Pete Murgatroyd: The Artist

Pete Murgatroyd: The Artist

By Rachel Segal Hamilton IdeasTap 27/06/14

Illustrator Pete Murgatroyd beat 334 other applicants to become our first IdeasMag editorial artist. With the new Artist brief now open, Pete tells us how he comes up with ideas each week and why he wishes he worked faster...

As well as doing illustration and comics, I also make music. I’ve just been on a compilation for Softbody Records. I like the idea of gesamtkunstwerk: artists doing stuff in every medium. 

I’ve got a home studio, although I’m moving soon. I’m also doing a residency at the university so I have desk space there. My studio has always been a mess. It’s full of old VHS tapes that I don’t know what to do with. I used to buy loads off eBay – really bad ones, B movies, things like that. It’s the cover art I like. If I’m making I art for my music, I use them for collages. 


Bad Lazer Lion by Pete Murgatroyd

Image: Bad Lazer Lion by Pete Murgatoryd


I recently got some rotary pens with self-loading ink. They’re £30 but they last forever because you can refill them. I used to draw with pencil, then I’d ink it, then I’d rub the pencil out. But that would rub some of the ink out so I’d have to re-ink the ink. I do everything by hand except the colouring. Now I use tracing paper. Comic writers use this special blue pencil. If you ink on top of it, you can scan it and just lose the blue – like a trick. But the blue pencils are too soft because the way I draw is so messy. I used up a pencil in one morning once!

People make illustration look so easy but I always find it quite hard work. It takes a long time. The same with music. I spoke to a guy who was signed to Hippos in Tanks and he said it takes him about half an hour to write a song. For me it takes about a month, on and off. I’d love to be more flippant.


Deeep by Pete Murgatroyd

Image: Deeep by Pete Murgatroyd


For the Artist, I go to the shop and scan the headlines in the papers. Normally the Daily Mail has the cheesiest ones. I buy the Independent on a Tuesday or Wednesday to see what’s happening; if something strikes me I know that will be the one.

I don’t plan crowd scenes. With the One Direction one I thought, I’ll do them in a changing room. Then I thought, debauchery. I just get the room set up and take it from there. I started with the blond one and had him and Zane drinking and smoking. You have a general idea of what you might do and then things just appear. 

I’ve found the satire side of it fun. Normally I do fantasy stuff but I’ve found it really natural to do things that are grounded in the real world. I’m quite interested in the history of satire now. There was a good In Our Time about the Scriblerus Club; a group of 18th century satirists.


Wonderection by Pete Murgatroyd

Image: Wonderection by Pete Murgatroyd


After graduating from my BA in graphics I stayed in Leeds. I worked in the local library and started designing posters for the Leeds music scene. The Brudenell Social Club is quite famous now but it used to be a working men’s club; when I was there in the early 2000s, the students started putting on more and more music events. Now it’s full of posters and they’ve got two stages. One of my posters made it into a book: The Art of British Rock. I moved to Falmouth to do an MA in Illustration and then went freelance after that. 

I still do casual work on the side. I’ve been doing some work for the Labour Party. Zero hours contracts are bad for some people, but when you don’t have so much on it’s handy to be able to ring people up and do a bit of work, so you know money’s coming in. 

The other thing that makes me money now is scribing work. You go to corporate events or charities - anything where there’s a meeting - and you do the minutes visually. A few people I knew were doing it in London and I set up my own one for Cornwall. The university have open studio talks every Friday so I started volunteering to scribe for them and from that I’ve carried on. It’s well paid, which is nice.



Scribe Cornwall - Pete Murgatroyd 

Image: Scribe Cornwall logo by Pete Murgatroyd




Visit Pete’s Artist page on IdeasTap. To see more of Pete’s work, check out his website and his magazine, Mutation Zine

Apply to be our next Artist: get paid £100 a week to create an editorial image for IdeasMag.


For more articles, jobs and opportunities, visit our Art & Design hub.

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