July Artist of The Month

Fintan Wall is Our July Artist of the Month. Read All About Fintan and His Practice.

Artist of the Month July-Fintan Wall14

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  1. When did you first feel like an artist? I would have to say when I was really small, I used to draw and paint all the time, and one of my neighbours had one of my paintings framed in their sitting room and I remember thinking how cool that was!
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  2. Do you have a ‘day job’? My day job is a graphic designer. Art was my favourite subject in school so I always knew I wanted to do something in the art area. My first choice was animation but then after seeing the time-consuming nature of classical animation and how long it takes to create something, I started looking into graphic design and thought now THAT’S more my scene! I studied in IADT Dun Laoghaire and have been working as a graphic designer since graduating, and I am now a fully fledged freelancer. I absolutely love it!
  3. If so, does it drain or fuel your personal work? I think that they both compliment each other. Drawing is a great way to train your eye and this then informs the graphic design end of things. It’s finding the time to fit both in that’s the main problem, but I manage it (most of the time!)
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  4. Where do you find inspiration? It can literally come from anywhere! I find that a lot of ideas happen after having conversations with people, it might be just a turn of phrase, or a joke, or some sort of play on words and I’ll go, hmmmm, there’s an idea there. I carry a notebook with me pretty much everywhere and I’ll jot down a word or phrase and then go from there. I also am obsessed with instagram, there is such a huge array of talent on there and it is an endless source of inspiration.
  5. How do you research if you need reference material e.g. Pinterest, Library, personal photos, etc. As above, instagram for inspiration. I also like taking photos, and with camera phones now such high quality, you can snap away to your heart’s content. Google images is also a godsend, when you are looking for something specific.
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  6. Do you work from home or in a studio/shared space? I recently moved into a studio with MART. They have a bunch of studios throughout Dublin and I was fortunate to get a solo studio 2 minutes from my house! Makes the commute a breeze.
  7. What is that like? It is HEAVEN! I didn’t realise how much I wanted it until I was actually in it, it’s made such a difference to have a separate space from your home life, as prior to being in the studio, I was working from my bedroom and kitchen table, a special shout out to my eternally patient flatmate, he never once complained about the array of art materials strewn all over the place.
  8. Have you ever experienced creative blocks? If so, how do you deal with them? I think everyone has experienced creative blocks from time to time. They’re part and parcel of the creative profession. I find that my graphic design background stands me well in this respect, it’s amazing what the pressure of a deadline can do for unclogging a creative block. Usually, if something really isn’t working, I find getting away from it for a bit, maybe have a walk, or a coffee, or a pint and then when you come back to it, the solution presents itself.
  9. Do you ever equate your self-worth with your artistic successes? Almost never! At the end of the day, the only person you are really in competition with is yourself, so if something doesn’t work out quite how I want it to, I’ll go, well, next time, I’ll do it differently. And that usually does the trick!.
  10. Are you a morning lark or a night owl? 100% Night owl! I try set regular hours for myself, so a working day would generally be between 10 to 6, although, if I’m really stuck in to something, I could work on into the small hours. I am getting better at shutting that down though.

  11. Does criticism affect you? If so how do you handle it? It depends on how it’s delivered! You’re never going to please everyone, so the best thing to do is listen to any criticism with an open mind and take it on board, but also don’t take it as gospel. And constructive criticism is invaluable, sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can point out something glaringly obvious that you just won’t have spotted.
  12. What was your favourite commission to date, if any? I recently did some work for Dog’s Trust, they were looking to get illustrations for the reception area of their re-homing centre in North Dublin. I was really pleased with how the finished project turned out and it was so much fun to work on too
  13. Is your work primarily imagination based or observational? Definitely imagination. My observational drawing skills are pretty rusty. But I’m working on that!
  14. Do you keep sketchbooks? If so is it daily or now and again? I really should keep sketchbooks, but I don’t as such. I have a bunch of half-filled a4 sketch-pads lying around, and when the humour takes me, I’ll start doodling, but it’s very sporadic. (Also working on that!)
  15. Do you enjoy location drawing? If so do you have a favourite spot? Again, not a huge fan of location drawing, I would prefer to take photos and then work from them. I get a bit too distracted drawing on location, I would prefer to be by myself listening to music than out and about with the sketchbook
  16. Do you have a list of favourite pens, pencils paper or art materials? If so what to you love about it/them? I recently bought an iPad Pro with and apple pencil and it is one of the best gadgets I have ever owned. The amount of things you can do with it is unreal, especially with Pro-Create. It’s like having an entire store of art supplies in your hands without having to tidy them up afterwards. For traditional drawing, you can’t beat some Staedtler fine-liners and a decent set of pencils. I also really like Faber-Castell coloured pencils, there’s a real richness to the colour and also they are reasonably priced.


