1988:It's Glasgow, Scotland, and it's a time when the city is shedding its violent past and reinventing itself as a city of art, design and all things cultural. I'd spent about two years working, with mixed success, for the UK music press as a photographer. Whilst it was great fun and I got to see lots of great gigs for free it didn't feel like something that I could make a decent living at. I had some friends who were successful creative freelancers and I thought "I can do that". So, armed with a diploma in photography, £40 a week from the governments Enterprise Allowance Scheme, a £3,000 low interest loan from the Prince's Trust and a £3,000 Business Development Grant I started my own photography business. Goodbye music industry, hello advertising and design.
My first commission was a brochure for Scottish Highland And Islands Tourist Board. Still life collages of stuff you might find whilst beachcombing. A nice job that I loved doing I loved doing it.
I've lost the original job but here are some test shots I did for the client to capture the general idea.
1989:Throughout 1989 I spent a lot of time working with local architects and interior designers. Below is a photograph I took of the long since gone Orlando Cafe in Glasgow. Any spare time was spent experimenting with still life photo collage work. A lot of examples have been lost down the years but I did find one and it's shown below. I tried to market my photo collage work without much success, instead I found myself photographing pack shots a lot. It was all good fun, though, and it was certainly more lucrative than working for the music press.
1990:During 1990 I moved out of my first studio space and joined forces with five other photographers to form Pinhole Observatory. Working in the same space as other photographers certainly made the things more interesting and sharing experiences with people who had been in business longer than myself helped a lot. Workwise things were beginning to happen with my photo collage work. Two high profile commissions, one a series of guides for Glasgow City Of Culture 1990 and the other an award wining calendar for M & M Press, a high end printers, gave my work exposure and credibility. A sample from each of these projects is featured below.
1991:The exposure my work got in 1990 brought in several jobs in 1991 from arts and theatre organisations. I did collage work for a Gealic BBC drama production and Glasgow's Theatre Royal. I also produced a series of front covers for Edinburgh based What's On Magazine. Two What's on covers are shown below. 1991 also saw the first group exhibition by the members of Pinhole Observatory.
1992:In 1992 I began to get work from corporate clients. Highlights included producing a series of postcards for Glasgow Celtic FC, illustrating the annual report for investment company Ivory & Sime and contributing to a calendar for Edinburgh Royal Hospital For Sick Children.
During 1991/1992 I also started experimenting with making images by layering together sheets of large format film. I got through quite a lot of bleach, sticky tape, scalpel blades and film. The Ivory & Sime project was made this way. It was a very labour intensive technique; today, of course, the same thing can be done with Photoshop in a fraction of the time and with a fraction of the mess.
1993:More quality corporate work with brochure covers for finance company Standard Life and packaging for Adobe. Also another calendar image for Edinburgh Royal Hospital For Sick Children. Nice!
1994:1994 brought more interest in my layered film style work. By now I had started to experimenting with lithographic sheet film. It was much thinner than normal film and this made for easier, less bulky, layering.
A big commission this year was a series of full page images for a catalogue by lighting design company R & S Robertson. As you can probably tell from some of my work, I have an interest in old objects and their history so seeking out and working with the props for R & S Robertson was great fun. Six of the images from the catalogue are shown below.
1995:In 1995 I got involved in two lovely music based projects. One a set of brochure images for The Royal Scottish National Orchestra based in Glasgow and the other a front cover image for The Royal Northern College Of Music based in Manchester. 1995 also saw me getting into large scale work with exhibition panels for Edge Advertising in Glasgow and Eastern Photocolour in Edinburgh. These projects are shown below. This year also saw Pinhole Observatory relocate from an old cigarette factory in the east of Glasgow to an old paint factorty in the west. I like old factories.
1996:More corporate work for Standard Life and more experimenting with sheets of film; I'm now cutting film up and sticking it together in mosaic like patterns. The black and white image below was achieved using this technique; it's a brochure cover for Scottish Screen, a company promoting Scotland as a production centre for world movie making. Other interesting projects this year included brochure cover work for Scottish Council on Educational Technology (SCET) and images for The Financil Times, my first job for a national newspaper. All these projects are featured below.
1997:A nice high prifile job with Scottish Ballet, a poster for a production of Romeo & Juliet, started the year off well. The poster is pictured below on the far left. This year I started to make contributions to the Photonica picture library. Photonica were keen on my cut up film style and an example of the work I did for them is second left below. Later on in the year I got an open brief to supply two images for Edinburgh based Pure Design's self promotional calendar. This was more cut up film work and they are the two landscape format images featured below. Around this time I started to use both colour and black & white film in my cut ups. The image below far right was for the BBC and it was one of my first jobs where I used colour in the cut ups.
