ANZIO Digital Graphic Design Questions to Baron Halpenny

by Scout Camp.
Date: 01 March 2010

Graphic Design Questions to Baron Halpenny - Lincolnshire Magazine -

Artist, Writer and editor, Baron Halpenny had a rather interesting email correspondence recently in which questions were asked that he feels would possibly help other likeminded young artists, so for that reason we have reproduced the young studentís questions and his answers. If you are going into this profession, then we trust this helps you in some way.

Well, the first question I would like to ask is what do you enjoy about being a graphic designer?

Freedom and the ability to allow my ideas and creations to come alive. The most important thing for any Graphic Designer or artist is to have an imagination. 95% imagination 5% ability to bring it to life.

To give you some idea, Iím the type who sits at the cafť and notices not just the people and their mannerisms, but also the whole environment and how it all interacts with each other. I also doodle a lot and many a waitress/waiter will come across a paper serviette with a cartoon character beaming a smile at them. I love to draw and to create Ö this I am sure every artist/designer will agree with.

What is your inspiration for your art?

Look around you, itís all there. I love nature and was raised in Italy. The mountains I love and the clouds. Sunrises and sunsets and the way the light plays with the terrain. You must have an eye for detail, but also the ability to see what is around you. Youíll be surprised how many people go about their daily lives, oblivious to the beauty and wonders that exist all around them Ö some big, some small and some where you least expect.

Another thing you want to consider is if you do something because you think it will get you noticed or if you do something because you believe it to be right regardless what others may think. Without trying to deliberately shock as some artists do (and ultimately fall into the former category) I have always been for the later. I do something because I really do believe in it.

What kind of education do you need to become a graphic designer?

The ability within yourself. You can learn the fundamentals and how to hold a pen, but if you havenít got it within you, education wonít help. You can be self-taught and match the very best, but you have to do the most important thing Ö practice. Everyday!

Your best bet, is to study other designers in the field of your choice. If you are interested in graphic design element of video games, then study the designers in this area and watch their tips and tricks.

A while back an art student was interested in how I did my paintings. I showed him a technique with the paints that in all his time at art college, he had never been shown, yet at that moment I had opened up a whole new doorway for him to experiment. If youíre serious in what you do, you will always be learning and looking at new techniques.

What kind of money does a graphic designer make?

Thatís the $64,000 question and depends on what you do and where. Graphic design in computer games is very different to graphic design at a newspaper. Also, are you working for a little company or a big company or even for yourself?

Donít be fooled about working for a big company though, I was offered a job with Disney/Mondadori in Italy, helping to create their Disney books (it was not connected to the animation, which is more prestigious), but everything I created was the instant property of Disney/Mondadori. Needless to say I wasnít happy about that and declined the offer.

The most important thing is, is to do what you love. It is better to make a little and be happy, than to be in a job you absolutely hate. Itís your call at the end of the day.

How did you get started as a graphic designer?

Iíve been drawing and painting all my life and never known any other. I suppose my opportunity came when I was 14, the Isle of Man philatelic bureau contacted my father as regards information about the DC3 as he is a known military historian; they were looking at possibly doing a special DC3 cover. I said that I could do that and wrote back to them saying so, I neglected to mention my age (hey why should that be important, but the idea that they may quickly dismiss me due to my age may, just may, have crossed my mind). They agreed, but wanted to see a sample first Ö they liked what they saw and I got the job. I did the complete cover and even the inside info card.

The actual franking stamp had to be boxed in, which was the norm, but I argued that the DC3 had flown free for 50 years and it was symbolically wrong to box it in, not only that but the connection to Douglas had to be free. They agreed.

To the best of my knowledge it was the first time a franking stamp had been used without a border Ö at least in the Isle of Man Ö and so broke new ground there, not bad for a 14 year old and his first real graphic design job. Please note, that I was not cocky or big headed, but genuinely passionate about what I was doing. There is a difference!

Thatís how I got started and before computers and software. I was lucky to get that break, but a set of circumstances opened a door of opportunity and I quickly took the initiative and grasped it. I was also fortunate to have wonderful open minded people at not just the Isle of Man philatelic bureau, but also at McDonald Douglas who when contacted, officially recognised and endorsed the artwork and cover and allowed their official DC3 logo to be used.

The funny thing is, I had the Dakotas in the stamp, photo and hand stamp all flying one way, but the official Douglas Dakota logo is flying the other way.

What kind of software do you use to make your art?

Ah! Iím one of the old guard that can still survive if all the computers in the world stopped working. Pen and paper and brainpower. I do scan in my work now and use hp scanners along with Dell computers. And itís true that Iíve started to use some software, but generally mixing it with traditionally drawn work.

A lot of the time I just use Microsoft Paint Ö shocking I know! Photoshop I have, but to be honest I very rarely use it and often use a much cheaper piece of software that I find does everything I want it to. The truth is I still prefer to use pen and paper and to me nothing will replace it.

What inspired you to work in graphic design?

Just my love of art. I also actually like those art Deco 1930ís posters Ö many are as good today as they were then, timeless and skill of a true artist. Look at past masters and what is still good today as it was then. Then ask yourself Ö why? There is a magical element there.

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