Niall Grant works between studios in Norwich and London, creating fine prints that are inspired by traditional European illustration. He has worked for a diverse range of clients and showed work in numerous exhibitions. Above you can view Mater Gaia, his contribution to my 10th anniversary artists’ book, and also available exclusively on my Kickstarter campaign as a very limited edition fine art print with real gold leaf. The image is inspired by his interest in life, death and the dreaming in between. The artwork features the celestial skies and elements of 16th century alchemic illustration above a forest clearing where beautiful crystals burst from the soil. His work provides a ‘visual medicine’ for the viewer.
How did you create Mater Gaia?
I created this piece firstly with pencil sketches, and built on those with ink brushes and fineliners. This piece in particular was composed by using different drawings I made whilst researching the project. The colour was added from paper and watercolour swatches I’ve been using for years. This process feels very natural to me, and is quite a traditional approach to image-making.
What does she mean to you?
Latin for ‘Mother Earth‘, this work depicts Gaia, who some believed to be Goddess of the Earth. It comments on how acts of nature are still attributed to unseen forces in some lands.
Hart Of Ten.
Why did you decide to enter the open brief, were there any things that really appealed and if so what?
My eyes lit up when I first saw the brief. I thought the subject matter was perfect for what I was working on at the time. I myself am a spiritually strong person and I feel that’s important. There’s an Indian proverb that says “Everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but, unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.” A lot of people neglect that spiritual room until the day they die, just going the way of the world. They don’t even think to look into it because it seems too dark, but if you keep asking questions they will be answered.
Were there any big influences on your style of illustration from an early age?
I really admired the artwork of Yoshitaka Amano growing up. Gustave Dore, Norman Lindsey and Vania Zouravliov are all identifiable influences in my work. I have thousands of pages of artists work from all different eras. I love making Art and I love looking at it.
King Of The Monsters.
You have worked for many amazing brands and companies, what have been highlights of your career so far?
I really enjoyed working with Lettucewear last year. It was more of an Artworking job and not my usual style, but they treated me very well throughout the three month project and we were always on the same page. It just ran like clockwork really. I think having good communication with who you are working with makes the project much more pleasurable.
What is your favourite type of job to work on and why?
I love doing album art. I think it’s so special when art forms come together to complement each-other. I love the initial process of connecting with the music and interpreting it visually in your mind’s eye. I really enjoyed working with Secret 7” on the Jake Bugg vinyl cover.
You work between Norwich and London – why the two places and how does this work in practice?
I grew up in Norwich and have roots there. Housing is literally half the price as London, which releases pressure. I have a nearby screen printing studio too, so I can get prints done whenever I want. London is two hours away, so I can work at a studio there for afew days and meet clients etc. It’s handy at the moment but I can see myself committing to one in the future.
What are you most looking forward to working on in the future?
I have lots of personal projects that I need to finish up at the moment. I try to always be doing one, but they often overlap. I have a few secret projects underway with some exciting clients at the moment. Expect album covers, murals and editorials.
Read more about Niall’s piece for That Which We Do Not Understand here and grab your exclusive Mater Gaia fine art print on my Kickstarter campaign page here. 50% of the profits from the sale of this beautiful artwork will go to Niall Grant.
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