1998:Big news! I landed my first job from the United States; just a wee editorial job for Management Review Magazine based in New York but very exciting, nonetheless. More cut up work to keep me out of mischief this year too. I thought one of the nicest cut ups I did was for the Financial Times newspaper, it's pictured below.
More big news! I decided it was time to go digital. I bought an Apple Mac G3 and set about using/abusing Photoshop. The first digital job I did was a calendar image for Blue Peach Design in Glasgow.
This year I was asked to produce a cd of royalty free images for Digital Vision. Five of the images from the cd are shown on the bottom row below. During this time it was fun to be doing a mix of digital work and old style collage work.
Another change of location as I move out of Pinhole Observatory and set up a home office with my Mac. It's also around this time that I stop marketing myself as a photographer and began to promote myself as an illustrator instead.
1999:In addition to the stock work I did for Digital Vision, in 1999 I contributed a cd of new imagery for the Encore range of royalty free cds. It was a great way to learn how to work digitally whilst producing money making images. The learning curve was steep as the work had to be produced quickly. All good fun, though. Five images from the Encore project are featured below.
2000:Another year and another cd of royalty free images for Digital Vision. Other work included producing on online banking illustration for a Microsoft publication, cover illustration work for Stirling University and editorial work with New Scientist and PC Direct magazines.
The biggest news of 2000 was that I got my first job in Europe; I was lucky enough to be commissioned to produce a series of illustrations for Deutsche Bank. Luckily, everyone I dealt with in Germany spoke excellent english and the job, although lengthy, went smoothly and was most enjoyable.
2001:Corporate work kept me busy this year with another job from Europe. I was asked to do brochure illustrations for Worksphere, a Dutch construction company. I was also asked to produce brochure illustrations for Ashridge Business School and a magazine cover illustration for Shell. Quite a lot of magazine work happened this year and I've included some favourite pieces below, these were for Computer Arts, Marketing Week and Time. By now all my illustrations are being produced and delivered digitally.
2002:A busy year with more work from America including jobs for ProSales Magazine, MacWorld Magazine, Boston Law School and True Value. In the UK new clients this year include Hodder & Stoughton, Which? Magazine and Eontec.
2003:I've been moving away from my cut up style and into a cleaner look involving grids, squares, circles and other simple shapes. This new approach gets great exposure with two big commisssions this year; brochure work for Maclay, Murray & Spens Solicitors and prospectus work for Sunderland University. It's all good work and great fun.
2004:I spent the year doing a lot of editorial work, this does seem to be the work that keeps an illustrator going in between larger projects. A topical illustration came from Network World Magazine when they commissioned me to do a piece featuring George Bush and John Kerry, remember him? Nice new clients this year came in the shape of cancer care magazine MAMM and medical publishers Elsevier. Other favourite commissions came from Candis Magazine, Security Management Magazine and Here's Health Magazine. With one job or another I did seem to spend a lot of time illustrating medical/health issues this year; that was great as it made me break away from doing technology/finance based work.
2005:I'm back doing financial work in a big way this year with a lovely high profile commission from Chicago Mercantile Exchange. CME wanted me to produce a series of large scale illustrations for use on number of different projects. My computer wasn't the slowest but working with large files at high resolution certainly teaches you to be patient. This was a great job to get and kept me occupied for quite a while. Samples from the series are featured below.
2006:This year I decided to join the iSpot as an addition to my stock illustration sales plan. Some examples of work created just for the iSpot are featured below. I also did a lot of work for the Financial Times, some examples are shown below. In 2006 I also exhibited art at the Coningsby Gallery, London, as part of the Vox Pop exhibition. Other favourite commissions this year came from an old client, medical publishers Elsevier, and new client, The Telegraph Newspaper.
2007:Another development of style this year as my work becomes more hand made and less obviously digital. Things get a little rougher around the edges with the introduction of hand drawn elements and old fashioned scalpel and glue collage techniques rather than sleek digital cut and paste. This new style wins more jobs from regular client The Financial Times. New clients this year included Farm Watch Magazine, Delicious Magazine and Nurse Practitioner Magazine.
2008:My 20th year in business. Time to start a blog. So, for news of my activities from January 2008 onwards, please click on the WordPress link on the left.