The following is a copy of Donna M Smith's interview with Aaron Pocock for Jelli Beanz Publishing (24/10/2011).
JB This morning I am delighted to have the very talented illustrator Aaron Pocock join us for a chat. Fill your tea pots and join us as we chat artwork and stamps!
Thank you for popping in today Aaron, your illustrating talents are breathtaking.
Was drawing something you always did as a child?
AP Yes it was. I was a painfully shy child and needed an outlet for my shortcomings. Art provided me with a way to express myself and a way for me to be noticed, particularly at school. Comics, children’s books and books about mythology really appealed to me (and still do). The artwork I was exposed to (and the artists who illustrated those books and comics) stayed with me and I still love many of them to this day. I used to copy, copy, copy. The styles I work in nowadays would definitely be a product of those artists.
JB Yes, I agree. Art allows us to express ourselves. Kids just love comic books. There are full of colour and easy to read.
How did your talent develop?
AP As I mentioned above, copying from books, magazines, art tutorial books… I’m totally self-taught, and I find inspiration everywhere I go. Illustrated books were like bibles to me, with treasure to be found between the pages and I’ve amassed quite a collection over the years. I guess the style just develops naturally, with repetition and application. I draw every day, sometimes up to 12-15 hours a day. With that kind of practice, something was bound to happen eventually (laughs). I’m also a musician and I think the two things go hand in hand, I’m always looking for ways to create my art more sensitively, to hone a line and make it as well as I possibly can. I’m very curious about things I don’t quite understand and am often looking for ways to learn new things and to integrate them into my own work. The bottom line is, I don’t ever want to stop learning…
JB WOW, that is a lot of practice. Your hard work has certainly paid well. The detail in your illustrations are so life-like.
Have you always focused on the ‘fantasy’ genre?
AP For my personal work, I think so, it’s just a way for me to be the same person I was when I began drawing, it’s the child within who keeps things fresh. It all gets old and boring when I think I’ve nailed something down. I adore working in many genres though, I’ve completed drawings and paintings for many things, children’s books, rainforest notice boards, packaging art, catalogue illustrations, editorial illustrations, artwork for CD sleeves etc etc…
As long as it involves a certain amount of creative freedom, I’m very happy to do it.
JB That is a wonderful achievement, Aaron. A portfolio rich with so many varied pieces.
I purchased a copy of the collection. The portfolio edition is a wonderful keepsake. The folio contains the set of six ‘mythical creatures’ stamps and also an accompanying set of 3D stamps. At the bottom of the folio there is a pair of 3D glasses. The ‘Mythical Creatures’ portfolio collection is beautifully illustrated on the front and back covers and comes in high glass laminate finish. The illustrations themselves are divine and each image depicts colourful creatures from mythology who, as children we all grow to love.
You have just had a collection of stamps released with Australia post, could you tell us about these images?
AP Well, that job was a dream come true. Hard to think it began over a year ago, it was a very long year having to wait to see them (chuckles).
Okay, so the images were based on popular ‘Mythical Creatures’ (also the name of the stamp set) and were created to commemorate ‘Stamp Collecting Month 2011′. I was given a shortlist of candidates and suggested one or two of my own, the six that were eventually chosen were; Griffin, Fairy, Troll, Unicorn, Dragon, Mermaid. As I mentioned, it was a dream job for me, but not without a problem or two… you see, to create an image is one thing, but to create an image that has to ‘read’ at the size of a postage stamp is not as easy as one might think… both the positive and negative space in and around the main character have to be harmonious with each other, the colours have to sing a little more than if they were larger and overall, the composition has to be strong. When you’re working at a larger size, a weakness in one of those areas wouldn’t show up quite as much, but at such a small size, it has to all be able to be able to be absorbed instantly. The first design I worked on, the Troll, was the hardest to create, even though I worked on many many roughs for each stamps, as the Troll was the first, I had to find a way to address all the issues I would face with each stamp. I think it took around a month to get this one right, the rest came pretty quickly, the trick was to ‘simplify’…
Also, the stamps are also set to go down in the history books as the first set of 3D stamps produced in Australia, it was very exciting to be a part of that…
JB That is amazing and congratulations. Being apart of history is a legacy in itself. The troll is very detailed. I can see how difficult it must have been for you to fit that much detail in such a small area. The background compliments it perfectly.
How did the offer with Australia post come about?
AP The guys at the philatelic design dept, were looking for an Australian fantasy illustrator and found me online via my blog (the internet’s fabulous isn’t it!)… then they gave me a call and I (through a tennis-ball sized lump in my throat and the feeling that I was wading through the ‘Twilight Zone”) must have mumbled something like ‘yes’ or ‘erm… OK’. The rest is history. (laughs).
JB What a wonderful phone call to receive. I hope you had a large raspberry spider to celebrate!
Do you have a favourite stamp image?
AP Yes, the Griffin is a personal favourite. I’m very happy with the colours, the composition of the image and the design of the creature. Here’s a link to a large version of the image:
JB The Griffin is magnificent. The detail is very life-like.
How long will the collection be available?
AP The collection will be in circulation for the next six months. The first day covers are withdrawn from sale after one month (until November 1st).
JB Fantastic! Readers, get your copies. A wonderful Christmas gift for children who love fantasy and mythical creatures!
Could you provide our readers with the details on how they can purchase a set for themselves?
AP I’d be very happy to…. Firstly, the local post office would be the place to buy them if you’re just after a set of regular stamps, or a book of stamps, alternatively, the Australia Post online store is selling all of the specialised variations of the stamps and related products… commemorative coins, 3D set, prestige book (a book containing many of the sketches I made to produce the stamps, larger images of the designs, and technical info (this book comes highly recommended). There are also swap cards (containing an extra three images (not stamp images) , cheque books and many more items. Here’s a link to the online shop…
And here’s a groovy little link to the ‘stamp collecting month’ page, containing snippets of info:
JB Thanks Aaron. What a fantastic collection. The sketch book and swap cards are a must for kids. A wonderful keepsake together with the stamp collection.
What projects can we look forward to over the next twelve months?
AP Well, there are one or two things in the works I can’t really mention right now, but I’m currently working on a new portfolio hoping to pick up a few new, regular clients, this work will be available online eventually. I’ll still be creating every day and keeping my fingers crossed for another stamp set…
JB That is very exciting we will have to keep our eye out!
Thank you again for chatting with us today, where can readers view your illustrations?
AP And thank you for this opportunity Donna! My work can be viewed in a number of places online, first stop, over at my website: http://pocockillustration.com
and for regular updates, sketches and random musical interludes (I create music also…), feel free to pop over to my blog: http://aaronpocock.wordpress.com
JB Thank you Aaron for popping in today and chatting to us. We look forward to reading your blog and seeing more of your divine artwork.