Graham Chappill has an incredible talent for creating hyper detailed pencil illustrations. He only began drawing again 18 months ago after taking a break for 14 years after a house fire destroyed all his drawings. Thankfully Graham's wife made him enter a local art competition, which he won and through this he found his passion again!
We started working with Graham just last year when he brought in his work to create art reproductions for friends and family. Since then he has created his own website with print sales and is working on illustrating his own graphic novel, all the while still working his day job!
We can't wait to see what the future holds for Graham!
Have you always had an interest in illustration & art?
When I was a kid, all I did was draw; it was all I wanted to do. I loved comic books and looking at other peoples drawings, still do. All the way through my teens, draw, draw, draw. When I was around 20 I had a house fire and lost my drawings, my drawing table, and my passion. That was it. I felt art school was now off the table and just focused on friends and eventually travel. But that was it, I didn’t draw anything seriously for 14 years!
All those years later, I was living in Queensland and it was my wife, Afra who convinced me to pick up a pencil again and draw something for a local art contest. Reluctantly I did and I won. I immediately followed with another piece, then another, and that was it. After 14 years, my passion was back.
What made you decide to focus on your illustrations & have a go at making it into a career?
My wife and I lived in a small, remote beach town in Queensland for 10 years. It was a fantastic place to raise our son but there was zero opportunity there. We always knew that when our son was old enough and moved away for school, that we were going to move as well.
I had never tried to do anything with my drawing before, but now with our son at school and my passion for drawing back, we thought, let’s give it a go in Melbourne and see if I can do something with this! That was a year and a half ago.
What do you feel is your biggest achievement so far?
That’s a tough one. Like I said, I've only been doing this for real, for a year and a half. When I was a kid I won a trillion contests and I taught cartooning classes to kids when I was only a kid myself! But none of that matters now; it’s like it was another life. This last year and a half, concentrating on my drawing, I've accomplished so much.
When I moved here to Melbourne, I drew “Animal Pub” - that drawing alone has opened up some cool doors for me. I just feel as if my greatest achievement is right around the corner. My latest project is getting some great hype behind it and I truly feel as if my career is literally about to take off. It’s exciting times. We’ll see.
What/who are your creative influences?
When I was young, I read AKIRA by Katsuhiro Otomo. It is easily my single greatest creative influence. I think AKIRA is the greatest thing ever created by man; and that includes the pyramids and helicopters. It’s in graphic novels that I find my greatest inspiration.
Artists like Sean Gordon Murphy, Arthur Adams, and the great Hayao Miyazaki; I could look at their work for ever. Movies would be a close second. I’m a big movie nerd and often after I see a great film, I feel I have to draw something inspired by it.
What are your favourite tools of the trade?
Until recently, all I would use was a Staedtler HB mechanical pencil. And that probably came about due to pure laziness! Haha! I didn’t want to keep switching from HB to H2 to B2 to B6 and so on. And sharpening pencils every two seconds…no thanks. I can get all the different values I need with a click pencil and my cross-hatching. I’d use a 0.5mm lead, nice and small to get all that tiny detail that I love so much. “Animal Pub”, “Dorothy’s Flight”, all those pencil drawings I’ve done over the last few years, they were all done with one mechanical click pencil.
Now over these last few months, with my new project, I’ve been using ink pens. The Pigma Micron range and Copic Multi Liners. These pen tips go all the way down to 0.05 and 0.03 so my cross hatching looks great and I can still get all that fine detail I want. I’m really enjoying working with them, still just working in black and white though; I’ve always preferred black and white art, colour just doesn’t interest me.
How have you found getting started with printing at Image Science?
Image Science has been a life saver! I really don’t know anything about the art world; I'm just a guy who likes to draw. So when I came to Image Science to get prints, I didn’t know if my pencil art, with it’s hyper detail, could even be reproduced at all, let alone what kind of paper I wanted it on!
Image Science showed me all sorts of options and gave me their recommendations which I value above all else. When they assured me that my work could be reproduced perfectly, I’m not going to lie, I was super sceptical, but when I saw the samples they produced for me I was blown away! Honestly, blown away. Perfect, crisp lines, every detail just as clear and sharp as the original.
To be honest, I sometimes think the prints look better than the originals because of the nice warm paper they’re on! They’ve packed and shipped prints for me on little notice and always came through; It’s truly been a great start and I can’t thank them enough for all their help. I’ve even called to ask about proper ways to sign and number prints! Haha! Seriously, they’ve been awesome. Everything I create now, I pack as much detail as I want into, knowing that Image Science can reproduce it beautifully.
Have you found creating edition prints from your originals to be influential to your business?
Absolutely! With such high quality prints, it’s allowed me to get a website up and actually have something of quality to sell. But more importantly, it has allowed me to get my work out there for people to see.
I have a print of “Animal Pub” hanging in a high traffic spot in Southern Cross Station which has proven to be invaluable! The exposure that that print alone has got me, has presented so many opportunities for me and my work it’s crazy! I have the confidence to sell and hang these prints because the quality is so good. I don’t have to say, “Yeah it looks good BUT you should see the original,” and that was always a fear of mine.
I’m currently working on my own graphic novel called, “The Path of Sun”. It’s a story that I wrote maybe five years ago with hopes of one day turning into a graphic novel but I never seemed to have the time and was always preoccupied with other projects.
It was that print of “Animal Pub” hanging in the train station, that caught the eye of the right person who asked me about my works and eventually my book idea. It turned out he’s a publicist and now, with his guidance, my childhood dream of making a graphic novel is becoming a reality. Like I said earlier, it’s exciting times!