The Q&A: Anna Wray

By Peggy Roalf   Monday January 25, 2016

Q: Originally from Britain's North Country, what are some of your favorite things about living and working in Cambridge?

A: I am from Yorkshire and left to go to University in London to study painting at Chelsea School of Art at the tender age of 19. I now live in Cambridge where I also have a studio. I love Cambridge for its cultural richness, sense of community and the river than runs through.

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between the art you create on paper versus in the computer?

A: Yes! The sketchbook is where everything begins. I'm pretty busy so I draw on the train, in between looking after my children, on location, at weekends and just about anywhere I can. The great thing about sketchbooks is that they are like a portable studio. I treat mine like a visual dairy and draw daily. The type of sketchbook is important too; Moleskines are my favorite for their silky paper. I do use Photoshop at the very end of the creative process; I might tweak the color and re-combine elements of drawings.


Q: What is the most important item in your studio?

A: I would say my Mac as most of my drawing is done on location and out and about — it’s my studio where all the Mac tinkering happens.

Q: What do you like best about your workspace?

A: South facing with a nice view!

Q: Do you think it needs improvement, if so, what would you change?

A: It would be larger. I'd love to have a small print studio and somewhere to paint huge canvases, one day!

Q: How do you know when the art is finished?

A: When I have the feeling of satisfaction. I question every aspect of the illustration and if it could be improved. I often do many versions. Sometimes I think I have finished, put it away for a day and then realize it could be improved. It’s an onward journey but mostly the best illustrations stand the test of time

Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

A: The Twits by Roald Dahl

Q: What is the best book you’ve recently read?

A: I have just bought the illustrated children’s book Books by Murray McCain and John Alcorn.It’s a reprint from the 60’s and it has everything going on, on every level!

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: The humble pencil.

Q: If you could time travel to any era, any place, where would you go?

A: My surname originates back to the Vikings, so I would like to go back and hang out with my ancestors for a while, but not too long.

Q: What is preoccupying you at the moment?

A: I am on the look out for an illustration agent. 

Q: What are some of your favorite places/books/blogs/websites for inspiration?

A: The Cambridge University Library, my local auction house (art and design from 1850 onwards). My husband is a book dealer and often brings home antiquarian illustrated gem. 

Q: What was the [Thunderbolt] painting or drawing or film or otherwise that most affected your approach to art?

A: When I was 17 I became pretty obsessed with a particular painting by David Hockney in the Hull Ferens Art Gallery called We two boys together clinging. It has a feeling of liberation in the handling of paint, spontaneous, funny, childlike yet ultimately sophisticated. I just thought, I want to make work like that! It really inflamed my lifelong obsession with drawing and painting.

Q: What would be your last supper?

A: Tiramisu.


Anna Wray is an Illustrator living and working in the UK. She has worked on projects ranging from the cover illustration and promotional animation for Magnus Mills novel A Cruel Bird Came to the Nest and Looked In (Bloomsbury), editorial illustrations for BBC Worldwide, Tesco’s, and the complete illustrations and words for the book, This Belongs to Me (Ivy Press 2013) and Handmade Graphics (Rotovision). Anna is also a lecturer in Illustration and Graphic Design at University Campus Suffolk and combines her teaching with freelance commissions. 


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