2010 Snapshot Archive: Dion Hamill

First published at Kathryn Linge’s LiveJournal.

Dion Hamill is an artist and illustrator who has provided commercial artwork for publishing, advertising and marketing agencies nationally and worldwide. Recently he has produced cover artwork for Twelfth Planet Press and the Hal Spacejock series. He has also written and illustrated three books of his own; ‘Amazeing Ruins Journey Through Lost Civilisations’, ‘The Pegasus Quest’ and ‘The Twelve Tasks of Hercules’. His website ishttp://www.dionhamill.com and he can be found blogging (and cartooning) at http://www.dionhamill.blogspot.com

1. You produce art for a huge range of different end uses including, book covers, internal illustration, comic books, and even your own picture books. What gives you most satisfaction, both personally and financially? What has been your most unusual project?

The viewers reaction I think is the real payoff. If I write an ongoing story or a one off image and the viewer understands the point thats being made or walks away thinking about concepts and ideas from that image thats extremely satisfying.

If the idea was just to make them laugh or be entertained and they get that feeling then I’m doing my job right, especially regarding childrens’ books. I feel that all childrens’ books should be entertaining but have an element of education to them, if I can create something that straddles both those concepts its a success to me.

If I’m not connecting with the project myself and I’m only doing it to make a quick buck I think that would come across in the image I create, so I generally steer clear of projects that I know I’m not going to enjoy.

The most unusual project I once had was quite a few years ago. But someone had asked for a series of portraits of women he had dated waayyy back in the 60’s. Working from photographs I was to replicate the clients memories of the women in various moments of their relationship. As the project went on though the memories seemed to be getting a bit more and more explicit until the artwork started to border on pornographic so I had to decline continuing on with it.

2. A lot of your work is hand painted in acrylic or gouache. How important (if at all?) is digital manipulation in your final work?

About the most I do digitally is once the artwork is scanned into my computer I’ll manipulate the size or the dpi and get it ready for print. Before I start each project I’ve already worked out the size, colouring and composition as far as I can go in my mind so that when I start the final art I won’t need to make any corrections or changes once its scanned in.

If its something that requires neat readable text in the image I’ll often add that in using photoshop. Or if a client requires a huge change to the image I’ll often repaint that section on another illustration board, scan it in and merge the two images together in photoshop. Generally these are all things that I could do the old fashioned way but I guess in doing it on the computer I can halve the time spent doing it.

Overall I like the idea of having a finished piece that I can hold in my hands, I don’t think I would get the same satisfaction from painting if the art only existed as pixels on a screen. It also means I’ve got something I can sell or hang in a gallery later on as original art. Theres just something a bit romantic about the idea of standing in front of an original piece rather than just a printout of a digital image.

3. You’ve started this year publishing a day-by-day comic on you blog and comic space (http://www.comicspace.com/dhamill/comics.php). Are you doing this just for practice or do you think there are other benefits? (Am loving the black and white styling btw) What else have you got planned for 2010?

Thanks for the compliment. LUBA is just a crazy idea I’ve had knocking around in my mind probably since 1998 but never followed through until I recenlty got into this webcomics phenomena. Because for the last 10 years or so I’ve been drawing other peoples stories and ideas I’ve had this constant itch to create something that I can call my own. So each day I spend about an hour creating a black and white comic strip in my favourite genre, action adventure! And the beauty now is that I can post it online for others to read free of charge.

The other wonderful thing is that now I have something that exists and can be read and enjoyed by others it creates a whole range of options that I can explore with the character, including printed books, original art, prints, etc… Something that I was always limited by when working for other companys licenced products, I could never take the artwork any further than perhaps selling the original artwork.

And in doing this small side project and receiving great feedback already its opened avenues to other ideas and stories I can create on the web. Its finally allowing me to be in more control of the projects I work on and I’ve got a better understanding of how I can set myself up for the future.

4. Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year?

I have to plead ignorance here as I haven’t been keeping up with the local sci-fi scene. The team over at Twelfth Planet Press have been putting together some great work. And the artbooks from Ballistic Publishing are always a joy to look at, they’re not exclusive to sci-fi or fantasy but they do have a lot of work in that field in their publications.

5. Will you be at Aussiecon 4 in September? If so, what are you most looking forward to?

I wish I could go but my guess it that I’ll be knee deep in some sort of project at the time. I’ve been meaning to go to a convention again for years since the last one I went to was Swancon in 2003 (I think). I just really enjoyed the atmosphere, hanging out with people who all enjoyed the same sort of things I like and listening to some of the great talks some of the guests would give. Its also a chance to meet some of the people I’ve worked with face to face for a change. So if I do get the chance to go that would be what I am looking forward to the most.

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