Friday, 11 June 2010

Some questions answered...

Recently, an illustration student got in touch with me to ask me some questions about my work and how I feel about the increasing use of digital techniques within illustration. I thought it'd be good to post up my answers here. Thanks to Steven Marsden for the insightful questions.

Did you at some point make a transition to digital means of illustration? If so could you explain how and why you think this happened? 
Not really. I always used computers in my artwork, so my style developed hand in hand with my ability to use the computer. I feel very comfortable with the digital involvement in my work. Perhaps for the first couple of years in university it was difficult to avoid some of the common pitfalls that using a computer to generate artwork can cause, but when you're doing it every day, you learn how to use a computer, without having it use you. If that makes sense.

Can you explain in some detail the technical processes you go through to create images using your computer and how they differ from the way you would have done it at the beginning of your career or during your time at university?
Well I could explain it, but I think that would be terribly boring. Basically, when I use a computer, I'm using it to achieve something more quickly, more efficiently, and in a more versatile form. I hope that when people see my work, they don't think of it as digital illustration. I like the computer to be a kind of invisible partner.

Are you concerned that computers might be making other image making techniques such as screen printing obsolete?
No - those things will always have their unique qualities. The computer doesn't replace anything, it just makes certain things easier. I think there are probably less people doing screen prints as a result of computers, but screen printing as an artform is far from obsolete.

Do you use the internet i.e. google images or getty to source photos to draw from? Has this resulted in any legal problems?
Yes, I use google all the time to look for reference photos. If I don't get what I need on google, I'll use books, magazines etc. No legal problems so far, but then a reference photo is just a starting point, and will often be a million miles from the final image you're working on. Also, I don't see how illustrators can work without them. I recently had to work on a portrait of Obama - I don't have the time, money or access to sit in front of Obama and draw him from source, so I have to use secondary reference material. That said, I think young illustrators particularly should be aware of the copyright issues of using images found on the internet, and be sure to respect the creative and intellectual rights of the copyright holders. In the last ten years or so it's become so easy to think of everything that you find online as being completely free to use/download/own with no strings attached. It's not really like that, nor should it be.

With the decrease in newspaper and magazine sales as a direct result of free information being available online, do you worry that this could mean less work for you?
Possibly, but then there's all sorts of new media opportunities opening up, so I'm not too worried.

Do you use social networking sites such as facebook and twitter to promote yourself? If so how do you think they benefit you?
Nope. I have a facebook page but it's just for personal use. I have a blog that runs alongside my website which I use for posting new work.

How much of your correspondence with clients is done by e-mail.  Do you prefer it as a means of communication? If yes why? If not why not?
Probably about 95% of my correspondance is done by email. It's great because, although it's instant, it also gives you time to think carefully and measure your words in a way that telephone conversations don't. Sometimes you can't beat picking up the phone though, and I think it's important to speak to someone when you need to, rather that relying on a time consuming and frustrating email back-and-forth.

Do you worry that having your work on the internet, virtually available for the world to see will lead to people plagiarising your ideas or style?
Not really - if people imitate my style then it's a form of flattery, and they probably won't get very far until they move on and develop their own style.

How important is your website to you? What does it contain and how often do you update it?
I think it's very important. It's always there if I need to quickly refer someone to my work. I update my blog about once a month with my favourite work. Work that I don't think is good enough simply doesn't go on there.

3 comments: said...


Not certain you are responsible for the ugly, angry orange illustrations in the Bloomberg piece on Da' bears. If so, just wanted you to know that a few of us are clear that painting people's skin an angry orange color is still character assassination.

Using illustrations to paint people ridiculous is a lewd act of artistic prostitution.

Those who care about fairness might compare her picture on page 43 with your illustration on page 54.

Want to reach me, to cuss back?

Pete N. Craig said...

^ Woah, this guy is obviously soft in the head.

Barry Falls said...

Hi Jim

Thanks for your comments. First of all, I don't really want to cuss you back, as I'm not interested in that sort of thing. You're quite entitled to your point of view, however strange it may be.

While I can't refute your suggestion that I'm an artistic prostitute - I'm a commercial artist that sells my time and skills for money after all - I must take issue with you suggesting that I'm out to assassinate anyone's character.

If you look through work that I've done in the past, you'll see that very often I depict all sorts of people with coloured faces; red faces, yellow faces, orange faces, even blue and green faces. This is just part of my style, and not an attempt to assassinate the character of the person that I'm depicting. I'm sorry that you don't like it, but I can't help but be surprised by how strongly you feel. Furthermore, I would suggest that if someone's character could be successfully assassinated by a simple drawing with an orange hue, then that person's character ought to toughen up a bit. I'm sure Meredith Whitney will survive.

Thanks again for your comments, it's always nice to hear from a fan.

warm regards,
Barry Falls