Irish Independent Interview 2010
When did you leave Ireland? I went to London in 2003. Im always coming back though. I usually spend a few months of the year here.
Where did you study Graphic Design and Illustration? NCAD
Highlight of your career to date? I was listed in Time Magazine’s DESIGN 100 a few years ago for the fair trade work i have been doing with the company People Tree, also I have just won the Gold AOI Best of British Illustration Award in the Childrens book category this year for my first book A Bit Lost which came out last month.
Do you intend on publishing more children’s books?
Yes definitely. I have nearly finished another one about a bad dog. Its called OH NO! GEORGE! He eats a cake and chases cat and digs a big hole but he feels terrible about it afterwards.
Have you ever illustrated a book for another author? No
Book illustrator that you admire (Irish or otherwise)
I really love Beatrice Alemagna’s work
. Un Lion a Paris
perhaps is my favourite. It is about a lion that takes the train to Paris, she wanders around the city and falls in love with Paris and finds here home as a famous Lion statue in the heart of the city.
Also Tara Publishing in India do some great unique (even screen printed!) books. Catch that crocodile
is perhaps one of my favourites of theirs
Cho Sunk Yung is a huge inspiration for me also. His books are quite different in tone than my own. His Underground Garden is about a man who plants a garden in the middle of a dark city and it bursts through the walls and takes on a life of its own. There is a beautiful poetry in his writing and there is always a metaphor and meaning behind the stories.
Awards your work has won?
I have just won the Gold AOI Best of British Illustration Award in the Childrens book category this year and got the Bronze in the Advertising category 2 years ago
Proudest achievement to date?
Im very proud of the work I have been doing with fair trade. I have been working with People Tree a UK based fair trade clothing company. I have just started doing work with a fantastic company called Mahaguthi in Nepal too. They are an organisation with an incredible history and were originally started by Gandhi and his friend Tulsi Mehar in the 1920s. I had read about their work and philosophy and I was very proud to work with them and contribute to some of their handicrafts and products.
Favourite project to-date?
My book is definitely my favourite. I had wanted to write and illustrate my own book for many years and do something with my own characters and story. In the end it had to be wrestled from me by my editor. We worked hard on the design of it and the details… i think i was probably driving my publisher crazy but we got there in the end. Im really happy with it.
Any other interesting / quirky facts that you can share e.g. How many countries have you worked in over the last year? What you wanted to be when you were young? Career ambition?
I worked in India and Nepal for eight months this year before coming back to London. I have been doing fair trade work with some organisations there. I have been making and designing fair trade rugs and soft toys (an Owl too!) amongst other things
When I was young I wanted to be an archaeologist because I loved dinosaurs.
I hope to continue to make picture books. I hope to do some non-fiction books for older children too.
Advice for budding graphic designers / illustrators in Ireland today?
Keep working hard on varied projects that interest you and try to keep pushing and expanding the types of work you do is the best way of learning and developing interesting work. Do a lot of research and be aware that no matter how good anyones work is, it can always be improved on.
Why you feel it is important to develop creativity and self-belief in children.
I think creativity has come to mean the arts but it is essential to every part of life. It is a way of looking in a fresh way at the world. The best breakthroughs in any field come from creative thinking and self belief. Whether it is in science or the arts, any sort of problem solving can benefit from creativity and thinking about things in a new way. There is no-one in the world better suited to viewing the world from a new angle than children.