Wednesday 25 April 2012

V is for Vincent Shaw-Morton

I met Vincent at last year's Weekend at the Asylum during the course of which his painting of a certain Miss R R Hood won the Ruskin Award 2011. We soon became firm friends and have followed each other's progress closely since.

As well as being a highly talented fine artist (just check out the oil paintings interspersed below) he is also an illustrator and budding writer. So, over to Vincent...

1. How did you start out as a professional artist?
Not sure how to answer this one, as regarding illustration I haven't yet earned anything. Description: regard to portrait painting, I taught myself over a couple of years by getting up at 5.00am and painting for three hours.

2. What was it that gave you the big break that led to what you’re doing now?
I am still waiting for that 'big' break as it hasn't happened yet. Although I have had interest from publishers, nobody has commissioned any illustration from me.

3. What is your preferred method of working? Which medium suits your style best?
All my illustration work is now done within the realm of digital painting. I start off with a pencil drawing, which is then scanned, and 'digitally' painted using Corel Painter and Photoshop.

4. What is the appeal of the steampunk aesthetic?
Steampunk is a rich source of visual inspiration for me, not least because I find it very romantic. You have the adventure from an age when much of the world was yet to be discovered, and when there was still a possibility of life on other planets within our solar system; yet design and aesthetic had still not become completely functional and utilitarian. A machine could be practical, and still look beautiful, and of course a gentleman (and lady) still dressed for dinner, or donned a nice tweed space suit for hunting Venusian Moon Men. Steampunk; tomorrow as it might have been.

5. Would you ever be tempted to paint something from the Pax Britannia universe?
I would definitely be tempted to paint something from the Pax Britannia universe. It is on my ‘must do’ list, but like most lists it is continually growing!

6. How long does it take you to complete a painting?
A real ‘How long is a piece of string?’ question. Depending on complexity and number of figures in the composition, a completed piece takes between one to four weeks, with two being average.

7. Of which piece of work are you most proud?
My cover design for Frankenstein. I wanted to get away from ‘Hollywood bolts’ and try and get closer to Shelley’s original description. The creature was created to be beautiful, and had striking white teeth and dark glossy black hair. It is these elements that make the hideous construction of the creature’s face all the more disturbing. Also I wanted the viewer to have some sympathy with the creature; after all, it is Victor Frankenstein that is the real villain of the book.

8. Is there anything you haven’t illustrated that you would still like to?
I have always had a hankering to illustrate faeries. Not the winged children sitting on flowers that Cicely Barker brilliantly created, but the darker more elusive type that Arthur Rackham; and in more recent years Alan Lee and Brian Froud have illustrated.

9. You are also an aspiring writer. How are your plans progressing with regard to getting published?
Writing has been pretty much put on a permanent hold with regard to novels and the illustrated story The Adventures of Stanley Steamwinch. After attending Get Writing 2012 I got some really positive feedback on the first chapter of Stanley Steamwinch and was told that I could very definitely write, which is great. However as I am unpublished I will have to invest a huge amount of time in creating all the stories and illustrations, and even then there will be no guarantee of publication, so I have decided to focus more on illustration. However I have been working on a short run parody style magazine, and have created some test articles and illustrations for it. These have been well received by my test audience and I will be self-publishing this in the not too distant future. 

 10. What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I am working on my parody magazine above, and some Arthurian myth illustrations very much inspired by Watt’s Chapel, a memorial chapel in Compton, Surrey.

11. What advice would you give to any aspiring artists wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Be ruthlessly honest and self-critical in terms of subject matter, technique and ability. By doing this you will discover your strengths and weakness, and ultimately discover your own voice and style within your work.

If you'd like to see more of Vincent's art you can do so at his website here, and you can follow his forays into writing here.

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