Bag Heads and Fever Dreams

Illustrator Adam Batchelor’s Animal Sketches Explore Human Consumerism and Madness

As a nature lover and farmer’s son, Adam Batchelor is a Norwich, UK-based illustrator who has taken a keen focus on humanity’s relationship with the natural world and its imbalances. In Bag Heads, he shows us birds, which have been caught in shopping bags, and in Fever Dreams, he uses gorillas, orangutans and monkeys to take a pseudo look into colonialism.

Far from wanting to come across preachy, Adam insists that his drawings are open for interpretation. ‘What I really want is for the viewer to come away with their own thoughts and conclusions,’ Adam told us. ‘You can either laugh or feel sad about them as long as it’s your own personal opinion.’

‘When I look at them I just think about how I could make them look better,’ he continued. Working purely with mechanical and coloured pencils on paper, Adam has worked on projects for clients such as XL Records, The Wellcome Trust, and Fool Magazine. We asked him more about his illustrations:

The Plus: What are the major influences for your illustrations?
Adam Batchelor:
I’m influenced by both photorealism and old 19th Century natural history paintings but also more graphic art and illustration, not just all serious work all the time, humuor is important.

TP: What is your process behind developing your ideas of what to draw?
I like to do a fair bit of research so when a subject pops into my mind. I can use the ideas that come from my research to help form and shape the image. But if it’s a smaller drawing, the idea has probably been written down somewhere for a while or has been rattling around in my brain. All the illustration stuff is usually from a traditional brief or a discussion with the client and then the idea is refined down till you get the image.

TP: Could you tell us a little about how Fever Dreams looks into colonialism?
Well I’ve done a lot of reading on the Congo and both colonialism and the history of the Congo are subjects that have interested me, mostly through how do you deal with all that madness and brutality. I’d like to make more work about that, but the idea came to me, maybe it was a dream.

TP: What was the initial idea?
I had the idea: if King Leopold II was ever remorseful for his actions. What if he had terrible dreams that kept him up at night? I wanted to draw an animal, he would embody a silver back Gorilla, sweating, and the Duvel bottle is both a nod to pop art and consumerism, but it also translates to Devil, which I thought was really cool, and added meaning. If people really like them and if they work, I’d like to make more.

Pavo Bimbo!