Originally from the sticks in Ireland; a place that Cathal refers to as an absurd little island where “People tell you a question, despise notions and love a good cup of tea… I love it.”
He studied fine art in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, then once he had finished college he went on to move to Cork, where he joined Sample Studios. After having built us his portfolio, he soon became a freelance illustrator and claims to have never stopped drawing pictures since.
He was well into his 20’s before he realised that being an illustrator could be an option for him as a career, “I had just joined a studio group and there were a couple of illustrators working there,” he reflects. “They spoke to me about the type of work that they did and how they got there… I knew straight away it was the path for me.”
My aim is to capture a feeling or emotion in that moment.”
More often than not, those who have studied one part of the industry can apply their skills in another. It simply takes a bit of direction and encouragement from those around you that it’s possible. His first piece of work for an editorial piece, which he believes was “Nothing to write home about”, but recognises that it was a good start for him to get started with his career.
Today, Cathal’s portfolio is stacked with personality and has a distinctive style; usually including exaggerated figures, different textures, and a bold colour palette. It’s a style that he’s refined over the years and often portrays a narrative or situation, “My personal work is often based around a quiet moment,” he shares, “my aim is to capture a feeling or emotion right then and there.”
The joy of choosing a path that you can define for yourself comes with its challenges and for Cathal, it was the business aspect of freelancing. “Aspects like contracts, Usage rights, promotion and doing accounts were all new to me,” he explains, “but learning about them helped me to understand the illustration industry much better.”
I am still trying to learn how to keep things organised!”
Amidst all of this, the most important lesson that he’s learned so far? Organisation. “I am still trying to learn how to keep things organised!” he shares. “This applies to everything from accounts to Photoshop layer names… this is definitely easier said than done!”
He admits to feelings of self-doubt as to whether or not he was cut out for freelancing, so after having proved to himself that he was more than capable has been his most proud highlight to date. As for his illustration work, it’s the big projects he has worked on straight through to drawings of a hand or shoe is all work he is proud of and enjoys.
As we look to the future, he shares his plans and what he has coming up next. “I love editorial work, I hope to get the opportunity to work on more of them,” he tells me. Plus as he’s working on a couple of bigger projects at the moment, he’ll remain one to watch over the coming months.