I grew up with artists. Two of my grand parents were fine artists. My grandfather had made a business of it. I remember as a small child seeing his large canvases, and smelling the oil paint. His house was full of his paintings. I remember one of them to be in the living room. It was larger than life. We used to visit at least twice a week. When we visited, my grandfather would give me paper and pens and I would spend hours drawing and painting. By age six, I had decided that I would make art for a living. Here are two pictures of my grandfather’s paintings.
I spent hours copying drawings and paintings. I became a chronic doodler. When I was a teenager I attended an art class at a place called the Johannesburg Art Foundation. I developed my love of drawing there. The teacher encouraged me to audition for the Johannesburg school of Art Ballet Drama and Music. It was a high school in which the students specialized in art subjects. To my absolute joy I made it into the school. Whilst all of my old friends were studying accountancy and maths, I was studying graphics and photography. It seemed too good to be true.
I wanted to be one of the masters. Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo, … and then I discovered Mad magazine.
From that moment onwards I wanted to draw cartoons. I copied Don Martin and eventually decided I wanted to be Jack Davis. Jack Davis illustrations have raw energy oozing out of them. I wanted to be able to put that same energy into my illustrations. I’m not sure I have the same raw energy in my work, but I am not really a raw energy kind of guy. I still love Jack’s work though.
The story carries on. I am now running my own illustrated logo and mascot design business. I’m still madly inspired by great illustration. As a result I’m always trying to improve my craft. Also the family art tradition carries on. My seven year old daughter decided she wants to be an artist too.
Hope you enjoyed my story. What inspires you? Let me know in the comments below.