Introduce us to you and your brand/work.
I was born and educated in Glasgow, graduating in Graphic Design (incorporating illustration & photography) in 1990 I worked as a graphic artist for several years before concentrating on commercial art.
The majority of my work is of an architectural nature, depicting buildings and cityscapes. Through my preferred medium of watercolour and ink I try to express the dynamic contours of city buildings and reflect the vigour of urban life. Mostly working in watercolour and ink I start with a simple line drawing concentrating on the subject matter more than the paper (a lesson learned from life drawing classes at college). I tend to work from photos using a full on shot with more close up detailed images.
"In 2013 I started Dead Famous Cities. The name being a nod to the Glasgow vernacular but also a celebration of this and every other city."
I occasionally work from life which ends in much the same drawing. The only difference being the drawing may be a little “looser”. I use very little water in my paintings which gives the buildings a more solid appearance. The only time I use the paint in a traditional manner is for the sky which again helps to portray the buildings as solid structures. Two of my main influences are the artist, Ralph Steadman and architectural renderer, Hughson Hawley.
My work has appeared in most UK national newspapers, in magazines such as BA’s in-flight High Life, for children’s book publishers (including a unique children’s literary guide to Edinburgh, introduced by J.K. Rowling) and for design consultants while my panoramic cityscapes are installed in public buildings across Scotland such as Porcelanosa, Radisson Red & Blue hotels and The Corinthian Club. I illustrated the restaurant review for the Sunday Herald from 2000-2011 and live and work in my beloved Glasgow.
In 2013 I started Dead Famous Cities. The name being a nod to the Glasgow vernacular but also a celebration of this and every other city. The idea was to share my designs on various retail products after seeing the popularity of them as prints.
How has your brand/work developed since you began?
We started with a few designs on print and slowly opened the range up to include initially tea towels and coasters. Soon enough we realised the designs would also sell well as magnets, aprons and t-shirts. We are always looking at new products sell but are keen to get the right product to fit the correct design.
What do you consider to be your most popular product?
It varies from shop to shop but overall the word map designs seem to resonate the most with the whisky map selling well across all products especially the t-shirt.
Tell us a little about a piece you are the proudest of?
The Duke design is probably one of my proudest images. I always wanted to do some sort of dot to dot design as I always loved them a s a kid and that was reborn when I had a daughter of my own. The Duke of Wellington seemed the obvious choice. I feel it’s a strong image with the contrast between the skeleton structure with the recognisable splash of red in the cone. It also translates well onto all our product range. We plan on putting it onto baby grows and kid’s tshirts too.
Do you have any past accomplishments you wish to share?
Unrelated to Dead Famous Cities I am personally very happy with the work I did with Maguires Advertising and the City Council on the Glasgow Loves Christmas campaign along with several hotel wall vinyls I have designed with Graven Images for Various International hotels.
How did you find out about SDX? And what made you apply to sell with us?
We were approached when the Glasgow shop opened but our budget had been allocated elsewhere at the time so we were delighted to have been accepted on after re applying. The standard of work is very high throughout and in this case I feel a juried approach to selling is the right way forward to maintain the quality of products.
What would you consider to be the most challenging aspect about being a working artist/designer?
Managing everything from designing, making to accounting. I have personally worked for myself for 20 plus years now and would like to think I’m pretty well established but there is always the niggle in the back of my head thinking, where is the next job coming from. It’s probably a good thing in all honesty as its what drives me and encourages me to find new ways of selling myself and the company.
What have you found to be the most challenging aspect to your business since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020?
Shops closing. Despite the opening of all the shops we sell with the orders have been fairly slow in coming in.
How have you spent your time during lockdowns, any new hobbies or passions discovered?
I used to cycle a lot in my 20s. Lockdown was a great way to get into that as the roads were so quiet and as the restrictions eased I got slowly used to the roads getting busier again. My day starts with a cycle which clears my head perfectly for the day ahead.
How do you think the pandemic will affect shopping habits and the retail industry moving forward?
I strongly believe local shopping will come back as strong as before as people appreciate the high street and indie outfits and realise a lot of these small companies adapted and tried to provide a service throughout.
What do you hope to gain from working with SDX moving forward?
Greater sales and exposure. SDX has, from what I have seen a great ethic and strong social media presence.
If you could share just one piece of advice to aspiring artists/designers who want to make a living from their creative talents, what would you tell them?
Don’t let a knock back or two put you off and listen to advice from all. Don’t necessarily take it but open your mind to it.
Thank you to Adrian for participating in our Artist Feature blog. You can find Dead Famous Cities in our Buchanan Galleries shop in Glasgow.