THRIFTY-CHIC

En­ter Steve Simp­son’s cre­ative Dublin cub­by­hole, where magic hap­pens amid the jum­ble and art tools are an arm’s length away

Computer Arts - - Culture People -

ar­rang­ing your de­sign space isn’t easy. There’s a fine line be­tween cre­ative ef­fort and try­ing just that lit­tle bit too hard. Free­lance il­lus­tra­tor and de­signer Steve Simp­son got around the prob­lem by sim­ply al­low­ing his cre­ative space to evolve or­gan­i­cally.

“I can’t re­ally say my stu­dio has been ‘de­signed’,” ad­mits the Bri­tish-born cre­ative, who moved to Dun Laoghaire, Ire­land six years ago and now works in an old Ge­or­gian build­ing lo­cated one hun­dred yards from the seafront and only a 15-minute walk from home. “It pretty much grew into its cur­rent state. I just love rum­mag­ing around junk and char­ity shops, so the look has be­come a bit ‘thrifty-chic’. When I see some­thing old and hand­made I can’t help think­ing about the per­son who made it and how amaz­ing it would be to know the story be­hind it.”

Of course, from the out­side look­ing in, Simp­son could just as easily be talk­ing about his own stu­dio. We ask him about the Dan­ger Mouse and Pen­fold fig­urines (1) next to his iMac, for in­stance, and glean an in­sight into his TV an­i­ma­tion days: “I left art col­lege in 1986 to take up a job work­ing at Cos­grove Hall’s an­i­ma­tion stu­dios in Manch­ester,” Simp­son re­veals. “The high­light of my first day was paint­ing a few sec­onds’ worth of Dan­ger Mouse cells (prob­a­bly badly) – I was only 19 and couldn’t be­lieve my luck.”

As luck would have it, Simp­son’s switch from tech­ni­cal il­lus­tra­tion to an­i­ma­tion cells helped him de­velop a highly flex­i­ble style built on tra­di­tional draw­ing skills, which is why there’s no short­age of sketch­books to hand. (2) “My favourite thing to draw in are these beau­ti­ful Flex­books,” he says. “I fill about three of them ev­ery year with both per­sonal and client work.”

The process of re­fin­ing sketches be­fore scan­ning takes place on his old light­box (3) which also har­bours an in­trigu­ing tale. “I sal­vaged (or pos­siby stole) this about 20 years ago from Fred Wolf Films in Dublin, where I worked as art di­rec­tor for a pe­riod. It had been spe­cially made for the stu­dio when they were work­ing on Teenage Mu­tant ‘Hero’ Tur­tles. The flu­o­res­cent bulb has never been re­placed,” he ad­mits. But its age has been savoured, much like the Jame­son’s Whiskey that takes pride of place on Simp­son’s desk (4). From the time he started work­ing on the bot­tle’s de­sign, to it fi­nally hit­ting the shelves, took 21 months: “It was hard keep­ing quiet about one of my favourite de­sign jobs! I love get­ting sam­ples of things I have worked on.”

The same goes for the Meaty Pil­low (5) on dis­play, although in this case Simp­son supplied his own sam­ple: “I printed, sewed and stuffed this range of five cud­dly cow cuts for a bovine il­lus­tra­tion show I had a cou­ple of years ago,” he ex­plains. “They are great for power-nap­ping on.” www.steves­imp­son.com

Steve Simp­son is an award-win­ning de­signer and il­lus­tra­tor work­ing for a range of high-pro­file clients across the globe. Orig­i­nally from the north­west of Eng­land, he has lived in Dublin for the last 25 years. 1 5 4 3 2

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