As it's my first foray into the world of blog, I thought that an introduction might be in order. I'm often asked "How did you become an illustrator?' and I usually (OK, always) reply "I did a graphic design degree and specialised in illustration."
There's more to it than that though, of course.
In the future this blog will be used to share new pieces of art, include pages from sketchbooks and show avenues of experimentation. I'll write about specific projects and show the road taken from brief to bookshelf. That, or I'll get too busy and post once in a blue moon about, as the blog subtitle suggests, my dog.
Future posts will be short and succinct too, you'll be relieved to read.
I began life as an illustrator in 1994. So what led me there...
I'm not sure if everyone has a vivid memory of an early drawing. I do. It was of a hamster that I drew at primary school. The memory play tricks but I could swear that my grandmother was the substitute teacher that day and that my efforts were doubled, no doubt my tongue was protruding from the corner of my mouth and I was surrounded by all of the colouring pencils I could get my little paws on.
Unfortunately I don't have that drawing (good start, hey?), I do have some earlier artwork though. I think it's fair to say that these don't quite suggest a career in illustration.
Perhaps as a writer of kitchen-sink dramas...
Or the future Steve Irwin...
I persevered though, and my sketchbook was a constant companion.
My favourite book as a young reader was 'A Bright Red Lorry and other rhymes' illustrated by Ian West. I was fascinated by the huge array of transport within (odd then, that I'd struggle to name a single brand of car if shown a picture today, and that I didn't drive for around 10 years after passing my test).
I'd devour comics. The Beano and Roy of the Rovers were particular favourites. I'd spend hours copying the characters and studying the artwork of Leo Baxendale.
Roy of the Rovers lost its way after 2 members of the pop group Spandau Ballet played for Melchester Rovers, and it was time to move on.
As I grew older there were signs that a future illustrating for clients in America might just be on the cards, I was a one man children's trading card factory.
In my teenage years though, I discovered the library in the art department. John Piper, Stanley Spencer, L. S. Lowry, Matisse; all introduced themselves to me for the first time. It was the 'School of London' that really demanded my attention though. Kitaj, Freud, Andrews, Auerbach, Kossoff and Francis Bacon were all hugely responsible for leading me along my chosen career path.
Francis Bacon's 'Three Studies for Figures at the base of a Crucifixion' was at the forefront, and influenced a brief change of style. It wasn't really me though...
So if you've learned nothing else of consequence, you now know that a snake can have 748 bones in its body. Unless Mr Pearson was telling a group of gullible children from Staffordshire, UK, an enormous pack of lies.