Q&A with Illustrator Marcella Wylie

We worked together with local illustrator Marcella Wylie on the recent Ella Drinks rebrand. Marcella’s vibrant, inky yet elegant style seemed like the perfect match for Ella Drinks, injecting some energy into an honest, premium product. We wanted to find out a little more about Marcella and her process…

Can you tell us a bit more about your career to date and how you became an illustrator/artist?

I graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in 2008, where I actually studied Textile Design (specialising in printed textiles to be exact). With a global financial crash happening, it was literally the worst time to graduate in design and I ended up moving back to Glasgow to work for a fantastic research and marketing company.

It was almost a year after graduating that I decided I was long overdue to pick up a pencil and start drawing again (really my first love, for as long as I can remember). By chance, the first illustration I made ended up being published by The Association of Illustrators in their ‘Best of British’ publication – ‘Images 35’. It was only then that I thought, maybe I can do this after all and if I can’t find someone to employ me then I’ll go it alone and start my own (micro) business, which I did. I’ve been so fortunate to be able to work with some brilliant clients over the years. My love of drawing, and the blind will to keep going at it, have been the driving forces in my career so far.

Which projects have been most instrumental in developing your style?

I guess initially the AOI publication (mentioned above) had a big part to play in developing my style at the start. I always like to work quite quickly so watercolour and inks have been the perfect medium for me so that has really shaped my style of illustration. As you can tell from my work, I also love using acid-bright colours (despite living in black clothes)! Because of this, clients have tended to come to me as they are generally looking for watercolour based, fluid, bright illustrations.

Can you tell us a bit about your process? What steps do you take from the initial brief to completion of project?

Obviously, for me, it is paramount that I create work that meets my clients’ briefs. I always want to deliver illustrations that surpass their expectations if possible. So initially we will chat about what subject matter, colour and style they need for the project. It always helps when they point out certain illustrations I have done in the past to give me a flavour of what they are looking for. Then it’s onto the best part – drawing! I’ll start off in pencil, make a quick sketch and then paint in watercolour and ink…the brighter the colours the better. The illustration is then tightened up using fine liners and to finish I might tweak the drawing here and there in Photoshop. The emphasis is very much on hand-drawing and painting, however. Then back to the client to get feedback and make changes where needed.

What’s your favourite thing to draw?

I do love flowers! I remember when I first started out that I wanted to sell my work in galleries and one gallery owner asked me; “but surely you will get sick of drawing flowers’ it hasn’t happened yet…thank goodness! The colours, different structures, millions of varieties – there is endless inspiration in mother nature.

Do you still have time to draw for your own pleasure?

Yes and I am so fortunate that I can, drawing is almost like a form of meditation, I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it! At the moment I am really enjoying using ProMarker pens on Bristol Board depicting tropical jungles, rainforests, animals and of course flora/fauna. The more detail the better, a way to really escape and enjoy the process of drawing on a humble bit of gloriously blank paper!


You can see the final designs for Ella Drinks that we created with Marcella here.

1 July 2018

Further reading
Scotland Food & Drink Conference
13 December 2018
Gorbals Ideas Fund Logo Competition
13 November 2018
V&A Dundee Opening
30 October 2018