  17. Do you have any ‘tricks’ or habits if you are having trouble with a piece? Step away from it for a while! Go have a coffee, a walk, go to the cinema, anything to take a break and not think about it. Then when you are not thinking about it, the solution more often than not just pops into your brain.
  18. What does your inner critic say (if anything)? He says, “stop procrastinating!”
  19. Which artists are you most jealous of, and why? I wouldn’t say jealous of, but I have a lot of admiration for a whole heap of people. I love Andy Warhol’s prints, and Edward Hopper and David Hockney. I went to see the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition in the National Gallery and was blown away by it. Oliver Jeffers in my eyes can do no wrong, Here We Are, his most recent book is a thing of beauty. There’s a bunch of people I follow on Instagram that are outstanding, including @vince_low, @marcantoinecoulon, @eileenboeijkens @pixelgustavo @thebutcherbilly, @brandonjamesscott @frantheartist, @littlegoodson, @markconlan, @donnellyillustration, @gautiersalome, @mongequentin, @alegiorgini, @maas.art, @handsoffmydinosaur, @xxmmkoxx, @laughingliondesign
     
  20. Would you throw a piece away (or delete it!) if it was not working, or would you just ‘keep at it’ until you were happy? I never throw anything away, I’m a bit of a hoarder so I have countless folders with bits and pieces in them, and sometimes I come back to them, but I have a fear that if I throw something away, I’ll think of a way to fix or improve it so I err on the side of caution.
  21. What would you do if you weren’t an illustrator? Good question! My ideal job would be presenter of the TV show Total Wipeout, I am obsessed with it! Watching people getting knocked into water in an infinite number of ways and getting paid for it is the dream! But, failing that (as I’m pretty sure that show has been cancelled….rage!), I think maybe an art teacher of some sort, or maybe a photographer. Definitely something in the creative sphere.

Fintan Wall Instagram: @WallHello Facebook: @FintanWallDesign Website: http://www.fintanwall.com shop: http://www.shop.fintanwall.com

June Artist of the Month

Each month I interview one of my alumni, to see how they are getting on ‘post boot camp’. This month Clara Dudley chats to me about her work, plans and dreams.

Portrait

 

When did you first feel like an artist?

Since I could pick up a marker as a toddler. I drew constantly as a kid.

Do you have a ‘day job’

Yes, I have two part-time graphic design jobs; I work between a small creative studio called Mr & Mrs Stevens, and at Dublin City University (DCU). I’ve always thrived best doing multiple jobs as it always keeps things interesting. As side projects, I sell my illustration prints online on Etsy, and at various art markets in Dublin.

If so, does it drain or fuel your personal work?

I love graphic design so much; it is definitely a support to my personal illustrations, as it has provided me a total skillset for learning about printing and marketing, thinking critically about composition, and the basic skills of setting up and creating artwork digitally. I like the diversity of projects I get to work on in design, and the communities and colleagues I have.

Where do you find inspiration?

The content of my work is inspired largely by dreams, nightmares, memory, mythos and storytelling, place and landscape; there are often political themes and symbolism that inform my artwork, particularly environmentalism and climate change, feminism and gender, violence, nature, capitalism, and history. And sometimes, I just like to simply draw beautiful things. The visual styles that inspire me draw from graphic novels and comics, classic fairytales and children’s book illustration, folk art, and science fiction. I sometimes refer to my illustration style as “sci-fi folk art.”

How do you research if you need reference material e.g. Pinterest, Library, personal photos, etc.

I use a lot of Google image searches to find reference images. I also sometimes “cast” my friends or family as center characters, or use personal photography for landscape images.

