Discovering the thriving Scottish online art community.
Life as a professional artist/illustrator can often be a solitary one. Weeks at a time sat at your desk or screen working into the wee hours drawing monsters to pay the bills. Eventually stumbling, blinking, into the daylight with only limited social skills, trying to fit in like an alien in disguise blending in with human society. Fortunately for us, there is a thriving online community of artists and illustrators worldwide operating as a mutual support and encouragement network, helping us all to remain sane and motivated in our work.
The online art community can be an especially strong support line for new and beginning artists when they’re first finding their feet. Although, what can be more difficult for the emerging artist is when discovering that community at a more local level, people who have a more regional understanding of the art business, who you might be able to meet with in the real-life physical world and potentially share local job and opportunity information.
So, this list of the 12 Scottish artists & illustrators you should be following is kind of the list I would have liked to have discovered when I myself were just starting out. A collection of Scottish artists who, while all having great and inspiring work, are also deeply involved in the online art community and could serve as a launching point to find your way into a specifically Scottish online art community.
This list is obviously going to be a little biased towards artists whom I’m more familiar with personally or know in real life, and this shouldn’t be considered in any way a comprehensive list of Scottish artists. So, please don’t feel slighted I’ve I haven’t mentioned you (got to leave some big names for the sequel list after all).
Scottish 2000AD artist Tom Foster is still in the early years of what will be a good long comics career. But, already the quality and style of his work combined with his expert draughtsmanship is equal to some of the bigger name 2000AD legendary artists.
After winning the Thought Bubble portfolio competition in 2013, Tom went on to become a regular artist at 2000AD He has since provided his impeccable artwork to some of the titles most iconic characters, including Judge Dredd, Sinister Dexter and Bill Savage.
Tom is also a regular contributor to digital art magazine Imagine FX, providing inspiring and informative tutorials on comics creation and character anatomy.
Putting his background in stand up comedy to use, Tom gives us a disturbing insight into the life of a comic artist in the 2000AD video From The Drawing Board: Tom Foster.
Paul Scott Canavan
Paul is a Bafta award-winning artist and illustrator in the Scottish video game industry, with an impressive number of game titles and accolades to his name. Paul’s work on The Thirty-Nine Steps for The Story Mechanics saw him recognised among the prestigious Develop’s 30 under 30 for 2012, and he’s had his work featured in Spectrum, Concept Art World and Kokatu.
Despite this impressive list of achievements, Paul is still a super down to earth and approachable guy. Regularly passing on his knowledge and experience through Imagine FX tutorial features and live industry demos.
Currently, Paul works as art director at Glasgow’s Axis Studios, the team responsible for the CG trailers of some of the industries biggest games. He still somehow manages to fit in the time for the creation of impressive and inspiring personal work and private commissions.
Like me, Kevin is a professional artist and illustrator based in Glasgow, unlike me, he has an enviable list of big name clients to his credit. They include Disney, Marvel Studios, BT Sport and ABC Studios. The immediate stand out feature of Kevin’s work is his amazingly life-like and stylised digital portraits of pop culture icons, famous personalities and celebrities. Much like his art idol Norman Rockwell, Kevin takes his work to levels beyond simple photographic replication, imbuing his subjects with character and personality.
Kevin’s print stalls are a regular sight at most of the Scottish conventions and events, where he sells big sized prints and collections of post cards of his artwork inspired by his love for pop-culture.
Kevin is a big part of the local online art community, often offering up advice and tutorials to upcoming artists. Keep an eye out for his upcoming announcement on physical art community events in Glasgow and Edinburgh soon.
Claire might be known to some of you as the event organiser of the popular Inverness Drink & Draw bi-monthly art community social meet & creative night. The event has become an arts hub of Inverness and has strengthened the Highlands art community in the time since Claire began running the event.
Surprisingly Claire has only recently launched her career as a professional freelance artist. After being a grant and loan from The Prince’s Trust earlier this year which she used to set up her own home studio. Already Claire has the beginnings of an impressive looking folio of work, and as I hear, she has many exciting new projects and pieces in the works.
Keep up to date with the progress on Claire’s burgeoning art career by following her on Instagram and Facebook, or check out her work on her folio site here.
You can find out more about the Inverness Drink & Draw events on the event Facebook page.
Gary Erskine is perhaps one of the more well-known names on this list, as a seasoned comic book art professional of over twenty years Gary has worked with most of the big industry publishers. Throughout his career, Gary has worked with Marvel, DC, IDW and Dark Horse and on big name licensed comics titles like Star Wars, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Captain America and Judge Dredd. On top of all that, Gary has worked outside the world of comics and has contributed his design and illustration work to film and video game with Axis, Sony and EA Games.
Gary is a regular at all the Scottish comic conventions. A humble and approachable guy that belies his intimidating list of accomplishments and credentials. He’s always willing to chat comics and give out advice and wisdom to new comers on breaking into the world of comics.
Currently, Gary is working on his own self-published comics title Roller Grrrls, with Anna Malady, a girl punk action story in the world of Roller Derby.
