It's no secret that we 💛 our community of tech founders & entrepreneurs. It's also no secret that we 🧡 the creative talent here in Swansea.
So when you mix these together, it's no wonder it's a beautiful thing!
We invited Swansea based illustrator, and resident in studio at Swansea College of Art at UWTSD, Aidan Biddiscombe, to reveal more about his practise and the commissioned community portrait that adorns our social platforms!
1. In a nutshell, please tell us more about you and your style of illustration?
In terms of style, I’d like to think of it as spindly and sketchy but delivers enough to do what it needs to do. It always adapts to each project and brief but stays consistent? Sometimes I will be working with a costume or props maker with a limited budget so I try to keep certain details vague but other times I’ll want to do something simple and abstract, so detail comes within another simpler form.
2. Can you share something that you are proud of in your career to date?
There are a few things, but my favourite was my entry being shortlisted for the Great British Postcard Competition. The brief was a simple instruction to produce a postcard design that best describes Britain and for me it’s hooded ladies. Out of all the projects it had the best flow in design, stemming directly from the people I was sketching every day and it seemed to naturally cover a current topic.
The social debate surrounding British identity is so hot and bothered at the moment that this image grounded it all for me personally and I think (and hope) it touched people in the same way. One man at the awards event said the picture reminded him of his grandmother which was very emotional, and recently I found out that Channel 4 news reporter Fatima Manji apparently liked the piece too. However apparent, that coming Britain’s first news reporter to wear the hijab really felt like the illustration was a little success and hitting all the right notes.
3. If you could zoom back to the beginning of your career, what advice would you give yourself and why?
My career still feels like it’s beginning now truth be told! The advice I am going to give my past-self now is probably what I need to tell myself now!
I was super chilled back being 16 and I would very much like to get back to that headspace. So to tell both 16-year-old Aidan and Aidan from about 4 months ago is to stop being fearful of things that can go wrong.
That anxiety gets in the way big time and it likes to hold you back. It’s everything from looking at this month’s phone bill to trying something different with a brief. Just don’t worry about it, just do it. If you’re obsessed enough to both draw and dress a crowd of people there will definitely be less chance of things going wrong, so relax and carry on.
4. How have recent technologies changed the ‘traditional’ mindset and style of work produced by illustrators? And have these played a factor in the commissioned illustration you produced for THS?
This is an interesting debate that plays a strange part in the art world, especially for me as an illustrator who prefers to draw on paper but edits the pieces using tech.
The more technology becomes accessible to the creative community, the more they “play” and change tech to suit their needs, rather than be told what to do by it’s boundaries.
Artists want and need to achieve the same effects that past artists created and both the industry and audiences and love nostalgia in the form of “imperfect effort” (rustic aged effects, coffee stains, paint splatters, etc).
This (I believe) has changed creative technology itself to suit the needs of traditional/digital artists.
For the illustrations for TechHub, technology had a lot to do with tidying up all the hand-drawn ink portraits and placing them all together in a way which fitted a twitter banner or an instagram post.
However all the colours in the image are all scans of blue acrylic paint on watercolour paper, all scanned, resaturated to yellow and grey, then cut and placed into the illustrations on photoshop. I found that warped acrylics can replicate hair and satin fabric really well!
We understand the importance art plays in uniting a sense of community in our co-working space. Would you agree this is just as important out in the wider community, i.e public art?
This question is very hard because I could write an essay about this, but I am getting kicked out of the library in ten minutes so I’m going to have to keep it short! What a challenge!
I feel that art in a place of both work and place can create a sense of entertainment and abnormality but I also feel it does better when it reflects those who look at it every day. It’s got to be good in quality and worth the money but that very art also needs to be interesting and make people feel comfortable and spoken to. Growing up in Swansea, not only was the public art event “Art across the city” enjoyable but it was inspired by the local stories and reflected the various contexts and looks in each environment which strengthened their presence and interest. People were upset when they had to be taken down and some works I believe are still up to this day!
This is the value that is unseen with art within communities of people. It’s a silent medium and stress buster that can be enjoyed day in day out and is as reflective and personal as a hand-tended garden. Very important in terms of looking after the community and valuing their health.