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Interview with Ciara Chapman

Home > Designer Interviews > Ciara Chapman

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Ciara Chapman (CC) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Ciara Chapman by clicking here.

Interview with Ciara Chapman at Wednesday 22nd of May 2019
Ciara Chapman
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
CC: My educational background started out in Fine Art Printmaking where I was encouraged by tutors to pursue a career in graphic design. I went on to study Graphic Design but I found I was still being pulled back to my Fine Art roots. Illustration is the perfect marriage of the two disciplines.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
CC: I am a freelance designer and I work on projects I feel I can bring something to.

FS: What is "design" for you?
CC: Design for me is complex simplicity. The most amazing designs look effortless, all the work goes on behind the scenes, the final result is clear.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
CC: I love illustrating emotions, human or animal, communicating something that the viewer looks at and thinks 'I get it'

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
CC: My favourite design (of mine) is My Chronic Pain Diary. It has been a lifeline for me as well as a project that has forced me to improve every day and it has given me the confidence to connect with people I wouldn’t have been confident enough to approach in the past. I also had a fear of using colour in my work and mainly worked in black and white before starting My Chronic Pain Diary, now it looks like a rainbow has exploded all over my work which is an enormous step for me. I like to have a little fun in my work too and sometimes use humour to convey my weightier themes. My favourite design that isn’t mine is a lot of the design used in the MegaBlok action figure packaging. The whole thing comes together beautifully.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
CC: A Harlequin Clown for a theatre company, it was a lot of fun and seeing children pose with it was such a nice bonus.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
CC: Fabriano and Daler Rowney sketchbooks with UniPin fine line pens. My MacBook Air and Wacom Inkspace tablet with wonderful Photoshop CS.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
CC: I feel most creative in my home studio space that I pretty much live in. I motivate myself by having the physical space around me exactly how I like it before getting started. My home feels a little like Wonderland sometimes and I’m Alice with rabbits hopping around the house, colourful works in progress all over the place and small animal furniture dotted around. I love my work space!

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
CC: I often get a little bogged down when it comes to colour, it's such an important element of the final piece that I agonise over the colour selection.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
CC: EVERYTHING!!! often design emotions and feelings that people and organisations are trying to convey. Sometimes it is to create awareness and other times it’s for a particular event. I love to draw people and animals, expressing emotions but also really developing and conveying the personality of the characters involved in the work.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
CC: Relief.

FS: What makes a design successful?
CC: The designer is proud of it and the viewer understands it without explanation

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
CC: Gut reaction. I think the best design often looks so simple that you think ‘I could do that’ but in fact it took great consideration, lots of drafts and a considered eye for the designer to reach that point. I think a great design has certain key elements like colour, function, aesthetic and emotional appeal.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
CC: Always push forward, look at what other designers are doing, not in a competitive way - as a means of drawing inspiration.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
CC: Function and aesthetics are really merging. The lines between different design fields are blurring, instead of using one designer from one background for a project, organisations are using a variety of designers to realise a concept. To see where design is headed we can look at sci fi movies and tv shows from twenty years ago, it’s a genre that is almost prophetic in its ability to see where the world is headed.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
CC: My most recent exhibition is currently running. It's an artistic cafe in Cork city, the light is so bright and inviting- it compliments my work beautifully.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
CC: My sources of inspiration are primarily emotions and stories. I like to illustrate a story whether it's on one page or a full storybook. Designers that influence and inspire me are Pascal Campion, Gabriel Sancho, Tim Easley, children’s illustrator Cory Shaw and fashion designer Una Burke.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
CC: I've heard my work described in the past as 'Irish Manga' and I think it's pretty spot on. I like to draw from Irish symbolism/traditional style and the clean communicative art of Manga/Anime.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
CC: I live in Ireland and without realising it, I feel I draw massively from the culture of Ireland. The pros are it's a rich colourful country full of amazing design old and new, the cons are there are very very very few opportunities for illustrators and designers living outside of Dublin.

