What I do
I do DTP, graphic design, paintings, portraits and some simple webdesign. At this point I am in a transition phase, changing software packages in particular. I used to do graphic work with CorelDRAW and Corel PhotoPain(t), but the programs were too buggy. I occasionally also used Illustrator up until Adobe forced its costly subscription policy on its users. For DTP I used InDesign and after dropping most Adobe programs, I created DTP documents in QuarkXpress, but now I am eagerly awaiting Serif's issuing of Affinity Publisher. In combination with Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo that I already use, I will work with all of Serif's most excellent programs. They are function rich and very affordable, have parametric options, while allowing collaboration with artists working with the Adobe suit, that for now still is the standard in the graphic industry. But I feel that Adobe has shot itself in the foot with their subscriptions. Affinity is gearing up to take over.
With every portrait that I create, I try to empathise with the subject I am drawing. It does not matter if empathy translates to sympathy or not. I may decide to do a portrait or not, which entirely depends on my personal perception that I arrive at after trying to understand the essence of the person, but if I accept the assignment, knowing about the subjects past often helps to capture that person's gist. I do not necessarily dig into a subject's history, because the eyes often tell enough to create a portrait that goes beyond and above the impression photographs show, regardless of the quality they may have. Portraiture isnt just copying of a visual appearance, since what people appear to be, does not always do them justice (or the the opposite). It is trying to mediate in two dimensions what in reality is a far greater complex of aspects, many of which are not obvious, but present nevertheless. To the casual observer these aspects, that I aim to weave in the portrait, may therefore not be detectable, but more perceptive beholders tend to see things in a different, more profound way. It is what I look for in all the portraits that I create.
I have made tons of educational books from scratch, containing heaps of 2D and 3D technical drawings, while also editing text - correcting spelling and grammatical errors and applying a comprehensive, consistent flow to it. These were text books for the advanced composites industry and aviation world predominantly. Practicing good DTP requires an empathic mind too; viewing things from the perspective of students, although it is an entirely different type of fellow feeling than is needed for creating portraits. It has to do more with making sure that matters can not be interpreted in more than one way, while they are explained intelligibly and presented in a visually appealing fashion in order to retain the reader's attention. The positive feedback received on this approach assured me that it is the proper way to create documents.
Professor Frank B. Tipler said that life is the exchange of information. This can be a conversation or even a biff in a boxing match. Terence McKenna said that language is a curse that prevents us from communicating properly. Unfortunately the use of language is the most common manner of interaction and in the absence of a better alternative, it is what we have to work with. And while painfully aware of the limits of human speech and writing, I try to make the best of it, crafting sentences that reduce the risk of misinterpretation and boring readers to death. What is useful in writing, is to be aware of etymology or the origin of words. The origin of words may not be known consciously, but it is capable of affecting thoughts nevertheless. This and the cadance of words in sentences helps me achieve my aim. It is a kind of a long lost art, but I think I have mastered it to some degree, making the things I write appeal to the aware, while hopefully raising awareness in those who are not (yet), bearing in mind of course that there are those who remain totally immune to perceptive communication. Which is unfortunate, but inherent in a dimension riddled with all sorts of things that make communicating effectively rather difficult.
Creating technical drawings has made up a large part of the DTP work I did since working for the Technical Training Department of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in the mid nineties of the previous century. I draw in 2D and 3D whichever type of drawing makes the topic most clear. Most of my technical draughting was used for educational and maintenance purposes. Creating perfect complex drawings is a challenge that inspires me.
It seems just one step from creating portraits to drawing cartoons, but it is a path scarcely jaunted. Portraits are a serious business while cartoons suggest there's not a lot of seriousness behind them. It's a misperception, cartoons may appear to just be an intentionally biased and exaggerated visual interpretation, but that has its limits; overstep them and the likeness goes out the window. How far to take the contortions is always the sketch artist's challenge. Cartooned faces must always retain the essence of a subject's appearance to be appreciated.