Creative Spotlight: Jacob Stack

I’m from Donegal. By the Bluestack Mountains actually which name wise is just a coincidence. I drew a small bit as a child and I was always doodling on school books and homework diaries, but I didn’t really pick it up until I was in Leaving Cert year and had it as a proper subject for the first time.

After school, I didn’t know what to do. Mam in all her wisdom suggested a portfolio course in Galway at GTI. That led to me going to Limerick School of Art and Design. I studied Fine Art Printmaking, which was very open in terms of how you were able to work. I graduated in 2012 and I’ve been fortunate enough to show work nationally and internationally, while working on various commissions, projects, collaborations, and personal work. I learned a few days ago that I’m too tall to be an astronaut with NASA. So I’ll try keep at the art things for a bit yet.

I guess the style of work I do now started about half way through college. It was very rough around the edges, but I’d like to think it has developed and grown since. There tends to be a bit of narrative to my personal work. Characters with something going on. What I like about those pieces is that the interpretation to them is more open and up to the viewer. You get a whole range of feedback and feelings about one illustration sometimes. I love that interaction, it makes it a bit more personal to the viewer. I’ve heard many different stories about the same illustration from various folks.

I usually have a pencil and a pen and a wee sketchbook or something to scribble on close at hand. You can get a bit of inspiration or an idea at any time I reckon… if I don’t write something down quick, it’ll be gone.

Looking back, the books from when I was growing up were a huge influence. E H Shepard’s illustrations from the Winnie the Pooh books, Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake left a mark. More recently, the work of Shaun Tan is awesome, the humour of Gary Larson’s Far Side and Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. Then there’s the illustrators closer to home, like the epic work of Alan Clarke, Sarah Bowie, Eva Byrne, Martina Gleeson, Imogen Oh, Mr Steve Mc Carthy.

Aside from illustration, there would be the wonderful work of Tom Moore and Cartoon Saloon, and the animated films of Sylvain Chomet. Then there’s the work of Annie Atkins, and craft of sign writers Vanessa Power and Tom Collins too. And there have been some great inspirational talks at Offset the last few years. Jessica Hische, and Tomi Ungerer stand out. ah, I could go on listing for ages… but I’ll stop.

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