FK talks to Brisbane artist Andy Geppert. Andy will be debuting at the upcoming Brisbane Finders Keepers.
How would you describe your style of illustration?
Simple, light and naïve – a free-flowing Bohemian style influenced by the late 19th Century Moulin Rouge. I’m always experimenting with technique; my latest work combines traditional sketches with digital processes.
What or who inspires your work?
A photographer friend, Matt Hoyle, helped me uncover my passion. He jumped into photography head-first without any formal training; it was sheer determination that took him to the top. He won Australian Photographer of the Year within a year, and now works as a top photographer in New York. His work ethic inspires me to keep going; I’d prefer to sketch through the night, refining and crafting, rather than catch a good night’s sleep.
Oliver Jeffers has the most identifiable and beautifully simple illustration style. I use his work as a constant reminder to keep things simple. I have learnt that less is often more and it doesn’t matter if you paint outside the lines – metaphorically as well as physically.
What is your background and when did you start illustrating?
I started illustrating a visual diary for my daughter Lani. It was my way of remembering the innocent and beautiful way she viewed the world. Children’s imaginations are so wild and raw, and I love how their minds collide things together that adults’ minds often miss.
I’ve spent over 10 years in advertising as an art director and creative director. It’s helped me develop many skills and an eye for detail that I’ve transferred to illustration. In advertising, good work often gets pulled apart by committees, agendas and politics. The beauty of illustration is its purity; I craft my work until it meets my expectations. The fact that other people like it is a bonus.
You’ve just completed a children’s book. Tell us what inspired you to do this and how it came about?
I found that many children’s books had stunning illustrations let down by the storyline or great stories badly executed. I felt inspired to do both; a story with heart, set to beautiful illustration. I’m adding the finishing touches to my ‘first’ book, which I’ve spent over a year producing. It’s called Willow & Vince, and is essentially about the power of the imagination. I love how it blends innocence with a darker edge. I hope someone picks it up. I teamed up with Tim Brown from Kidiki Publishing for my second children’s book ‘the little big tree’. It has just been shortlisted for the Crichton Award 2010, so fingers crossed on that one.
What advice would you give other illustrators starting out?
Stick at it. If you love what you are doing, then you’ve nothing to lose. Just when you think nothing will happen, it will. Also, talk to people. I have found guys within the design community to be really open, inviting and non competitive; they’re usually more than happy to share their stories and give advice. I am very grateful to have received an inspiring email from Oliver Jeffers during my first picture book. Finally, don’t cut corners; take the time to find the best suppliers and materials. It’s worth it.
What has been your favourite project/exhibition to work on and why?
Illustrating ‘little big tree’ was hugely enjoyable. Something clicked and I suddenly found the design process a lot easier. Creating each character and seeing them come to life was a very fulfilling experience; I loved showing friends the new characters for the first time. The Crichton shortlist has generated huge interest in the book, which is selling very well throughout Australia.
It’s hard to describe in words the reward you receive when a complete stranger picks your book off the shelf, flicks through a few pages and chooses it over the others.
What can we expect to find showcased at the upcoming Brisbane FK Markets?
The Finders Keepers markets were recommended to me by a friend, so this is the first time I will have all my work together. I will have a range of greeting cards, 10 x 8″ prints and some large canvas artworks on display. My latest print ‘elephant’, which has a limited run of only 40 hand-signed and numbered prints, will be available for the first time at the markets. I am very much looking forward to my first Finders Keepers Market and hope my work will bring life and joy to many people’s homes.