Madi Barrett

Say hello to Madi Barrett, a 23-year-old illustrator, who graduated last year with a First class honours degree in illustration from Bournemouth Arts Institute. One thing you should know about Madi: she loves paper. “Brightly-coloured magazines, patterned scraps of fabric, wallpaper samples, catalogues, envelopes, pretty fragments of paper,” says Madi, “I hoard everything I might possibly be able to use in an illustration. I’ve recently taken to going to DIY stores, and helping myself to what is probably considered far more than my fair share of wallpaper samples.”

What else do you need to know about Madi? She’s a bit of a night owl (“it would be handy if the rest of the world was nocturnal, too”), she is ‘strangely opposed’ to capital letters (although a desire for correct grammar forces her to use them) and she never wears matching socks. Oh, and she wants a tortoise, who she would name Sparky. But there’s lot more, too – read on!

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I like to cut and stick and collage and draw and colour-in. My illustrations are mainly created using a combination of collage and mixed media, incorporating a mix of found papers and fabric with hand-drawn elements and typography. The majority of my work is created by hand, although the final illustrations are composed digitally. I love the actual cutting and sticking side of creating an illustration, and always include a variety of papers, patternts and textures in my work – the fun part is scouring magazines for a scrap of paper in the perfect shade of blue, or cutting out impossibly tiny shapes, and ending up with hands covered in glue! Although I am interested in all areas of illustration, I especially enjoy children’s illustration – I love designing playful characters and creating imagery to capture a child’s imagination. Creating characters is one of my favourite parts of illustrating – monsters are a current favourite!

What are your inspirations?

I am inspired by everything; the everyday, the unusual, and the things in my head. Everything I hear, see or imagine can inspire me to create an illustration. Paper is also a massive inspiration – different colours or patterns or textures create images in my head, which I then feel compelled to put onto paper. Inspiration for an image often comes to me just as I’m falling asleep, and I end up scrabbling around frantically in the dark to find a pen to scribble the idea on the back of my hand. I often wake up covered in biro. Finally, I will always be inspired by my Mum. She always encouraged me to work hard, and ultimately to pursue a career in whatever made me happy. Her strength and bravery taught me to never give up, and I hope that if she could see me now, she’d be proud of me.

What’s your favourite piece of work you produced?

I think it has to be the children’s book I produced in my final year at uni. It’s called I’m A Little Bit Scared Of…, and it explores some of the fears that children commonly experience during childhood. The book features a little boy called Jake, and was created in an attempt to help children understand that fears are a normal part of life, and reassure them that they are not alone in experiencing them. Feel free to go buy a copy!

Whose your favourite ‘creative’ in your chosen field?

I love Sara Fanelli – I find her work, especially her children’s books, incredibly inspirational. Her character designs are awesome – so they’re always colourful and creative. From a children’s book perspective, I also admire the work of Lauren Child – I love her collagestyle, and her methods of combining text and image. Artist wise, I am a big fan of Rob Ryan – his paper cuts are incredible.

Visit Madi’s website, MadiIllustration,

Website: and read her blog here. Tweet her, too: @MadiIllustrates.
All images © Madi Barrett. To view the images in clearer detail, click on them.

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