Illustration vs Photography article

Why do you think your work is used instead of photography?
With editorial work there is several reasons an editor would use illustration over photography. Often it is used over photographs when they are looking for a non specific image. Photography always shows specific people and situations.
For example if a magazine is running an article about a phenomenon that occurs across the world and not just in one country they may be reluctant to use specific images from a specific area or country
Also if the editor is looking for a picture to accompany an article that cant be easily photographed, perhaps it is quite abstract, i have done a lot of illustrations for articles about the internet or web 2.0 over the past few years. All sorts of more abstract concepts work better with illustrations than with photography or at least they can be summed up better with an illustration than with a photograph
Illustration can also be half info-graphic, i have incorporated all sorts of things into illustrations such as street maps for articles about cities or diagrams showing relative CO2 emissions per country for a feature about reducing greenhouse gases or i even incorporated architectural diagrams several times when i worked for grand designs magazine when they were doing ‘how to’ articles about greening your home. All of these would be impossible to do with photography.
illustration can make the image much easier to understand because it can break the rules of representation like that. ‘how to’ diagrams and street symbols etc are illustrated because they need to show specific information that is often clearer when very abstracted.
Im sure i could think of other ways it has advantages but i cant think of anymore right now!
With advertising also there is a range of reasons my illustration has been used instead of photography. One advantage is because it can be a part of the ‘branding’ image of the advertising campaign. With Illustration you can use specific recognisable company or campaign colours and a particular style that can be associated with the brand or message. You can arguably create a more cohesive set of branded images for an advertising campaign through distinctive illustration than distinctive photography.
Another reason is that illustration is used over photography is that it can often be funnier or more engaging than a photograph, i have done several web banners featuring characters in a simple narrative which would be harder to do with photography
Its again non-specific, this is quite important because an illustrated character can be generic, from any racial background or any age group or even gender which has obvious advantages.
Also i have done images that are specially created to fit with a technique ie stencilled on pavements etc, the stencilling process is very limited so simple graphic illustrations have an advantage over photography in that way.
Do you think magazine editors give enough weight to illustration or should more of it be used?
I havent thought about it too much to be honest
i do see the odd ad campaign done with photography and think to myself that could be much funnier if it was done with good illustration.
Japan is a country that really knows how to get the best from illustration in that reguard.
I think there are good and bad art direction. The good ones know how to use each medium to its best.
i wouldnt really want to illustrate an article that i thought would be better served by printing a good photo and in many places i really want to see a photograph rather than an illustration. i get annoyed sometimes when they have illustrations in some travel articles for example when a photo would be much better.
Generally there is much more photography than illustration used but people prefer to see actual photographs in most cases as they are more useful and informative in that they are closer to reality.
Its only really in the circumstances above (in the last answer) that illustration really does have a clear edge over photography.
By | 2017-09-02T02:25:21+00:00 February 6th, 2009|Tags: , , |2 Comments

Interview Faculty of Arts and Applied Arts, Chulalonkorn University, Thailand

1. In your opinion, what is graphics?
 Simple images that can communicate something complex can be very powerful.The word ‘graphics’ has become synonymous with branding and advertising but i would like to think theres more potential for it that just that. At their best they can communicate complex ideas without language and their meaning can be universal
2. What is your job? [Freelancer / employee]
 Freelancer. I have worked as design employee before


