In 1978 I picked up a BIC Crystal biro and began to master its highly engineered nib; drawing sketches just to see what it could do. I soon learned its special characteristics both good and bad, (it had the tendency to form a blob on its underside that could spell ruin for a drawing if it failed to be cleaned regularly). Its main attribute though was its ability to deliver a smooth line and a sustainability of contrast in line with pressure. This implement, costing 9p at the time was used to draw my first commercial pictures; a series of birds that were displayed and sold in an art shop in my home town of Newark.

By 1979 I felt confident enough to tackle a commission to draw Newark church. It was meant as a gift for the retiring M.D. of the company I then worked for. Prior to framing it for presentation I had a few hundred prints made of it and sold them all to locals and visiting tourists.

Eventually turning my attention from the monochrome of the biro I delved into colour in the early eighties, mainly through the Caran d’Ache range of pencil crayons. Being more at home with an unyielding nib as opposed to a flexible brush I was able to introduce an entire spectrum of hues into my work.

Other commissions have been undertaken in the form of both pen and ink and pencil. Pen and ink has its own inherent challenges as the decisions made during drawing are not so much what you depict as rather what you leave out. The pencil work reverts back to my first love when it comes to drawing, though strangely these examples are few. I immerse myself in texture with pencils and through the kind of fine-angle cross hatching I enjoy creating shape and depth in a subject. I begin the pen and ink section with illustrations from my story ‘Imtol and the Birds of Iron’ drawn in 1973 when I was sixteen years old.

Richard Coppin Illustrator