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Dead like Disco- Top Illustrator David Maclennan tells us more

 Dead like Disco- Top Illustrator David Maclennan tells us more

Today we chat to David Maclennan , who give us an insight to some of his awesome illustrations.

Who is David MacLennan and what do you do?

I’m an illustrator/designer based in Cape Town, South Africa. I specialise in illustration, character design, animation and custom lettering. I work in both digital and traditional media.

I studied fine art, found that I didn’t enjoy it at all, and moved on to a design course. This gave me a good grounding in the technical side of the programs I use to create my digital artwork. I worked for an ad agency specialising in web design for three years and then left in 2010 to pursue a career in illustration. It started out quite slow, but I feel like I’m where I need to be now, and I’m getting the opportunity to create work that I’m truly happy with and work with some amazing, creative people.

I live with my girlfriend and cat, and like to draw robots, monsters and zombies in my spare time.

How would you define your style or art?

I’d say I’m still figuring that out. I tend to do different things from week to week – I get really excited about stuff as I’m doing it, but then within a few days, I’ll look at it and feel like I could do better. I’m really starting to develop a style that I’m happy to call my own, but I never want to feel like I’m done learning

Much of my work tends to have a narrative element to it – I like to think of the stuff I do as a kind of snapshot in the middle of a story. I feel like my favorite pieces are ones which imply an extended world around what’s happening in the actual image. I think this comes largely from the fact that I learned a lot of my drawing skills from reading comics.


What was the inspiration behind Dead like Disco?

Honestly, I was working on some client stuff, and made those images whenever I had a break as a kind of creative refresher. I didn’t really plan that much before I did them, but I’m really happy with how they turned out. I find that stuff I don’t over think tends to end up better.

They’ve actually got a lot more attention than I expected – there are a couple of really cool design blogs which I follow, and seeing my work pop up on some of these was fantastic.In terms of the inspiration behind them, I love old rock, 60’s and 70’s poster art and cool pictures of skulls. I guess this is just me combining these things, and I’m glad it seems to resonate with so many people!

What inspires your work?

I’ve been drawing since I was very young. My older brother had a massive collection of comic books when I was growing up, and I think they’ve been a huge influence. There are too many influences to list, but some of the most significant are the character design, drawing style and colouring in the work of comic artists like Jack Kirby and Charles Burns, terrible B-grade movies, older illustrators and graphic artists like Arthur Rackam and Alphonse Mucha, and 50’s/60’s pulp sci-fi, horror and detective magazines. Also, living in Cape Town is a constant inspiration – there’s so much going on here it’s hard not to get inspired.

There is also a huge amount of fantastic stuff being generated at the moment all over the world. The internet is an incredible resource in terms of inspiration, if you can be disciplined enough to filter out the distractions – there are so many great artists who I wouldn’t have heard of without it. It’s also a great way to make sure I don’t get too complacent – seeing so much cool work out there makes me push myself harder.

What are you currently working on?

I don’t really have any major art projects on the go right now. I have recently begun getting back into physical media – inks, paint and even some sculptures – which I’m really enjoying. I’m hoping to have enough for an exhibition soon.

I’m about to move into studio/office space within the headquarters of an ad agency (thanks to the awesome guys at Lowe & Partners), and I suspect that for the next while I’m going to be concentrating on more commercial work.

I’m also working on a novel, which is massively difficult, but I’m very excited about it. No spoilers though – you’ll have to wait till I find a publisher to hear more!

What advice would you give young creatives looking to do what you do?

I’m not sure I’m really qualified to be giving advice on this, but these are some of the things that have helped me.

I’d say keep making the kind of work you want to be known for, and make yourself visible on whatever platforms you can. Sites like is a great place to showcase your work and get in contact with other people in your industry. It takes a while, but if you’re making high quality work you will get noticed. Be nice, but not to the point where you allow others to take advantage of you (this is something I’m finally beginning to get the hang of). Try to keep the attitude that you’re never done learning. Don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help or advice – if you’re polite and respectful, there’s a good chance that people will respond positively. I’ve Recently come across a few tricky situations on the business side of things, and some really nice fellow creatives (whose work I respect hugely) have given me great advice after I’ve just mailed them out of the blue. It never hurts to ask. And of course, help others out if you are able.

Where can our readers follow your work?

I have a portfolio website, I’ve also got a tumblr account, where you can see my most recent stuff – there are a lot of pieces up that aren’t in my regular portfolio:


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