Cartoonist Isabella Croker: “With a good storyline you have the freedom to make anything happen”

Isabella Croker is an up-and-coming Manchester-based artist and cartoonist. Her digital artwork ‘Buzzy Manchester’ is a whimsical depiction of the Printworks with a Piccadilly line metro whizzing past and bees buzzing overhead.

Manchester’s influence is also evident in her recent piece ‘Imaginary Friends’. Its protagonists, two daydreaming children, wear the uniforms of St Joseph’s Primary School in Sale, where Croker herself grew up.

“I love drawing bees,” she tells me. “I studied architecture around Manchester for a little while when I was at college. But I prefer drawing nature. Manchester has both, which is great.”

This makes sense, given that Croker once aspired to be a zookeeper. “Growing up, I always wanted to be an artist and a zookeeper. For a long time, I didn’t know you could actually be paid to draw. So I mainly focused on scientific and environmental courses while studying art on the side.”

‘Imaginary Friends’ by Isabella Croker

“But then I got really into animation, so I decided to study Illustration and Animation instead. In my final year at university, I decided I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator. I still enjoy learning about fauna and flora, so animals feature a lot in my work.”

Another major influence on her work is the digitisation of art. “Everything is online now. I’ve received all my commissions through Instagram. Pretty much all my work is made digitally now as well.”

“I draw on Photoshop with a graphics tablet. Your work does change when you draw digitally. You don’t have as much control with textures and brush use. I still draw on paper in my spare time to try and keep that skill active, but I have become very reliant on Ctrl-Z.”

Croker’s cartoon style is distinctive. Her work has an inviting and imaginative quality to it, like the pages of a children’s storybook. She has fun with this creativity.

‘Buzzy Manchester’ by Isabella Croker

“You can make cartoons as realistic or as abstract as you like. You can emphasise your art style without having to worry about accurate anatomy. I like to follow some rules of scale and perspective, but for some styles that’s not even necessary.”

“With a good storyline you have the freedom to make anything happen.”

Croker works on commissions from her home in Sale and aspires to become a professional children’s storybook writer.

You can find examples of her artwork on her Instagram or personal website.


Joanna Taylor is a Greater Manchester –born journalist currently working at The Independent. She has also written for Reuters online and The Huffington Post and undertaken video work for ITN. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaRTaylor and view her work here.