3Dvalley Featured 2D Artist for April 2009 – Paul Wright. Paul is an artist and photographer from the UK. He has been an artist almost all his life. In the past was an Showman’s Decorator, painting the large scenery panels on fairground rides and shows. I loved those panels as a child Today he is working as a freelance artist/ photographer. Please read our interview with Paul below to get to know him and his work a bit better.
Christa: Can you tell us a bit about yourself, who you are and what you do in your daily life?
Paul: Paul Wright, 54. Artist. Until 2 years ago I’d spent all my working life as a Showman’s Decorator, painting all the large scenery panels on fairground rides and shows. For the last 10 years of this, all the work had been airbrushed. I’d become very disillusioned with it and, by the end, was completely burned out. I needed a change and decided to try and develop my digital skills. I’d been using Photoshop for a few years to produce the designs for the painted fairground work and thought I’d be able to learn to paint in Photoshop so the end results could be printed on vinyl and applied to fairground panels. For one reason or another; this proved completely impractical.
Christa: Which software packages and/or traditional materials do you use for your paintings?
Paul: I use Photoshop almost entirely; I’m much more at home with it than I am with Corel Painter. Software is Photoshop CS3 with a Wacom tablet and pen. I occasionally use Portrait Professional for skin softening/retouching although I’ve recently discovered the Portraiture plug-in for Photoshop which is much easier to use.
Christa: You are also a very talented photographer. What kind of tools & equipment do you use?
Paul: I have a Canon 5D with 50mm and 135mm Canon lenses plus a Tamron 28-75mm zoom. I prefer using natural or available light so I have no studio lights, using only a couple of flashguns when I need to.
Christa: Do you remember the first time you knew you wanted to be an artist?
Paul: As long ago as I can remember. I’ve always drawn and painted. My parents have drawings I made at 18 months old!
Christa: Where did you go to school and how did they prepare you for your career?
I went to a local school – with a very jaded art teacher. If he hadn’t taken a sabbatical year when he was replaced with an inspirational trainee teacher I may not have continued to Advanced level art at school. I remember being put under a lot of pressure to become an architect because there was no guaranteed income as an artist. How right they were!
Christa: Do you have a favorite piece of your own artwork and if so why?
Paul: I was always very pleased with the pre-digital, airbrushed sweets paintings, but they never sold and I couldn’t find any galleries interested in showing them.
Christa: Your gallery album with us contains only your digital portrait paintings but for a while now you concentrate more on your photography. What made you decide to spend more time on photography?
Paul: Although I got a lot of positive reaction to my digital painting I did run into the hard core of criticism that they were just paint-overs and got tired of explaining that they weren’t. I also got no offers of work or commissions from them and it did make me stop and take stock of the situation. I was working from my own photographs anyway and started to question the merits of producing photorealistic work. I have never been interested in Science Fiction or Fantasy art so didn’t want to take my work that way, so I eventually decided just to try and develop my photography skills.
Christa: Who or what would you describe as having the most influences on your style?
Paul: Having down to earth parents from a non art background probably! It’s meant I’ve always wanted to produce uncomplicated, representational work.
Christa: How technical is your photography?
Paul: It’s fairly intuitive if I’m honest, just learning as I go along. I steer clear of technical lighting and setups. It’s been a hobby for a long time so I’d picked up all the basics. Working digitally means you can experiment as much as you like without incurring the huge costs that working with film would produce.
Christa: How much time do you spend on touch ups in Photoshop?
Paul: I always shoot Raw and love editing in Photoshop but, until recently, did very little “touching up”. I started to use Portrait Professional for skin softening/ touching up of portraits – it makes a laborious process fairly easy.
Christa: Can you describe a day on which you do a shoot?
Paul: I’ll have spoken with the model beforehand to discuss outfits and themes and possible backdrops/locations and we’ll just start with a basic setup and see what develops. I think it’s important to keep an open mind and just go with any new ideas that might come up in the course of a shoot, but, it’s nearly always the case that I’ll be sorting through the images after a shoot and find something that I wish we’d developed further. Luckily, I’ve established a good working relationship with a small group of models who are usually willing to come back.
Christa: You work a lot with models, what is your biggest challenge in photographing people?
Paul: Being very shy, it’s always a challenge to work with new people!
Christa: Which areas of your work do you enjoy the most?
Paul: At the moment, all aspects of my photography, from the shoot to the editing.
Christa: What is your dream assignment?
Paul: Just being left on my own to develop my ideas and hope that they eventually appeal to a wide enough audience to make it financially viable – or find a very wealthy patron!
Christa: How do you handle the business side of being an artist?
Paul: Not very well! I think I’m the world’s worst businessman!
Christa: What would you have done differently during your career so far and could this be an advice to others?
Paul: Probably to have employed an agent of some sort to handle the job requests and financial side.
Paul: I think it is essential these days to have as big a web presence as you can easily manage. All the networking sites and forums can be incredibly time consuming.
Christa: Are you currently working on something that you can share with us?
Paul: A couple of shoots that may take me into completely different areas, but that I can’t say much about.
Christa: Besides 3DV, which other art related sites do you visit regularly?
Paul: Probably my Wacom Intuos 3 tablet and pen
Christa: What do you do when you’re not working or creating something?
Paul: Worry about how I’m going to pay the rent!
Christa: Thanks for the interview Paul!