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Meet the Illustrator that designed the lake district pound: Becki Gill

This Friday we’ve chosen 28-year-old portrait illustrator and pop culture fanatic Becki Gill as our latest #CreatorOfTheWeek.

We chatted with South Lakes artist Becki to discuss her career, being a creative in Cumbria, pop culture, and all things arty.

Becki has had a strong passion for art her whole life and carried a sketchbook everywhere as a kid:

“I remember doing a project in school on Pop Art which probably established my love for it”.

It was only until she started Art & Design at college that she naturally gravitated towards illustration:

“My tutor suggested I study illustration at uni but I actually started studying Graphic Design as I thought it would give me more career opportunities”.

Becki dropped Graphic Design after a couple of weeks and jumped on the Illustration course after seeing the projects the illustrators were working on.

Image Credit: Becki Gill

Just a year after graduating from the University of Cumbria in 2017 Becki had her first big client commission for the Lake District Pound.

The Lake District Pound was launched in May 2018 to encourage visitors and residents to support local businesses.

“They had been searching for local artists from the Lakes and came across my work on social media and reached out to me. They wanted the notes to be really vibrant and eye-catching and particularly liked my style of portraiture and use of bright colours”.

Being tasked with illustrating portraits of Lake District icons Becki learned a lot from the project:

“It entailed a lot of different illustrative elements and creating accurate portraits of iconic people like Beatrix Potter, so the pressure was on!”.

On completion of the project Becki adds:

“It was quite surreal seeing the notes in print and knowing so many people were seeing my illustrations”.

The famous faces that feature on the Lake District Pound are; Beatrix Potter, Sir Chris Bonington, Charlotte Mason, and John Ruskin. Image Credit: Becki Gill

Unfortunately, the Lake District Pound is now discontinued but they make great gifts for the Lake District which you can purchase here.

Recently Becki’s work has featured in Courier magazine a business magazine that features the work of young entrepreneurs and Little White Lies a bi-monthly film magazine notable for its illustrations.

On being commissioned for Little White Lies to do a portrait of Actor Steven Yuen looking into his role in the hit movie The Humans Becki was excited:

“I’ve seen some of my favourite illustrators such as Laura Callaghan, Natalie Foss, and Bijou Karman create work for them so it felt like a really proud moment”.

Bijou Karman, If Beale Street Could Talk, image credit: LittleWhiteLies

Natalie Foss, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, image credit: LittleWhiteLies

Laura Callaghan, Promising Young Woman, image credit: LittleWhiteLies

On being a creative in Cumbria Becki explains how creative opportunities and connections are limited:

“I’ve found it hard to find like-minded creatives in my area to connect with and in school,, I don’t remember being taught about creative careers”.

Becki adds that this isn’t just exclusive to Cumbria but being a creative in the North in general:

“It feels out of the way of where all the exciting stuff happens. So many people think they need to go to London to find opportunities, which is a shame as it’s not always attainable. It would be amazing to see more creative courses, creative apprenticeships, events and support for people going into creative careers in Cumbria”.

Being a creative leaves way for critiques from critics, other artists and the public. Becki recalls how most of the constructive criticism comes from her perfectionist tendencies:

“I’ve been told that I get too worried about making my work look perfect and to become more loose and playful with my illustrations. I try not to correct every ‘mistake’ I make now”.

But for the most part, her work has received positive critiques:

“I’ve had nice comments on how I can capture someone's personality or tell a story with my illustration which is what I really aim to do, so I try to add more elements to my illustrations that add to the narrative”.

image caption: You can see how Becki’s captured Country singer Dolly Parton’s essence here. Image Credit: Becki Gill

Becki’s artistic influence is derived from what she enjoys and connects with:

“I’ve always had a fascination with drawing people, particularly faces. There’s always something I’ve really enjoyed about getting the intricate details of someone's features and capturing their likeness and personality. Pop culture has naturally been a big influence in my work”.

With pop culture being such a large influence on Becki’s work she talked about her current favourite pop culture obsessions:

“I recently watched ‘The Lost Daughter’ and I thought that was really good. Olivia Colman is brilliant in it, and it dealt with some controversial/taboo topics. My favourite TV show from last year would probably be ‘Maid’ on Netflix - it was really well made, and I was completely hooked on it. The main character has a really hard time but is really resilient - it made me feel grateful for what I have”.

Speaking of resilient women Becki did a portrait of I May Destroy You star Michaela Cole. Image Credit: Becki Gill

For the future Becki sees herself featuring in Rolling Stone Magazine and designing movie posters for Netflix. Becki’s passion and drive for illustrating eye-catching pop culture figures aren’t just limited to magazines and online: “I’d also really like to illustrate some book covers and some record covers too, having designed a record cover for my uni dissertation”.

Becki’s advice for future budding young creatives in Cumbria is:

“Believe in your ability, practise your craft and don’t compare yourself to other people. It’s something I have to remind myself of a lot.”

If you like Becki’s work she has an online shop where she sells everything from mushroom stickers to prints of wildlife inspired by having grown up in the countryside being around nature and living in woodland.

You can buy Becki’s work here:

You can view Becki’s portfolio here:

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