3. why do you choose graphic design?
 I chose to study graphic design 11 years ago mainly because i wanted to be able to use computers.
When i was in college i first wanted to study fine art and work on my own projects but when i saw the creative potential in computers i wanted to do graphic design. The graphic design department was the only department that had any computers at that time.  The possibilities and flexibility with digital imagery was very new. Really there was no illustrators or certainly very few of them using computers then, but i liked the though of having so much creative control in making images and also the possibilities with motion graphics and the web. It was really just starting then and seemed very exciting.
The only problem was i didn’t really like the graphic design course, i wasn’t so interested in the branding /packaging/ advertising side to it.
4. In your opinion, how does the good graphic designer work?
Flexible in that they are able to apply themselves to many different projects, ie books and animations and murals but also they must be able to do each one well and bring something new and interesting to each project
5. What kind of style do you use in your works? Who are your target groups?
All sorts of styles really
I dont have a specific target audience
I have done a very basic childrens book for 3 year olds but also i regularly do quite abstruse work for the european business magazine, it really depends as long as i feel i can add something to a project and i can get excited about it i can work for all sorts of ages and styles
6. What are your inspirations about this work?
Lots of different areas but i suppose my main inspiration is folk art, I love abstracted and free approach to drawings and representation.
Maps/ textiles/symbols etc everything that i pick up that come from a less conventional approach to image making i find is inspiring
for example i recently i saw some very old maps from turkish and islamic manuscipts where half of the map is like a map but then they are mixed with realistic images of people and buildings, that sort of approach i think can often communicate much more than any sort of representational image. also i look at textile designs and patterning and i try to incorporate that sort of imagery into more figurative images to make them more decorative and playful
I definitely think that the more research that i do for each image the better it will work as an image. sometimes i start off without enough material to work from and i can feel the image is looking a little weak and in that case ill have to stop work and go out and find some new inspiration or directions to go in
7. Do you have any problems about working? If you do, What do you do to resolve them?
When i am given the brief i will try to visualise the best way i can approach the project. Sometimes if the brief is tight or unimaginative it takes a bit of imagination on my part to come up with something interesting, but almost always there is some way to do some nice work from even a very conservative brief.
Often its difficult when the client comes back and asks to change it in a way that i dont want to go in. its takes a lot of imagination to keep up the excitement for producing something interesting alive when you are knocked down several times, but unless you keep going and keep trying something new that both you and the client will be happy with you will end up with a mediocre image that the client might like but that you won’t be happy with.
8. How to make success?
I think the only way to do the work that you really want to do, is to do the work that you really want to do and get them seen by the right people.
For example if what you really want to do is be a music videos director you first have to make one or two good music videos. Once you have done that and get them online or out and about youll get the work that you set out to get. otherwise as a designer you tend to get stuck in an area that you didnt set out to be in and that can be very frustrating.
Doing something like that sort of involves a lot of sacrifice and work up-front and unpaid but once you do that and can make something that you are really happy with, chances are others will really like it too and you can get work from them Every time i want to do something new i need to do something like that. For example i wanted to design some repeat pattern textile designs because i thought it would be an interesting area to work in and i had a few ideas for some designs.
But in order to get work in that area i first had to do a few designs so that i could show people what i had in mind. Then, inevitably once I started off in this new area I discovered that its much more complicated and challenging than I had originally thought. Repeated patterns are actually quite difficult to do well, its very easy to to create a nice decorative image but to have it repeating smoothly and in an attractive way took more work than i had thought. Starting off something like that takes time and also self discipline because you are working without money or a deadline.
The same was true when i wanted to break into doing children’s books. I first had to do a story of my own that i was happy with, things like that take a long time but if you can do something new once in a while it ensures that you will not get bored or tired of the work that you do.
By | 2017-09-02T02:25:22+00:00 February 1st, 2009|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Interview with Blanket Magazine (Aus) 2007

Interview with Blanket Magazine (Aus) 2007



Would you mind giving us a quick run down on your career to date?
I finished up college in Dublin in 2001. I had studied graphic design but I wasn’t crazy about the course to be honest. I moved to Hong Kong with two friends two months later, we had a great tutor called David Lui from Hong Kong while we were in college that we had kept in contact with and he helped us out. We taught english for a while but then I started taking my portfolio around and getting illustration work. I had done a few odd illustration jobs in Dublin while i was at college but it wasnt until i was in Hong Kong that i started getting properly paid illustration work. I was pretty lucky and got a quite large ad job there and then I travelled around asia until I ran out of money. Then I moved back to Ireland. I worked part time at a music venue designing posters and press ads for a while but there wasnt that much creativity in it really. I was just tacking dates on most of the time, and Dublin is too small to be for illustration really, so I moved over to London. Its great here. Ive been in London for three years. I was pretty much broke when I arrived so i had to do part-time work, I got a fulltime job in an animation company called Studioaka, worked there for a while then I left that 2 years ago when my freelance work started picking up and have been freelancing since.


Where are you currently based?
In London, in Hackney


Do you find being in the UK helps you to do what you want with your career?
I love it here. Actually, a lot of my work seems to come through the website now and the email contacts ive kept from here Dublin and Hong Kong so really I suppose i could be anywhere, but its very inspiring to be here. I do get a few jobs or hear about companies and people by being here i suppose,  I’d never have got involved with People Tree either if it wasn’t for being here. There’s so much going on that it’s just a great place to be anyway.


Do you consider yourself an Illustrator first and foremost?
I do now i suppose, i do a bit of animation too and other random graphics stuff but its generally based around illustration.


How do you find your inspiration for your work?
i think i go through phases of liking different things, i used to love japanese prints and i copied them to death and then i went off them a bit. I tend to do that quite a lot. I love the V&A here too, and the British Museum, I really love the ethnic patterns and textiles in there at the moment. Rugs are great!


Your style has a very innocent, organic and childlike qualities, explain how it came about?
I dont know. I draw a lot of different characters each time i make a drawing, some are better than others but i generally go for the one with the wonky eye or the badly drawn head or something, just because they have more character, is that what you mean? I dont like very slick perfect drawings, and sometimes I touch up drawings and after a while i realise that ive kind of ruined it. The quicker and more spontaneous the drawing is the more character it has, thats why i find it very difficult to draw on the computer i think… it needs to be drawn in an instant to properly capture movement.


