the birds of south louisiana (as drawn by a UK native)--an interview with steve larder / by Hope A

Keep Writing number 101, illustrated by Steve Larder, designed and printed by gutwrench press September 2017

Keep Writing number 101, illustrated by Steve Larder, designed and printed by gutwrench press September 2017

Months ago, I was writing with a friend and asked him if he might want to illustrated some postcards for me. I had been doing a bit of bird-watching in Louisiana and I wanted to be able to share what I was seeing. I'm not much of an illustrator but I like Steve Larder's style. He was willing way before I came up with the scheme to collaborate every month for a year. That is how Steve Larder became the first collaborator in the current Keep Writing series.  Keep Writing number 101 was sent mid-September 2017 and included one of 4 illustrations he sent me. All four are available as postcards in my shop.  This month's card also included a letterpress printed box to hold your collection of cards. 

After all that Steve also consented to answer a few questions.  Read on!


Introduce yourself!  Who are you, where are you and what do you do?

My name is Steve, I live in Nottingham, UK and i'm an illustrator/comic and zine-drawerererer.

Describe your workspace--do you have a studio, or space in your home dedicated to drawing?

My workspace is generally the spare room of wherever i'm currently living - I would love to have a studio that requires me to actually leave the house but financial constraints and general lack of motivation to actually get that ball rolling keep me inside all day, ha!  At the very least I have to keep the 'drawing' room separate and distraction free from the goings on around a house, I can't focus, otherwise.

the four cards together, printed on french modtone patterned paper.

the four cards together, printed on french modtone patterned paper.

What is your experience drawing for letterpress ? Are you familiar with the process or blindly trusting me to print your illustrations?

I guess I did blindly trust you, ha!  I'm familiar with your letterpress work and it always looks great so was definitely happy for you to take the reigns on this.  It's my first letterpress print but I definitely want to do more - I suppose the challenge was adapting my work to fit the scale and line production of the letterpress process.

In your zines I see 2 general types of drawing--quick loose sketches and detailed drawings. What is your process for deciding what subjects require more time and detail? Are your more detailed drawings done live or with reference materials?

I love drawing really detailed scenes (usually from reference), but I'm also just into being a complete goof - for ages I couldn't decide on which to focus on with my auto-biographical comic-zine, 'Rum lad' - so in the end I just decided to find a balance between the two styles.  I usually choose the 'illustrative' style to set a particular mood or scene, while the 'comic' style is used to display dialogue between people or to keep a narrative flow.  Ha, I've ended up describing that in a really over-the top clinical way - the reality is usually me thinking of something daft and drawing it loosely on the spot 

cover of rum lad #9

cover of rum lad #9

Is your day-job art related? I've noticed more friends being able to find a way to integrate their skills from creative work (music, art, zines) into the work they do to earn money. Have you noticed this? Is this something you can relate to? I am curious how people who have spent years living on the fringes of an economic system by choice change as we get older. 

My day-job is working in a university art-shop, so 'art' related in a literal way but not in practice.  It can be a really exciting place to work - seeing new generations of students come up with some interesting work, and I have some ace work-mates.  I've also hosted occasional workshops using skills i've learned through zine-culture, such as the general production, through to distribution and introduction to things like zine-fests, collaborations, all the self-publishing challenges a seasoned zine-maker is likely to encounter.  I would definitely like to do more of this!  I know quite a few people who have honed their skills in DIY culture through the years and channeled it into day-jobs - I find it quite empowering and reassuring that these things I essentially do for my personal pleasure can be extended to pay the bills sometimes, ha!

Have you taught drawing before? What is the first lesson like? 

I haven't taught drawing, specifically - I think you can introduce people to some basic principles of drawing (ie - things to do with perspective, scale, etc), but even that seems arbitrary when a desired path and signature style of drawing is pursued.  At the most I'd argue the best way to teach is just introduce ideas and methods, and just general encouragement that there's no 'wrong' way to draw.  I have taught zine and comic workshops where I helped students think about how to represent a piece of text into a drawing, or scene - it was very challenging but I loved seeing how they interpreted ideas.

How are you at Pictionary? 

I really dislike having an audience when i'm drawing so I think i'd be terrible at it - However it's been a while since i've played so who knows?

Is there any other line of work you have considered?

Not really, I think I've always known that one way or another that I'd always be drawing or doing something vaguely creative.  

What is your go-to karaoke song?

I am definitely not a karaoke singer, haha.

Any closing thoughts?

I literally just received the finished product of our collaboration through the post and I am SO happy to be a part of this - they look amazing.  Thank you, Hope! 

a portrait of my cat by steve, a birthday gift for andy g.

a portrait of my cat by steve, a birthday gift for andy g.

Thank you, Steve.

To see more of Steve's work, including issues of Rum Lad, check out his  

He also takes commissions for custom portraits of pets, if you are looking for great gift idea--you can see his portrait of my cat above.

To receive monthly letterpress printed postcards, designed in collaboration with avariety of artists over the next year, sign up for a subscription to Keep Writing.  New subscribers will also receive a letterpress printed box to hold their collection, as supplies last.

Steve selling prints at Nottingham Writers Studio. Photo by Tara Hill

Steve selling prints at Nottingham Writers Studio. Photo by Tara Hill