MM: Living in the Highlands at the very top of Scotland, there are weird and wonderful creatures and people roaming the fields. One man, an artist and illustrator; George Mackay manages to capture their funny, stupid and cute characteristics and calls them “eejits”. Hello all MadArtists & Sketchoholics, I’m Marcin Migdal here with Anna Yamasaki. Today we have the privilege of introducing George Mackay to the rest of the world, welcome George.
GM: Thanks, I'm absolutely delighted to have my wee eejits featured and interviewed for Sketchozine. I must say that the issues and previews I've seen look amazing, great work guys.
AY: Thanks George! I guess we should start with the most obvious question, George, what inspired you to draw these little eejits, how did you happen to come across them?
GM: I would like to say that it was a cold and dark night, as there is no other type of night here...and this strange wee creature knocked at my door, looking for shelter from the wild Highland weather. Being the skinflint that I am, I demanded that it paid rent. Unfortunately, it had no coin so we agreed a deal where I would draw it's portrait and share this unique wee fella with the world and hopefully gain fame & fortune for us both....BUT...In reality, I had just finished battling with creating a truly unsuccessful webcomic called The Mis-Adventures of FEEK and needed another creative outlet. I couldn't write gag-a-day strips any more but still wanted to draw. I had sketched a few weird looking creatures on paper but wanted to finish them off digitally: inking and fully colouring them. So I used these first few sketches learning the ways of inking and colouring with Paint Shop Pro and from there eejits were born.
AY: In your gallery there are 341 varied eejits, are there any characteristics that link them all as this particular subspecies? What would you say draws them together as a whole?
GM: I would definitely say that stupidity would be the one over-riding characteristic for these creatures. That and curiosity. Some maybe aren't as stupid (or stupid looking) as others, but that is the common theme that I strive for. 'Eejits' after all is the Scottish/Irish term for an idiot.
MM: Do you remember what was the very first thing you ever drew?
GM: Crickey, that would be a while ago. Probably copying pictures of Garfield from the Strip collection books I used to buy with my pocket money (or get as presents). I used to love Jim Davis' style for drawing his characters (big eyes and round features) and get a kick outta trying to get my versions exactly right.
MM: Let’s take you back to childhood, tell us what were you like as a “youngin-boyicius”, did you have dreams of being a pilot...or a shepherd or did you always know you were destined to be an artist?
GM: I was never sure what I wanted to be when I was growing up, In fact I still don't know. Art was always just a distraction and hobby, I was always doodling in my jotters. If I had my time again, I would have definitely studied art at school and maybe tried for a profession in Graphic Design, designing logos, packaging and corporate stuff for corporations. I would love to have 'Art' as my full time vocation now though.
AY: I especially like Eejitus Gothicus. What are your favorites?
GM: Haha, I change my mind almost every week with each new addition that comes to the gallery. At the moment, I quite like the Captain America themed one - eejitus notsosuperius solderius but then I quite like the one I'm sketching right now....
MM: Why Paint Shop Pro? And which tools do you like use the most?
GM: Why Paint Shop Pro? Because I grew up with it, plus it's cheap and can do everything I want. I use vectors for the black lines (the inks) and sometimes the items that my creatures are interacting with and then switch to raster layers for the flat colours, shadows and highlights. I know the industry standard is to use Photoshop/Illustrator and I really wish I could get my head around them, but I'm happy with what I'm using right now.
MM: Tell us about the art industry in Scotland?
GM: Being as isolated as I am up in the far, far, far North o' Scotland.One more step North and you're in the sea, I've not really been involved in the Scottish Art scene. I do know that locally there is an art association where they showcase traditional paintings and arts. I went to their last show with my bairns and was blown away by some of the talent on show there. I pretty much only promote and show my stuff online, I'm incredibly shy and not very confident at promoting my stuff face to face! Something I'm going to have to get over methinks.....
AY: Are there other artists that have played a part in inspiring you?
