His hand-drawn, black and white designs are beautifully intricate, almost architectural in their precision, yet surprisingly soulful for such stark illustration. He lends characterful warmth to monochrome with bursts of sunshine and gorgeous, undulating, leafy landscapes.
We were absolutely delighted when Cosmo agreed to do some covers for My Shrewsbury and created one dedicated to the goddess Sabrina and the beautiful festival-inspired May 2021 issue.
Cosmo says: “Working for My Shrewsbury is always a pleasure because you are given free rein to interpret a simple idea in your own unrestrained artistic style. I feel honoured to be one of the many local artists who contribute artwork.”
Some of the My Shrewsbury cover artwork by Cosmo Mulford and EP cover work for Shrewsbury musician Dan Owen
In between paid work, Cosmo is working on a Tarot deck that he says has been ‘years in the making’, inspired by Japanese myths and legends. The tarot is a pack of playing cards, used from the mid-15th century in parts of Europe to play a variety of games – but which in the late 18th century began to be used for divination and fortune telling.
Cosmo studied at Glyndwr University, Wrexham on leaving Meole Brace School to hone his illustration skills.
His old school friend is Shrewsbury musician Dan Owen – and you can also see Cosmo’s brilliant designs on Dan’s EP covers. Dan’s first album Stay Awake With Me (Acoustic) was released in 2019 and his most popular song Made to Love You has been streamed nearly 26 million times.
Dan said: “I thought of Cosmo because the songs being released are all about home. People, hills, things that have happened to me, relating to Shropshire. I have always followed Cosmo’s work – he’s great, and I’m really pleased with his designs. They have become a key part of the release campaign.”
Cosmo had previously designed covers for Universal Studios’ archive albums, having been spotted in the ‘New Designers’ exhibition as a first-year student, and was delighted when Dan asked him to help design the cover for Running to the Hills – Dan liked Cosmo’s drawings so much, he used a second for another EP If You Knew Better.
“It was a really great opportunity for me,” Cosmo said. “Dan’s idea was that it should coincide with the tour he was doing in England. He wanted a guy on a bike going over the horizon. It helps that I like his music!”
Cosmo’s designs are inspired by graphic novels and Japanese culture. He uses fine liners and brush pens to achieve his byzantine designs: “I prefer the process of drawing by hand and the feel of ink on paper,” he said. “I suppose I do it out of stubbornness. I was very anti-tech when I was younger. I thought Photoshop was cheating. Of course now I do also use Procreate (digital painting app) and I’m sure the Old Masters would be using it to its best potential, it’s counterproductive to fight against it. But for me, there’s a bit of a loss of magic – that feeling of achievement.
“Drawing is the only thing I have ever been able to do. I wasn’t very good at academics. I used to draw all the time when I was younger – even kids who bullied me at school had nothing against me drawing. I would love to be able to do this full-time.”
Follow Cosmo and his work at cosmomulfordillustration.com