A while I was putting together one of Fuel Your Illustration’s fabulous Five Flickr Fridays, I realized that I kept picking artwork from the same individual time and time again. I loved his style and I loved the messages that were in each image. I put a note aside to contact him later but before I had a chance, he had contacted me! Patrick O’Leary kindly agreed to do an interview with me and took a moment to answer some questions about his unique illustration style.
Patrick is an illustrator and member of the Association of Illustrators who creates colourful, often humorous illustrations on a range of themes. His work plays with scale, composition and visual narrative and seeks to create a psuedo-reality where anything is possible.
Your illustrations have a very unique style to them. What does your process consist of to create a final piece?
Usually it starts with an idea in my head, or a few words on a page which I can then rough out into a basic composition. I used to draw my roughs in pencil and scan them in, but now I do them straight on to photoshop and move things around with the lasso tool until I’m happy with the way it looks. I’d say that that is the most important stage, establishing the best layout for the idea so that it communicates the message. Then it’s just a matter of choosing colours and adding a background texture.
How did you first get into drawing and illustration?
As a lot of illustrators will probably say, I started drawing from a very young age. I used to love Quentin Blakes illustrations in the Roald Dahl books when I was a kid and I was always doodling on/in my exercise books at school, but I only really became aware of illustration in the sense I now know it about 4 years ago, just before my degree. I wanted to be a photographer for a long time, but when I discovered how broad the field of illustration was and how creative people can be with it, I was hooked.
Looking through your work, it’s easy to see there is a message within each. Where do you find your concepts?
Sometimes they just come into my head, but that’s very rare. Other times, they come from things friends have said, something I’ve read in the news etc. Most of the time though, I just brainstorm the subject and what it is about that subject that I find interesting or humorous. If there is a visual metaphor to be had, I’ll try and accommodate that too.
What are your favorite tools to use and do you have a favorite subject?
First of all, technology. My work would be nothing without a graphics tablet or Photoshop. They are so vital in the creation of my work that if I’d been an illustrator 20 years ago, I think my output would have been vastly different.
As for a favourite subject, I’m not sure I have one. I like anything current, anything that people are talking about at the moment. I think that’s why I enjoy editorial illustration, because it’s all very immediate. I have no particular preference in terms of the gravity of the subject though; I’d just as happily illustrate something whimsical as I would something very serious.
“Hello. I realised the other day that trees are brilliant.
We owe everything to the humble tree: the birth of humanity in the Garden of Eden (if you’re a Christian), the discovery of fire, gravity and books. It was and still is used as a rudimentary building material.” – Patrick’s blog.
And, of course, what fuels your illustration?
Lots of things! Reading the news, talking to my friends, meeting people, I have to keep my brain active. I’m not a very solitary person, despite my job. Most of all though, I get my fuel from looking at other illustrators, especially on flickr. A few I’m digging at the moment are Stuart Kolakovic, Chris Madden and Ben Newman, but there are so many more.”
Originally posted at Fuel Your Illustration on December 23, 2010.