I was a ‘Shadow Artist’

I just read an article titled Is FOMO Keeping You From Executing on Your Passions? over at Live in the Grey .com – and it really got me thinking about: being creatively ‘stuck’, and not taking the leap into creating your own work, which led me to think of what Julia Cameron said about ‘Shadow Artists‘ in her book The Artist’s Way.

Self-Defeating Self-Help?

I can definitely relate to this. It’s also why the self-help industry is huge. We want to keep reading variations on the same wisdom in the hopes of filling in gaps we missed – or getting that final combination of ‘secrets’ that will finally give us the confidence we need.

The Shadow Artist

I first became aware of it when reading Julia Cameron’s book ‘The Artist’s way‘. The author introduced me to the idea of the ‘Shadow Artist‘. I suddenly realised that I was one! Instead of actually making my own art, I was voraciously reading books about art & artists – and painting technique. I was almost an art historian, but producing nothing. I read biographies and diaries of artists –  hoping it’d inspire me, or rub-off. But I think really, it was an easy substitute for doing the work – taking a risk. It was procrastination.

People also like to talk about their great novel – which they haven’t written yet.


I finally – actually – painted something, instead of just talking about it. ‘The Florentine’ c.1994

Taking Action: Art Classes

When my wife finally pushed me to do art classes, I started reading a lot less about Art – and watching less art documentaries – because  I was more interested in doing my own art. I was no longer a ‘Shadow Artist’. What I did read, and look at, had real purpose. In-between painting, I was studying the work of people like Lucien Freud and Velasquez, and trying to apply it to my own work. Continue reading

Comic Strip, or Comic Page? A failed Experiment

Last week, I tried an experiment with my Webcomic. I split up the page that I’d yet to publish, into 3 strips, and published them on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I was going for more frequent updates, in a way that was more manageable within my time-constraints.

Comic strip 1, as extracted from a larger 'Between * Wars' comic page

One of the Comic Strips – as extracted from a larger comic page, ‘The Old Boy’

Realising it wasn’t working, on Friday, I quickly re-published them as one big page, ‘The Old Boy’ and got 30 Facebook ‘Likes’ within a few hours. That’s 30, instead of the 3 or 4 I was previously getting. People much preferred the old way!


I was all excited about the new comic strip format

I was actually really excited about doing this. One of the problems with my Between * Wars comic has been frequency and regularity of updates. because if there’s one thing that will lose you the readers that you’ve gained through your hard work and quality output, it’s going for indeterminate periods without giving more instalments. Your readers won’t know when or even if there’s another episode coming, and will get frustrated, lose interest and maybe even forget about you. Continue reading

Beginning to Loathe Social Media Now…

In one of < my recent posts I was thinking about ditching social media, and I reflected on its dubious benefits in terms of business and in ones actual – real – personal life. So I decided to try going without it, to see if the world would come to an end.

After all, I did close my Facebook account for a year once. And I stayed out of it for a month when I opened a subsequent account, which (was to be used solely for promoting my comics). But, I got sucked back into the social/casual side of it again.

I did sneak into Facebook a couple of times for a few seconds, over the last couple of days, just to check if a few articles that I remotely posted to it – actually posted. And I also remotely posted a promo for my upcoming comic page to my Facebook Comic Page, Twitter and Instagram – via Hootsuite – yesterday. The articles I remotely posted were ones that I found while searching around my newly re-discovered internet thing which they still call the World Wide Web. They were all about leaving social media and about Big Data. You see, since getting out of Facebook, in particular, I’ve gone back in time about 10 years, to Web 1.0, and found so much great content – by myself – using search engines! It’s not fed to me by my Facebook newsfeed – based on algorhythms, which are analysing and tracking me. And, when I click a link to an article, I’m not kept within Facebook’s iFrame! Now, I’m sure that some corporation or other is still tracking me wherever I go; but I’m not sure how far we can go in fighting that battle, against: Google, my Safari Browser, my iPad or PC, my Sony Phone, the sites that I look at, etc, etc. But it’s a start.

Big Data: We Became the Product

It’s a bit chilling now, to look back to 1998, when I excitedly signed up for my first ever ‘free’ email account: Hotmail. Little did most of us know that we, the users of this lovely new fun and democratic creative space called the Internet, would, in a few years become The Product – not the free apps themselves, but us. They wanted our data.
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Mr. Ivy OwlTopus

Here’s another artistic/Design process article for you; showing how I created this illustration with pencil, paper and Photoshop. (See more of my illustrations at my portfolio: johniwhite.com)


My Ivy-Owl-Octopus Chimera experiment!

