Daniel Mackie Interview

Illustrator Daniel Mackie

Daniel Mackie is an award-winning illustrator and a respected member of the industry. Starting out in 1995, Daniel has worked globally across all segments of the industry and recently won “Best in Book” in the Creative Review illustration Annual 2011. Daniel’s illustrations have provided visual solutions to countless briefs.

We love how the strange proportions and collaging effect in Daniel’s work seems to bend space and time, each piece draws you deeper and deeper into a well crafted story. Daniel was kind enough to take the time to talk to TF about his work, process and inspirations.


Blog: http://danielmackie.wordpress.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/danielmackie

Shop: http://danielmackie.bigcartel.com/

Greek-myth, Leander and Hero ©2011 Daniel Mackie
Q1.   Tell us a bit about yourself.

I abandoned Photoshop in 2010 having used it as my main illustration tool for over ten years. Photoshop was making me cut corners and it was driving me crazy with its flat colours. Once I started using watercolour it became instantly clear to me that one of the reasons I was becoming so frustrated with my work was that I never had to make a solid decision. I could always undo something. When you’re using watercolour, you can’t undo it. You have to be brave, and as a result your decision-making gets better.

owl-painting-rough ©2011 Daniel Mackie
owl-illustration ©2011 Daniel Mackie

Q2.   How do you approach starting a new project?

I always start with my sketchbook. I used to use layout pads, but the paper would get everywhere. All my drawings were becoming massive too. It turned out I needed glasses! So after a trip down to the opticians, my drawings got back down to sketch book size!

playboyrough ©2011 Daniel Mackie
playboyrough ©2011 Daniel Mackie
playboy-principle-final ©2011 Daniel Mackie

Q3.   What is most important to you when working on a piece?

Concentration. And then it’s either the idea or the execution, or hopefully a wonderful combination of the two.

bear-illustration-rough ©2011 Daniel Mackie
bear-illustration_final  ©2011 Daniel Mackie

Q4.   What’s the role of sketching in your creative process?

I usually have an image in my head, but it kind of needs fleshing out and that’s what sketching does.

nature_illustration_rough ©2011 Daniel Mackie
nature_illustration_final ©2011 Daniel Mackie

Q5.   Weapon of choice (favorite materials)?

Watercolour. 0.5 twist-erase pencil

crane_illustration ©2011 Daniel Mackie

Q6.   Do you have a favourite place outside of your workspace that you like to go to sketch?

I’m not really an outdoor sketcher. Maybe I ought to try. Years ago I sketched the Amphitheatre in Verona, but was mobbed by onlookers! Kind of put me off! To top it all, the drawing turned out badly!

tiger–illustration–rough ©2011 Daniel Mackie
tiger illustration ©2011 Daniel Mackie

Q7.   Your favourite procrastination pastime?

Playing the guitar very badly. You would be disgusted at my rendition of “Under the Bridge”

bird-rough ©2011 Daniel Mackie

Q8.   What do you like to listen to while you’re working?

Radio 4, Classic FM, Radiohead, U2. I won’t go on, as I feel I have already embarrassed myself enough.

alligator rough ©2011 Daniel Mackie
alligator rough ©2011 Daniel Mackie


alligatorfinal ©2011 Daniel Mackie
 What are some of your sources of inspiration?

At the moment I am very much influenced by Japanese prints, Artists like, Hiroshige, Hokusai and Yoshitoshi. I am also a big fan of Henri Matisse. In the past it’s been the usual suspects, Egon Schile, Klimt. I was recently invited to have my work published in a book called “Illustrators Unlimited” published by Gestalten, there are a ton of wonderful illustrators in there.

bird-illustration-final ©2011 Daniel Mackie

Q10.   If you weren’t a professional artist, what would you be doing?

I’d be doing something outside in the wild.

Huge thanks to Daniel for providing so many awesome photos and for taking the time to do this interview.

Don’t forget to stop by Daniel’s site!

All images ©2011 Daniel Mackie


  1. whats your inspiratipn

    • Take a look at q9, and he answers that. Truly intriguing inspiration, probably unique to his amazing artwork.

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