I’m an artist, writer and graphic novelist based in Stromness, Orkney Islands.

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. According to my parents by the time I was three they’d leave me alone for hours with a load of pencils and paper and let me get on with it.

When I was 12 my dad found me reading an issue of Batman. He disappeared, and when he came back he gave me a copy of Art Spiegelman’s Maus. “You should read this,” he said. I did. Maus was the first book that made me want to be a comics writer as opposed to just someone who draws them. (If you haven’t read Maus, you should.)

When I was 16 I moved to the UK for my A-levels with an art scholarship. I went to a boarding school. I didn’t fit in. Aside from a few good friends and some great teachers, I hated it. Apart from the art instruction I received there, I’m self-taught.

I’m essentially to be found hunched over a keyboard or drawing board, making stuff, usually in the company of my wife, editor, ideas-basher and fellow arty type Anna. Sometimes there’s a cat in my lap.

Aside from comics, I also write poetry, short stories and, occasionally, words for operas.

In 2011 two of my scripts were amongst the ten finalists in the Minioperas competition run by English National Opera. These scripts are now in the public domain and can be used by anyone.

In 2015 I received two prizes in the Ware Open Poetry Competition, taking second prize overall and sharing the sonnet prize.

In 2016 my poetry was part of the shortlist for the Munster Literature Centre’s Fool for Poetry Competion.

Why ‘Basement Garden’?

  • Anna playing with Bo in our old garden.
  • Anna playing with Bo in our old garden.
  • Anna playing with Bo in our old garden.


Anna playing with Bo in our old garden.

We used to live in the basement of a converted Georgian house in Bristol. It was cold, damp and dark. The only saving grace about the place was the garden, to which we’d escape when the weather permitted.

The garden was lovely. Our bedroom let out onto a lawn which blended into overgrowth at the furthest end. A fox had its den somewhere in the tangled gardens beyond; one night I woke to see two fox cubs playing just outside our door.

Anyway, the effect of this was that I actually found myself writing out our address differently through the year. Basement flat, Garden flat – winter, summer. I’m guessing the rest is obvious.

What programs, equipment, techniques do you use?

Equipment/techniques for traditional art

Anything that’ll work. Chalks, acrylics, spray paint, ink, various pencils, pens, charcoals, collage, photography.

Weird stuff I’ve used at one point or another: dripping wax, razors, sponges, eggshells, bits of wood.

In the case of The Boy with Nails for Eyes, the images are generally composed with gradual ink washes onto pencil outlines, which are then detailed with acrylic, chalk, charcoal and pencil, then scanned into Photoshop.

Digital art

Almost everything I do these days involves Photoshop at some point. This can be a case of simply adding colour, bringing in various photographic or digital elements, or altering the original image in some more drastic way.

I use Adobe Photoshop version 9, ‘CS2’ as it’s commonly known, along with a Wacom Graphire.

(I’ve also tried GIMP and it’s great, but I’ve already paid my moneys.)

Writing

I use a free text-editor called Notepad ++ – it’s a cracker. On Android I use Jota Text editor, which is also excellent.

Desktop publishing

For compiling pages and adding text I use Scribus. It’s a free, open source desktop publisher and it’s fantastic. Without it I couldn’t have put The Boy with Nails for Eyes together at all so, if you’re looking for some completely free, powerful desktop publishing software, I can only recommend it.

Questions? Give me a shout.