A Creative Journey
Ex mature-student Dean Beattie talks to The SPG about his passion for art, his educational journey and his constant drive to suceed.
How old were you when you first realised you had a skill for illustrative drawings?
When I was 6 or 7 years old I drew a picture of a robot riding a cat. My teachers LOVED it – and I knew, from that point on, that I wanted a career in the art world.
Was art your favourite subject at school?
Yes. All of the other subjects just got in the way.
Did you go to college and university?
I decided not to go to university after my A-Levels and got myself a boring office job in London instead. 10 years later I realised that not going to uni had been a terrible mistake – so I resigned from my job and enrolled at the Kent Institute of Art & Design in Maidstone (now UCA).
If you were to categorize yourself in the student world, what kind of student were you?
Old! I didn’t start my degree until I was 30 – so I definitely stood out as an old man on campus. Most people thought I was one of the tutors.
How did you finance your studies?
As a mature student, I had my fees paid for me. I obviously still needed additional money to live though – and so worked in a video store for 3 years. That job put me in contact with some of the most inhumanly vile and ignorant customers ever to walk the earth. It was wonderful.
Are you a full time artist now?
I’m still working at it. I get illustration commissions ‘here and there’ – but it’s not enough to live on. Until I’m a bit more established I’m supplementing my income with yet more boring office work (aargh!).
At what stage did you launch your website?
I didn’t set my website up until I left art college. I wanted to make sure that I had a good body of work to show before I started promoting myself.
How has your website made an impact on your career?
I wouldn’t say that it’s had an ‘impact’ as such, but, as an illustrator, it’s essential that I have an online portfolio of work where potential clients can view my images. It’s also important to keep updating the site with fresh images and giving people something new to look at.
Has anyone in particular inspired you or your work?
I discovered hundreds of great illustrators as I went through college but I think that I’d have to say that I was most inspired by Delphine Durand, Tom Gauld, David Shrigley, Anne Herbaut, Kozyandan, Paul Davis and Shaun Tan. Just thinking about their work makes me want to go and draw! I’ve also been a total comic book geek for the past 20 years – so I have to list John Romita Jr and Art Adams as well.
What’s the longest amount of time you have spent on one piece?
I suppose the longest I’ve spent on a recent piece would be around 15 hours. I think I usually spend around 7-10 hours on a piece though. It depends on how complicated and detailed the image is.
That’s kind of a good way of getting revenge on someone who gives you a hard day, would you agree?
Yes, it definitely pays to be nice to me.
So how do you go about getting your work and name out there?
I’m represented by the Eastwing Illustration Agency (who send out brochures and promotional materials for me) and I’ve had work featured in the Association of Illustrators’ ‘Images’ publication (which gets distributed internationally). Other than that, I still send out emails, postcards and brochures to potential clients a few times a year. It’s hard work!
What advice can you give to budding artists soon to finish uni/college?
Don’t get disheartened or give up. Unless you’re VERY lucky, it will take you quite a while to get a foot in the door – but you’ve really got to keep at it if you want people to notice you.
For more info on Dean Beattie visit: www.deanbeattie.com
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