Insights/foresights :: with Simon Barrett


Introducing Simon Barrett, The Drawing Arm’s Co-Founder and Resident Illustrator.

Simon’s distinctive and often humorous style combines bold typography, blatant colour and bemusing characters to ‘tell it how it is on the tin’. An expert on the ever-changing design and advertising scene, he dons many a hat to deliver work across branding, design and illustration projects here at The Drawing Arm.

Most recently Simon’s illustrative talents were engaged to rebrand the world-famous, New Image Art Gallery in Los Angeles. But he is just as proud of his packaging work for Aussie-made beef jerky brand, Jumping Jerky.

And he’s just launched his brand spanking new website – featuring a collection of Limited Edition prints (limited to 100 pieces only, delivered worldwide)!

We hit Simon up for his insights and foresights into the industry. 


What’s your dream project or brand to work on?

I get pretty excited about every job that comes into The Drawing Arm. I don’t hop around in the background like an excited pup expecting a job will be mine, instead I get equally excited about helping curate who we put forward for an illustration job, as I do about working on a job (or thereabouts).

So, from a business point of view – setting up The Drawing Arm and seeing it flourish into a commercial illustration agency has been a big dream project to work on.

From a brand point of view – commercial illustration is an interesting world. On one hand, you see brands aligning themselves with a style or styles that talk the same talk as they want their audience to, on the other you see illustrators who really refine their style so brands have to fit with them.

I’m a massive believer that ‘fish don’t climb trees’ that is, we align the right illustrators with the right projects, you can’t make someone draw something and make it look completely right if it’s not their thing – it generally ends in a tonne of effort and a poor result.

SO! From a dream project point of view, I’d like to produce my own work, get published, make people smile, paint massive canvases that hang in amazing galleries around the world and travel, a lot (with the occasional childrens’ book and packaging project in between).

What do you see trending in illustration this year? 

Positive affirmations written in calligraphy and b&w desert photographs with illustrated planets mostly…jokes.

There’s a lot of talk about how virtual is becoming almost too virtual and people therefore don’t respond to it (car ads, property renders, architectural).

I think the art of detailed sketching of renders (theatrical and fashion style) will surge and become more apparent in mainstream and I think good typography will continue to reign supreme.

We’re very picky at The Drawing Arm, we try our hardest to represent talent that we see working really well in the commercial world.

We try to have a healthy balance on our roster of talent who we believe will be of huge benefit to people seeking to commission illustration and people we see, eventually, becoming a huge benefit to people seeking to commission illustration!

The commercial world of illustration and advertising is often very trend based, so you see styles move in cyclical forms.  


Name your top three Instagram accounts to follow?  

@thomascampbellart – because his art is wonderful and keeps me bright.
@kookslams – because it reminds us that life ain’t that bad 🙂
@thenationalgrid – shameless self promotion of our sister company who produce brilliant branding.

In the future all art is destroyed, and you can only save one piece – what would it be?

’Pegasus’ by Jean Michel Basquiat. I’m a big believer of noting thought as it happens.


To check out more of Simon’s work or to write his next brief, click here.