new web pick interview 2008

Tell us a little bit about your background?

I studied graphic design and illustration in the National College of Art in Dublin, Ireland. While i was there I was always trying to get work in magazines and other bits and pieces here and there. After college I ended up traveling around and about in Asia for two years before moving to the UK in 2004 to work for the London based animation Studioaka. I left there to work again on smaller more creative freelance projects. I illustrate for several magazines and newspapers I have been making hand-made prints and designs for clothing and stationery with the fair trade company People Tree.

Who are your main inspirations? / What are your influences? 

I love Indian madhupani folk painting, and in fact most Asian folk art has something ornate and very beautiful about it, and its so different to what we are used to seeing. I used to be crazy about Rousseau’s work until I saw a book on Bengali painting which just blew me away I’m living in London at the moment and I visit museums pretty regularly. I’ve kind of used this for the work I have been doing for People Tree.
How do you keep motivated and interested?
I travel a lot and don’t work too hard!!
Do you have any new projects coming up that you can tell us about?

At the moment I am in Korea working on a childrens picture book that I wrote also.

Its about an owl that gets lost and makes friends with a squirrel.
Any words you would like to pass it to new comer designers?

I remember I saw Tomato (London based design group ) give a talk about design and they said that as a designer ‘you get the work that you do’, which i think is a really good piece of advice.
If you start out doing fashion illustrations and have nothing more than fashion illustrations in your portfolio or on your site you’ll find it hard to get hired to do editorial pieces.
Art directors are naturally unwilling to take a risk so you’ll find that the only way to get out of that side of the industry is to take a bit of time off and create the work yourself.

The best thing to do is to work in your spare time and find a way of working that you like and enjoy and then take that to the art directors.
A friend of mine had an agent for Children’s book illustration. She advised him to produce work in particular styles that she thought would sell, so he followed her advice but he still found it hard to get work and he didn’t enjoy doing work in a forced style. It wasn’t until he produced a body of his own work that he felt comfortable with did he start getting serious work.
If your work is unique you definitely will get better and more interesting work.
Having said all that probably the most important thing to do is get your work out there, I went to college with a guy who does really really great work but he is quite shy about showing his work off and as a result hasn’t got half as much work as he should be getting.

What is your most favorite commercial design of our own?

Im quite proud of the recent cover I did for Luce Irigaray’s book ‘sharing the world’. Also one image I did last year for the guardian. (how to turn)

Name some designers you like the most?

jonathan harris
john maeda
andreas pohancenik
yugo nakamura
grant orchard
By | 2017-09-02T02:25:06+00:00 February 11th, 2009|Tags: , , |0 Comments

