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Q&A with Peter Donnelly

Illustrator and designer living in Dublin

My name is Peter Donnelly. I am an Irish illustrator and designer living in Dublin.

I would describe my illustration as fun, flat, textured and leaning towards mid-century modern design. I'm interested in vintage print and limited colours. My work is used in several areas... advertising, packaging and sometimes children's books. I'm fortunate to have a personal style that allows me to jump between these different mediums without diluting that style too much.

How did you get started in illustration? What is a turning point in your professional career?

The short story is I worked in animation for many years, eventually reaching a position of Art Director. I'd worked on tons of movies including The Land Before Time, Titan AE, The Thief and the Cobbler and The Prince of Egypt. Around 2003, I began to focus on illustration full-time and decided to work freelance. I've always been someone who enjoys challenges when it comes to my work and I felt the time was right to make the switch from a studio artist to a freelance illustrator. An early turning point in my career would have been adapting the computer into my tool box. I developed good drawing skills while in animation, now I was able to take my work to another level and deliver art in a more professional way at a time when ad studios were looking to work with digital illustrators. Joining Illustrators Ireland in 2002 and securing overseas representation were also game changers for me.

Freakshow Bizarre

What is your ideal work environment?

Well, my studio is beside my home. That in itself has both advantages and disadvantages but given the choice I prefer it that way. Advantage-wise I can take a walk on the nearby beach to clear my head before (or during) a job, I don't need to worry about commuting in traffic and I can easily choose my working hours. On the other hand I sometimes miss working alongside fellow creatives now and then. Being a member of Illustrators Ireland keeps me in contact with my peers though, both online and socially when we feel the need to hook up. My studio has everything I need to create my work. It is a converted car garage with great light in a quiet neighbourhood. The more I work in this game the more I realise getting out of the studio each day for a short time improves my creativity and subsequently my output.

Where does your work inspiration come from? (Do you believe in 'inspiration' at all)?

Yes, absolutely. I'm inspired by many things, music, cities and other art mediums. In the last year my outlook on life has changed dramatically. I think very differently to how I used to think. Small things that I took for granted I now notice. As a result I find much more inspiration in many things and moments. I’ve always been a huge music fan and I always try to find the right mood to soundtrack what I’m working on...and sometimes that can be silence. I admire illustrators such as Jim Flora, Eyvind Earle, Alice and Martin Provensen and artists including Michelangelo, Mucha, Harry Clarke, Klimt...I could go on. Several of my friends are also illustrators whose work I find inspiring.

Where are your favorite art places in your city or outside?

My favourite place to visit in Dublin is The National Museum of Ireland. I love archaeology and we have an amazing collection of items on display. I also love to visit neolithic sites in my country of which there are many close to where I live. Outside of Ireland I love most cities I’ve been to and discovering their museums. Hi-lights would be Florence, New York and London. I lived in Budapest and Berlin for a time, they were also amazing places for their art.