Comics Interviews

INTERVIEW: Claire Scully, Creator of Internal Wilderness

Internal Wilderness is a unique reading experience that offers not only intricate natural landscapes, but raises questions about humanity and our influence on the natural world. Curious about the artist and the work as a whole, we managed to ask Claire Scully, the creator of Internal Wilderness, a few questions to find out about her love for nature and how the book came together…

AP2HYC: To the readers who may not know the book, could you provide a summary for Internal Wilderness?

Scully: The Internal Wilderness is a journal of a sequence of events occurring over a period of time and location in space. The pages follow a “train of thought”, I am interested in how our memory of a place or time can spark a flow of narrative that is seemingly unconnected yet your brain takes you on a logical and automatic journey. The Internal Wilderness is a journey through moonlit nocturnal worlds used to escape this physical world and enter into the adventure of discovery.

AP2HYC: Could you provide a background about yourself and how you developed your artistic style?

Scully: I, like most illustrators, have drawn and been drawing since I was able to hold a pen. Luckily I grew up in a household of people that could draw and creativity was always celebrated but it took a long time for me to discover the true value of my drawings. It was after a good few years of working in jobs I hated that the opportunity to study came up and from there things all started falling into place. I think sometimes you need to experience what you don’t want in life to really understand the details and particulars of what you do want to achieve.

I graduated in 2006 from an MA in Communication Design at Central Saint Martins in London. I never intended to become an illustrator it just evolved that way, I was actually always more interested in photography in the beginning which links to my thinking on visual memory and has influenced the format of “snap-shot” style landscape drawings.

I like the process of meticulous drawing and repetition often when looking at the world I get drawn in to the sheer enormity of how its all put together and my need to recreate this on a page drives me to keep drawing.

There is always an element of technical muscle flexing with high intensity drawings and I know I can fall into this category but I would hope regardless of personal taste or interest most people can appreciate the level of input that goes into a good drawing.

AP2HYC: What artists were your influences?

Scully: I have an ever changing range of art and artists I find inspiring or have influenced my thinking and practice, this is part of what keeps us fresh and keeps our art moving forward. I find Japanese wood block printing a true wonder so artists like Katsushika Hokusai, Shintaro Hiroshima and Ray Morimura are legends for me. The photography of Ansel Adams captures the sense of adventure I try to convey in my own drawings. More up to date inspirations come from artists like Tom Gauld‘s simplicity of line capturing humour and Jon McNaught‘s sense of the quiet mundane beauty in the everyday.

AP2HYC: Whilst the theme of nature is heavily prevalent, what other ideas or thoughts were you trying to present in Internal Wilderness?

Scully: There is an element of trying to reach out and form longer lasting connections to places by playing with the idea that we can build our own versions of reality and how we view the world we inhabit. I have always been curious about what happens beyond the confines of a page. Often working in a series, like how you will keep following a path to see whats round the corner, then whats round the next corner, over the next hill and beyond the woods. It is always a journey to discover and the expectation of seeing something wonderful.

There are environmental themes in my work also, I had always wanted to tackle the more important themes within the context of my work but found most of the time it translated in a very literal or cliched way and there was no need to bash people over the head with it. In the end, for me, the importance lays within highlighting the value of our environment, not just in an ecological sense but in an emotional sense too. This is where a discussion becomes more heartfelt and powerful and it’s in this way that we are more likely to have a more positive impact.

I am also an avid science fiction fan so often I like to view the world in a universal sense, this brings in to question the nature of reality and the wonder of what plane of existence I am connecting with…

AP2HYC: The pages throughout Internal Wilderness contain an amazing amount of detail. What was the process of the design, and how long did it take to complete a page?

Scully: Not to diminish any illusion of painstaking design over what tree goes where but each drawing had a very fluid process, if I am creating a landscape from within I use a fairly organic process, in my mind, obviously a tree goes there and a rock goes here because that’s just how it is. Each of the drawings would take only a few hours to draw but they would be born from a thought of where I’d like to be or a place I have loved being in, though sometimes I can get stuck on deciding what kind of ground I want to walk on or where is it I am journeying to so I would only ever create one in a single day. The design process comes together through decisions made early on to frame the drawings all the same size and format, using the same pen and paper stock.

AP2HYC: Looking into your work, where did the love for nature originate from?

Scully: Born in London, nature has always played an important role in my life. Growing up, family days were always spent bird-watching and visiting open spaces. When you have to look a little harder to find your spots of natural tranquility I think you appreciate it all the more. As well as concerns I have for the fragility of our environment I like the way a lot of nature has a robust persistence, its a constant reminder that it is here and won’t give up easily. My work is a celebration and reflects the complexity and beauty of the natural world.

AP2HYC: What future projects do you have planned, are we to see more publications from yourself?

Scully: Yes, I hope so, as the Internal Wilderness pages suggest – this is actually a small part of a much larger project that keeps growing, I have some of the drawings in exhibition until 31st August 2016 in the Shepherd Gallery at the University of Nevada, Reno. For the moment I aim to just keep drawing and let the work unfold into what it eventually becomes. But I hope to produce more books documenting the journey as it plays out.

What did you think of our review? Did we pick up on the themes well?

Scully: Your review was brilliant, it’s so great to see people look beyond the lines of the page and see the world beyond.

Thank you Claire for answering our questions. And we here at A Place To Hang Your Cape wish you all the best in your future projects. Don’t forget to show Claire your support by checking out Internal Wilderness as well as her other content here!

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About the author

Connor Filsell