Illustrator’s Portfolio 141: GILES MEAD

Here at Sketchbook headquarters, we are constantly sifting through some illustrator portfolios. With so much stunning work landing on our desks these days, we’ve decided to spotlight some of our favourites once a week.

“The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas, and throw the bad ones away.”

Age: 22

Nationality: British

Living in: Bristol


Speculative editorial illustration about the risks associated with smartphone usage

What is in your sketchbook?

I realised halfway through my degree at university that I much preferred using sketchbooks as a way of honing my observational drawing skills. As a result, the majority of my sketchbooks these days are filled with figures and faces drawn when I’m out and about, usually on trains and buses. I’m particularly drawn to faces, and always trying to quickly get down people’s features. I sometimes stick in found or bought images that inspire me, as well as jotting down the odd idea that comes to me concerning a current or future project.

I’ve found keeping sketchbooks in this way has really helped to improve my draftsmanship, and a lot of techniques I’ve learned are employed in any final illustrations I produce. Lately, I find myself using ballpoint pens and biros more and more – I love their quality of line, and being non-erasable it means I have to be more decisive about each mark I make.

Commissioned illustration based on digital content and app store technology

Speculative editorial illustration discussing digital poetry’s rising popularity

Where do you illustrate?

Since finishing my degree in Falmouth, Cornwall, I’ve been working back at home, just outside of Bristol. I’m currently set up in my bedroom on a very crowded desk, usually accompanied by one of our cats; my things are still half-unpacked in boxes from the move home. As long as there’s a bit of desk space for my laptop and graphics tablet, I’m happy!


A mock-cover intended for The New Yorker, examining modern father and son bonding

What inspires your work?

Like most illustrators, my inspirations change all the time. I always, however, appreciate great draftsmanship in an image – great drawing, painting, composition or use of colour; it gives me something to work towards in the future.

In terms of outside influences, I’d say that technology culture is perhaps my biggest interest. I’m a bit of a wannabe tech-geek – I spend a lot of time reading about gadgets and gizmos and have been an avid gamer since I was about 7, and this inevitably filters its way into my illustrations. I’m particularly fascinated with how first-world culture has come to depend on technology so much, as well as exploring the benefits and limitations that they have afforded us in our daily lives.

Interior illustration intended to accompany The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter


What music do you listen to?

I’m not a huge music fan at all! The majority of tracks I listen to are from video game soundtracks or TV shows; usually instrumental pieces that can accompany my working without distraction. I’m a big fan of some of the Final Fantasy soundtracks, especially Nobuo Uematsu’s work.

There are occasionally a few examples of more conventional artists on my playlist; I really like Basement Jaxx and Groove Armada, so it’s not all unconventional and nerdy.


Speculative book jacket for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

What did you have for breakfast?

I have cereal and toast each morning without fail, accompanied by a cup of tea. The kind of cereal tends to vary, as does what goes on the toast, but that’s about as exciting as things get. I’m certainly not one of those people who can skip breakfast  though – I wouldn’t be able to function otherwise!

 Check out more of Giles’s work at and follow him on twitter @gilesmead.

WORDS: Nada El Barshoumi

  • Barry McG

    These illustrations are great!