illustration interview 2007

1. Can you tell me about your background; when and how did you decide that you wanted to be an illustrator?
I think I always wanted to do something with drawing. I wanted to do fine art in the beginning but when I got into art college I was sure that I wanted to do something with computers because it seemed like that’s where a lot of the interesting things were happening. Computers seemed to allow more creativity, so I took the graphic design course.
2. Where were you educated?
In NCAD in Dublin, Ireland. I studied graphic design. I finished in 2001.
3. What material/technique do you use in you illustrations. Has this changed since you started or did you stick with a particular technique?
I use pencil and paper most of the time. If I need a particular texture I might use charcoal or ink or sometimes collage. I then scan these in and play around with them on the computer. I probably use the computer a lot more now than I did a few years ago!
4. I am very interested in animations and moving image, what programme do you work in when you do your animations? How do you go about doing them?
I do most of my animations in after effects. I do most of the work in photoshop actually and just make it move in after effects. Its all very very basic!!
I just do a drawing in photoshop duplicate the layer and redraw it in a different position. Then I take that into after effects and show or hide the layers.
5. Can you tell me about some of the projects you have worked with? Is there any in particular that you found challenging, interesting or exciting?
Im very interested in fair trade and im quite involved in the company people tree.
Its very satisfying to get  to do work that I enjoy and is really of use to people.
Working in advertising made me very cynical for a while!!!  They have such a low view of humanity!!!! So I wanted to stop doing so much of that.
I also love to do animations or any work with narrative.
Im doing a childrens book at the moment with a Korean publisher which is really nice to do. Its my first childrens book!
One of my favourite jobs was for a UK government agency called THINK! It was set up to stop young people doing drugs and driving. (Do they really need an advert for that??!!)
They took quite a progressive approach and admitted to themselves that people were going to do drugs anyway. The slogan was ‘Stupid things you do on drugs’ and I illustrated 8 stupid things people do on drugs… and then the last one was ‘GET INTO YOUR CAR AND DRIVE HOME’ I had great fun doing that job!!!
6. I am very interested in your fair trade project with People Tree, can you tell me more about that?
There is a good interview I gave earlier this year…!
That says it better than I can!!!!
7. Your illustrations seems to have a lot of content and often a message to them, is this important to you? Do you find that your work gets better when you work for a good cause?
Illustration and the process of being commissioned is often quite useful because it forces you to  add more and more content to your work. 
If I was just working for myself I would be happy to create work that had one dimension to it but clients are always looking for more and more elements and messages and that ultimately forces me to push in different directions than I wouldn’t usually do.
I worked for a while for a quite creative animation studio ( where I was doing some interesting creative work but in the end I kind of decided there is more important things to do with my life than making commercials for companies I don’t believe in.
I used to spend a lot of extra time on the different projects because Im a bit of a perfectionist sometimes, and then I hated to think that I was spending all my own time and energy (and weekends!) on nothing more than making a very rich multi-national company richer! 
I don’t know if the work I do is creatively any better but it feels a bit better! 
8. How important do you think moral is for illustrators? Would you work for a company you didn’t approve of if it was a great project/good money?
I have only turned down a few jobs because I didn’t agree with the company.
One was for a coffee brand (Kenco) that seemed to want to be seen to be fair trade when it wasn’t. I think they liked the fact that that my style was associated with fair trade. I would not work for anything like that for any amount of money…! Usually I just quote really high for a job if im not that interested in doing it. If they still want to use me then at least we are both happy!
9. How do you start with a new project? What do you do if you get “illustrators block?”
To be honest I don’t really get illustrators block…! Im usually too busy!
Sometimes if a project has no deadline it tends to never get started because it keeps getting pushed back. At the moment I have quite a few ideas that id love to work on for myself but im just too busy at the moment. Too many ideas rather than the opposite! That’s one of the great things about working to briefs because it always adds new ideas to your work and vocabulary. Each successful new brief usually adds a few ideas to my head! Most of which I never get around to using!
10. Your illustrations have a unique style, do you have any advice for students that have a hard time finding their own style?
I think just keep doing work that you like and keep pushing the boundaries of what you do.
I did an interview that mentions that too…
Take a look here.. 
11. Do you ever find it hard to compromise with the clients you work for? (If what they want is not what you want to do) 
All the time! They ultimately are paying for it! I try and win them around but it can be very frustrating. More recently people have been approaching me because they liked my work from a previous job… which makes it likely that we will have a fairly similar taste ….but not always! The odd time ill put ‘my version’ of the finished piece on my site… so that at least its not a totally wasted effort. 
12. How did you get your first illustration job? Do you have any tips on how to break into the business?
I got into a magazine in Ireland through a friends brother who was designing it.
Id say that just make yourself a site (or even a myspace page etc!) and get it under the nose of as many art directors as you can. The internet is a fantastic way to promote yourself.
11. What are you working on right now?
Im actually in India teaching a course on Illustration. First time I ever taught really!!! Its great though! Really enjoying it
Besides that im doing an illustration for a german arts festival and I just finished an animation for a fair trade company.
By | 2017-09-02T02:25:08+00:00 February 11th, 2009|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Irish Illustration student thesis interview 2007

– How would you describe your illustrative style?
Im always asked that but i still don’t have an answer. It is mostly character based illustration. And mainly produced on the computer. I do a fairly broad range of stuff, everything from animation to repeated patterns for textiles.
– When you did Illustrate for Irish publications, what publications were they? when was it?
Ive been illustrating for Irish publications since 3rd year in college. 2000 or 2001 i think. I started doing regular work for dSIDE in college and did that for a year. (its now gone out of business) I did a few images for the Irish Times Saturday magazine but nothing at all regular and recently Ive done quite a bit for Cara magazine. (Aer Lingus’ inflight magazine) To be honest though a lot of the work i do is advertising rather than editorial. Editorial commissions are probably about 30% of the stuff i do. Only 20% of that is for Irish publications.
– Do you think there is demand for illustrators for magazines or newspapers? (not only in Ireland)
Many Illustrators work almost exclusively for editorial commissions but i tend only to skip from editorial to other different types of illustration, so im not really that familiar with that specific line of work.
But having said that, I do think that illustration is getting more popular in general. There has been an explosion in illustration and animation in advertising in the past few years. Id imagine its probably thanks to the computer.  It has made illustration easier and more flexible, allowing more control and creativity in the final images.
Many articles can be ‘illustrated’ a lot more effectively through illustration than photography, so there will always be a demand for some sort of illustration. The style can be ‘owned’ which is very useful in branding as it gives consistency in branding that photography cannot do so easily.
This is important for brands who want to be easily recognised from their competition but less so for magazines and newspapers.
To be honest I myself dont notice if there is a growing or declining trend for editorial illustration. I really dont know which way its moving.
One thing i do notice is that with the internet and distribution becoming more global i think it is probably becoming more and more difficult for more local magazines and newpapers to survive. London is a hub for the whole of Europe really for quite a lot of advertising and design. Ive worked on an a lot of specifically Irish ad jobs through London based companies.
– What is your opinion of stock illustration?
There is a very strong reaction against stock illustration amongst some of the established illustrators. But i dont have a big problem with it to be honest. Stock illustration suits some cheaper magazines because its not too expensive and you know what you are going to get. There will always be a market for original and specific images and illustrators and photographers can focus on that. If a specific illustration isnt really needed for an article they shouldnt really have to pay for one.
By | 2017-09-02T02:25:09+00:00 February 11th, 2009|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

