Since I upgraded my Mac last year, I’ve had to come up with an alternative to Photoshop and InDesign and believe me, there’s not much choice out there.
I’ve been using a combination of Pixelmator (€29.99) for the image editing and iStudio Publisher (Just €20.99!) for creation of printed documents. Compare that with the €120 per year for ever of just Photoshop alone. PS is great but bloody hell.
The interface of both these substitutes are clunky (with Pixelmator being the slickest) but I’m getting used to them and I haven’t found much functionality that I’ve missed – neither have anything like the sophistication of Adobe’s products. But; they work perfectly well for most of anyone’s needs. Scanning, image preparation, a small amount of digital illustration and putting together a perfectly good, professional catalogue.
So the above image is the result of that combination: The cover for my 16 page catalogue for my upcoming exhibition Flights of Fancy.
La Galerie Impromptu (286c Harold’s Cross Road -right beside The Brick House Café).
Opening at 6.30pm Thursday June 16. By invitation only. Exhibition runs until June 26.
About the exhibition
Each year, I hold an exhibition that is completely independent of the gallery system to focus on exploring what’s essential in my work, free of external pressures. This is my annual Special Show where you can see me as I am. This time, It’s going to be a popup gallery! The owner of Rosie O’Grady’s bar in Harold’s Cross has very generously offered out one of his adjacent units; a shop that fronts onto the main street. It will be over this unit that I will hang the ‘La Galerie Impromptu banner.
As an artist, I’m not only interested in the imaginative and conceptual nature of my art; I’m dedicated to the craft side too. For me they’re indivisible. I have always wanted to create things with mind AND my hands. My influences are broad: Hopper, definitely; classical painters for their level of craft but also the surrealists. More strongly though, by so-called Pop Culture. I just love great illustration work. The imagination and highly accomplished artistry.
So this is my one-man Cultural Event. These are my Flights of Fancy. This is my own personal Milan and Paris fashion show.
The work in this show is an eclectic mix -works completed in the last year or so. Although there’s no common theme, one thing that re-occurs is that of flight. Flying racing fish; dirigible cricketers; gilded birds and flighty notions.
So, feathered friends; I’m offering you the opportunity to become an integral part of this show: Proceeds from this crowd-funding campaign will cover the costs of framing, refreshments for the opening and talks, publicity and printing of a catalogue and other printed material. In return, my flock, I shall reserve a special place for you in my heart and in the lush pastures, fragrant forests and cool mountains of this benevolent and expanding land, AND what’s more you’ll even receive something real, that you can hold in your hands änd hang on your wall, in return. Please look at the schedule of the rewards that await supporters and patrons of the arts below. Take wing, citizens! For when we flock together, we are strong!
I’ve been working for some time on a series of illustrations to be produced as prints. It’s an avenue that I’ve been exploring as a way out of the drudgery of ‘jobbing’ illustration. This is how I’ve been feeling for more than a year, now. Working for those who either lack the imagination to extrapolate from a simple sketch or who see artists’ skills as merely a way to realise their own ideas has palled. None of this is their fault, since they’re paying for a start and I’ve colluded in this state of affairs myself [I’ve willingly bought the snake oil salesman’s promises] but it is a strong indication that I’m really in the wrong end of the business.
Producing my own art for my own products is also fun, which is the bit that has been missing, of late. All art has to have a LARGE amount of the artist invested in it, if it is to be any good. If it doesn’t, it enters the world still-born; a lifeless conjoined monster of conflicting personas, likely to be shunned. You can’t, as many people seem to believe, micro-manage an artist’s work and expect it to shine. This is absolutely the very worst aspect of being an illustrator. I suspect that the same applies for designers and advertising creatives, copywriters or any ‘applied artist’.
So, this way if the idea fails, then it will have failed on my terms -because of my imagination, my drawing skill, my own efforts. So be it. If the idea succeeds, then I’ll reap the benefit -on levels much more important than the mere accrual of money. For me, illustration has been like a bottle of balm sold by the credible-sounding man in the white suit -just buy this and all your art troubles will be over! Become an illustrator and be an artist who actually gets paid! Strangle that snake oil salesman who lives inside your head -he’s full of empty bottles and unkeepable promises. Here’s my advice to any young artist thinking of becoming an illustrator: Think very very carefully -do you really want to make your much-loved hobby into your job? Perhaps, before embarking on your career, read ‘The E-Myth Revisited’ by Michael E. Gerber, then at least you might approach it with a plan in mind.
This wasn’t meant to depress -I’m excited about my art these days -but only art that is truly, or even largely, mine. I get more joy out of a small sale from my little still life studies than I ever did from a big illustration project because I know that a beautiful, personal connection has been made and that the love invested in the small painting generated love in return. As Paul McCartney wrote; In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.
After working with many students of illustration in mock interviews and role-plays, I’ve compiled this useful guide to meetings. It’s aimed squarely at those who are just starting out, to give them a good grounding in what they should know BEFORE meeting -and hints on how to present themselves when they do get face to face with a client. It will help in wasting less time and seeing the incredible value in illustration for your client AND you. This explains all the business stuff that we really don’t like as artists.
