Interview: Iain Macarthur

“I just like the way cartoon characters are drawn…How their eyes are drawn… eye popping!” – Ian Macarthur


Even though Iain McArthur is not the descendant of any royal faces that make up the United Kingdom, we wouldn’t be surprised if one day the Queen herself showed up on his doorstep, side-saddled to a trusty steed, wanting to shake his hand and have a cup of tea. A cool thought, but not quite on his list of things to get done. Having the talent and ability that not only caught the eye of Trunk Junk, but also that of an impressive list of commission willing clients who wouldn’t have hesitated in getting Mr McArthur to add his own, individual fingerprint to their company image. Having developed a unique style through cartoon inspired years of practice leaves Iain’s artworks to speak for themselves. We couldn’t resist wanting to get some insight into the man behind it all, so we got the notepad out and began to attempt to unravel this foreign being and came out with one of the coolest section in the mag as well as an Iain McArthur Designed Poster!

So Mr Macarthur, what essentials are a must for your Trunk? 

Hey there! My essentials would be a pen, pencil and paper to create my pieces!

What are the events of a normal day in the life of Iain Macarthur? 

Sometimes I’m busy with commissioned work, but usually, I’m just chilling with music and drawing whatever comes to mind. And also I sleep a lot! It’s not a very exciting life I lead.

What’s life like as a designer in the United Kingdom?

Being an illustrator can be a cool job, but it can have it’s frustrating times when doing commissions for clients. It takes a while to finalise a design, as you have to do rough sketches and discuss with the client on what bit they want to remove or change. However, it can be rewarding when everything is finished. It’s great to see the end result on a T-shirt, CD cover or as a poster design.

Sometimes you get commissions where you don’t get to do what you want to, which can be quite aggravating when you try and draw something you don’t feel comfortable in doing. It’s a job none the less! However, when I get commissions that require my personal touch in my own style, then that always brightens my day.

Finding work as an illustrator is competitive as there are loads of talented designers in the business who crave commissioned work, each with their unique styles of design viewable on websites such as or These make me want to do more work and make my pieces look better, so those sites are really good to look at for inspiration. I’m always lucky to get work, as a lot of people seem to like the way I draw my stuff!

Are you the descendant of any kings, princes, queens, or princesses. It would be cool if you are, but we forgive you if you’re not… 

Ha Ha, I wish I was, that’d be cool. Then I would change Iain Macarthur to Lord Macarthur. Though that would be cheesy.

Have you ever worked in other parts of the world?

Nah, I’ve never got the chance to, though hopefully, I will. At the moment I’m working on better pieces.

Having worked for companies such as Nike, Ride Snowboards and MTV Playground, you’re clearly well on your way to the top of the game. How did you come about working with such large clients? Are you represented by an agency, or have these opportunities come purely through contacting the companies yourself?

I was fortunate to have worked for Nike and Ride Snowboards, doing a couple of designs for them. They emailed me when they saw my work on, which is a site for illustrators and graphic designers. I get most of my work out of that site. At the moment I’m freelancing so I work for myself, though I’ve been thinking of signing up with an agency.

There’s so much detail and just so much going on in most, if not all of your artworks. What leads or influences you to keep the viewer’s eye busy? Is it the way your talent grew up? 

Yeah, I love drawing in detail and I sometimes get a little carried away when drawing these pieces. I look at a lot of cartoon drawings and old art such as Alphonse Mucha and Art Nouveau styles, as well as street art. Watching Ren and Stimpy inspired me when I was little and reading comic books. I also look at gig poster art for ideas as well.

What’s the obsession and continuous drawing of inspiration from cartoons all about?

I just like the way cartoon characters are drawn, especially Disney type characters. How their eyes are drawn… eye popping! After looking at those types of things, they gradually got put into my style of drawing, adding humour to some of my piece as well as detail.

Do you have your own studio?

Nah just my room, which is large enough for me to do my work. I have a laptop and scanner in there, so I can scan all my pieces through whenever I need to colour it in Photoshop.

You have an amazingly diverse array of styles in your portfolio. Is this something you worked on or is it just due to a whole bunch of different influences?

Often you’ll see an artist do only one type of artwork because that’s what they’re known for and are good at. I like to try out different things when I’m drawing. I sometimes get bored in drawing the same thing all the time so I diverse from cartoon drawing to portrait drawing. I enjoy doing a lot of portrait drawing as I like making the face look realistic, even if it takes a long time to do. Sometimes I like doodling in my sketchbook. I only really sketch when I’m travelling, but I like trying new things.

Exactly what steps are involved when starting a new piece?

First off I start by drawing a couple of sketches and pick one that I like and then I draw it out in more detail in pencil and then I draw over it with a pen or Indian ink. This takes a while to do so I put on some music to keep me focused when drawing. Finally, I scan and clean it up on the computer. Simple!

What would you say has been your greatest achievement in the industry to date?

Probably having a solo exhibition in Atlanta during October. I have a few pieces on show at the ABV gallery, which was a great thing that happened for me this year (2010)! I didn’t actually go, unfortunately, but I’ve been told it was great and have pictures of the solo exhibition on my blog (

If you had the chance to choose any artist in the world to collaborate with, who would it be?

Ah, so many to choose from! Though I do wish I could collaborate with all the artist that I love, but if I can only choose one then it’ll be Bruno 9li. His work is extraordinary to look at! There are so many imaginative and mysterious looking creatures that live in his work. It’s really awesome stuff!

So you’re still at a ripe age, what are the plans for the future? Any exciting projects we can expect to see from you in the next few months?

Hopefully, you’ll be seeing a bit more of my work next year once I’ve done a few good pieces for the people to see. I’m also working on making a new website for my work and hopefully, I’ll have a few exhibitions in London that I’m working on! Exciting stuff!

Plan on coming to Australia anytime soon?

I would love to come down to Australia! It’d be better than being in England as it always has crappy weather!

Your dream project?

Creating a crazy ass poster design! Also making a book full of my own random stuff, which I’d call ‘RANDOMIZA’.

Finally, any tips for artists that might need that little extra inspiration?

I’d say look at a lot of fun looking images or magazines that would fire a lot of creative ideas in your head. is a good site for inspiration!


For more from Iain, visit his website or view him on the Behance Network.

Browse the Trunk Junk collection; maybe even pick one out for yourself.

© Jonathan Boonzaaier 2016

Jonathan Boonzaaier Iain McArthur