When Bright artist Eleanor Hancock got hooked on Love Island last summer, she had no idea that less than a year later she would be illustrating the autobiography of star contestant, Dani Dyer. With her broad illustration background, including fashion design, greetings and gift, product design and packaging, Eleanor was primed to take on this unique challenge.
What Would Dani Do? is Dani Dyer’s first book, written with her trademark honesty, warmth and likability. The autobiography, publishing today with Penguin Random House, reveals everything from dating disasters, to beauty tips and advice on how to gain confidence.
We caught up with Eleanor to talk about her beautifully crafted illustrations for the book and to find out what this high-profile project was like to work on.
What is your creative process when working on a book like this?
For this project I began by throwing myself into research in great depth! I created archives of images and sources to use as reference for each piece, I’m sure that I am now the owner of the biggest collection of Dani Dyer photos! Reading and familiarising myself with the text means that I can focus on what is, and isn’t, needed for each illustration and means that I can plan how I see each piece of art working.
I then develop a consistent style through sketching out ideas and working on the characteristics that are going to run throughout the book. Dani has such a strong character and style that I wanted to reflect in the illustrations, keeping them clean and strong, adding painterly mark making for a contemporary edge. I use a mixture of hand drawn portraiture and painting that I bring together on the computer to create the final pieces, adding hand written text when needed.
Where do you do your best creative work?
I have a fantastic little studio space in an old library in the Lincolnshire countryside. There is a coffee shop on the premises that sells amazing cakes and there are always people around to chat with - it’s a great place to switch off from everything else and completely concentrate on my work with no distractions… apart from the cake!
Have you always been artistic? Where did the creativity all begin?
I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. I was never without a pencil and pad of paper and as a child I would stay up late every night designing ‘fashionable’ outfits and making pictures for my friends. I loved fashion illustration and collected any piece of inspiration I could get my hands on.
After graduating from Art College, I worked in the fashion industry designing for big catwalk names and creating artwork for greetings until I moved up to Lincolnshire where I now run my own design business and raise my family.
Are you a big Love Island fan?
2018 was the first year I watched it - I wanted to know what all the fuss was about! I even said to my husband that it was “research” (how ironic - I didn’t know that I would end up illustrating Dani’s book!), and I got totally hooked! I watched every single episode and, of course, I wanted Dani and Jack to win!
What’s the best part of your job?
Without doubt the best part of my job is not knowing what the next project to land on my desk will be. I have designed for so many different names, creating artwork for so many different outcomes and businesses over the past twenty years. I have worked with high fashion labels to high street brands, the big supermarkets to independent gift shops, product design and packaging to bespoke artwork for private clients and it has never been boring!
I am so lucky that I get to work on such fun briefs like this one, it really has been brilliant, and all because I love to draw.
To view Eleanor’s portfolio, click here.