His passion for drawing began as a very small child when he saw the blank pages in his parent’s books as an opportunity to doodle all sorts of characters and scenarios. One of the first recognisable drawings is of dogs tied to a group of four trees. When he was at school, his friends used to scribble on a piece of paper and demand Steve create an image out of the lines. He spent lots of time at Secondary school in the pottery studio, helping out, cleaning up and taking full advantage of the resources and the teacher’s knowledge.
Ideally, he would have loved to have been able to study Graphic Design at Plymouth College of Art. However, the course was oversubscribed but he was invited to join a new course called ‘Exhibition and Museum Design’.
In 1982, Steve decided to escape from Plymouth, with two of his friends from the same course, and continue studying Museum Design at the University of Hull at a higher level where he achieved an HND qualification. They then found their way back to Plymouth where he took a job at Mount Edgcumbe as part of the education team, where he designed exhibitions and four walk brochures of the gardens and surrounding area. He was then promoted to Landscape Gardening Technician for the Council’s Community Programme Agency where, for two years, he fully designed their technical drawings and visuals for new park designs until his contract was terminated by the downsizing of the council structure.
Determined to continue his journey in illustration, Steve worked on various projects, including an entertainment listings magazine in Plymouth called The Scene, and commissions for his friends before landing a position with a design studio in Saltash, designing and illustrating children’s educational material. He worked up to project manager, overseeing project teams and liaising with clients. Unfortunately, the company went into liquidation and the whole team were made redundant. With clients wanting to continue working with Steve, his previous employer offered him his work computer and any software and equipment that would enable him to continue working with his clients. This helped to kickstart his career as ‘Steve Evans Design and Illustration’ and the work has been overlapping nicely ever since.
His primary passion is children’s illustration and this is demonstrated in his Collins Picture Atlas commissioned by Harper Collins alongside the accompanying World Map, Map of the United Kingdom & Ireland and a whole series of 11 fun and educational posters
This year he is working with National Geographic, producing illustrations for their children’s educational book series ‘Find it, Explore it’, having already completed three successful titles of the series in 2021.
Drizzleditch is a hand-drawn comic strip tale of two trees that appears in the Devon Life magazine each month. It has been a life-long ambition for Steve to have a published strip, so when the opportunity arose, he jumped at it. The idea for the strip originated when walking his dogs through woodland, the different characters emerged and took form, the grumpy old chestnut and optimistic young sapling. The contrasting characters led to a hilarious relationship and it’s a highlight to Steve’s day when an idea for a strip comes to mind.
His most noted work within the local area has been his Planet Life illustrations. These are essentially vector-based drawings of different towns and cities in the Devon & Cornwall area made into mini planets. The idea for these designs came from a commissioned piece from the University of Plymouth back in 2016. They had asked Steve to draw all of the buildings and places that the university was involved in and collate them together into one scaled-down piece to be used for the prospectus cover.
After this design was finished, he worked on the piece a bit more, adding other iconic Plymouth buildings and had the feeling he could be onto something great, and he was right. After the Planet Plymouth was created, he then designed Planet St. Ives and Planet Penzance.
Planet Life began in May 2020 after having some time during lockdown to revisit the designs. Steve pushed his social media channels and website and also connected with new people in the local area to encourage word of mouth. After he joined Plymouth Business Network, he met Chris Warne from Kaya Gallery where he agreed to exhibit his work. Since then, the popularity of his planet series has increased rapidly and not just in the southwest but worldwide!
Within the past two years, he has made 50 bespoke Planet Plymouth designs and plans to do many more in the future. Next on the list will be Falmouth, Dartmouth and the smaller coastal villages of St Just, Lulworth Cove, Mousehole and Polperro. He would like to venture outside of Devon and Cornwall with his planet illustrations and potentially create Planet Bath and Planet Bristol but the plans for these are only preliminary.
It takes Steve around 2 months, from start to finish, to create one ‘Planet’. Steve likes to do his research and visit the Town or City a number of times to understand what’s important to the locals. He will often speak to them to find out what they’d like within the design and what they’d rather he leave out.
Steve’s favourite ‘Planet’ piece is Planet St. Ives as he feels very connected to the town after spending many happy days there on holiday with his two children, Emily and Oscar and his partner Jo. He enjoys the relaxing way of life in Cornwall where he feels completely cut off from the world and has watched his children enjoy from an early age.
His website encompasses his entire portfolio with prints and gifts you can purchase. His Planet Life series can be bought as a canvas or a print in a variety of different sizes, they can even be bespoke sizes. If you would like a bespoke design made by Steve, simply fill out the contact form on the website and he will be able to give you a quote. He also offers printed mugs, cushions and his brand-new Planet Plymouth, Planet St. Ives and Planet Penzance jigsaw puzzles!
The circular jigsaw puzzles are a very recent product that he hopes to sell in local retailers and online. The puzzles are made locally from a family-run company in Dorset where they make the puzzles from FSC certified recycled and sustainable materials from machinery which includes an old crisp packer machine to break up and pack the jigsaws!
I have to give credit to Mel at the Terrace Café on the Hoe, I was having breakfast at the Terrace and she was so enthusiastic about the idea of the artwork being available as a jigsaw that I immediately started looking into it.
The puzzle is priced at £19.99 and prints start from £30.
He has also enjoyed getting involved in charities and local organisations to do his bit for the community. In 2018, Steve painted one of the ‘Elmer Elephants’ to raise money for St. Lukes. He was delighted to find his elephant was voted the best elephant of the trail on the companion app and was the second-biggest sale at auction, after Brian Pollards Elmer, with a total of £15,500 going to St. Lukes.
Steve has taken great pleasure in working with smaller, local businesses and hopes to continue the local work for as long as he can. The dream for Steve in a few years would be to focus on the Planet Life Art and to work on boosting the re-prints and bespoke designs to enable more time to enjoy family life.
His illustrations have captured the imaginations of thousands worldwide and he hopes to have inspired other young artists to carry on doodling on the blank pages of books and retain their creativity.