Back to the Future - An Interview With Gregory Baldwin
Gregory Baldwin, a speaker at IA’s highly anticipated seminar and panel discussion In the Know at Docklands on Saturday 27 August, spent much of his childhood in England drawing action characters and battle scenes, as well as boats and scenery inspired by daytrips along the Essex coast on board his parents’ sailboat. He loved the work of Ron Searle and Quentin Blake and was encouraged to spend his free time drawing. “It was making your dreams come to life on paper,” he recalls.
Gregory studied computer science at university before switching to fine arts, emerging in 1982 with good drawing, painting and conceptual skills that, alas, weren’t in high demand in Thatcher’s Britain. He launched a textile design company, supported his painting through retail work, went travelling, felt in love with an Australian, and moved to Australia in 1993, at which point he returned to his first love: illustration.
Adapting the ethereal, fine art style of his mainly digital work was critical in attracting commercial clients in the publishing and advertising industries. “I started having to change my style to suit figurative work,” Gregory says. “I got quite a lot of work in The Age and magazines doing conceptual editorial illustration.” Over the past two decades he has built up a broad range of clients, in Australia and internationally, spanning brands from Adobe to Tiger Air, Telstra and The Law Institute of Australia, publishers from Hardie Grant to McGraw Hill (USA) and Dorling Kindersley (UK), and publications including The Australian, Asiaweek China, BRW, The South China Morning Post, The Australian Financial Review, The Asian Wall Street Journal and Royal Auto. These days around 75% of his work is editorial, 20% commercial (including web-ready illustration) and 5% educational.
Gregory is a guest speaker at IA’s upcoming In The Know seminar at The Library at the Dock on Saturday 27 August. He’s keen to share some insights with fellow creatives about the changing role and nature of illustration work. “The illustrator’s job is to grab people’s attention, make them think, and make them wonder,” he says.
Adapting your approach to meet clients’ needs without sacrificing your unique style or artistic interests is critical, according to Gregory. Injecting wit into your work is one way to make it memorable. “It’s about getting the best outcomes for clients,” Gregory says. “As you go by you realise your responsibility is not so much to yourself but to your client. So you create work that pleases them and also helps them (communicate) their message or the idea they’ve commissioned you for, always trying to be as individual to myself as I possibly can.”
Gregory’s favourite tool of the trade is Corel Painter. For his own work – fine art inspired drawings, at the moment – he favours simple ink on paper. His most productive time of the day is late morning, without a doubt. “You warm up, work out what you’ve got to do, and then by late morning you’re in the swing of things and everything becomes quite fluent,” he says. “And ideas start coming because you’re working quite fluently. By the time it’s mid-afternoon you run out of steam.”
On Saturday 27 August, Gregory will join fellow illustrators Sandra Eterovic, Angie Rehe, Serena Geddes, Annie White and Adele K Thomas at IA’s In The Know seminar and panel discussion at Library at the Dock to discuss industry directions, budgets, and areas offering consistent commissions. They’ll be joined by a panel of industry professionals comprising Lara Chan-Baker and Li Liang Johnson from The Jacky Winter Group, Erica Wagner from Allen & Unwin, Aimee Carruthers from Frankie Magazine and Kane Rowlinson from Jumbla, who’ll discuss pricing, trends, and areas of opportunity and over-saturation. In The Know runs from 10am-4pm at Library at the Dock, Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands.
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