Artist In Residence is a series of articles showcasing the work of a specific artist over the course of a week and the stories behind the featured people and moments as well as a Q&A to kickstart the series.

In the first edition of our Artist In Residence series, we will be featuring the great work of Harry G Ward, a 24-year-old freelance illustrator based in Bolton. Over the course of the week we will hear the stories of Houghton and Jay-Jay Okocha, the prolific partnership of Kane & Son and the future for Klopp and Rashford.

To kickstart the series, we chat to the man himself on how he got into illustration, his love of football and how the worlds of art and football collide.

When did you start illustrating and how did you get into it?
Harry G Ward: I’ve been creating art for as long as I can remember but I only discovered what illustration actually was when I was at uni. This opened up a whole new avenue for me to make a career from my passion. It has given me the opportunity to combine things I’m interested in such as sport, music and popular culture with creativity in art.
Out of everything you have done so far, what are you most proud of/what has been your most enjoyable moment?
HGW: It’s still early days for me but I would have to say having my artwork involved in the series 5 campaign for Peaky Blinders. Seeing my work on billboards across the UK and featured on Sky and BBC iPlayer as the Key Art was quite surreal.
Do you remember what made you first fall in love with football, could you pin point it to a single moment?
HGW: This is a tough one to pinpoint but the earliest memory I have of loving football was playing with my brother in the back garden growing up. Nothing beats scoring a curler with a flyaway ball thinking you’re Roberto Carlos.
And how do you feel the worlds of art and football collide?
HGW: On the surface level you can see to connection through kit designs, team badges and boots, but more than that football and art both share the power to invoke emotion and create something truly memorable. When combining them both you can see how these feelings can be enhanced.
Out of all the artists and illustrators out there, who are your personal favourites?
HGW:There are so many artists and creatives that inspire me in many different ways, but I would have to say the artists who have impacted my creative journey the most are Dave Merrel, Sam Spratt and Paul Shipper.
What next for you in 2021?
HGW: I have only been out of university for a couple years so I’m still working on improving my skills and creating portfolios worthy of my dream clients. One area I aim to explore more is the world of football illustration as this is a keen interest of mine. To work with the likes of the Premier League, Copa 90, BR Football, FourFourTwo and These Football Times to name a few would be some of my targets for the coming years.
To someone wanting to get into the world of illustration, what would be your words of advice?
HGW: As I’ve mentioned its still very early days for me so I’m by no means an expert. I would say don’t compare yourself to others, it can be very demoralising. You can’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter ten. Focus on your own progression and building up key skills. Patience and consistency is key. It takes a lot of hard work, but the illustration industry is growing and there is always room for new creatives if you’re willing to put in the work. Engage with social media, put yourself out there and connect with the artists who inspire you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, the AOI is a great place for resources and tips on how to manage an illustration career and my DMs are always open for illustrators who have any questions.
And lastly, if someone wanted to work with you for a project, how would you suggest they went about it?
HGW: I’d encourage anyone who was interested in working with me to get in touch through my email or social media.

Heres the relevant info:
Instagram: @harrygward_
Twitter: @harrygward_