We love nurturing new talent and last year were thrilled to welcome supremely talented young illustrator Matthew Land to Arena. We thought we would add some new illustrations to Matthew’s online portfolio showcasing his particular skill in character work. His online gallery now features some stunning pattern design, recent editorial work and some rather lovely illustrations for His Dark Materials and Howl’s Moving Castle.


Here’s a small selection of new work, but do pop over to look at Matthew’s online portfolio in its entirety.


Let’s find out a little more about Matthew. He grew up on a dairy farm somewhere in the welsh hills and in spite of his great love and appreciation of the outdoors he steered clear of a career in the family business (mostly but not completely because he doesn’t digest dairy well). Instead, he read and drew almost compulsively and has continued to do so because he never especially wanted a proper job. He graduated from University College Falmouth in 2012.

Wanting a change of scene Matthew moved to Edinburgh and worked as a children’s bookseller in Blackwell’s Bookshop, which then took him to Oxford and rekindled his passion for fiction and storytelling. Matthew has picked up his pencils again and for the time being is back in Wales, currently skulking in the studio he’s rigged together in his grandmother’s attic.

Matthew is influenced by heroes from the golden age of British book illustration, including Arthur Rackham, Beatrix Potter and William Heath Robinson. He utilizes ink linework and watercolour and a touch of digital tweaking to breathe life into his unusual characters.

In his spare time, Matthew is ticking National Trust properties off his ‘to visit’ list from which he draws a lot of inspiration and detail and because of the gift shops.

You can view Matthews online portfolio HERE or follow him on Instagram and Twitter, for more information about working with him please email info@arenaillustration.com

Here is a special illustration Matthew created for this news post, it’s an annotated diagram of his workspace, which is currently situated in his grandmother’s attic as of March 2020.


  1. The cuckoo clock he tells people is an inherited antique, that he bought from wish.com 
  2. A selection of his favourite illustrated middle grade novels, which are the things he would most likely save out of everything in the event of a fire
  3. A cacti he planted in a panda egg cup which is positively flourishing under his continued lack of attention
  4.  Ribena from Monday
  5. A concoction of brown inks he mixed together to make brown ink, which he uses for the majority of linework in his illustrations
  6. Custom watercolour palette sourced from all over*  *the internet
  7. Easy access humbugs
  8. Ribena from Tuesday
  9. Discarded sketches of the same *bleep*ing thing over and over and over again
  10. Primark Hogwarts™ slippers
  11. His grandmother’s cat that he has been secreting extra meals to for quite some time now, because he likes fat cats
  12. Ribena from Wednesday
  13. Foxes Chunky Cookies 
  14. Ribena from last Saturday
  15. A rabbit hole of YouTube nail art tutorials
  16. Ribena from today
  17.  His collection of Observer Guides because they look super vintagey and cool