Woman In Charge

Collaborating with AQ/AQ for International Woman's Day

For this year for International Woman's Day I teamed up with brand AQ/AQ, read the interview

Caroline Towning is a fine artist and illustrator who has been drawing
since she could hold a pencil. As a dyslexic child, art became a very
important tool for expression. She started her career as a digital
animator and now works solely on fine art commissions from her London
studio in Hampstead. She tells us what it was like working in a male
dominated field and why she loves drawing the female form.

You started out in television and film as a television animator. Can you
tell us a bit about your experience as a woman in animation?

I studied digital animation and when I started my course in 2005, of the
80 students, only three of us were female. Being a woman working in a
technical field, which 3D computer animation can be, I did feel there was
extra pressure. There were times when I wasn’t taken seriously and noticed
in similar situations a male colleague would get a more positive response. 
I even had instances when a client would only to talk to a male member of
a project team, even though I was senior or a lead animator.

Why did you decide to return to art and illustration and how did you go
about making the switch?

I had never fully stopped illustration. I always did it freelance and
worked up full, hand-drawn storyboards and style frames for all my
animation work. I found working on a computer made things very stale and
unemotional. I love making things with my hands –mixing paint, spending
hours in art shops picking paper and experimenting with techniques; the
tactile subtlety that you don't get on a computer. It was such a simple
and natural transition moving back into it.

You mainly work with female subjects and animals. Why do you think this is?

Women and horses are my two favourite subjects simply because I find them
beautiful to draw. I think horses have very female curves – they are strong, 
sculptural yet emotional animals. Many of the females I draw are perhaps
just interpretations of myself.

You don't work in a typical office environment and your work is
commissioned. How important is a network of supportive women to
your job?

Relationships are everything and I'm so grateful to all the amazing women
in my life. Most of my work comes through word of mouth and social media, 
so it's really important for me to keep my network alive and to give back
as much as I take. A lot of my female friends have start-ups or are
freelancers, so I always try to put people in touch and pass on as much
work as I can.

What, to you, makes a woman inspirational and which women inspire you?

Michelle Obama is just incredible – she's fun, sophisticated and an incredible
role model to millions of women. I love the fact that she has a sense of
humour and is so personable. I think being inspirational is subjective – 
anyone can and should be an inspiration. As long as you are good, true to
yourself and in some way try to make things better, you will be a beacon to
others.