Ian Mcque is an Edinburgh based illustrator and painter, known around the world for his unique style and dark, post-apocalyptic sci-fi illustration. Infused with depth of world and character, every piece tells its own story. The scrappy construction aesthetic gives the impression that the City of Edinburgh has a personality which influencing the style. Or I get that feeling at least, maybe others who’ve been to Edinburgh will agree.
Ian has over twenty years experience in the games industry. He previously held the position of lead concept artist and art director at Rockstar North, the game developer behind the Grand Theft Auto series. And, is now freelance professional concept artist for the film industry.
An Edinburgh based designer and illustrator, and sometimes comic book artist. Alisdair Wood has been with Rockstar North since its early days. And, he has created illustration and design work for a number of titles in the Grand Theft Auto series. Going way back to Grand Theft Auto 2.
If like me, you’re a big horror fan, you’ll love the dark stylings of Alisdair’s personal and comic book work. The indie comics publisher Madius Comics title Horrere has a featured a few of his illustrated horror tales. The dark, sombre Victorian aesthetic will make fans of Poe, Lovecraft and M.R. James feel right at home.
Check out Alisdair’s personal folio site for more of his cool horror themed and horror movie inspired works.
Alisdair recently held a very successful Kickstarter for his Cult of Woodoo enamel David Bowie character badges. Tiny portraits of The Thin White Duke in Alisdair’s distinctive style.
Neil Slorance is a name some of you will likely already recognise. A Glasgow based artist and illustrator, well known for his work on Titan Comics Doctor Who series and for his political satire work in The National. The reach and popularity of his work on social media have led to Neil making appearances on Scottish television. Where he is invited to deliver his, always entertaining, political observations.
The appeal of Neil’s work lies not in his draughtsmanship or any of his particular technical skills and abilities. But, rather in something which cannot be taught. Neil has a natural talent for being able to infuse his affable personality into his work and is really able to communicate who he is as a person through his art. Some time spent looking at Neil’s work leaves you with the feeling that you know him personally. This is particularly evident in his self-published indy titles Modern Slorance and Dungeon Fun.
Recently, Neil had a successful exhibition of his work at the CCA art gallery in Glasgow. See more about his work on his personal site.
Check out his Etsy store where you can buy his prints and copies of his self-published books.
Gordon is perhaps not as experienced as some of the other artists on this list, but, what he does have is an infectious enthusiasm for digital art and the online art community. An enthusiasm which is inspiring to beginners and pros alike.
Gordon and his fellow artist Colin Searle organised Digital Artcast. A regular YouTube show featuring discussions and interviews on art and the entertainment business. Digital Artcast has so far had some huge names on the show, names like concept environment artist Titus Lunter and lead Bioware concept artist Matt Rhodes.
Gordon has recently completed his art education and is looking to rise in the concept and digital art world. Already he’s complete an internship at Glasgow’s Axis Studios.
And, be sure to check out Digital Artcast on YouTube.
Rowena is a digital artist and children’s book artist based in Edinburgh. The Kilted Coo and Ruan the Little Red Squirrel are some illustrated children’s books of hers that you can find in stores around the country.
A big part of the Scottish online art community. Rowena regularly updates her social feeds with digital art tutorials and art advice. And, she is always available to chat and discuss the art business. Imagine FX and Tuts+ have also featured some of her instructional tutorials.
Michael Doig is an experienced and award winning games industry concept artist turned comic book artist. Before comics Michael Doig became a Bafta nominated games artist and winner of Dare To Be Digital 2009. Over the years he created concept art and game assets for Tag Games, Proper Games and Sega.
With his frequent collaborator, India Swift, the duo created a series of visually impressive short comics. Which you can view on Michael’s Artstation and Taptastic. The team are looking to debut their latest new title, The Girl and the Glim, at the upcoming 2017 Thought Bubble Leeds Comic Art Festival.
Liam is a multi-award winning artist and lead graphic design director for Ubisoft. He’s the man responsible for the impressive visual style of games like Far Cry 4.
Recently Liam took up photography and, it seems, he’s a complete natural at it. His first photography project Tokyo Nights (TO:KY:OO) gathered over a million views world wide and a host of media attention. His photography work has a distinctive, immediately recognisable, cyberpunk-neon style, each image inspiring its own Bladerunner-esque tale. Liam’s first foray into photography saw him listed as one of the Forbes 30 Under 30 for 2017.
Liam gives regular talks and presentations around the world on his work and experiences. And, he frequently engages with his social media followers imparting valuable art advice and tips.
Thanks for reading. Hopefully, you’ll have discovered at least one new artist here. One whose work and art community involvement in Scotland will inspire and motivate. Please feel free to share and pass on this article if it has been helpful or informative to you.
Like I said earlier, this is by no means an exhaustive list of the talent in the Scottish art community. I maybe could keep on with this list until #120. But, if it seems I’ve grossly overlooked anyone, please get in touch or add your artist in the comments below.
Finally, if you are not already, remember to follow me on my social media feeds for updates on new artwork and more engrossing & informative articles like this one.