Isabella Bunnell is an illustrator living and working in Glasgow. Her distinctive and varied work explores equality, humour and colour and has been featured on Graphik, Creative Review, It's Nice That, Osso Magazine , Mag Culture, The Skinny, The Guardian Culture Guide & Central Station.

Isabella co-founded a studio, Friendhood, in 2020 where she is Creative Director. She graduated from BA (Hons) Visual Communication in 2014.

We caught up with Isabella to find out about life as a professional illustrator and the challenges, and perks, of setting up her own studio. 

Image: Isabella Bunnell, shortlisted design for Pressure Drop Tap Takeover competition. 

What did you do after leaving University?

After graduating I moved to London, where I worked as a screen printer at Interior studio, Thornback and Peel. I also worked on my first book Disappearing Acts which was published later that year. Subsequently I moved to Glasgow where I've been a freelance illustrator, a communications designer at a service design agency called Snook and during this past year I set up my own studio called Friendhood where I am a Creative Director. 

Could you give us a description of a typical day?

The first part of my day is spent sorting out admin work for the company. This is always varied but includes client relations, financial forecasting, pitching for new business or just chatting with my co-founder Alex. The rest of my time is spent designing on a range of projects; I'll either be on the ground helping with brand concepts and creating visuals, or I'll be working with collaborators to progress ideas and art direct imagery.

Images: Top, Isabella Bunnell, Hill eyecare, Illustrations for rebranding of Hill Eyecare. Bottom, Isabella Bunnell, brand and imagery created for the rebranding of Service Design company Snook. 

I work four days a week at the studio and try to keep one day a week for pursuing things that help keep me creatively fulfilled. I'll usually do some sketching, painting or pottering.

What did you enjoy about your time at Leeds Arts University?

I loved how varied the course was, it allowed me some freedom to explore what I really loved. My ambition back then was to become a full-time illustrator, but now I do all sorts of things - an ability that was born out of the varied nature of the course.

Image: Isabella Bunnell, Vajournal, 2017, Published by Cicada Books.

Do you have any tips or advice for current students or recent graduates?

Always ask questions, and find the purpose in what you're doing. Although it's nice to create something that just looks nice, discovering the why helps your visual work have impact. 

Any future projects in the pipeline?

I’m currently working on a project with the RSA (The Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) on some visuals and illustrations for a project called crisis and change which is really exciting. It's all about how communities have responded to the pandemic, and evaluating where there are opportunities are for change.

Header Image: Isabella Bunnell, Disappearing Acts, 2016, published by Cicada Books.