Do you work from home or in a studio/shared space?

For my personal illustration art, I just work from home. The expensive state of Dublin is such that I could not continue to afford a studio space of my own, though I did have one briefly. A studio is so important as it is a truly dedicated space for the sole purpose of creating.

What is that like?

Working at home – I find it comforting, though at times distracting.

Have you ever experienced creative blocks?

Yes, I have. Though I always have ideas to draw on, sometimes too many – that can be the issue sometime. If I have too many ideas at once it can be hard to get any of them out in a clear way.

If so, how do you deal with them?

I permit myself to take breaks from art – especially because it is not my primary mode of income; I can produce as much or as little new work as I want, so I’m ok taking breaks if other work or personal stuff doesn’t allow for a lot of art time. But if I’m frustrated with a creative block, I usually just look at the piece very critically for a while and think on it until ways to solve the issue come to me over time. Music can help a lot with visual inspiration.

Do you ever equate your self-worth with your artistic successes?

At times, yes. It can be hard not to if it is such an important and huge part of who you are that you are putting out there to the world. But I’ve relaxed quite a bit about it – I think my artistic success is based on a clarity of vision and voice that matters a lot to me, and my satisfaction when a piece means a lot to someone and they actually buy it just to have an enjoy. That makes me pretty happy, and is one of the best aspects of making art.

Are you a morning lark or a night owl?

Notoriously, a night owl. But I’ve learned to enjoy mornings much more now than before! Partly because I enjoy my work and don’t mind getting up and doing that for the day.

Does critisism affect you?

Not really. I’ve always been confident in my artwork; it is just a part of me I carry everywhere, and I can’t really be shaken from it. I often get rejected from competitions or artist call-outs – but I just don’t really care because if I am making the art that I really love making and it didn’t work for that opportunity, than I’m better off. I’m just happy doing my thing, and as long as I can do that I don’t mind rejection or criticism. Incidentally, one of the lowest grades I got in college in my short-lived tenure as an Art Major in California was for a painting series – a series that I loved doing and that others’ gravitated to. And then years later they were picked up for a literary journal, Puerto del Sol, and they were published inside and on the cover. So I didn’t care in the end about that initial criticism; I knew what I made had expressed exactly what I intended it to, and it proved to be powerful work that wasn’t impacted negatively by one person’s criticism. If your art and creativity is a part of you, no one can take that from you – and it will speak to others from a genuine place.

If so how do you handle it?

If I were to really be impacted or shaken by criticism, I do think it is worth listening to – especially if it is from someone whose opinion or perspective you respect. I think it can only help in the long run to be open to that feedback, and have a critical mind to balance that with your own opinion. There’s no reason to change something only to meet someone else’s view, but if they have a good reason or good insight, there’s no reason to simply reject that either.

What was your favourite commission to date, if any?

I have only had a few so far, but my favourite recently was for Totally Dublin’s “12 Illustrations of Christmas” special in December 2017, which featured 12 Dublin-based illustrators and our interpretations of what Christmas means to us. It was a great and fun opportunity to make a piece that reached many people and I was really happy with the result.

Is you work primarily imagination based or observational?

Imagination based. I rarely do observational artwork.

Do you keep sketchbooks? If so is it daily or now and again?

I do keep sketchbooks but only to develop very rough compositions and ideas – stick-drawing-level rough! I tend to keep ideas very loose until I confirm the layout, and then develop the final piece directly on the paper.

Do you enjoy location drawing? If so do you have a favourite spot?

I don’t do much location drawing – it was never a particular favourite of mine, as I usually develop fantasy or concept-driven pieces. However, I do think the act of drawing from direct observation does help develop your skills significantly.

Do you have a list of favourite pens, pencils paper or art   materials? If so what to you love about it/them?

I only draw with black markers/pens; I use different sizes of Staedtler pigment liner pens, Sharpies, and thick black markers. The only paper I use is Daler-Rowney smooth heavyweight A3 size 220 gsm. I colour my work in Photoshop after scanning at 300dpi in Text mode on my scanner – that picks up high-contrast black tones only, and makes the scan much easier to colour.

Do you have any ‘tricks’ or habits if you are having trouble with a piece?