interview with masala chai (india) 2008


1. Have you ever been to India or seen the process in action  i.e. the producers screen printing the t-shirts etc. , what was it like? how do you feel about the impact your designs have on their lives?


I have actually been to India three times now, I love India! Unfortunately I never made it to meet the actual artisans yet, the first two times i was there i was just backpacking around and i hadnt started working with People Tree then. And the last time it was a bit of a rush. Ive been around a fair bit of the country, i think ive spent about 4 months there all in all.
I have met many of the people who have set up the workshops when they come to London and they have a lot of stories about their projects, they are doing really great work there. It makes all the difference to think you are doing work for projects and companies you really agree with…
The last time i went to india was three months ago, i taught a 3 week course in illustration at Srishti college in Bangalore. I was really impressed with the college, they’ve a very forward thinking approach. The teaching staff were all really passionate and very good at what they do, it was very inspiring.


2. Do you take any design influences from Indian culture? If so, what are they?


I really love Indian folk art, Madhubani and Warli paintings and also a lot of the textiles. When I was in 3rd year in college I went backpacking around India for the summer and when I came back I went through a phase of being really crazy about Indian folk art. I bought a lot of books on Indian painting and textiles, it was very fresh and inspiring for me to see that then. I spend quite a bit of time in the British Museum and the V&A in London (when i feel burnt out) they have some really nice work … although ive been visiting the african and pacific island section more often than the indian one recently… they have some amazing stuff in there.


3. Who are your favourite artists/illustrators/designers ?


I like a lot of folk art mainly and get a lot of inspiration from visiting museums in London. David Shrigley’s work is always outstanding, also I really like Sara Ogilvie, Neal Layton and Tom Gauld. Michel Gondry and Traktor have done some great short films and videos. I worked for a year at a very good London animation studio a few years ago and was very lucky to meet some really inspiring animators in there, Grant Orchard, Ben Bocquelet and Steve Small are all doing really amazing work.


4. Do you really , honestly love vegetable fried rice? 


Not really actually… ive gone right off it! I was living in Hong Kong when i set up the site. I was living in a youth hostel and i had no money at all (and im vegetarian) so it was a running joke that the only thing i cooked or was seen to eat was vegetable fried rice. I used to boil a huge pot of rice and freeze so it would last for the week.



By | 2017-09-02T02:25:10+00:00 February 11th, 2009|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Interview with Big Magazine (Russia) 2010

Since when you doing illustrations? How it has started?

I have been illustrating since 2000. Full time since 2005.
I started doing small spot illustrations in a small Irish fashion magazine.
I began to get work in other magazines and then some advertising work in advertising agencies.
I moved to Hong Kong in 2002 and managed to get some work there also.



What do you like in your profession?
I like the variety, i am lucky in that i have got to work on a good spectrum of things. animation, product designs, childrens books that sort of variety makes it really interesting.
Also I like not having to work in an office! I have tried that a couple of times and it didn’t agree with me ….actually i couldn’t get any work done!!!


Your works are selling well, isn’t it?

Yes its going great. It slowed down for a bit last year but i think everything did.


How would you define your style of illustration?

Its sort of hand-drawn but digital. 


Do you stick to exact format or do you think of some experiments?

I try and take the time every so often to do my own work and ideas. Its really useful because i always get some new ideas and then i can use those ideas back in my commissioned work. It more than pays off to do it. I should do it more often, the problem is i have to force myself to do it as there are no deadlines.


Please, tell us about your most interesting project?

Probably the project im most proud of is my involvement with the fair trade company People Tree.
They work with artists and craftspeople from all over the developing world and help them access a world market.
I am involved in helping out with some designs. The work they do is fantastic and they make really beautiful products…


Would you like to illustrate some children book? What do you think it should be about?

