Chris Haughton


Chris Haughton is an Irish designer, illustrator and author living in London. He has illustrated for numerous publications, including The Guardian and Wired. He was listed in Time Magazine's 'DESIGN 100' for the work he has been doing with fair trade clothing company People Tree. His debut book 'A Bit Lost' has been translated into 8 languages and has won seven awards including Gold in the children’s book category at the British Association of Illustrators Awards in 2010, and the 'Dutch Picture Book of the Year 2012'


“As I browsed the work in the Collection, many of the objects either sparked ideas for new illustrations or reminded me of illustrations I had previously made. I’ve selected three objects, responding to each in a different way. My first illustration is a purely visual reaction to the chosen object, while the second shares its conceptual approach with the craft object in question. The third illustration relates to the technique employed by the maker and the parallels with my own practice. All three tell the story of my creative processes and show that inspiration can be drawn from craft in many different ways.”

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

In 2009 I was asked to illustrate W. B. Yeats' famous poem 'He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven' as part of the BBC poetry season.
I wanted the cloth referred to in the poem to be drawn in such a way that it was recognisable both as woven fabric but also as the man's dream. Looking for a way to represent both these two meanings in one I was drawing everything from crocheted lace to embroidery and stitch work and searching for something that looked delicate and woven but at the same time looks dream-like. In the same way Nora Fok’s Bubble Bath is delicately knitted but has the ethereal quality I was looking for when drawing the Yeats illustration. Although we know it’s knitted, it looks more like bubbles or delicate cells than a textile form.

Image: He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven: W.B. Yeats, Commission by BBC Poetry Season, Chris Haughton, 2009

The Chinese Room

Philipa Brock’s Self Assembly is very interesting to me as an illustrator. I am often asked to illustrate or illuminate abstract ideas visually, which can be challenging. I do however find that some of my more successful illustrations are the ones that have tackled very abstract subjects, as they lead to intriguing imagery. In Self Assembly, Brock has successfully married scientific research with creative output.

One subject I have often thought to illustrate as a series are the different theories of consciousness. The Chinese Room is a thought experiment by John Searle. It asks if a machine can convincingly simulate an intelligent conversation, whether it can actually understand. My illustration visualises this thought experiment.

Image: The Chinese Room, Chris Haughton, 2011

Pencil and digital line sketches

The fine line-work of Star Tesselation Dish ST 14 made me think of my own recent surface designs. The drawings for this piece were taken from my sketch books from 2007-2009. Around this time I was drawing delicate line-work without much thought of how to apply it to my work. It was only last year that I began scanning the sketches, manipulating them digitally and then struck on the idea of creating repeat pattern prints with them. I have yet to fully complete them. They are the result of many hours of drawing created over a long period of time, but compiled together digitally into just a few images.

Image: Pencil and digital line sketches, Chris Haughton, 2011