Conal Deeney (website) is a Yorkshire based artist who works primarily with vector illustrations, depicting a range of subjects from people, animals and sports iconography. His sport artworks have developed him an impressive clients list, including Le Coq Sportif and Soccer Bible Magazine, in which he showcases a series of detailed football stadium illustrations.
Conal and I exhibited together at the Tra-Digital exhibition back in June, where he displayed the eyecatching piece of a fish head in an ice cream cone which was definitely a talking point among the crowd.
I took the pleasure of interviewing Conal Deeney to have a look more into the life and plans of the artist behind the digital drawings.
Following the Made You Look documentary displayed at the Tra-Digital open event, what do you think the benefits of working digitally are? And what are the cons?
I spend the majority of my time working in vector illustrations. This is great for me as I can easily reproduce everything I do in any size or format, so if I want to put a design on a mug I can, if I want to wrap a car, I can.
I suppose the downside of this is that it takes away from the handmade process, there are no lovely sketch lines or mistakes in my work but I suppose I can save my sketchbooks for my memoirs… ha ha
Was there a particular time you remember struggling to create a piece? What happened and how did you overcome it (if you did)?
I’ve struggled on various pieces and usually it's because my client wants me to do something that's not in my style. I try to avoid this now and try to convince people that they want what I do. But there are always those more awkward clients who do want the photo realistic portrait of their Nan, and in those circumstances I know my limits. If the client likes my more realistic style I will do it and if they need it to be even more accurate I will pass the work on to someone who specialises in that.
Do you have any background noises when you create? Do you listen to music, put on a film, or prefer complete silence?
I can't work without background noise. I listen to music, podcasts, I watch films and TV and anything else I can get my hands on. If I don't have something to listen to my mind starts to wander and I'll get up and do something else by mistake.
Why do you create time-lapses of your work?
The idea for the time-lapse videos came around because I have watched other artists doing those online and I really enjoy them. I made a couple and some people liked them so I made a longer full length one. I tried to make a running commentary that wasn't too boring but I don't have the time to write a script so I ad-libbed it all and quickly ran out of things to say. I like to keep it silly and fun where I can because if it was serious it would be the most boring video in the world. My mum saw the video and said “It’s twenty minutes long? Do I have to watch it” so if anyone out there decides not to bother, know that even my mum doesn't mind potentially offending me so don't worry about it.
What is, in your opinion, one of your greatest achievements as an artist? Anything you are proud of?
It may sound small but my biggest achievement so far was making the move from a comfortable wage every month to working for myself and making my own success. It's not easy but it's probably the best thing I've ever done. I still have a long way to go but I'll enjoy every twist and turn the art world throws at me.
Who are your favourite artists? Not necessarily influences, but whose work do you love?
My favourite artists are all a little wacky. I love Picasso and Magritte but more recently I adore Jeremy Fish and people will probably have second guessed that after seeing my work. I am massively influenced by him. A more local artist is Peter O’Toole (not the actor, although if I wanted to act he’d be an influence). Peter is a friend of mine who convinced me to take the leap and work for myself so i am really grateful for that and his work is fantastic. Definitely check him out.
Are you currently working on anything?
I am constantly working on new stuff but I am trying to get an exhibition off the ground. I exhibited my work with ARTbound early this summer and decided I needed to do a full show on my own. Loads of work needs doing for it but that's no problem.
What are your next steps? Do you have any plans?
I have a few next steps. My first step is to make my Etsy shop more successful so by all means check that out and buy stuff. I also have an exhibition in the pipeline, keep checking ARTbound to keep up with that.