My roots are in art and design. I qualified as a chartered landscape architect during the 1980's, gained a couple of Civic Trust Awards and some competition success then founded my own design practice. But despite the financial and professional rewards this brought, landscape architecture didn't provide a satisfactory outlet for my creativity. Painting was my first love, and after a time I chose to realise my lifelong ambition to be an illustrator.
It wasn't straightforward. There followed years of hard graft in the super-competitive world of commercial art. In those days, photography was king and digital art was just beginning to supplant the artist's brush. Opportunities for traditional illustrators were shrinking rather than expanding, but I kept going.
I supplied images for greeting cards and wrote and illustrated gardening articles for popular magazines like Amateur Gardening, The Gardener and The Countryman. Later, when I moved to France with my wife Fran, I supplied artwork and translated copy into English for the French daily newspaper Nice Matin . Other media work included articles and illustrations for the French-English magazine Connexion. All the while I was developing an international client base. By the time we returned to our native Scotland, I had established a viable illustration business supplying images around the world for product packaging, fabrics, giftware, books and magazines.In illustration it's essential to play to your strengths, and for me that means portraiture, topography and transport. Capturing a likeness of peoples' faces has become something of a trademark. More than 300 of my watercolour byline portraits have been published by New Statesman alone, and the Civil Service in-house magazine Boundless publishes my faces on a semi-regular basis. A background in landscape architecture stands me in good stead when topographical images are called for, and a lifelong passion for all things mechanical informs my paintings of cars, boats, trains and aircraft.
Watercolour is my medium of choice, although I am not wedded to it. I'm just as comfortable working in old school pen and ink or pencil and wash. The chief influences in my development have been the 20th century artist-illustrators Winslow Homer, Norman Wilkinson, Frank Sherwin, Hans Liska and a sheaf of others too numerous to mention that includes the great poster artists of the period.
Clients these days include a brace of blue chip organisations such as New Statesman Media Group, Robert Kaufman Inc, DC Thompson Media, Immediate Media and the Noel Tatt Group. But I also work for scores of smaller, less publicly recognisable brands whose work is just as important to me and to which I always assign the same level of care and professionalism.