“If I didn’t have the teachers I had at school I wouldn’t have even been interested in art in the first place,” George Douglas tells us of his life prior to starting his Illustration degree at Edinburgh College of Art. “When I was younger I didn’t have much confidence in my own creativity – even when I was on my art foundation course I was planning to go on and study Psychology, but the tutors I had while I was there really inspired me to pursue Illustration.”
We sure are glad they did. George’s work is a chaotic amalgamation of Riso-printing, collage, photography and screen-printing with hand-drawn elements applied liberally over the top. It looks a bit like he’s picked up a catalogue of all things pop culture, popped it through a shredder and then pasted it back together with a bundle of crayons in hand. In a sea of 3D printing and digital renders, it’s a breath of fresh air.
His time at university has been “up and down,” he says. “It’s been really hard at times and really joyful at others. Overall, though, a really productive time, I’ve learnt a lot.” His best project came about in his final year. “I made a book called Collector, a short story with accompanying imagery,” he says. “The book dealt with a growing fascination I have with collections and curators, and so I spent a lot of time drawing in and reading about different museums, as well as other collections such as junkyards and flea markets. I also started to take up collecting my own artefacts as part of that project, which is something that has influenced the way I work ever since.”
“Saul Steinberg… was the perfect illustrator, the illustrators’ illustrator. His work was so quietly intelligent, so subtle and gently humorous. Behind the outward simplicity of everything he made, you can tell there was a lot of thought and inspiration going on.”
He’s very clear on who he’d show his portfolio to, given half a chance. “Saul Steinberg. He was the perfect illustrator, the illustrators’ illustrator.” The influence is clear – Steinberg’s work is utterly identifiable for its hand-drawn quality, and (our) George’s work plays off a similar emphasis. “His work was so quietly intelligent, so subtle and gently humorous. Behind the outward simplicity of everything he made, you can tell there was a lot of thought and inspiration going on. He had a truly distinctive and clear talent for communication, and I’d love to hear what he would have thought of my work.”
If he could condense his degree down into one chunk of advice, it would be the importance of research. “Looking back, everything of value I’ve made so far is from really looking at, drawing, reading about things external to myself. The course at Edinburgh is good at teaching how essential it is, while giving you space to figure out how to do it yourself.”
This summer he’s looking forward to tying up loose ends of projects he started in years gone by and hasn’t yet gotten around to finishing, and sitting as his work does at the intersection of art, illustration, graphic design and straight up photocopying, we’d say he’s got an exciting future ahead of him. “I would be really interested in working in publishing, as well as editorial and poster design,” he says. Ultimately though he just wants “to be able to make pictures for a living and still have plenty of time to go hiking.” Fair enough.
We are very pleased that The It’s Nice That Graduates 2015 will once again be supported by Represent Recruitment. The graphic and digital design recruitment specialists have developed a peerless reputation working with designers of all levels and matching them up with the right positions in some of the top agencies around. Represent’s support has helped us grow the Graduate scheme over recent years and we are thrilled they have partnered with us again in 2015.
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