FS: How do you work with companies?
CC: I usually work with one person instead of receiving information from multiple people, that way an illustrated horse avoids becoming an illustrated camel.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
CC: Select one point person to communicate with designers, someone who knows what they are talking about, I can't tell you how many times I have been promised something by a company rep who didn't know what they were promising, they lacked the information required.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
CC: I start with a sketchbook and do the outline of my illustration. I take a photo on my phone, email it to myself and open it in photoshop. Then either using the mouse or my Wacom Inkspace tablet I clean up the drawing, add colour and or textures/pattern layers.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
CC: Rabbits - I stare at them all day. Incredible looking creaturesDay bed - function and design.Wheelchair - very compact, nice colour, folds up neatlyWacom tablet and accessories - amazing design and functionRecliner chair - fabric design, function, assembly.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
CC: I'm housebound as a result of an accident so I spend a lot of my day managing my pain, I usually start my work in the early afternoon and keep going until midnight. It's a wonderful distraction. I motivate myself by having the physical space around me exactly how I like it before getting started. My home feels a little like Wonderland sometimes and I’m Alice with rabbits hopping around the house, colourful works in progress all over the place and small animal furniture dotted around. I love my work space!

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
CC: Be prepared to receive far more rejection than success. If you are serious about your design you have to stick with it. It’s important to look at other designers as forms of inspiration and not to consider them threats. There is enough work to go round and we all have different strengths to offer.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
CC: The positives are you can let your creativity flow, completely let go and immerse yourself in your work and have a design at the end to look at and say 'this is what I did today'.Negatives - very competitive, very subjective work, difficult to get contracts all year.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
CC: If it takes longer than one sentence to explain then it's time to start over.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
CC: Adaptability, ability to accept constructive criticism, passion for your work.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
CC: Half of my work is physical sketchbook work and the other half is dependant on technology. I would be lost without my MacBook. Photoshop and my Wacom Tablet.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
CC: I am in a unique situation in that I am mostly housebound as a result of an accident so I spend most of my time on my work as a way to keep my mind busy. I can focus on my illustrations instead of focusing on my pain problems.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
CC: It completely depends on the project, typically it's ten days to a month.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
CC: What is your process?

FS: What was your most important job experience?
CC: Creating a 3d space for Ireland's biggest music festival in 2018. It was difficult because I had to use proxy's in my place for everything within the festival itself because I couldn't travel. Trusting others with your passion project is such a difficult thing to do.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
CC: Most of my clients are private individuals. Public clients are: Irish in France Mill theatre Dundrum Cork International Poetry Festival

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
CC: Personal projects - getting to do anything you feel like and answering to nobody.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
CC: I am on the hunt for funding for a chronic pain themed Graphic Novel. If I am successful I hope to start in June this year. It’s a 3 book series that is full of action, emotion, heartache and possibility. This project is challenging my drawing ability and forcing me to improve as well as pulling on all my design and fine art experience. It’s a wonderful project I am endeavouring to find the time to work on, a passion project to explain pain and thank those who have helped me.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
CC: All my work is by myself.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
CC: I recently applied for funding to create a Graphic Novel. If I am successful I hope to start in June this year. It’s a 3 book series that is full of action, emotion, heartache and possibility. This project is challenging my drawing ability and forcing me to improve as well as pulling on all my design and fine art experience. It’s a wonderful project I am endeavouring to find the time to work on, a passion project to explain pain and thank those who have helped me.

FS: How can people contact you?
CC: My websites www.ciarachapmanillustration.com or www.mychronicpaindiary.comAll my work in progress is available on Instagram @mychronicpaindiary

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
CC: My biggest supporters are my husband and my mother. My mother is my earliest supporter and she helped me work and focus on realising my dream to go to art college and never stopped supporting me since. My husband is a very talented graphic designer and he has supported me in my pursuit of illustration as a career wholeheartedly. I feel like I should take any and every opportunity I have to thank them for everything they have done for me and my career.


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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