Meet the Illustrator Saving Endangered Species through Art

Can you name 38 different endangered species? Well, illustrator James Gilleard can help you learn with his new project, Saving Species.


As we discovered the last time we spoke to him for his Beach House project, James’s style features a blend of bright, pastel hues and glitchy aesthetics. The endangered species he illustrated are from all over the world.

We caught up with James about his latest project.

THE PLUS: Your graphic artwork is very distinct. How would you describe it?
James Gilleard: The aim when I started to play around with the style was to do a kind of digital impressionism. It has changed since then, but hopefully retains that initial idea.


TP: How did you develop this signature style of yours?
JG: I used to work in a very cartoon style, but had the idea for my current style years before I actually started to work with it. Basically, I took a month off after a particularly large project and started to try out things. The results were interesting enough to pursue.

TP: In your current project Saving Species, you combine modern digital art with the call to save animal species. What is your view on preserving nature in the world’s digital future?
JG: Hopefully the digital images of the animals convey the idea that we are destroying them. It’s really important to preserve nature, more so now than ever.


TP: What do you enjoy about illustration?
JG: The process of creating an image from start to finish. By this I mean getting lost in the making of it. It can sometimes be difficult to get to that place where you are fully immersed in the work, but other times, and most often with personal work, it does happen, and this is the thing I really aim for. Honestly, I’m not really interested in the results of a project, just if the project was an immersive experience. If that happens, I find I like the work more.

TP: What fascinates you about animals?
JG: I just find all animals fascinating, but I can’t really explain why. My granddad started a business that my dad eventually took over – making bird hides, called Gilleard Bird Hides. They are sheds that bird watchers can go inside to view birds on nature reserves. As a result, I’ve been interested in birds, animals and conservation since I can remember. I really hope to do more books on the subject that are my own.


TP: Tell us your favourite animal and why.
JG: My favourite would have to be a Marsh Harrier, as it is the first bird I can remember being awe inspired by. The RSPB reserve near my home village was set up because my granddad and his brother found Marsh Harriers there, which were thought to not reside in the UK at the time. It has a really unusual gliding wing position, which is like a V. Quite an iconic and scary thing for me as a child.

TP: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
JG: That’s difficult to say – I have a few more books coming out, but I would like to do more independent work, like my own books and animations. I’m starting a full-time job in a month or so for BlueSky studios as a designer. This has always been a goal of mine, so I’m really excited to see how it goes. Hopefully I will be able to work on my own things in my spare time. I would also like to pursue more animation projects in a directing position.

Egyptian Vulture
Birds 2