Having worked closely with Derwent on the development of the XL Graphite range, we thought we’d interview Ian for our blog!
Ian, tell us a little about yourself:
I grew up in a small village near Skipton in Yorkshire and then spent my formative years in Bradford where I studied art and graduated with a first class honours degree in 2000. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and felt that the tutors encouraged the students to explore and develop their art practice in order to find their own voice and style. After graduating I moved down to Brighton where I continue to live and work exhibiting in galleries around the country.
What are your earliest memories of drawing?
Drawing has always been a hugely important part of my life but I suppose my earliest memory is of the time I couldn’t wait to try and capture the sights of Blackpool illuminations on paper after we’d been on a family trip. I think my parents may still have the drawing!
Which is your favourite piece of work?
My favourite piece of work is always the next one I’m about to produce. I always imagine I can improve on the last piece and this stems from either never being completely satisfied with the end results or that something happens in the drawing process opening up new possibilities for another piece. I suppose this is what motivates me and drives me on.
How would you describe your style?
As far as my style goes I think it ranges between the tight and realistic to the loose and expressive often blurring (literally!) or marrying these extremes together. I think contrasting elements can sit together and reinforce the strengths or sensitivities within each.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to be a professional artist?
Developing your own style and creating work that feels important to you rather than trying to emulate what appears fashionable or the new trend will make your work stand out and have integrity. This helps when pursuing a career in art as this can often feel like an uphill struggle, the various paths to follow never seem clear and the lack of response from galleries can often feel demoralising but I have found that persistence pays off. For me it made sense building a good relationship with a local gallery and being part of group shows before attempting any solo exhibitions; small steps rather than big leaps. This process built my confidence with regards to contacting other galleries. Here I have found that it’s best to keep it simple, a brief email with a link to your website is enough to give them a taste of your work and the more galleries you contact the more chance that one of them may find your work suitable. I also find that the act of working creates the inspiration, don’t sit around waiting for it, playing with materials, exploring ideas and having fun makes it all worth it!
Did you enjoy developing the XL Graphite range with Derwent?
I thoroughly enjoyed the process of testing the new XL Graphite range and found their versatility makes them an absolute joy to use. Trying them for the first time I would say experiment with the range of marks they can produce ranging from a sensitive fine line to bold broad strokes. Working back into the graphite with an eraser can create feathery painterly effects along with smudgy dense areas and I love the way in which the graphite can be manipulated and create textures in this way.
Thanks to Ian for the interview. Check out more of his work on his website!