A Popular Mechanic. A Presentation Portrait Artwork.

A presentation artwork in acrylics on paper, framed and presented to M. Philippe Milloux, director of the Alliance française, Dublin
A presentation artwork in acrylics on paper, framed and presented to M. Philippe Milloux, director of the Alliance française, Dublin

A very satisfying and enjoyable project reached its conclusion last Friday. The Director of the Alliance Française, Philippe Milloux, has just completed his term at the Alliance and is moving on to an even more exalted position in Paris. I think it’s very useful to show you something of the planning, care and attention to that what went into it from me and the group of his colleagues who clubbed together to commission this art.

As usual, in preparation for the composition, I interviewed his colleagues and tried to get a picture of how he could be best represented. Part of the work that Philippe carried out over the last few years was to restructure the Alliance and make sure it remains a healthy and vibrant institution into the future. Happily, I also discovered that he has always had an interest in car mechanics and has been fixing them since he was ten years old, since his father was a car mechanic.

My objective with these artworks is to make a gift that is unique, imaginative and personal. There is only ONE of these in the world; unlike a gold watches; golf clubs; crystal vases or any other repetitious and unimaginative bauble. This image says something about his time at Dublin AF (he fixed it) and Ireland, it also reaches into his family history. He told me that his dad wore the blue mechanic’s boiler suit every day to work. Philippe is a natty dresser, too and always looked to me as if he’d just stepped out of a jazz club (niiiice!). He’s seldom seen out and about without his cool hat and of course, that went into the painting too.

In short; This gift is a portrait. It’s inextricably linked to its subject, it will keep renewing itself as Philippe progresses through his career. It will always remind him of his happy time in Ireland, his dear colleagues and reflect his own interests and family history. The whole project took about 3 weeks to complete, which takes into account meetings, sketching, amendments, painting and framing. What more could you ask of a parting gift? You can see more examples of these projects at this link.  Phone me on +353 (0)86 247 0737

A letter from Philippe to his colleagues:

I did not really have time last Friday to tell you how much this surprise -and what a surprise as you all noticed. I was so touched.

I was very happy to be able to spend this moment with you all, I look back on all that we have accomplished in the Alliance and I treasured my chance to have you by my side throughout these five years. From the moment I arrived in Ireland, and even in the most difficult moments, I came to work every morning with the desire to strive for and accomplish everything that we started almost as soon as I arrived.

Kevin’s painting which I’ll adore, will be in place in my office on the 6th floor of the Foundation in Paris, so I’ll always think of you and Dublin .

With my best memory,



Philippe


And now some images of the project as it progressed:

Initial pencil sketch to show idea for the presentation artwork in acrylics on paper.
Initial sketch to show idea for the presentation artwork in acrylics on paper.
Sketch worked up to client’s amendments

presentation artwork in acrylics on paper.
Painting underway on Arches watercolour paper stretched on board.

presentation artwork in acrylics on paper.
Back from the framer.

M. Philippe Milloux at the presentation lunch with his portrait artwork.
M. Philippe Milloux at the presentation lunch with his portrait artwork. 

OPIUM. Portraiture Presentation Artworks in Acrylics on Paper

Vintage Roadster portrait: An imaginative and artistic way to create portraiture for execs who are moving on. Original; Personal; Imaginative; Unique and Memorable
Vintage Roadster portrait in acrylics: An imaginative and artistic way to create portraiture for execs who are moving on. Original; Personal; Imaginative; Unique and Memorable

In response to all that’s GUBU here on the Emerald Isle (to those outside of Ireland, GUBU is an acronym first used during a late 1980s political scandal: Grotesque; Unprecedented; Bizarre and Unbelievable – and it never seems to stop), I have my own newly-coined acronym for these hand-painted gift artworks: OPIUM: Original; Personal; Imaginative; Unique; Memorable.

I should add; addictive but that quality is inherent in the word and it would mess up my lovely new acronym.

Let me explain: I create these unique artworks to order, usually for retiring or otherwise departing executives. These projects are fun -with all the secret meetings and development, sketches and the growing feelings of expectation -and the party at the end where the presentation of the framed art is made.

 L'Eschappé Belle portrait in acrylics: An imaginative and artistic way to create portraiture for execs who are moving on. Original; Personal; Imaginative; Unique and Memorable
L’Eschappé Belle portrait in acrylics: An imaginative and artistic way to create portraiture for execs who are moving on. Original; Personal; Imaginative; Unique and Memorable

So, I’m after all the PAs I can get my hands on (so to speak). That’s my goal. PAs are the ‘go-to’ people when an unusual project comes up within a company: Something like procuring a retirement or departing gift for an executive, for example. The HR department is another source, since most companies don’t have an art or design department. The ‘finding a present’ brief doesn’t really fit the remit of any particular section of a company.

The difficulty is always what to get for this person who has most  things already. A nice pen? A gold watch? A bunch of flowers? A crystal vase? These items are all very lovely but they either don’t last or they’re very unoriginal. Or both.

Hot Water Review portrait in acrylics: An imaginative and artistic way to create portraiture for execs who are moving on. Original; Personal; Imaginative; Unique and Memorable
Hot Water Review portrait in acrylics: An imaginative and artistic way to create portraiture for execs who are moving on. Original; Personal; Imaginative; Unique and Memorable

So how about a present of OPIUM? Each original painting is tailored exactly to fit the individual: it’s personal and includes elements that refer to the person’s character, wishes and achievements. Unlike a gold watch, this is imaginative; it places the person in the context of their interests -a relevant (though invented) magazine or book cover: Don’t we all want to make the front cover of  a book? Each artwork is unique; there is only one of these in the entire world which can’t be said of a crystal vase, set of golf clubs or a gold watch…
Which brings us to Memorable. This is a memento -a thoughtful gift from colleagues to a valued member of the team which will be cherished for ever.

So if you’re a PA or an HR type who’s been charged with coming up with a gift, give me a call on 086 247 0737 and we can talk. Even if you know someone who is in that position, do pass on my name and number: +353 (0)86 247 0737 or email: kevin@mcsherry.ie I’d love to talk to you…

So; please share…

Snake Oil

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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.

A eBook Guide for Beginning Illustrators and Client Meetings

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.

There’s information on how to come up with a price, why having a daily rate is a good idea, notes on contracts and rights assignation. Plus, what to do after these meetings. GET IT NOW. It’s downloadable from iTunes (for iPad) and Amazon (as an ePUB file for everything else).

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!
Kevin