Explain the process you go through when creating your work?
I generally have an idea, sketch it out a few ways, scan a few of them in and mess around with them on the computer. usually i get rid of some elements… i kind of simplify the drawing i have, sometimes ill scan more elements in then for the final drawing… i dont use most of it, there’s an awful lot of waste.


What mediums and materials do you work with?
I draw most of the bits with a pencil, i make a lot of the textures with charcoal or graphite. and a few times ive got my inks or poster paints out but mainly its just pencil.


What about the computer? How far do you take your work on there?
I do most of it on the computer really, but i never ever start work without scanning something in… ive tried to do that so many times but it always ends up just looking bad. i never figured a way of doing it…
I used to work at this animation studio that only had one scanner in the whole building between about 15 animators/ designers, i used to use it so often that it got moved onto my desk.


What kind of projects have you worked on to date?
I generally do pretty varied illustrations for editorial and advertising, i work quite regularly for the guardian here, but ive definitely had some very random jobs, being freelance you have to be pretty adaptable to keep yourself going, but i think its good to do that too, id get bored if i was just doing the same type of work all the time.  I did an ad campaign recently for the UK government agency for anti-drug-driving. That was great fun to do, they had a pretty progressive attitude to the issue which made it very engaging, the title was ‘stupid things you do on drugs…’ so i had to do all these characters doing stupid things on drugs and then the last one was ‘get into your car and drive home’. It turned out pretty well and was good fun to do. I did an ad campaign in Hong Kong one time where none of the art directors spoke English and i can’t speak Cantonese, it worked out great because they could only give me very basic directions and i was free to ignore them if i didnt like what i heard. I did a wine bottle recently, and last year I did a mural for a shop in Tokyo and one in London. Ive done visuals for a quite big outdoor music festival in Ireland and a very glamorous (!) ad campaign two years ago for a cystitis antibiotic. I kind of art-directed a photo shoot in France a few years ago too because i had to then draw swirly images on top of the photos (I’d never even been on a photo shoot before!)


And what has been your favourite, or most inspiring?
I love working with People Tree, the projects that i have done through them that have come off well with them are my proudest projects. I enjoy animating too but sometimes that can be a bit frustrating. It takes so long to do but in the end it can be much more entertaining and engaging than a still image.


You are heavily involved in Fair Trade and People Tree, would you mind explaining a little more about these?
People tree are great, Im so glad to be involved with them, I was a bit disillusioned with design for a while because all the jobs i was working on at one point were these very slick ad campaigns and I was going to marketing research meetings in ad agencies and I was very cynical about it. I kind of felt a bit hypocritical.
The work People Tree do is great. I met the Safia (the founder) and we got on really well, she is very inspiring to talk to and i really was very excited to work with them. It was a kind of a revelation to be able to produce nice work that was also helping to sell products that i wanted to see being sold.
They have a network of very small cooperatives and projects set up all over the world, about 60 fairly small sized producer groups ranging from 10 to 150 full or part-time workers in 20 different countries. They mainly set up projects based on the local handicrafts and products, handmade paper notepads and cards in Nepal,  t-sh
irts made from small cotton farmer’s cotton in India. All of these small groups are then able to sell their products worldwide through people tree on the people tree site. ( The network cuts out the middle-man and helps the small producers compete. Many of the producer groups and projects are set up to employ either women who may have been divorced through domestic abuse or disabled people who would not be otherwise be able to earn money outside of their family.
They help get extra income into some of the poorest areas and increase self-esteem and independence amongst the disabled people who work at the projects. The producer groups also get design input and advice on quality, product feedback etc from the people tree designers. as well as all that people tree places a strong emphasis on ecological production methods by supporting organic cotton projects.
We still have a long way to go though, it can be frustrating work sometimes and its a constant struggle to do nice work under limited resources but its very fulfilling.


As an Illustrator do you think its important to seek creative avenues in other areas in order to develop yourself as a creative? If so what do you do?
 I love travelling, anytime i find myself with a bit of money (which isnt that often) im off backpacking about, I like to read as much as i can when i have the time too. Other than that i can’t think of anything.. I dont play a musical instrument or anything… I get very creatively drunk when I finish a project!


What projects are you currently working on?
All animation at the moment actually! Im doing a new little animated spot about fair trade, which should be really good fun to do, another short animated spot for a documentary film through where i do little animated breaks in a documentary about how micro loans help independent producers in the middle east. Im also designing six ten second animated adverts for a large department store in the UK which will be produced through Studioaka. (


Lastly, do you have any interesting collections of objects? (this issue is our collection issue)
Ive got a pile of books that i keep buying and i never get through them, ive got about thirty books i havent read stacked beside my bed. I need to take a year off to get through them all i think.
Ive been taking hundreds of photos over the past few years too since i started using a digital camera… ive got about 9000 on my computer now i think… I have no idea what im going to do with them, I’ve barely even looked at most of them..!


By | 2017-09-02T02:25:23+00:00 February 1st, 2009|Tags: , , |0 Comments