Where Did the Idea Come From?

I wanted to experiment with pencil drawing – and Photoshop. So: no inks and no graphics tablet for the drawing phase. But what to draw?

The subject idea probably popped into my mind after walking through Knocksink Wood, near Enniskerry, County Wicklow here in Ireland. There was lots of ivy all over the trees, and it reminded me of tentacles (and snakes, which I can’t bear!).

How Did I do it?

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Should I Just Quit Social Media?

I logged out of all of my social media accounts yesterday – except for LinkedIn. I switched-off and uninstalled Apps for (the obligatory) Facebook & Twitter, and also Instagram and Tumblr.  And guess what? My world didn’t end. In fact, I feel wonderfully light and more aware of the world and people around me.

And I’ve also rediscovered how interesting the internet actually is!

Rediscovering the Web

There’s so much great content to read and view. That is, when one has the time – and when one actually searches for it, rather than getting it filtered through news feeds. Yes, filtered by someone – or something else.

Admittedly, most of my reading yesterday and this morning was found via search-terms like:

  • “Things to do online instead of social media”
  • “Social Media is a waste of f**king time” (for fun)
  • “Social Media is Pointless”

The last one was interesting as it brought up some more business-related articles which heretically question the real value of social media to one’s bottom-line. Sure,  it gets you ‘Likes’, ‘Followers’ and ‘Shares’ and ‘Retweets’ – but how many of those convert into actual sales, business or even traffic to your website? “Well, our sales, profits and share price have dropped – but our Facebook followers are at a new high!”


I’d prefer people to see 1, 2 & 3 – than a load of “Follow me at…” social media icons

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My Two Tube feature on RTE Television

As part of their artists’ profiles TV series, I spoke about Art, Illustration, Making Comics and the inspiration that we can get from our younger selves. Because our childhood interests and passions, can be the key to what we’ll enjoy doing when we grow up – if only we’ll listen!

Star Wars gets a very big look-in as a major inspiration and life-changer, to me, when I was a creative youngster. So, if you’re a creative person and you love Star Wars and comics; this is for you. I spoke a bit about 2 of my comics, the young Star Wars one: Star Wars age 9 – and my current grown-up 1970s nostalgia one: Between * Wars. Please check them out and follow them after you watch the video and read this article.

Above: My Artist Profile video feature on RTE TV’s Two Tube


In a Nutshell…

What the producers of the 2 minute piece took from it went like this,

“Two Tube went behind the doors of Illustrator John White’s Dublin studio and explored his diverse and colourful world of fine art, comics, illustration, and design; the secret is to always remain a big kid at heart!

It was a fun thing to do at the very end of last summer, but it also focused my mind about a few things; particularly about us spending our life – and we only get one of those – working at what we enjoy.

Finding Our Own Voice – and the Web

I also spoke a bit about how we should try to find our own voice, creatively, and not be too intimidated by what other brilliant people are doing. Continue reading

Identity Design: Equinox

Whilst I was Lead Designer at Equinox

equinox identity design

Pencil sketching

Some loose pencil sketches and a quick reference to an encyclopaedia gave rise to a meaningful use of curves, with an interesting positive-negative interplay of forms.

Swooshy, satellitey things…

There were a hell of a lot of swooshy-logos doing the rounds in 1990, and a glance through the appointments section of the paper (before the recession recently hit) evidenced that the plague hadn’t abated: Continue reading

ICN Awards – I didn’t win, but I still have the Nomination!

I reflect on my 2015 Webcomic Award Nomination, from Irish Comic News

Jack is thankful for being nominated Best Webcomic 2015, by ICN, even if he didn't win it.

Jack – and I – give thanks, to everyone who voted for Between * Wars as Best Webcomic 2015

Ah well. I was being realistically optimistic about winning the best webcomic 2015 Award for my Between * Wars comic. After all, I’m pretty new on the Irish Comics scene. I only raised by head above the parapet this year and went  out and actually met other creators! Continue reading

B*W: My Comic Production Process #2

An updated look at the production process of my comic. The previous blog post about the process « can be seen here.


“Where do you get your ideas?”

That most often asked question… The « Peace-keeper strip idea came to me in a flash, as usual, but this time as I walked with my wife, Gabby from one building to another. In the space of 5 or 10 seconds. I mentioned a kid who used to be in school with me, and suddenly I had the concept of the whole strip in my head. Some dialogue and lot of images.

Developing the idea – scribbles

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