Interview with Designer & Illustrative Artist Rob Lenihan!

Today we share with you all the thoughts, experiences and advice of established creative mind, illustrator and designer Rob Lenihan. Experienced in a whole range of illustrative skills in various media, Rob has a standout portfolio of work and also can be found working as co-director of iflourish.

How would you describe Rob Lenihan to someone who hasn’t seen your work before? What are your best creative skills?

I would say that I’m a pretty versatile creative who can create illustrations in a variety of media (digital and non-digital). I would say that my strengths are largely focussed around the things I enjoy most, mainly character drawings. I’m also pretty good at designing websites and mobile apps that clients find really useful.

What is a typical project for you to undertake?

I’m not sure there is one. The only consistent aspect to any project I work on is to place the needs of the client at the centre of the concept. I have never really stuck to one visual style as I think that would limit my ability to work with some of my clients. In addition I am also a co-director of a creative e-learning company called iflourish which demands a large variety of skills all mixed up together.

Do you have a preference in what type of media you prefer to work with? What is your computer/working set-up around your desk?

I work on a macbook using photoshop and illustrator over scanned drawings. I also paint depending on the style. Much as I love the mac, I much prefer creating work off screen when making illustrations.

Tell us more about iflourish, what does it bring to the creative arena?

We set up the company two years ago to create digital work for education. Since forming the company, we have had a steady stream of great interactive projects for clients such as the Imperial War Museum North, Tribal education, Liverpool University, Manchester Museum to name a few. We love the idea of combing learning with technology as there are massive benefits. That said, we are always honest in our solutions and only suggest technology is used where it adds value.

What education background in design do you come from? How did this lead to your first role in industry?

I have a BA(hons) in Fine Art from Cheltenham college. Initially, after leaving college I wanted to be a fine artist full time. I shared a studio in Cheltenham, which was a squat in an old factory and the intention was to stick to selling through exhibitions. This didn’t work out though as I couldn’t make any money and I’m not sure what I produced was any good. I then made the decision to find illustration work. I have always been able to draw so I just practiced and got better at it by working with clients.

What advice would you give to someone looking to follow a similar career just finishing up at school/college today?

I would say get a good grounding in drawing from life. I think this underpins anything you want to do as an illustrator, I draw constantly in sketch books, on envelopes – I love it. Also, look and really try to understand the things you like. There is nothing wrong with emulating a design or illustration you like; if you keep doing it your own personality will make it something new. I also think that understanding people helps, as being successful is about making compromises, you have to be able to work with your client, their input is useful and essential.

What designers and design movements were your inspirations growing up? Who are your biggest inspirations today?

I was really into graffitti art in my teens and also 2000AD (typical boys stuff). I used to do murals in nightclubs and on old factory’s in Manchester. In fact my inspiration was varied, I remember being equally excited about Keith Harings work and Cezanne, I just thought that artists were fantastic. Today I don’t think that has changed. There are a lot of very talented people around that always make me want to be a better artist. I find Grayson Perry, Vault 49 and Rachel Kneebone very exciting at the moment, no doubt i’ll add to that list before the month is out

How does the ever changing world of social media and network interact with you as a professional and personal? Do you love or hate the new sites and applications?

I do love twitter as it’s pretty instant and moves quickly. I do hide away from it sometimes though as I think you can easily get swallowed up in those things. It’s great for promoting work and getting feedback although I think the best and most useful feedback I get is from clients. They can be quite critical so when I get something right it’s a real buzz.

What would be a defining achievement for you as an artist? What’s your main goal for your career?

Not sure I have a single defining moment really, selling my first piece of illustration was key to my career as it gave me confidence, but that was a very long time ago. I keep trying to improve my skills and also improve conceptually. I have two main goals: the first is to help make the business a success and maintain a solid reputation for quality work and excellent client relationships; the second is to eventually exhibit personal work in galleries, that’s my retirement plan.

Do you have any major plans for 2012 and beyond?

This year I want to grow iflourish and build on what has been a fantastic two years. I’ll keep improving my design and illustration skills to ensure clients get value for money. We have been very privileged to work with some excellent clients with great ideas. I hope that 2012 would offer the same level of creativity, it has done so far.

What do you do to relax away from working and designing?

I’m currently teaching myself ceramics. I have some ideas about creating some art pieces in porcelain, so I spend some of my spare time doing that. Any other spare time is spent having fun with my children, enjoying the success of MCFC and getting outdoors.

What gadget or piece of technology could you not live without and why?

My iphone -it’s absolutely essential and gives me the freedom to be anywhere and keep on top of projects.

What music would be playing on your ipod in a typical working afternoon?

This could be tricky, I love songs by Electrelane, that keeps me moving along nicely as they are (were) very diverse. But really it can be all sorts of sounds, from crazy dance tracks to nice jingly guitar sounds, most of the time it fades into the background and I don’t even realise what I have listened to.

Where can we find you on the social networks and which are your favourite?

You can find me on twitter: @dandyswagger, my portfolio and website.

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