Purveyor of the wonderful
My dad had a graphic design studio in Covent Garden in London England and as a result I grew up surrounded by pens, paper, paint and amazing artwork. All my life. I always knew I wanted to be in the art business and so after leaving high school I was delighted to be accepted by Kingston College of Art & Design to study graphics and illustration. After four years I graduated with an Honours BA and then went on to study for my Teacher’s Diploma at Leicester University.
On leaving art school I was fortunate enough to be offered a job as an Advertising Manager for Guinness, a career that I pursued with delight for the next seven years. I only left to join the new family business, the ownership of The Rock Inn a four hundred year old hostelry in Somerset. It was here that I not only learned to cook commercially but to pull a fine pint!
It was also while in Somerset that I met Debbie who, a year later, became my wife. In 1982 Debbie, our 2 daughters Nicola and Tara plus Purdie our Doberman packed up our worldly goods and emigrated to Canada…My artistic journey was about to begin…
An introduction to my work
Growing up in England I was fascinated by all the wonderful legends and mythology of the country. The subject matter is inspiring and the stories extraordinary. King Arthur, Lord of the Rings, the tales of the sea, mermaids and strange creatures of the forests and the moors filled me with wonder. Music has always been extremely important in my life and so it is not surprisingly that I use lyrics from songs to give me ideas. As a young man at art school I discovered that some of the best illustrations were to be seen on record albums and, as a result, I often bought LPs just for the artwork (great excuse!)
At college, along with exploring all mediums available for us to work in, we also pursued an in depth study of the history of art and illustration.
The period that particularly enthralled me was the Pre Raphaelite era and the contemporary illustrators of childrens literature from that same time, 1880-1930. Names like Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burn Jones, Arthur Rackham, E.H. Shepard and Edmund Dulac, all magnificent, imaginative, skilled artists and true romantics. Their images were absolutely magical and sometimes even terrifying.
My college years also introduced me to the contemporary artists such as the American Michael Hague and the new wave of English artists such as Alan Aldridge, Roger Dean and Phillip Castle. It would seem that they not only shared my love of this period but, through their work, were taking it to a new level.
After emigrating to Canada I lost no time in discovering the mythology of my newly adopted country. Beginning at the local library, it was not long before I was attending every story teller festival that I could. It was a real revelation to discover these tales as, not only were they fabulous, but I had heard none of them before! My first interpretations were framed drawings of the stories that I had been hearing. I painstakingly researched every aspect to ensure all my images were authentic to the tribes and the stories that I was depicting. This accuracy has always been important to me and as result, in the 32 years I have been illustrating these amazing tales I have not once been subjected to any negative scrutiny. Rather, I have had the pleasure of working with native galleries and meeting many native artists who have not only been suportive of my journey but in some cases have traded work with me.