Bill Sanderson is our highly skilled scraperboard artist, with over 30 years experience and a host of clients and awards to his name, we decided to catch-up with the master craftsman and talk about his work.
You illustrate using a very unique craft, what is it about scraperboard that you love? What has kept you working with it?
I am a sculptor working in two dimensions, which means I always want graduated tone and not just line. Scraperboard came closest to the work of the nineteenth century wood-engraved illustrations I loved where everything came out of a solid black surface, And it was a lot easier/quicker than working on a wood block.
In recent years we’ve seen a lot of young creatives rediscovering traditional techniques, from sign-writing to linocut printing, we think the time is right for scraperboard to be in the limelight, what would you recommend to anyone trying it for the first time?
It’s a straightforward process: a sharp point or scraper, a black inked surface and the white lines you make can give you as much as you’ll ever need to ‘model’ the forms you’re drawing.
You’ve illustrated pieces from a variety of historic eras and periods, is history something you have a passion for?
I wouldn’t say so, no. But as I’ve mentioned, the wood block work of the nineteenth century from Bewick onwards is the apogee of illustration for me. The work of those artists and engravers is what I measure myself against.
Your work has always been a great suit for publishing work, is there an author or book you would love to create a cover illustration for?
Good books don’t need illustration, but the one book I have always been absorbed in is Treasure Island, and the ‘images’ created by RL Stevenson really don’t need me or anyone else. But it doesn’t stop us all trying to improve on his words! I do like all classic novels, though I’ve had a lot of pleasure out of trying to make the right cover for books from any period up to the present or the sci-fi future.
On the subject of publishing, your meticulous drawings always capture a moment, do you consider yourself to be a storyteller in your work?
As a commercial illustrator I can be anything a client wants. Sometimes, they may want me to flesh out a story but at other times a conceptual idea of mine might be what is required. I’m happy to be the storyteller’s assistant.