Tuesday, 23 November 2010


Something that always shocks me, is when art events - of varying kinds - have bad graphics on their flyers etc. As far as I'm concerned, if there is one event which should have good graphics it's an art event, as it represents the quality of the work being displayed.

I was talking to my husband about this last night, as he is very good at looking at things with a different perspective to what my brain has locked on to. He pointed out, that just because someone is an artist, doesn't make them a graphic designer; just because they can use a paint brush, doesn't mean they can even switch a computer on. Being brutally honest, this was a revelation to me. Why? Well, graphics are integral to my art, my photography, everything. I am a jack of all trades, a master of none. I dabble in art - in various mediums, photography - in various styles, craft, and graphics. I don't know any of them inside out, like a specialist would. But I do all of them to a high standard, and I am able to intermingle them.

So how did I become like this? Why am I not just focussed on one creative path? Honestly, I think it's because I was influenced by my family as I've grown up. Let me explain!

My maternal Grandpa was a carpenter, even with heavy disabilities. I will never forget climbing all the dark twisty stairs in his old house up to the attic. It overlooked the River Mersey, which was always fascinating. But it smelt of wood, and it was full of tools and a lathe. It was amazing. A creative space.

My paternal Nan was an artist, and oil painter. She painted landscapes, scenery, animals. I remember going into the back room of my Grandparents house to see the latest project she was working on. All my famiy have works of her art up around their house. Me? Well, yes. But the piece I have was the piece she was working on at the end. It is maybe a third finished, it that. There is a beautiful wintery sky, and no more. It's in my art room, my inspiration to move forward.

My Dad is the creative type. An author, for one. He lectured in DTP, and knows graphics. He typesets and designs books. He has a collection of old printing presses - you can see my adventures with the Arab Platen here. When I was younger he always had a camera in his hand, and encouraged me to do the same. He bought me my first camera - a yellow one free with 4 Kodak films at Boots, and all my subsequent ones - an APS, my first digital camera, then the Samsung NV7, the Samsung WB5000 - until now. (My EOS 550D arrives this week!!) When most people were given a project at school, along the lines of "design a poster, in French, advertising your favourite TV programme" (I think that was Year 7!), they'd load up one of those Microsoft progammes, paste a picture in and put words around it. We didn't even have Microsoft. I'd load up Photoshop and Quark Xpress. I'd assemble it properly. It had to pass my Dad's eye before I could print it off. Sections had to be lined up, gaps had to be equal. No special effects here, just clear crisp graphics. I often found it a pain at the time, but it gave me the graphic designers eye, to know when something looks Right.

My Mum will deny any idea of being creative, and call herself a scientist. But she does embroidery, tapestry, knitting, and makes clothes. "It's just following patterns." But it's still a form of creativity. It's because of her I can mix these mediums with my work, and i am desperate to get a sewing machine and tailors dummy. It was also my Mum who let me cover the dining room table with my painting stuff as a young child (and it was my Dad who, by my teens, had moved me to the pool table, and then my own art desk in the spare room - they wanted somewhere to eat dinner again!!)

My brothers are an interesting mix of the scientist and the creative, you could almost say they create science. Mark's wife however is an artist, and she is an inspiration for achieving the work she has with ME. I will never forget Chris painting his GCSE Art either... And he went on to do a photography course, which helped inspire me to follow on.

Caroline, my sister, has probably been one of the bigger influences, in all honesty. Another ME sufferer (along with Mark and his wife), she lived with me until I was 14. She had her own card business, she painted, and she is one of these people who sees an idea and says "I can do that". She has no fear of trying new techniques. I remember tie-dying, silk painting, batik, using Fimo, fabric painting, foam stamping, rubber stamping, embossing... So many techniques I can't list them all! (Even sitting there for hours peeling off the back of double sided sticky tape to help her makes cards!!) We even have an enamelling oven to set up. I may not do much of any of that anymore, but it really enriched my young artistic life.

It hasn't been easy though. I think when you're in a family, and they've seen you grow up, it's hard to take a step back and realise what your "youngest daughter" or "little sister" has become. I'm not sure if my family have got their heads round it yet, that I am trying everyday to live my dream. I spent so long in my life being told, by various people, that I couldn't make it as an artist/photographer, and I definitely wouldn't make money. But I'm trying everyday. And one day I know I will succeed. My husband supports me unwaveringly, and if there's one thing which pushes me forward when there seems no way, it's him. He is an amazing muse, and he has ideas when my mind just fails. Without his parents none of my photography would be printed or framed. They'd all still be sat on my computer screaming for light of day!

Really, I am an accumulation of all my family's talents, all these influences. And I quite like being an eclectic mix of talents, each of which I can throw into a project as necessary.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Helen!! :)
    I just wanted to say 'Hi!' and that I really enjoyed reading about your creative inspirations and the huge variety of creativity you've been surrounded by through your life! It's sounds absolutely wonderful to me and quite fascinating as I was always quite singular in my family in my love of art and creativity when I was younger but, like you, I now enjoy a variety of different means of expressing that creativity (art, crafting, photography and recently, playing with my computer graphics program to try learn about that and create things I can use in my cardmaking) - I was going to say 'creative streak' but that would imply it was a small part of me and not the almost all-encompassing way of thinking that is actually the case!! Although I wouldn't say I manage that high a standard in most of them, more that I just love to try/learn about new things, along with the 'I think I could do that' (though I'm not always right about that!! ;) ) thing you mentioned, and the perfectionist streak in me usually makes me keep going until I have something half-decent to show for it!! ;) I don't/can't do as much as I should/would like, of course, but I'd be lost without that outlet and enjoy the variation :) I do envy you having all those creative people around you to inspire you, teach you and keep you moving on in your work, though, and I think it's great you're so determined to make it work for you as a career!! :)
    hope you're awap,
    Rachel x


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