Interview with Artist and Writer David Naughton-Shires
DAVID NAUGHTON - SHIRES
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing David Naughton-Shires – a very talented artist and writer. If you get a chance, take a moment to checkout some of David’s work (all links are listed at the end of the interview). I am sure you will NOT be disappointed!
1. Where are you from originally? Where do you reside today?
I was born in a small town in Devon, England called Exeter - it is the county capital. I was one of six children born to Tony and Scereata Shires. I met my wife, Shelley,in Wales - where I was working as a compere - in a holiday Centre. We became engaged soon after that, and we moved to her home village of SixmilebridgeCounty in Clare, Ireland. We have been married 12 years this year.
2. Can you tell us a little bit about your life outside of art?
I work as a security officer in aviation security and help my wife, Shelley, run a successful DanceSchool called DanceMastersSchool of Dance. I am the very proud father of three wonderful children!
As a Freemason, I enjoy making it an integral part of my life in which I am very active. I regularly attend a Lodge in Limerick (Ormonde Lodge 201). I have - from time to time - lectured on the symbolism and history of Freemasonry. In fact, it was my concentration on Art in Freemasonry that inspired me to start the Masonic Art Exchange. I am a member of the board of Directors of The Masonic Society and have helped to organize symposiums on many varied subjects.
I am not only an artist, but also a busy writer of both fiction and non-fiction. Although I am not published in fiction yet, I have had a few papers published in peer journals on the symbolism of Freemasonry.
I also enjoy photography, and I am an avid reader of many genres including horror and science fiction.
3. What first inspired you to explore the world of art? When did you discover you had a talent for creating art?
I have enjoyed art from a very young age. To be honest, I cannot remember a time when I did not partake in some form of art. I remember watching my maternal Grandfather - who was a sign writer by trade. I always enjoyed his creations. I would say it was my elder sister, Karen, who really inspired me to actually take up a pencil. She was also an artist. I often looked at her art and wished I could draw and paint like her. My teachers at primary school always encouraged me;however, it was my high school tutor, Mr. Bishop, who nurtured my artistic abilities. He encouraged me to follow my ‘skills’ and make art a possible direction in which to go.
4. Do you remember your first creation? How old were you when you created it?
One of the first pieces - I actually remember creating - was a drawing of a short nosed elephant. It was part of a project we worked on in my primary school (5-8yrs). We were illustrating an old story in which an elephant is tricked to go to the water’s edge by a monkey - who was ‘working’ for a crocodile. The elephant - who until then had a short nose - was grabbed by the crocodile, and his nose stretched into the trunk we now see. Another piece was in middle school (9-12yrs), I created a series of ‘matchstick men’ in a competition. I won book vouchers, and the company (that sponsored the competition) used the art.
My first ‘real commission’ came via a family friend when I was just 12 years old. The local museum was searching for an illustration of Prince Albert. This friend had seen my art and recommended me to the curator. The curator gave me a chance, and my illustration appeared on their brochures for the following three years
5. Are you self-taught or did you attend a schoolof art?
I am primarily self taught, but I did complete an A level at college - in Graphic Design and communication skills. The courses centered mainly on reprographics, lettering, and photography. There really was not much traditional art covered and absolutely no computers (yup, I am that old). Many years later, (while in Ireland) my portfolio was destroyed in a flood. This really caused quite a lot of pain!
6. What are your favorite programs to work with?
As I said, I am totally self taught when it comes to computers. I have always been a definite fan of Photoshop.I started with Photoshop 5 and have now moved right on up to CS5. I have dabbled with both illustrator and Corel painter, but I find myself each time returning to PS.
7. How would you describe your creative process?
Being quite a traditionalist, most of my work starts off on paper then - if need be - I scan it into the computer. These days, most of my illustration work is done in pen and ink, scanned, and colored in PS. Sometimes, I like to use more traditional tools - a big favorite of mine is pencil and crayons (preferred above pen and ink).
8. If you could describe just a single source (as I like to call it – my favorite muse) that never fails to inspire you, what would it be?
Wow, now that is a hard one! My kids are my main inspiration in life - all I do is for them. As for a specific muse, I can’t really think of one. I have a very eclectic taste in music. So fine, I can usually find the right piece of music - depending on what I am creating.
9. Can you name some artists that you admire and have found to be great sources of inspiration?
In comic art, I am a huge fan of Nat Jones, who has created some really powerful pieces (not least of which) is the Zombie Story ’68.Daarken is a digital artist that I admire. One of my newest favorites is an ‘undiscovered’ talent. He is a guy from New jersey called Danny Kelly. I would recommend people to keep their eyes open because he is on his way up!
10.Suppose someone asks you to create something that deviates from your distinct style. How do you mold your distinct style into their request while still preserving your own special signature style in the completed product?
Thus far, I have been quite lucky - as my style does tend to lend itself to most any subject. In the past, I had worked extensively with a client - who had very particular ideas of what he wanted. In a situation like that, artistic temperament has to take a back seat, and you create the piece he wants. You usually find; however, no matter how much he wants control over your piece - it is because of your style that he came to you - your style will still be very visible in the piece.
11. In the past, many artists have stated that they have a difficult time knowing when a project is complete. Do you have this same problem? If you do – have you developed a tried-and-true method to let you know at what point a project is finally complete?
I have found the best way to find the end, is to walk away from the piece the second you begin second guessing yourself. It is also best to get someone (whose opinion you trust) to look at it. Personally, for me that person is my wife. She loves me enough to say if: it is finished, it is good, it is crap, or (worst case scenario) I should start again.
12. What projects are you currently working on?
In art, I am working on a few projects. My main on-going project is: Grunge Bob Camo Pants - a series of kids’ stories I have co-created with Robert Cordray. The first book - a full colored illustrated book of 28 pages - is due out (in time for Horror Realm) at the beginning of September. It is being published by TheLibrary of the Living Dead.
I am working on two graphic novels: One is connected to the Dead on Earth series of books. The series will hopefully be published in the very near future. The second is a graphic novel version of the successful Zombie novel, Faith & The Undead by ‘new guy on the block’ Benjamin Rogers.
I have created (and currently working on) a fair amount of work for, Ben - both as an illustrator and a graphic designer. A short list that I have created (for him) includes: his book cover, his blog header buttons, etc. I have also just completed a character design for his newest book Elim. I am also co-writing a book with him.
In my spare time, I am working with a Masonic friend on a full set of Masonic themed tarot cards.
As well as creating my art,I am working on a few other projects: creating journal entries for the Dead on Earth project, creating a few short stories, writing a paper on the development of the Master Masons Certificate in 18th century Ireland.
13. Can you provide any words of wisdom and helpful advice for the newly budding artists out there?
Simple, you will get nothing if you don’t work hard to get it. No one is going to ‘plonk’ a high paid job in your lap and say “there you go”. The secret is to draw.. draw.. draw….
14. What books and albums would you recommend to those newly budding artists?
It all depends on what style of art you are doing. My favorite magazine is, ImageFX. Other than that, a good place to start is in the art section of your local library. They are called the ‘old masters’ for a reason. DaVinci and Michelangelo provide a great basis for composition and human form. Van Gogh is excellent for his striking use of color.
15. The path to fulfilling our dreams is always riddled with pitfalls and obstructions. What warnings could you provide to help make the path less hazardous for those who have just ventured out on their own path?
Don’t stop at your first rejection! Remember, art is subjective and interpreted valiantly by each individual. Please watch out for those who say they will ‘pay’ you with exposure. Yes, it is good to get noticed, but make sure there is an audience who will see the work.
Are you interested in finding out more about David's work? If you are, then you can visit his Website and Blog.