martin williamson artist st annes on sea beach and pier

What inspired you to become an artist, and how has your journey evolved over time? 

I have always drawn pictures – some of my earliest memories are of drawing. From a young age I was influenced by the work of the cartoonist ‘Giles’ (more later!) and I drew lots of cartoons and created many characters and caricatures. At school my artwork didn’t fit the mainstream requirements and expectations of the system so I rebelled and eventually lost interest and my career went down a very different path. I carried on drawing in my spare time and was eventually persuaded to go to art college as a mature student. I studied graphic design and illustration to honours degree level, with a particular interest in animation, but I graduated in the early 1990s – a bad time for the creative industry. Once again through necessity my career took a different path, but I continued drawing in my spare time, fuelled by the four years I had spent in art education. In 2009, to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, my good lady and I visited the Isle of Mull in the Scottish Hebrides and that was the catalyst I needed to pick up a brush and start painting properly.

Can you tell me about your creative process? How do you approach starting a new piece or project? 

I am an artist and an illustrator and in both roles the process begins with getting to know the subject: I like to visit the place/location in person if possible and get a feel for the surroundings and the area. I’ll take photos and quick sketches – if I have time – and then I allow ideas to take shape in my mind. Quite often I’ll do some online research to get a historical context, which all adds to the ideas and thoughts swirling about in my mind. Eventually I know when I’m ready to attempt conveying my ideas into two dimensional form – this could be a day or two later, or years! When I’m creating an illustration piece for a client’s brief the process follows a similar pattern. Unfortunately the pressure to turn around finished artwork, within a certain timeframe to meet a deadline, can be very intense and sometimes counter-productive and rather stifling, especially any post-production digital editing or alteration. Illustration work can be very trying but also incredibly rewarding, too!

What themes or subjects do you find yourself drawn to in your artwork, and why?

Our surroundings are what inspire me: ancient landscapes, historic buildings, the mark of humans on the land.

Could you share a memorable or significant moment in your artistic career that has had a lasting impact on you?

A visit to the Isle of Mull off the west coast of Scotland back in 2009 was a significant moment that fired my imagination and my creative drive, but there have been so many other notable moments, one of which has to be being awarded the title ‘Lancashire Artist of the Year 2023’ in September!

Are there any particular artists, movements, or styles that have influenced your work? 

At a very early age I was fascinated by the work of the cartoonist Giles (Carl Giles OBE) who worked for the Daily Express and for decades every Christmas the Giles Annual was a much-prized present. Other artists have also been very influential: John Piper, Graham Sutherland, Eric Ravillious, David Gentleman and Kyffin Williams to name but a few.

How would you describe your style?

Chaotic, rapid, messy and spontaneous! After all the careful contemplation and research prior to creating a new piece, the actual creation can be a bit of a blur. Some of my more ‘illustrative’ work is more measured and less hectic, but I try very hard not to ‘fiddle with details’ and do my best to maintain a very fresh, spontaneous approach.

Where can people find your work/contact you?



Instagram: @cobbybrook

Twitter/X: @cobbybrook