Featured Artist: Chris Wormell
November 8, 2023
Interested in learning more about the British illustrator artist, Chris Wormell? Then read on to learn about his life as an artist and how we’ve worked with him to produce wonderful issues, such as ‘A History of Knitting in Jersey’.
Chris Wormell is a British illustrator artist, based in North London, who has always had a love of drawing. When we asked Chris if he’d always wanted to be an artist, his response was “I would draw all the time as a child and was encouraged by my mother and father.” His father is a painter who taught at Hornsey College of Art.
The illustrations Chris has completed for Jersey Post over the years wonderfully detailed and typified by his distinct style and use of colour. Being curious, as to why Chris chose to become an illustrator, he said; “A love of illustrated books. As a child I loved wood engravings of Thomas Berwick and would often copy his pictures of animals and birds. My brothers and sisters and I would make lino cut Christmas cards every Christmas and we’d often pinch ideas from Berwick. When I was older, I tried wood engravings for myself. It seemed to me the perfect way to illustrate a book.”
After sending his wood engraving prints to publishers over a course of a few months, Chris got his first commission as an earning artist in 1983. The commission was for an image of a run-down cottage, which was to go on the over of a Brian Friel play; The Communication Chord, published by Faber and Faber.
As a skilled self-taught wood engraver, we asked Chris if he had any favourite techniques to use, when creating a new piece of art. His response was: “I started as a wood engraver and still enjoy it just as much as I always did, and lino cuts too – I love the boldness and bright colours.”
Nowadays however, though working in the same style of engraving and lino cut, Chris says “I do a lot of work digitally. In the past, making changes to work would mean re-cutting and re-printing blocks, and took time and effort, very stressful when up against deadlines. Frequently I’d find myself working through the night to get things finished.”
Chris also added that, in more recent times wanting changes and adjustments to a project is generally the rule rather than an exception, adding; “Working digitally for most commercial jobs makes things a lot easier, though I do usually make wood engravings for book illustration.”
Having worked with Jersey Post for a number of issues, including The Great War 100 Years – Part 3 Battles (2016), Chris felt that this was a very powerful subject to work on. He enjoyed creating the more recent issue of 150 Years of Brewing in Jersey (2021), and though, he wasn’t quite sure what ‘A History of Knitting in Jersey’ would be like, he found that it turned out to be a lovely project. For ‘A History of Knitting in Jersey’ Chris found the biggest illustrating challenge was how to get the illustrations to work with demonstrating the theme and heritage. Regarding the issue, Chris said; “It’s why I’ll never tire of what I do. I enjoyed learning a bit about the history of knitting in Jersey too.”
Asked if he has a particular subject he enjoys illustrating, Chris responded “I’m not sure that I do. I find that I’m more often illustrating the past than the present if that counts as a subject. But that tends to be the client’s choice rather than mine and is probably due to the way I illustrate.”
Jersey Post always enjoys working with Chris and looks forward to collaborating with him on future issues. Make sure to follow Chris on Instagram at @christopherwormell. You can also see more of Chris’ artwork directly through his website: http://www.chriswormell.com/.
The six stamps and miniature sheet featured in our ‘A History of Knitting in Jersey’ were all illustrated by Chris and are available to order on our online store and your local post office.