River Cousin on the simple pleasure of returning to the visual cues of childhood

Another welcome development for River has been receiving commissions, in which they see their creative preferences and choices being valued as much as the clients. “I love being given free-range over a project, but trust is a big part of that,” River expands. One such project is their work with Chobani Probiotic, a favourite commission of the illustrator’s, with directors Will Mac and John Vetter collaborating closely with River. Attempting to figure out a magical realist quality and dimension – all the while having the product sit comfortably in the scene – was no mean feat. River tells us that it came far from naturally. “To get these hyperreal crisp images, my instinct was always to throw in loads of layers and heavy shading for each element,” River details. “So the biggest challenge for me was unlearning that and taking on a ‘less is more’ approach, using only two or three layers for most elements.” The final designs, with gradient hues and delectable looking lemons is a probiotic treat for the eyes.
When we last spoke to River they discussed a personal project focussing on death and grief. Having finally taken the form of a riso book, it will be published this coming spring. They’re also currently co-directing a short film with their friend Iso Attrill, featuring animations from Rowena Lloyd. The film has pushed the illustrator to toy with the idea of pursuing creative direction, as “it’s been really fun having a more hands-on approach to the project as opposed to sitting behind the screen”. But, in the meantime, they’re continuing to make art that brings them “comfort and joy” – “I’m trying not to think too far ahead.”

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