I did a book last year in Korean, i actually wrote it as well, but its a very simple story, its for 3 year olds. Its coming out in English and a few other languages in August. Its about a lost owl.


Where do you get your inspiration?

I like a lot of folk art, especially asian folk art. 


What you will never do, ever?

I wouldnt do advertising for companies that are doing things that I dont agree with.  


What are your future plans? Any new streams? Projects?

Im working on two new children’s books.
One is about a bad dog (its for 3 year olds) and the other is a non-fiction. It takes an unusual view on the history of development, its going to take forever though.


What do you think you do better than anyone in the universe?

Copy and paste!!!!


Without what you could not live?

My laptop. and the internet.


Imagine yourself as movie director. What this movie would be about?

I’d love to do a  sort of animated-info-graphic documentary. My favourite director is probably Adam Curtis, you can see most of his films on Google video. He takes a really interesting take on familiar subjects. They’re all great. I’ll do the animated version for kids.

What colour would you choose to paint your life?

off-green has been going into all my pictures recently. I go through phases with colours. It was orange before that


What makes your heart work faster?



What distinguishes creative person from others?

I think creativity can be applied to any subject really, anyone who tries to do things a bit differently. I think art and design has sort of hijacked the word. Economists or mathematicians or anyone can be just as creative as artists or designers ..and artists and designers can often be uncreative in their approach.
By | 2017-09-02T02:25:13+00:00 February 11th, 2009|Tags: , |0 Comments

Interview with Bas Maliepaard Dec 2011

Someone told me Dick Bruna was an inspiration to you. why do you like his work? What did you learn from his work?
Yes, i went to visit his show at ‘the museum of childhood’ here in london a few years ago
i love all his work, his earlier graphic work for book covers as well as Miffy. Its very very graphic and deceptively simple. There was a story in the London exhibition about how he came up with the idea for his first book, it mentioned that he was 28 on a rainy beach holiday. I was actually 28 at the time so it resonated with me somehow, I had been promising myself for a number of years that i should do a picture book and it reminded me that i should try and give it a go. In fact it took me nearly another year to come up with the idea!


Are there other artists who are a source of inspiration? Leo Lionni? Eric Carle?
Yes i especially love Leo Lionni, every time i try to make something simple i try to look to his work.. he has so much character from so little, it makes it magical. I really like the russian animator Yuri Norstein for his simple characters too. I like lots of contemporary artists too, olivier tallec, kitty crowther, marc boutavant as well as animators (i worked in animation for a while)
What does it feels like that A BIT LOST is ‘Picture Book of the Year’ in the Netherlands?
im very excited, i have a dutch friend prina who studied with me in university in dublin and she is always sending me updates and pictures of mama kwijt in shop windows. she is a designer herself in holland.  I love the animation that was made and all the exciting that have been done around this award. Another irish designer friend lives in amsterdam and is also keeping me up to date with sightings and events! Im particularly proud that it is doing so well there as im a big fan of dutch graphic design and the standard of design over there is so high.


Do you make your illustrations on the computer?
i always draw everything first in pencil but the majority of the work happens on the computer. the computer is a very powerful tool because of the flexibility it allows. Things can be changed endlessly so sometimes its hard to know when to stop.


What was the most surprising/satisfying reader’s reaction on A BIT LOST?
One mother wrote to me to say her baby’s first words were ‘Uh-oh!’ im not entirely sure if she was joking or not!  Another mother said that when her daughter sees the book she always says ‘uh-oh’, for her first birthday she baked her an owl shaped cake and she knew it was a success because when her daughter saw it she said ‘uh-oh’!
i got some lovely letters from kids too
Many parents have told me that their son or daughter has spotted the mummy owl hidden in the background before they did.
What do you think about the fact that your book got a slightly different title in Dutch? ‘Mama kwijt’ is short for ‘I lost my mommy’.
Its hard for me to comment as i dont speak dutch, i think editors do need to make decisions about what will work best in their language. I was perhaps a little dissapointed that the quote was not used in the Dutch version though. In the original versions i have a little epigraph by Robinson Crusoe on the title page which says: ‘Thus we never see the true State of our Condition, till it is illustrated to us by its Contraries; nor know how to value what we enjoy, but by the want of it’ (in summary: you dont know what you’ve got, until it’s gone) Although it really only speaks to the adult reader i quite like that its there. I quite like the contrast between the 17th century classic and a funny little book about a lost owl. I have a similar quote by a stoic philosopher for my next book Oh No George! (stoute hond) which is about a dog trying to be good. 

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