We love discovering the growing design scene here in Dublin and the living heart of that scene is the individual artists, designers and creatives that work here. Gavin O’Donnell is one such artist: read on to find out his story and discover his work.
I was always doodling from a very young age, I got a bit more serious about it when I was about 12/13. I was on holidays in my aunt’s house in Sussex. She was really into creating realistic pencil drawings. She got me to sit down with her and I drew Spider man and a portrait of a dog. From that week on I really fell in love with it.
I studied in NCAD for a year and a half, I did the core year and then a few months of Industrial Design. I dropped out after a few months, the course wasn’t for me. I had always wanted to do animation so I prepared a portfolio for BCFE. In the meantime I got offered an apprenticeship to be a tattoo artist in Dublin Ink. I had got my place in first year of Animation in BCFE, so I decided to defer the year and explore the tattooing! I was surrounded by amazing artists for 9 months and learned a lot from them. I got to design tattoos and even tattoo a bunch of people. It was an amazing experience but I felt I needed to go to college to do what I always wanted, animation. So I’m in the first year of the degree now (4 years in) and hope to have my BA Honours degree in Animation in 2018.
I’ve also discovered the world of online courses, I feel like this is what has really helped push my skills to the next level. I’ve still a lot to learn but I think this is the best path alongside college. To name a few; I started out with a course on Digital Painting with Noah Bradley, I’ve done a couple of Schoolism courses, one was with Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo who worked on Toy Story 3 as Art Directors. Now I’m doing a course on environment painting from Maciej Kuciara on Learnsquared.
I’ve done numerous commissioned portraits and paintings. I got to work on a magazine to teach kids to draw. Most recently I got my first couple of concept art gigs with a German game company called Daedalic Entertainment.
The concept art scene wouldn’t be awfully big in Ireland compared to other countries. There’s only a handful of people I know interested in the industry. Luckily though we have the internet so we can be connected with artists from all over the world.
We have one of the best animation colleges in the world right here in Dublin, BCFE. The animation industry is really growing here. In terms of workshops and events again there wouldn’t be a whole lot going on compared to the UK or US. Gareth Lee is doing some great work with Animationskillnet.ie and he’s bringing more and more great speakers and events to Ireland. We also have Dingle Animation Festival which is brilliant.
I’d generally use sketchbooks for getting ideas down and exploring compositions before going into Photoshop. I would take a picture of the sketch, load it into Photoshop and paint on top.
The first image that popped into my head was Cleopatra by John William Waterhouse, it was painted in 1888 in oils. Waterhouse portrays Cleopatra on her throne in a position of power rather than choosing to illustrate the scene of her suicide as many artists have done. She has a hauntingly beautiful gaze which is lying in shadow, I think this makes it all the more terrifying and really draws the eye of the viewer.
There are so many artists I admire though. In the concept art world anything by Craig Mullins, Jamie Jones, Eytan Zana, or John J.Park is magical. I also love the work of Sargent, Jeremy Mann and Richard Schmid to name a few.
I’m working on my first short animated movie in college right now, so I’m trying to improve everything that’s involved. For example; how to tell a story in a short amount of time and sell something at the same time, storyboarding, character design, background design, composition, animating and then putting it all together.
Like I said earlier if you can do some online courses in the field you love alongside college I think this will help you stand out from the rest. If it’s art, Schoolism, Learnsquared, Gnomon Workshop are all great places to start. I also follow a lot of artists on Facebook, Artstation and Instagram so I’ve a constant feed of inspiration from amazing artists and a reminder of how much I have to learn.
This is my main portfolio
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