Giving Your Right Brain a Regular Workout

Featured Artist: Jake McDonald on the Voices of His Monsters

Brighton based Illustrator Jake McDonald, who goes by ShakeyIllustra on his Redbubble profile, has built a career around bringing the cute out in some very furry creatures. Jake has always had an interest in animals, and drawing them soon became an obsession, which is evident in his love of all things great and small.

Using a mix of traditional and digital art practices, Jake brings his illustrations of whales, seagulls, monsters, and birds to life. He’s dedicated a large chunk of his life perfecting character development and in our conversation, we discussed how when looking at his creatures it’s as if you can hear the sound of their voice; their noises, their snuffles, their grunts. Since going pro in 2011, Jake’s been doing freelance children’s book work, illustration…and generally being delightful.

He took the time to chat with use about his work, his techniques, his inspiration, his imagination, and more.

"Whale City" by ShakeyIllustra

Beth Caird: What are your favorite places to get creative?

Jake McDonald: I have a good desk and a lovely front garden with lots of interesting people to talk to and Brighton beach at the end of my road but I pretty much draw where ever I am. Ideas come from anything and everything! My brain is just full of monsters and odd characters and inspiration comes from people I see and know, films, and theatre.

BC: This may seem an odd question, but when I look at your monsters, I can almost hear the sounds of their voices…so apart from the fact I probably need to see a doctor, could you tell me about how you develop your monster characters? 

JM: My characters have personality because I draw them from a complete moving, breathing, noise-making creature in my head so I don’t see them as flat drawings, I almost see them animated. Generally just looking at what gives people and and animals personality gives my monsters life. Faces and expressions are important.

"La la la Monster" by ShakeyIllustra

"Retro Winter Bear" by ShakeyIllustra

BC: Whats the biggest learning curve you’ve had to overcome in illustration? 

JM: For my degree show I had plans for what I wanted to show and how I wanted to present it and at the last minute a tutor advised me to do something completely different, which I then did. Had I been more confident, I would have gone with my original idea and had faith in my work and I think my show would have been better. My advice to other artists would be listen to advice and take it on board but if you truly believe in your work go with your gut feelings.

BC: What’s your favorite thing about Redbubble? 

JM: I like the variety of products you can have your images on, and the fact that it’s free, as when you are starting up you just need to get your work out there without any outlay, and this is brilliant.

See more of Jake’s work below. And make sure you stop by his RB profile to support him.

To see even more from Jake, check out his website.

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