Just under 40 pages, It’s written in a witty and engaging way that’s more like a conversation in a pub than a textbook. I sincerely hope that this will fill in some of the blanks that face all of us when we embark on our careers in applied art.
Best of luck!
Next weekend sees another annual ‘Towers and Tales’ literary festival in Lismore Castle, Co. Waterford. There is lots to do and loads of fun activities for children.
I’m very proud to have been invited to show in a group exhibition of Illustrators Guild of Ireland and some other artists, called, ‘Meet the Family’. Here’s my artwork in it’s new (read ‘Old’) frame. I’m really looking forward to seeing all the paintings in place.
As part of next weekend’s ‘Towers & Tales’ children’s books festival at Lismore Castle, Co. Waterford, several Irish artists and illustrators have been invited to show work on the theme, ‘ Meet the Family”.
Each artist has been given a personage who has stayed at Lismore over the centuries to depict. I was given Edward VII, and that’s him above. This piece is titled: “HM Dirigble, The Curragh Wren”. Acrylics on Arches Hot Pressed Watercolour paper. 25cm x 35cm. Framed behind glass.
Once again, the castle & historic town of Lismore provide the magical and inspirational setting for a celebration of books, stories and illustration for young audiences. As well as ticketed events featuring a line-up of best-selling Irish & international writers and illustrators, there are lots of free activities for families. So come along – listen to stories, meet the Gruffalo, hang out at the Woodshed Café, eat cake, eat more cake, don’t fall into the chocolate fountain, bring a book to swap, meet the authors & illustrators, visit the Book Doctor, or just wander around and soak up the ambience.
Towers and Tales was borne out of our shared vision that all children in Ireland should be gifted a book, a literacy fostering initiative that is successfully being delivered in over thirty countries worldwide, but not yet in Ireland. To reflect this wish, and thanks to Children’s Books Ireland, all young visitors to the festival will receive a book as a gift.
Lately, I’ve been doing more and more ‘brunailles‘, in other words, three colour paintings usually made in order to establish tone before glazing over with colour. I was captured by how much expression can be made without very much colour at all.
160321_35. 6″ x 8″. Acrylics on canvas
Also by the way the light pigment (in these cases, Sennelier’s Warm Bright Yellow) seems to almost emit light. These old nurse’s uniforms look fantastic where the white parts are represented thus.
You can ‘tip’ the emphasis from cooler to warmer greys by adding more ultramarine or burnt sienna to the three colour mix -as you can see in the warmer, redder cast to the second painting.
Well, here I am, just after my first experience in collaboration with an intern. I’ve always had reservations about the whole intern concept and it’s unlikely that I’ll ever be a a position to be able to employ anyone. However, it turned out to be very successful, despite my misgivings. I usually work alone and usually in a kind of ‘just muddling-through’, disorganised fashion. I got tired just thinking about what I had to prepare for this student. Luckily, Sophie turned out to be much better prepared than I was and she showed such initiative and worked with such energy that the whole thing was a pleasure. She really has set the bar high. What convinced me to take her on in the first place was her initial email. She had obviously researched her subject; this was no generic, catch-all proposal message, like many others I have received. She knew my work, (all the way over in Holland!) and the tone of her letter was pitched perfectly. This is why I wrote the following text:
I see internships in my studio as a collaboration. I would hope to learn as much from you as you do from me. I work as an independent illustrator/artist and art teacher which requires that I do many of the jobs for which other, bigger businesses have staff: On top of my artistic work, there is: Administration; invoicing; prospecting; teaching; pricing; debt-collection; web site building, creating shows, etc.. The work is constant and very varied -and often fun.
My expectations (and probably the expectations of any business, creative or otherwise) are:
Respect and courtesy: Please don’t approach me by impersonal email without having researched me and my work, your email will be binned without being read. A respectful approach will be heard: I will reply, even if I can’t take you on.
You’ll be representing me to people who I hope to work with or already work with: please don’t turn up looking like Edward Scissorhands! I might be impressed by your creatively stunning and committed individuality but I know clients who would not.
Show me that you can think for yourself and that you possess initiative. There’s no point in me taking on interns who I think I will perform tasks that I can’t do, only to find I’ve got to closely guide them along.
Know how to address people in formal circumstances like writing a letter or an email or when phoning. Your English doesn’t have to be perfect but the rules are the same in any language and besides, I’ll be there to correct the English where I can.
Never make promises you can’t or won’t keep. This is a cardinal rule for life. For example, try your best to keep to your deadlines, whatever they are. Like turning up at meetings. I once arranged a formal meeting with seven students. Only two turned up. It was a sunny day; we don’t get many sunny days in Ireland but, you see; that’s just bad luck, isn’t it? I turned up only to have my time wasted. That’s the world of work; turning up. Also, if you can’t make your deadline or if you’re going to be late, have the courtesy to phone in.
My least successful activity is marketing; generating interest and following up; something that a student of marketing and/or design could do much better than me.
In return, you’ll be treated very well; you’ll be praised highly for the good work that you do (unfortunately, this doesn’t often happen in the work environment as many bosses are complete tossers); I’ll make sure that you get the benefit of my experience in terms of mentoring; I’ll do whatever I can do to help you along in your career and introduce you to others who might help you along too.