Q&A with family man & huge talent…Meet Gareth Conway

We had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful Gareth Conway and his family last week when they came to visit us at The Bright Emporium. Gareth has been a part of Bright for a long time now, and he is one of Bright Educational’s core artists – in fact he really is one of the family here.

We often see the amazing artwork created by our artists, but we don’t always know about what they like to do when they are not illustrating – what music they like or what inspired them to choose illustration as their career in the first place. SO – here is a little bit all about Gareth…

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Gareth Conway and family with Educational Agent, Lucie Luddington on the left.

What made you become an illustrator/ animator? 

I grew up watching lots of animation like Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies cartoons, Tom and Jerry and eventually things like Transformers and Dungeons & Dragons. I always loved them but never thought about how they were made until I saw Akira when I was approximately 15 or 16 years old which knocked me sideways and I decided I had to find out how these films / cartoons were made so I set my heart on studying animation at university and from then I was lucky enough to work for an animation company full time for nine years. It wasn’t until I was in my 30′s that I realised I could apply a lot of the skills I had learnt in animation to illustration and so I set my heart on that too.

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Cartoon inspiration: Dungeons & Dragons, Transformers, Tom & Jerry & Looney Tunes.

What is the greatest difference between the process of animating and illustrating a story? And do you have a preference?

For me, the biggest difference is the timescale and labour involved. With animation you tend to have a team of people doing different things like storyboards, backgrounds, character design and animation, all working together to create the moving images and all of that work by all those people goes into just a few seconds of animation. Illustration is a more solitary task, you have more control of every aspect of the work and you can spend more time working into a few images to tell a story as opposed to thousands of images.
I enjoy creating storyboards, characters and backgrounds for animation but I also love my role as an illustrator.

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What do you most enjoy about creating visual magic for children’s books in education?

It’s lovely to think that I can create some energetic and exciting images to help make learning and reading more fun for children from different parts of the world.

What is your favourite part of the process when illustrating a book?

My absolute favourite part of illustrating anything is the rough sketch stage and working out the best compositions for the story being told…having said that I do love seeing the final, coloured artwork at the end too.

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“Gareth is an incredible artist with a great eye for detail, delivering above and beyond every time” [Lucie Luddington, Senior Educational Agent]

 

Desert Island Discs…What are your 8 records (you may well be on there one day) And you can choose one luxury to take with you – what would that be?

This was the most difficult question for me, I spend nearly all day, every working day listening to music so choosing just eight songs to take with me was tough but here goes…

1) Lakeside Park by Rush. My favourite band of all time, I’ve been a fan since I was 12 years old and any of their 70′s or 80′s era songs would make my life happier on the island.

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Gareth’s all time favourites, Rush – in their hayday!

2) Debaser by Pixies. The first band I ever saw live so this song holds very fond memories for me.

3) Just Like Heaven by The Cure. From their best album in my opinion and another from my teens.

4) Casimir Pulaski Day by Sufjan Stevens, I could listen to it all day long.

5) Flim by Aphex Twin. Again, I could listen to it all day long.

6) Shuffle by Bombay Bicycle Club, always makes me smile.

7) Soon by My Bloody Valentine, another reminder of my youth and another I could listen to all day long.

8) Move On Up by Curtis Mayfield, possibly my favourite song of all time…maybe…possibly?

My luxury… hmmmm… a life time supply of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk? :)

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The legendary Curtis Mayfield.

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The illustration gene! Beautiful drawings, made for Lucie Luddington, by Gareth’s daughter, Megan.

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What was the last book you read?

Girl in a Band, Kim Gordon’s Autobiography. I love a good music based autobiography and Hilda and The Troll by Luke Pearson which is wonderful (I tend to flit between books depending on my mood).

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What was your favourite book, comic or publication as a little boy?

I loved Asterix growing up. I remember being on holiday in Portugal and my parents buying me loads of Asterix books to read, I think I was bored. I’ve never been a very sunshine and swimming pools person.

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The Asterix books by R. Goscinny & A. Uderzo and one of Gareth’s own illustrations.

Thanks so much to Gareth for providing us with a very inspiring piece. Budding artists take note and follow Gareth’s lead!

If you’d like to work with Gareth, please contact Lucie Luddington or Susan Beveridge for more details.