I try to always check in as I am working on a piece: does it stimulate a strong and engaging feeling or emotion? Is it having the effect I intended? Are all areas of the piece functioning together in a harmonious way? If it is not working, what are the trouble areas or elements that keep nagging at me? Because I work with digital colour only, it is a great and flexible way to experiment with different palettes until I get to where I want it to be – and if it’s the drawing itself that is problematic, I can re-arrange or edit the elements digitally as needed.

What does your inner critic say (if anything)?

“That is so cliche!” If I am thinking that, I’ll ask myself: what is the main motivation behind my piece, and am I sticking to it? I try to stay close to the personal concept, and not follow a visual zeitgeist or “trend” just because I think it’ll be a popular choice.

Which artists are you most jealous of, and why?

Probably large-scale muralists. I have never done anything large scale, but would love to do a major painted piece one day!

 Would you throw a piece away (or delete it!) if it was not working, or would you just ‘keep at it’ until you were happy?

I have definitely admitted defeat on a few pieces! But I keep them, no matter what, in case I can come back to it later and see how it can be fixed.

What would you do if you weren’t an illustrator?

I’d just be a graphic designer, I guess! But alternatively, I’d love to work in documentary media or journalism, be a creative director or magazine/print media editor, or start a food business.

Oh, What a Night!

This time last week we were all revelling in the success of our show, Voyagers Good Eggs and Beasts. We really did have a blast and the weather was amazing. Lots of red dots, and merchandise sold at the PopUp Shop. Most of the students, if not all, were exhibiting for the very first time.

Illustrator Carolina Medina Fuentes

Illustrator selling her first piece of art

The venue, Studio 10, Wicklow Street, Dublin 2, and owner JeannieWenham took on my class of 33 illustration students for their all important end of year show, after Filmbase closed its doors in March this year. It was at very short notice that I contacted Jeannie through word of mouth. From the beginning to the end of our show Jeannie was the kindest, most accommodating, flexible and professional person I have EVER had the pleasure of dealing with. She employed a professional technician, Pete, to hang our work (a lot!!!) and he worked miracles. Her venue is top notch with fabulous views out of the big bay window. Tons of light and atmosphere, making our event even more spectacular than we ever could have dreamt.

here are some shots of the evening, taking by Marie-Claire Byard (available for event as photographer and videographer as well as social media marketeer: 086 836 8448

 

May Artist of the Month

Each month I will interview one of my alumni, to see how they are getting on ‘post boot camp’. This month I met Tarsila Kruse, a super talented and lovely lady, who I remember for her big smile and can-do attitude. Tarsila was a 2010 illustration boot camp student.

tarsila_profile_2018

When did you first feel like an artist, Tarsila?

I first felt like an artist as a little child – as a matter of fact I used to say that when I grew up I would be either an Artist or a Dentist. Here we are!

Do you have a ‘day job’

Making children’s books and commissions is my job. Many creatives have a “day job” and pursue art as a secondary income stream and that’s very honourable too!

Where do you find inspiration?

Everywhere! In my son’s daily shenanigans, in the things I hear people say, in observing the world around me, listening to podcasts, reading books, watching movies and TV! Inspiration is everywhere; all we have to do is pay close attention.

How do you research if you need reference material e.g. Pinterest, library, personal photos, etc.

I prefer doing “in loco” research, if possible. Live observation is much more interesting as you can obtain not only the physical appearance of something, but the energy from it too. I also use personal photos as reference and the occasional online search.

Do you work from home or in a studio/shared space?

I work in a home studio within our house.

What is that like?

I have allocated a special space to work both on creating and administrative tasks. I find it cosy and inspiring all the same! The downside of working by myself is not sharing thoughts and ideas with other creatives, that’s why I like meeting friends and colleagues on a regular basis to keep my personal and professional life interesting!

Have you ever experienced creative blocks?

Of course! Everyone does! Creative blocks can come from so many sources: overwhelm, fear, tiredness and much more!

If so, how do you deal with them?

