Friday, February 13, 2009

Interview - Adi Firth

All illustrations by Adi Firth

I only recently discovered the fantastic work of illustrator and graphic artist Adi Firth, after reviewing the Tango 8 comic anthology... Adi created the gorgeous 'Recipe for Love' comic - which I've included again below, just 'cause I can!

I love the sense of humour in Adi's work - she's such an accomplished illustrator, but she also has a real knack for observing and conveying the kooky, intimate details of everyday life. Like the way your energy dips after a delicious meal of Peking Duck (at the Old Kingdom in Smith st, of course!) or the pile of 'stuff to take to the op shop' that hides under her messy desk at work! (Don't we all have a pile of clothes like that?)

In addition to her custom illustration work, and creating awesome comics, Adi also works fulltime as a graphic designer for the Wilderness Society in Fitzroy. I'm sure most creatives have done their fair share of soul-destroying corporate work - so it's fantastic to see how Adi manages to juggle all her various creative projects, whilst also working for a company whose work she really believes in. 'Cause that's what it's all about, right?

A huge thanks to Adi for her time with this interview! (For more of Adi's work, her blog is well worth a thorough browse... and also check out her stint on Comic Rehab!)

Tell me a little about your background - what did you study and what path led you to what you’re doing now?

I desperately wanted to do Printmaking at Artschool after Year 12, but they looked at my folio and told me I should do Graphic Design which, at the time, broke my heart. I ended up doing Graphic Design at Uni of Canberra with an Industrial Design major and I loved it... I had a fantastic group, inspirational teachers, and there was a lot of emphasis on drawing, sketching, Fine Art principals and concept generation. During this time I drew loads of comics and earned a sweet little income drawing irreverant cartoons for the uni mag and various other Canberra publications.

You’re an illustrator and graphic designer by trade, and you also dedicate a lot of time to drawing awesome comics! How do you manage to balance your independent illustrative projects with your work? Do you struggle to stay motivated at times?

It can be hard to focus, especially as my day job has a tendency to take over. I also have the curse of way too many interests which often get in the way, but I'm slowly learning some balance. A lecturer once told me that to be a great illustrator, you really have to draw EVERY day. I really agree with that, and hope that I can achieve it one day. I work best in the mornings, so if I'm really under the pump you'll see me up at 5am working on (usually last minute) freelance projects before I head off to my day job.

Adi gave herself the challenge of drawing her messy workstation from memory - ordering the disorder. Sadly, she reckons the illustration looks a lot neater than the actual chaos!

Where do people get to see your work? – gallery exhibitions? Independent published anthologies? Self-published zines / comics? What have been some recent creative collaborations, published work or exhibitions of your work?

I sporadically maintain an illustration blog and participate in lots of banter, collaborative online projects and feedback with other illustrators and designers. I frequently participate in Illustration Friday, which is great for getting constructive feedback and generating ideas. I try to submit artwork to publications on a regular basis, and have been featured in Curvy and Tango 8 in recent times.

Love this! Black snot! Hilarious! Also - the mysteries of how students afford such flash clothes!? Gold. (This mystery, I believe, is not unique to London - have you been past RMIT in the city recently?)

How would you describe your illustrative style?

Graphic Art. I associate myself more with the world of cartoons, comics and commercial illustration than I do with traditional Fine Art but there is such a grey area there.

Which illustrators, artists, designers or creative people are you inspired by?

Ralph Steadman, Andy Warhol and comic artists such as Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz have all been massive influences in their use of ink. I also adore Quentin Blake and Shaun Tan. There are so many awesome Australian comic artists and illustrators today, it is so exciting. Mandy Ord, Anthony Woodward and Biddy Maroney are big favourites. In terms of design, Marcus Piper rocks my world - he gets type like noone else.

Where else do you find inspiration – ie books, magazines, your environment, travel, your family and friends?

Both my mother and sister and irrepressively creative and have been very successful in their own art practices. I love checking out sites like Illustration Friday, etsy and Design is Kinky and seeing what other folk are up to. I also gain lots of inspiration from trips to the galleries, film and my outdoorsy adventures.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

My day job is working for the Wilderness Society, where I do a large chunk of their print design. It means a lot to me to work for an organisation that I am values-aligned with. Aside from the usual brochures and such I get to work on lots of fun illustration projects, and coming up with designs for things like stickers and tshirts.

What would be your dream creative project?

A nice fat book illustration project!

What are you looking forward to?

Getting stuck into a long-running illustrated cook book project, and hopefully more editorial illustration work.

Adi's work for the recent edition of Tango 8 (support local independent publishing - get yourself a copy! $20 only! See my review here)

Melbourne Questions –

Where do you shop for the tools of your trade in Melbourne? (art supplies, papers, reference materials?)

I love Neil's Art Store on Greeves Street and St Lukes on Smith Street for pens, ink and sketchbooks. A lot of my reference books come from op shops and markets, you can pick up some amazing old books just dripping with inspiration for a song. Friends often give me art and design books as gifts which i love.

What/where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

I'd like to say it was the delicious meal at Markov Place for my partner's birthday, but in honesty it was a hungover brunch of freshly baked Lebanese pies at Cedars Bakery in Preston.... so good.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Either in a yoga class or enjoying a leisurely breakfast somewhere relaxing.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

Cheap eats! Forget Movida next door and the Vic Markets food hall, if you do your research and are willing make the effort, you can eat like a god in this town. I love a flash meal out but I get a huge kick out of making amazing food on a budget. I also think Casa Iberica on Johnson Street is totally underrated.


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