GM: I would definitely say that Bobby Chiu is a great inspiration, not only through the great creatures he paints but his whole positive philosophy to life. It's something I try and apply to my life (but am failing miserably at). I thoroughly enjoy his work. Cartoonist Dave Kellett is another great inspiration. I love his comic strip Sheldon and love the way he draws. He conveys his ideas with such little effort and confidence of pen stroke. I try and catch his Ustreams when I can and he seems like such a great, fun guy to be around.
AY: Is there any advice you could give to a new artist, striving to be seen?
GM: As someone who's struggling to be seen himself sometimes this is a tricky one to answer. I would definitely say use the internet to its full potential. Get your stuff out there on your own website or blog, use Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, DeviantART and Sketchoholic.com (of course) as well as any other communities or forums you are a member of. Try and build a rapport with your fan base as they will invest in you and your personality as well as your art. That will bring dividends when you transfer from project to project or build your brand into something big. That's what I've trying to do and it's only this last wee whiley that I've been putting more effort into that aspect of my 'brand'. Failing that get yersel an interview with an established art community with contacts (like, I dunno, Sketchoholic.com for example). ;)
MM: Hint, hint :) What in your opinion is the most vital part of an image?
GM: Character. Any image has got to have character regardless of what your depicting, be it a stupid wee creature, a building, a landscape, whatever. Something that catches the eye and presents its message through its character is definitely a vital part of any image for me. Of course everything is down to personal interpretation and what I think is a crackin' picture someone else may hate. That's the beauty of creating art I suppose.
AY: What’s the best and worst thing about being an artist?
GM: The best thing about being an artist is having a final product you are proud of and looks great. I love the way my creatures transform from initial pencil sketch to fully 'inked' and coloured. It's only then that their full personalities shine through. The worst bit for me personally is the constant frustration with myself and trying to get what I want down on paper. There's many a night I've amongst a pile o' crumpled up paper because I not happy with the way I've drawn something. But usually the creatures or commissions that have caused me the most frustration turn out the best. It's a catch 22 situation.
MM: Now George, You have your own book, great video intro, an awesome website, ejiits stickers, coloring book…essentially you’ve created a brand around your work. Did you do everything on your own, did you get funding, assistance?. Can you offer any tips or advice on how our readers, if they’re also interested in publishing their own books can get started?
GM: Yup, I've done everything by myself, just me on my lonesome (with support from family as well of course). Unfortunately, I haven't had any funding assistance from anybody. There are great services out there that allow to create and publish your own books, make stickers and other such merchandise quite easily. Obviously you've got to pay a little extra and this can be prohibitive sometimes compared to the traditional ways of getting merchandise out there.
There are a number of Print-on-Demand services: Lulu, Blurb, etc that I have used to get my merchandise made. The hard work comes when trying to get your stuff noticed and appreciated by people out there (preferably ones with lots of disposable income!!)
AY: With the success of your book, do you plan to capture more eejits on paper? What do you see in your future?
MM: A Short Animated film maybe?
GM: I'd love to make the book more successful and get it picked up with a traditional publisher and out into shops. Maybe that'll happen with the next book, who knows, it's something that I'll be working hard towards. After that, I'd love to get into the vinyl toy scene and create a series o' eejit toys, they would be absolutely awesome! One day in the future that is going to happen! Having an animated film would be a mind-blowing achievement and one which I think is a far way off at the moment. But who knows what opportunities lie around the corner.
MM: Tell us what you think is the best thing about Sketchoholic and our Sketchozine books. (We're not above fishing for compliments :))
GM: I definitely think that the community you've built around Sketchoholic is awesome. It's a great place to hang out. One of the best features are the contests (I just recently held my own with you guys and it was a lot of fun!). It's so simple to do as you guys have put in the hard work in the background to make it that way. I'll definitely be hosting another one in the future. The Sketchozine books are looking brilliant. Love flipping through the previews. I've yet to get my head around all the interactive features (I need to get a QR scanner on my phone) but I think you've got something unique and interesting to show throughout the artist communities. I hope it goes extremely well for you guys.
AY: Would you draw me an eejitus otakus femalus (nerd grrl)? MM: or me goddus-marcinicus-migdalius.?
