Monday, November 25, 2013

Art Which Appeals and Is Accessible to All - Artist Richard Macneil & the The Macneil Studio

Well, autumn is now definitely in the air and most of the leaves have fallen off our trees. I may be a bit of an oddity, as I love this time of year best of all - the colors, the crisp air, the slow lessening of daylight, the warmth of a wood fire in the stove all seem to me to be signs of the world exhaling; what could be more restful and yet more energizing than a good deep breath!

An artist who I also find greatly appealing is Richard Macneil, and it is my pleasure to share his artistic journey with everyone today.

The Moon from My Attic: Please introduce yourself - My name is Richard Macneil, owner and artist of the Macneil Studio Ltd. Four years ago I left an agency and formed The Macneil Studio together with my wife, Judi and sons Daniel and Kyle. We work in the glorious, rural countryside of Worcestershire in the UK.

© Richard Macneil
TMFMA: What's exciting about your creative work? Everyday is different, one day I may work on our expanding print range, the next, I am painting Santa Claus and snowmen.  We do work for commissions and I also like to explore new techniques.

TMFMA: Who or what has inspired you in your art? Many artists have inspired me over the years – top of my list would be Frank Frazetta, N.C Wyeth, David Shepherd and Norman Rockwell. I seek inspiration from all sorts of sources; I like to travel, particularly in Europe and I'm never tired of historical architecture, culture and people. I'm always on the lookout – I spend hours people watching, and I also watch films and read. I consider the gestures people use, or the colours they're wearing. It's about taking all the little everyday things and observing them with a critical eye.

TMFMA: Can you share a favorite technique you routinely use in your art work? My work has evolved over the last 30 years but there are always a few core techniques that remain in all my work. This starts with an interesting, balanced composition. I like to tell a story whenever possible – particularly with prints.  Each piece of work I do has to have exciting, vibrant but balanced color and light and an interesting subject.

© Richard Macneil
TMFMA: How long have you been doing art licensing? I am a self taught artist who has always worked in the creative industry. Born in Worcester in 1958, I started my working life at Worcester Royal Porcelain and have always worked in the fields of sculpture, ceramics and graphics both in the UK and internationally.

I spent many years in the USA where my company, Bronn, produced large, exclusive sculptures of American Western art. My partner was the sculpture and I painted the pieces. One of my greatest achievements was seeing my artwork displayed in the Oval Office of The White House. Whilst in America, I started experimenting with design for greeting cards – at that time, whimsical design was very big and I had some published with a wholesale publisher in the UK.

Returning to Worcestershire, UK, I freelanced as an artist and greetings card designer before deciding to join an agency. However, In 2009, together with my wife Judi and sons Daniel and Kyle, I formed The Macneil Studio where we exclusively license my art. Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength; my artwork can be seen on many gift, homewares and paper products around the globe. We have now licensed designs to Artko, a major print distributor in the UK.

© Richard Macneil
TMFMA: Do you work with an agent or do you represent yourself? Since 2009, when I formed The Macneil Studio, we have represented ourselves. My son Daniel takes care of the 'business side' and the licensing. My other son Kyle is a great artist and works alongside me in the design studio. My wife Judi works with our prints, website, shop and all manner of other things! We are a great team and we enjoy what we do, work very hard at it and are now beginning to reap the rewards.

TMFMA: Anything else you'd like to share about art and licensing? First and foremost I think my advice to any artist considering licensing would be do your homework – look at all the top licensing artists, look at the vast amount of greetings cards and other paper product designs, in fact, look at anything with a design on it. Then consider whether your art fits or whether you are willing to adapt.

© Richard Macneil
My art has evolved beyond all recognition throughout the years for several reasons:

- Because I wanted to earn a living and support my family doing something I love.

- Because I needed to give publishers/licensors what they wanted.

It may sound harsh, but artists cannot be too 'precious' about their art. In the licensing world, if Licensors don't see what they like and an artist is not willing to adapt through constructive critique, they just go on to the next artist or agency.

Last but not least, nothing happens overnight. Where I am today is a culmination of nearly 30 years in the 'art' business. There have been many 'ups' and probably more 'downs' along the way. However, hard work really does pay off and now having the younger generation following behind me gives me a huge sense of achievement and satisfaction. My vision is to create art which appeals and is accessible to all.

© Richard Macneil

Find out more about Richard Macneil and his studio:

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