When are images stronger than words?
That’s a very tough question, being a lover of both. And I assume we are talking about illustration and not, say, war photography! But I guess a bold illustration can grab you instantly and suck you in. Sometimes it’s better to say ‘thanks’ or ‘sorry’ with an illustration too. At least then the person can keep the image as evidence of your wrongdoing….
What would your ideal commission be and why?
Well, I love when I’m let off the chain so to speak, and trusted with only a theme to follow. I’ve been lucky recently in that it’s happening more and more: being given a brief with a theme and little more to guide me. I do love working with a good art director, and being pushed to produce a better image. But I also love the freedom of coming up with both the concept and the aesthetic. It allows me to really inject some of myself into a project. I really enjoy doing posters for music and films (for that reason) but I think my dream job would be to illustrate a favorite book with the absolute freedom to do what I want. Something like The Hobbit or a Neil Gaiman. Or anything by David Mitchell.
What are the three main factors you’ve found for giving a platform for your illustration work to be seen?
1) I use all the social media. And it does spread the net wider, gets your work in front of more eyeballs etc. For selling my prints is particularly effective. But, does it lead directly to commissions? I’m not quite sure. It seems to be more friends & fellow artists rather than creative & art directors. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong…
2) One of the most effective ways for your work to get in front of the people who commission illustration is to get a feature on the blogs (Creative Bloq, Juxtapoz etc). To do that, you have to produce great work that catches their eye. How do you catch their eye? Maybe on social media, negating point one.
3) Competitions are expensive and hard to be successful in. So I would hold back until you’re absolutely sure you have an image that is up to the standard of previous winners before you spend the money (I should heed my own advice here). But if you are successful in them it’s great way of getting your work in front of the right people, especially with the exhibitions that go with them. Exhibitions in general too are great, not just because of the people that go to see them, but also because of the promotion that goes with them – you have the gallery, the organizer and yourself all plugging it. On social media.
Ok social media is great.
What was your key motivation in becoming an illustrator?
I have always wanted to do it, simple as that. I had cool jobs in London. I worked in Sky Sports and then with Channel 4 Music, so I was watching football and reviewing albums & gigs for a living. But I wanted to test myself as a visual creative. I knew I wasn’t good then, but I had potential to be half decent with a lot of work. So I left London, moved home to Ireland, and went for it. Still going for it of course!
How does your moniker of Ingatius Fitzpatrick vary from the work your produce under the name ‘Matthew Griffin’?
Ignatius was born out of a job for a well-known restaurant in Dublin called ‘Pichet’. They wanted a t-shirt done and I came up with the French vintage cartoony style that they liked so much they took down all their paintings and replaced it with my work. I liked doing the style, but it was so different from my usual stuff that I decided to create a sub-brand for it and Ignatius Fitzpatrick was born. It’s still kind of on the back burner but it allows me to experiment with more playful work, maybe more suitable to children’s books. And then I continue with my slightly dark, sci-fi, gig poster work under my own name. Never the twain shall meet….
What are the three obstacles that you find throughout your freelance working day and how do you make sure you get through these?
The biggest one is chasing the money, and I don’t necessarily mean the late payers (although that can be a problem). I mean that because I don’t have a salaried job, but I do have a family to feed, I don’t have the luxury, yet, of turning down work I don’t think I’m suited to. I still have to take it. So I guess number 1 is stress caused by the feast or famine nature of freelancing.
Number 2 is that there are not enough hours in the day to a) follow up on all the personal projects I want to do, b) work on promoting myself as a business to get more work in and c) meet my deadlines. Lots of great ideas are pushed back again and again. So I would like a 50 hour day please. And an Au Pair.
In third place, it is work/life balance. I can get lost in my work. And if I have a big job with a tight deadline there is no way I’m missing the deadline – I don’t want that reputation. So sometimes I work too much.
How do I get through them? I learn everyday and improve on these things just a little bit.
Tell us a about your piece ‘Track Abandoned’ on your website and where the inspiration came from to produce it…
Track Abandoned is part of a series of personal pieces based on themes of spookiness, alien visitation, disappearance, ghosts, god and all the other things that swim around in my head. They each feature a nighttime scene where something is happening in the sky just as someone is about to discover it, or in the case of ‘Engine Running’, has already been taken by it. It’s not necessarily an abduction thing – to me it might be a bit deeper. I also had the images in my head and had to get them out! The title, incidentally, is from the lyrics of a Jeff Buckley song I really like: ‘I am a railroad, track abandoned, with the sunset forgetting I ever happened.’ Lovely stuff altogether.
What quote keeps you motivated?
On my logo I have the words ’Sic Itur Ad Astra’ – Thus one goes to the stars. To me, it’s about accepting the hard slog and not giving up, but also improving yourself all the time. The only way is up, sort of thing.
Sic Itur Ad Astra