GM: Yeah, that's not a problem, I love taking on suggestions from other artists, it helps the creative juices flow! I've actually done a few commissions for people wanting turned into eejits, be it for birthdays, weddings or other special occasions. In fact one of my first was for a guy at work who went and had the snip! He got the eejit printed on a T-Shirt and wore it on the day of his operation! Certainly gave the nurses a laugh!
MM: At this stage of the interview, we’ll ask some short, more personal questions…so what is your greatest fear?
GM: Not to put too much o' a somber tone on this interview, but my biggest fear is Death herself. It's the Inevitable End, I just wish I knew what happened to ya when you 'pop yer clogs' so to speak. I do believe that there is something afterwards and that you move on to another life somewhere, maybe re-incarnation, maybe something else entirely (......don't look at me that way!).One thing I am sure about in my mind is that there is no such thing as a God. That's something that's been borne out of human existence, when we were cavemen and scared of the loud bangs that came from the sky. Maybe that's controversial, but it's my opinion.
MM: If you could have one skill or talent what would that be?
GM: Hmm, could I have teleportation please?!? I'd love that, as I hate travelling. Being able to pop up anywhere I wanted in the world would be awesome! But if you're talking real world talents and skills, then I suppose I'd love to be able to cook to Michelin Star level! I do enjoy being creative in the kitchen, often baking cakes with my daughter, Rhiannon and making meals for the family every now and again. I make a mean Risotto. Sometimes I create the odd disaster and the wife hates the mess I make in the kitchen, so being able to cook would be a great talent to have. It would save me a lot o' grief!! :)
AY: What are the top 3 websites you visit most?
GM: Apart from my own one you mean? Haha! Twitter would have to be the main one. I'm addicted and constantly checking out my feed to see what other artist are up to and what's happen in the creative world. I also write a lot o' rubbish on there too (follow me @eejits for creature updates and what happens in my life). TechRadar is another site I check up on almost daily. I'm a gadget freak and love keeping up to date with all the cool tech out there. It's just a shame that I can't afford most o' it (or the wife won't let me!) Thirdly, it's a tie between DeviantART & Sketchoholic.com. Both great art communities and it's great speaking to and interacting with other artists who share similar ideals and thoughts as myself. I thrive on feedback and these are great places to receive tips and comments.
MM: If you could meet one person, dead or alive who would it be?
GM: Hmm, that's a tricky one. Rather than one person I think I'd love to visit one place: I'd love to be able to sit down in the Pixar offices and be shown their creative process in designing characters. To have just a day with them, be in the middle of their work and absorb just a wee touch o' their magic would be a dream come true!
AY: What is your dream job?
GM: My dream job would definitely be to work at Pixar developing characters for their movies. I would need a bit o' training to get up to their standards first though. So having a Mentor while working there would be a dream come true.
AQ: If you all of a sudden inherited a billion dollars, What would you do?
GM: Probably get some new underwear first and foremost!! Crickey, a billion dollars?!? Secondly, I'd make sure that all my family were sound and set up for life. Then I'd probably set up my own creative company to develop my brand and then look for other Scottish Artists to promote and develop alongside my own projects. After that I'd probably buy my own island for me and all my creatures!!
MM: Well that‘s the end of our interview with the wonderful and always cheery George Mackay. Everyone please visit www.eejits-online.co.uk, buy his books and I promise you will laugh out loud when you read the names of the eejits!...and don’t forget to say hello on www.Sketchoholic.com/eejits. Again thank for taking the time to speak to myself and our amazing Editorial Director: Anna Yamasaki. For more great interviews please visit www.Sketchoholic.com and remember to visit www.Sketchozine.com and browse through our incredible amazing collections of artwork and animated films by some extra talented undiscovered artists….
AY: Thank you again for your time, George, I'm looking forward to your future art.
GM: Thanks! I look forward to creating it as you never know what curious looking creature I'll be coming up with next. That's all part o' the fun. Thanks for taking the time to look at my eejits and for this interview guys, it's been a lot o' fun answering the questions!