Totally Dublin. The Design Issue
You have a new book out, called ‘Oh No GEORGE!’. What’s it about, and how did the idea start off?
Its about a dog who tries his best to be good, but falls a little short. I began by drawing all sorts of characters somehow messing up in different ways. It started really with an idea I had of a clown and his dog, clown dog, getting into trouble but it was funnier if there was just one comic character. I liked the idea of building up the tension over two pages. George has seen a cake, George said he would be good but he really likes cake, what will George do? and when you turn the page… OH NO, GEORGE!!! George has eaten the cake.
I love the concept of a ‘guilty dog’ – I have a dog at home that always looks very guilty, and consequently gets blamed for things he probably didn’t do. You also have a book about an owl that feels lost. This leads me to wonder – if you were a disaffected animal, what would you be?
I was asked that same question by my publisher when i finished my owl story. They asked me which animal I thought i was from the story A Bit Lost. I said I thought i was the lost owl but my art director smiled at my editor and they told me that no, i was definitely the (eager/harebrained) squirrel. I wasnt so sure myself but it seemed to be a strongly held opinion.
There’s something very old-school about the comedy of calamity in ‘Oh No GEORGE!’, yet the design and approach to the subject feels very modern. What sources did you look at for inspiration?
I actually used to live with a professional clown and she introduced me to physical comedy which i found really inspiring, there is something lovely about that silent visual humour. Their timing and expression is very important and i try to imitate that if i can. I also studied graphic design so i have a soft spot for nice flat colours and graphics so i suppose its a mix of those two. I love Leo Lionni’s artwork and Dr. Suess and I try to look at the classic picture books for inspiration if i am trying to figure out a scene, especially for the layout and pacing.
How have your book-production skills developed over the course of your two creations? Any important lessons you’ve learnt?
I still find myself underestimating the time it will take. It looks quite a straightforward thing to do but there is so many dead-ends and so much backtracking you would not believe, especially at the start. I have lots of ideas but only a few can really tie themselves up as stories. I think its important to rely on character too for very young children, and keep it as simple as possible.
You’ve been working for the fair trade clothing company People Tree. Are ethical considerations something you consider to be important to good design?
Yes i think ethical considerations are crucial to good design. I think in trying to design something as well as possible its helpful to go right back and try to think about it from every angle to try and figure out how can it be better. If you think about that question long enough it all comes back to ethical considerations. I got a bit disillusioned in my own design when i was doing advertising and branding for large companies so i wanted to do something that was more rewarding. I think design has a great potential for positive change and i would love to be involved in that part of it. Its the exciting part!
Are you going to be back for Offset? If so, who are you looking forward to seeing talk?
Yeah!.. I really like the work of KesselsKramer so i will be definitely watching that one, but seymour chwast/sagmeister as well as irish johnny kelly and kevin waldron.. theres too many to name.
What other projects are in the pipelines?
Im very excited about my third book, its called DONT WORRY, I HAVE A PLAN… Im very proud of the story in that one but who knows when i will finish it. Maybe by the end of the year. I am also working on an interactive animated app called ‘Hat Monkey’, and I have a few non-fiction ideas…
the full magazine is online on issuu here theres some great interviews and bits on bobs from dublin’s exploding design scene.