I embrace the flow of my creative block. We’re humans and not machines so there’s no point in expecting 100% efficiency at being creative all the time. We all have limited resources of time and energy and it’s important to respect some boundaries so we don’t fall into the burnout trap. To free my mind from a creative block I tend to let go of things – I go for a walk, take my dogs for a long stroll or go to the gym – upon returning I make a plan of action, but the most important thing I find, is to get started on the project without trying to make it perfect. Just get started and get the ball rolling. It truly helps!

Do you ever equate your self-worth with your artistic successes?

Not anymore. Most professionals probably make that connection, because everything we create is inherently connected to who we are, but if you think about it, our creations ARE NOT the full representation of who we are and our self-worth as people. The more success one has professionally can reflect positively on how one sees him or herself but it shouldn’t be a reflection of his or her own self-worth.

TarsilaKruse_Sketchbook

Are you a morning lark or a night owl?

Morning lark all the way! Out of bed by 6 and back into it before 10!

Does criticism affect you?

Criticism is an important part of being a creative person. The same way our creations shouldn’t equal to our self-worth, criticism shouldn’t affect too much what one creates. It’s important to listen to constructive criticism to develop and grow – in your craft, relationships and life – and to take fake criticisms (aka hate/envy) with a grain of salt.

If so how do you handle it?

I listen to what people have to say with attention and try to see how I can learn from that experience. People will say what they want to say, so it is up to me to deal with how I receive criticism.

What was your favourite commission to date, if any?

I have many commissions that I love! All of my books have been fantastic experiences, but I have to say that the very first commission I received for a children’s book – Ná Gabh ar Scoil! (Futa Fata, 2015) was the most powerful because it was my entryway into the industry.

Is you work primarily imagination based or observational?

Primarily imagination with observational inspiration!

Do you keep sketchbooks? If so is it daily or now and again?

Yes! Sketchbooks are the regular training of an artist! A sportsperson needs regular training and so does an artist! I work on different medium on a daily basis, I have my “Experimental and bad drawings only” sketchbook and I also work on the iPad to develop ideas and sometimes I just grab pieces of paper and have a go at them!

Do you enjoy location drawing? If so do you have a favourite spot?

Yes! Anywhere, but cafés tend to be my favourite spot since lots of people come and go and I get to see a wide variety of gender, age, dressing styles and hear the most different things!

Do you have a list of favourite pens, pencils paper or art materials? If so what to you love about it/them?

I do not have a list because I love trying new things. I experiment with different pens and sketchbooks all the time. I try to use them up before trying something new and I like mixing and matching pencils and pens and art materials to see what kind of effects I can get from them.

Do you have any ‘tricks’ or habits if you are having trouble with a piece?

When having trouble with a piece I usually take a break from it. Having a cup of tea or taking my dogs for a long walk does the trick of reigniting my creative juices. Also talking to other creatives about a challenge in a piece helps. I have many artist friends whose strength might be in a different area than mine, and if I know they will have an interesting insight on my problem I get in touch to see what they think about it.

What does your inner critic say (if anything)?

My inner critic is one that many carry within themselves. When I start a project things usually evolve like this: It’s a great idea, it will be amazing! Well, it’s not so great. It’s bad, very bad. It’s horrible. What was I thinking?! Hey, actually it’s not so bad. It’s actually kind of good. I really like this! OMG, It’s amazing!

Which artists are you most jealous of, and why?

I’m not jealous of other artists, what I carry is deep respect and admiration for the accomplishment of so many great people and that fuels me! Oliver Jeffers, David Roberts, Sarah McIntyre, Mike Lowery, Shelley Couvillion, Geneviève Godbout, Giovana Medeiros, Paula McGloin…The list is endless! I’m just a big fan of all of them!

Would you throw a piece away (or delete it!) if it was not working, or would you just ‘keep at it’ until you were happy?

I’m happy enough to delete or keep things but I don’t have to be working on them. I keep a lot of roughs and ideas and someday they might develop into something. If not, they’re a great record of my development as an artist and I enjoy seeing how far I’ve come.

What would you do if you weren’t an illustrator?

Little me would be disappointed I’m not going to say dentist! I have taught before and I often run workshops so I believe I would work in education, exercising my own creativity and helping others do the same!

Keeping Sketchbooks

Keeping a sketchbook is a great way of keeping track of creative ideas and getting in the habit of regular drawing, as well as being a useful resource for picture book ideas when