. I never want those evenings to end really.


Pen and paper or digital?

I am a big fan of both. I work through my ideas in sketchbooks and in notebooks and then I either paint digitally from my pencil drawing or scan my paintings in and edit digitally. I would be lost without either.

Working to music or silent studio?

It all depends on what mood I am in. Sometimes the right music can really focus, and sometimes influence, my work but other times, I need to fully focus and that is when I need silence.


Following the theme of our current issue, what item would you be lost without?

My computer. Not a very interesting answer but I live off this thing.


And what’s the best thing you’ve ever found?

I remember going on holiday when I was a child to this house in France and went exploring in the garden. I pushed through an overgrown gate and found a small ‘hidden’ garden with a little old bird table in the middle and lots of wildflowers. For a child who was always climbing into wardrobes to see if there really was another world back there, and who was once obsessed with The Secret Garden, this was magical.

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