Diana Probst, Cambridge Artist

Spotlight On: Graeme Neil Reid

Graeme Reid, also known as Colours of Scotland, is an artist and illustrator of many years’ practice. He paints well across more than one style (curse him). Read this interview and find out just how hard his work ethic works him.

HermitageBridge_GNREID.jpgWhat do you do? Who are you?
I think most people hate writing bios but my brief summary would be that I’m Graeme Neil Reid, Scottish and an artist. For the last ten years I’ve been self employed… Just over a year ago I made a decision to get back into painting, something which I’d sidelined through work. Suddenly I started picking up work painting alongside illustration work. I started up my own project called ‘Colours of Scotland’ where I can paint the subjects I feel most strongly about and I’m hopeful that over a course of years that it becomes something that is a bigger part of my day to day life.

Which media do you like most?
I don’t have a favourite. I know pretty much as soon as I’ve got an idea in my head for a piece which medium I should go for. I feel I might be stronger working in acrylics than I am in watercolours but then I see that as a challenge to get better at watercolours. As much as I like painting I also really enjoy working in ink and also marker pens. Some of the illustrations that I’ve produced in the last few years have been in ink and Copic/Promarker pens, you can get some amazing almost painterly textures from them. I like to make sure I swap what I use to create work around and with ink work I have also embraced digital applications like Manga Studio.

CaptainScarlet_GNREID.jpgMaking a ‘decision to get back into art’ sounds almost simple. Do you think it was easy to move into (or back into) the art world, or did it take that long for one lucky break? Would you ascribe it to luck at all?
That is hard to say. I know lots of people who keep looking for that magical break that will make things happen in their career or art but I think those kind of things only happen to the very rare geniuses out there. For me, and no doubt most people, a career in art is just one long series of jobs and hard work. I had admired other artists’ work for a long time and then worked in an industry that used illustration before I became an illustrator full time. I was around that creative side of it and also dabbled in the occasional job. As an artist who paints I just started doing it and introduced it as something I do.

I feel there is a big division between ‘artists’ and ‘illustrators’. Most illustrators consider themselves capable of producing art (as in how the public perceives the term ‘art’), they know the techniques and indeed produce their own work aside from the day to day work. Most ‘artists’ however don’t tend to accept that point of view. There is a horrible negative attitude towards illustration from the ‘Fine Art’ world which a lot don’t admit but certainly do little to dispell. This isn’t the case throughout but it is certainly something I have encountered over the last 20 years. And to be clear it is not something that comes from the public perception but purely from the art world.

All artists, whatever way they work, get pigeon holed into the type of thing they do but I’m sure they can all appreciate another’s approach and execution of art they don’t or can’t produce themselves.

Fan service: Which painter would you most like to be?

There are many artists that I admire but I don’t think there is one I’d say I’d like to be. So I’m happy to be me but not necessarily happy with my own abilities, but I guess all creative people are like that.

Respect. And yeah. I think most creative people hit that. How do you deal with that feeling?

I get frustrated at the time of not hitting the heights I want to but get over it before starting a fresh session. You can’t hold baggage like that, chances are you’ll never produce something you are 100% happy with. That doesn’t mean don’t try it just means get over it and try again. If you have a deadline to hit on a job getting over the inadequacies of your talent is pretty much essential.

Important question to put in here: did Han shoot first?

Definitely. Greedo never stood a chance especially if his blaster shoots at an angle.

Word. So, how and where do you sell work?
I use Etsy for checkout and payment stuff, plus it acts as another outlet for showing work. I’m hoping that once I have a few different prints for sale that I can start to become involved in art and craft shows, pop up stalls and markets that the work might be popular at. I don’t have an outlet for the illustration pieces at the moment but I’m considering starting another online shop for just that work.

Gunslinger_GNREID.jpgHow do you filter out ideas that you paint from ideas you can’t?
I don’t really have any ideas that I don’t think I can’t approach and tackle one way or another. The best way I’ve found to work is to be working on the next painting or image in my head as I produce the latest piece. Coming to a complete halt at the end of a job can really throw me and I find I end up doing something completely different from art for a bit until I can get my head together to begin again so knowing what I’m working on straight after I finish a piece is a necessity to keep the work flowing.

I don’t think there is any topic or thing that I don’t think I could have a crack at, nothing stands out as being ‘best stay away from that’ and indeed if it was I’d probably make sure I did do it to make sure I could in the future.

Maybe I leapfrogged a question there. I find that I have so many ideas that when people ask where I get them from it’s my only reminder that it might not be normal to have to get up at 3am to find a pencil and write down your idea for a superhero kitten web comic just so you can sleep. Is that a problem you have? If not, where /do/ you get your ideas?

Again this is hard to answer because I don’t ever feel like I’m not ‘on’ if you get my meaning. I’m constantly thinking and planning what to do and how to make things work and happen, it is pretty much as big a part of my work as is the actual creating of the art. I rarely write lists or notes as they would be huge. I sketch and prepare for work, layouts, reference that kind of thing. One painting often leads me to the idea of another. Going for a walk is often the best way for me to sort out what needs to be done next and plan things out.

I know people suffer from ‘writers block’ or indeed ‘artists block’ where they just stop and can’t get going. I’ve been asked before about this, ‘how do you get over artists block?’ and the honest answer is I don’t suffer from it. I can recall maybe once where I was completely lost and couldn’t even begin to contemplate what to do about starting something, anything. Fact is I’m too busy not to be getting on with something. Self employment doesn’t offer the luxury of stopping.

DonaldFountain_GNREID.jpgIt’s coming up to Christmas, insofar as artists count these things. Given drying time, and so on, where can people buy fantastic work of yours?

Colours of Scotland
Original art and prints inspired by the natural beauty of Scotland

w coloursofscotland.com
e info@coloursofscotland.com
f facebook.com/ColoursOfScotland
t twitter.com/ColsOfScotland

One last thing. I just lost the eMail with all of your pictures in. Could you, um…
No worries. We all do it. Copy incoming.

No problem.