Laura Tinald is a hot young thing with an inky paintbrush. Her illustrative style is influenced by iconic drawers such as David Downton and Quentin Blake as well as classic figurative painters and vintage Hollywood films. Favouring Indian inks on Fabriano hot-press watercolour paper, her unique ladies sport big bushy brows and sparkling eyes that pop out of the page.
We met up with Laura to discuss her influences, the female form and dogs.
Laura started scribbling with an art foundation at Bourneville College before relocating to South East London to study Fashion Promotion and Illustration. We asked Laura what is was that drew her back to her roots in Birmingham, ‘everyone’s your mate! Even if someone doesn’t know you, they’re friendly. I’ve lived in London where there is so much to do and see, but you have to admit that Birmingham has really stepped up its game; it’s evolving and I love it. Birmingham gets a lot of slack, but it has so much to offer; art galleries, architecture, communities, history, restaurants and independent cafes and bars. You can drive for twenty minutes and you’re in the countryside with a plethora of National Trust places to discover. The architecture in the centre is stunning and as resident Brummies, we definitely take it for granted. Places like Moseley and Harborne are like little microcosms just outside the centre, brimming with creativity and community. BABMAG holds a special place in my heart too.’
Laura’s work has gone from strength to strength in recent years having had the opportunity to work with Sally Wood (the wife of Rolling Stones Ronnie) who featured her colourful illustrations of Shakespeare’s leading ladies on a range of chocolate bars sold in Selfridges. Laura says the collaboration came about after Sally happened to see one of her paintings in an independent cafe in Moseley (Maison Marci) in 2011. ‘She’d contacted me to say she liked my work, and we exchanged a few emails here and there. When she decided to launch Sweet Theatre, she got back in touch and asked if I’d like to illustrate the wrappers. The project was just my thing – it involved illustrating ladies. It was so much fun working with Sally; hopefully, we’ll do another line one day.’ This collab caught the attention of art publisher Washington Green, who chose to represent Laura and create limited edition prints of her work, now available at Castle Galleries across the country.
Laura thinks of herself as primarily a drawer with a particular love of eyes, ‘if I see an old photograph of an interesting face, I have to draw the eyes. The rest of my painting or drawing follows on naturally from that. I always exaggerate the eyes though; I think they’re the best feature to channel emotion, and I must admit, most of the women I draw end up looking slightly formidable, or sad.’ We constantly hear that women are told to “smile more” and it seems these less than ecstatic gazes fight back at the notion that to be feminine you must be exclusively soft and vulnerable. Laura doesn’t see this as intentional but rather a spontaneous reaction when she starts to draw ‘I will have an idea of the composition but then I let the ink and paint guide me. I rarely paint within the lines and enjoy using “loose” media, such as Indian ink or liquid acrylics. I love that ever-so-slightly undone and unfinished look.’ She says that the work develops from the initial reference photo or film still, ‘ love the faces of old Hollywood, more often than not I will use a found-image, which I might manipulate or crop, depending on what feature I am focussing on (more often than not, the eyes). Whilst the reference image is the starting point, much of the portrait develops from my imagination and the chance involved with using ink, which has a life of its own. I exaggerate the eyes and lips and just suggest much of the face and hair. I like to leave elements to the imagination of whoever is looking at it.’
It’s not only iconic women that Laura draws; she’s also proved she has a heart of gold – drawing dogs in order to raise money for Manchester Dogs’ Home. The home was subject to a horrific arson attack in 2014 that left 53 dogs dead. ‘What can I say – I really love dogs. I love all animals, actually, but the canines are my favourite. When I found out about the arson attack on Manchester Dogs’ Home, I was so sad. It was a particularly cruel and callous thing to do. I wanted to help in some small way, and I know that people enjoy my dog doodles, so thought it was the best way I could try to raise some money.’
Laura has been inspired by great masters of portraiture and fashion illustration and you can see these elements in her work; she says, ‘for me, the masters are Dante Rossetti, Alphonse Mucha and David Downton. You’ll see that I generally paint women, and I love the way in which these artists represent the female form. There are so many other artists I adore though such as Rene Grau, Stina Persson, Ralph Steadman, ER Hughes and Edward Bell whose portraits of Bowie are incredible. (INCREDIBLE.) I’m also inspired by vintage cinema posters (the hand-drawn kind), Disney animation and the beauty of screen sirens past and present, such as Sharon Tate.’ Sirens, silver screen goddesses, heroines and femme fatales all feature here; with classic poses and dramatic lines moulded with contemporary auras of subjects who gaze back at us. We can all appreciate a hardy stare from an aesthetically pleasing entity and Laura gives us just that.