Next in our “A Day in the Life” blog series is Amy Wright, an Archaeological Illustrator who joined Wessex Archaeology in July 2021. Amy graduated from the University of York with a BA in Archaeology and a MA in Cultural Heritage Management. 

I joined the Studio team as an Archaeological Illustrator in July. It’s been an exciting four months with plenty to learn: as I’m sure anyone employed in archaeology would agree, there’s no such thing as a typical day at work!

As I’ve been working at home throughout the pandemic, my morning starts with a big cup of tea (or two) before I make the short commute to my computer, logging on at 8 o’clock to find out what’s in store for the day…

This week, it’s my turn to monitor the Studio inbox, where we receive illustration requests from other departments. This is a responsibility that I share with two other team members, rotating each week so that we all get the opportunity to lead, with the others providing support as needed. 

Today, the requests are all for watching briefs or evaluation figures. These will be included in reports written up by our Fieldwork team and contribute to a permanent record of the archaeology found during their excavations, so it’s important that our figures are both accurate and easy to understand. Using the data collected by archaeologists on site, I create figures in CAD, GIS or Adobe Illustrator: these figures normally include a plan of the site and any archaeology found, alongside sections and photographs of key features. It’s a task I enjoy, as it means I get to talk to people from all our offices and find out what they have been up to!

After lunch, there’s time for me to work on my other projects. Today, I’m working on a character drawing of a Tudor Stonemason, which will go in one of Wessex Archaeology’s loan boxes. Although I normally draw using traditional methods, this is a great opportunity to practice drawing digitally in Adobe Photoshop, using layers to build up colour and texture. I always find that drawing is a great way to learn more about the past, as putting something down ‘on paper’ forces me to ask questions that I wouldn’t otherwise have considered. What tools would a Tudor Stonemason have used? What would he have worn? What materials would have been available to him, and in what colours?

Tudor Stonemason initial sketch and tracing of the sketch digitally

Above: Tudor Stonemason initial sketch (left) and digital tracing of the sketch (right)

Progress of digital sketch and final character drawing 

Above: Progress of digital sketch and final 

Since I started working at Wessex Archaeology, it’s been great to work on a variety of projects and push myself creatively. So far, I’ve typeset newsletters and reports, created publication illustrations for a multi-phase excavation, learnt how to upload news stories to the company website, and even filmed a Halloween-themed drawing tutorial for TikTok!

To finish off the day, I have a virtual ‘tea-break’ with other members of the Studio team. I’ll eventually be based in Wessex Archaeology’s Salisbury Office and work with the rest of the team in person, but in the meantime attending our team meetings and get-togethers has been a great way to get to know the other members of the Studio while working from home. It’s always interesting to find out what everyone has been working on and learn more about their projects.

final sketch

by Amy Wright, illustrator