Peter Nowak's Biography
In the beginning, there was a kid with an irrepressible creative bent and way too much intellectual capacity for his own good. Boy did that ever lead to some problems. Of course, being a strongly opinionated non-conformist, really didn't help matters. Social pressures at school led to what was later discovered to be a "nervous breakdown" in year twelve.
Though failing his last year at high school, on the strength of his folio (and the good graces of course coordinators Mimmo Cozzolino and Astrid Liberts)
he did manage to gain a place in a Graphic Design course at the (then) Preston Institute of Technology (aka "The PIT"). Since the first year class was full, he began in second year Design. It was during this time that he first saw an airbrush being used, and fell in love with the medium. Now also able to indulge in his love of photography, the campus darkrooms virtually became his second home.
Due to "circumstances", he left the course half way through third year. Disillusioned with life, he took on a variety labouring jobs (often assembly line work). Fortunately he (more or less) survived his (shall we say colourful) youth, which included a number of gigs in small-time rock bands (guitar & lead vocals) and quite a few years as a biker, during which he did a number of Custom Airbrushed Art jobs (signed as Animal Art).
This was followed by an interesting period that included car radiator repairs, a five year stint doing building maintenance in the motel industry and the development of an interest in audio circuit design and guitar FX electronics.
Peter's professional illustration career was really born out of a short-lived attempt to be an "Artiste". This was where he realised that the required "starvation" process (however character building it might be) was definitely not to his liking. So when an opportunity to do "paid work" presented itself, Peter became a "commercial" artist and entered the world of the professional illustrator. At last he managed (contrary to the expectations of his parents) to actually make a living from his art.
His initial forays into the realm of Graphic Design (and the associated print industry) were mostly commissioned airbrushed illustrations, often technical renderings and related to electronic products. This work quickly expanded to include very high quality line art, and later led to his offering a complete Graphic Design service. Wizard Graphics was registered in May 1986.
Peter Nowak developed a particularly distinct style and approach to line art, which married well with a boom in the Period Style renovation industry of that time.
Reaching a commercial peak in the late 1980's and early 1990's with a style that is still being emulated today by other artists. A glance through the current "Period Home Renovators Guide" (by Publicity Press) will show some of Peter's work from that time still in use today.
The early 1990's also saw Peter's (at first reluctant) introduction to computing, where he taught himself database programming (back then FoxBase Pro, the turbo version of dBASE) on a PC XT. Though the shift to working digitally began slowly at first, it accelerated due to demand, and by the year 2000 nearly all work (aside from airbrushing) was being created digitally.
Wizard Graphic's services now included the full gamut of modern multi-media: Graphic Design and digital illustration, 3D & CAD, Audio, Video, Animation (including Flash and other Programming) and of course web site development.
In 2001, a gradual shift towards Interface Design and in particular the arena of Home Automation & Multimedia, saw programming and computing (
) under the trading name of IHICS (Intelligent Human Interface Control Systems) become the primary focus for most of the next five years. This also included some electronics based product research and development work (2001 to 2002) like the Observer LED Project.
From 2006 onwards, a return to his primary artistic passions has seen a revival of his long standing love for creative art, photography and music once more take centre stage. You can see some examples here:
Train Art ,
... some works are available as cards and framed prints.
Current Professional Engagements and/or Directions
Freelance artist, illustrator, graphic and web designer, 3D CAD Modeller and Photographer.
To move to a cooler climate (Done!) ... Work less and play more (... getting there ;-)
An Interview with Peter Nowak
How many years have you spent perfecting your art?
(and/or do you think you've perfected it yet?)
I think I've been drawing since before I could walk. So I guess that makes it quite a long time. As for perfection ... it's rather weird really ... but for a perfectionist, I don't believe there is such thing as perfection. There is just the continual striving to always do better.
There have been people (perhaps overly kind) who have told me that I have "mastered" my art and even my music. Such flattering comments, however well meant, usually bring on a quiet wry chuckle. Though I appreciate that I have reached some high standards in my varied and assorted works, by my internal revue process, there is always further to go. In the end, perfection is all so very relative ;-)
How do you see the significance of the artist in today's world?
Artists have ALWAYS been undervalued! ... and still are. Some of the most erudite social comment has been made through art. Marketing is based on various arts and has become the financial cornerstone of modern civilisation. Yet, instead of creating a greater respect for "art" and the artists that make it possible, art has become cheapened and is now seen as just another commodity.
Sadly, the world adores the "idea" of fashion. So artistic success can at times be very hit and miss, depending on what part of the cycle we're in. But of course, it is a cycle ... so persistence pays off. The saying "what goes around, comes around", really does sum the situation up.
What made you decide to turn your art into a profession?
Possibly a mistake ... Turning what I loved doing into a "job" actually dampened a lot of my artistic creativity and enthusiasm. Fortunately, I had music to escape to when the long hours of holding a Rotring Pen or Airbrush were done. That kept me going. Later when my business focus shifted towards programming, my artistic spark started to be revived. Now, once more, I have more creative ideas than I have time to deal with.
In what ways have you found becoming an established artist to be a challenge?
Being at the tail end of the "Baby Boomer" generation has always meant that there was fierce competition for almost any work ... and there has never been a shortage of artists and/or designers.
Being not inclined to work for/in an established design studio to develop a career "profile" probably did not help my cause. Whenever one does contract work for an agency, the agency gets the kudos for the job, not the artist. The artist, who probably pulled "all-nighters" to deliver on time, will quite likely be rewarded for their efforts by having to wait a few months just to get paid. It is sadly, the nature of the advertising industry beast.
Is there any advice you would offer to aspiring cartoon and caricature artists?
A good education and broad outlook can be very useful. Some studios won't even hire artists any more unless they have a diploma or degree ... that's worth keeping in mind.
I believe that providing a professional, efficient and timely service for clients is an absolute essential ... as is an honest (no nonsense) working relationship. Don't make promises that you can't keep and always give your very best effort. And lastly ... NEVER compromise your personal integrity ... no job nor client is worth that.
Are there any personal traits or abilities that you feel help you in creating your art?
Let's see ... stubbornness and persistence. The refusal to give up. Working at a task or challenge until I eventually get it right. A keen sense of observation ... seeing and remembering even the smallest of details. The ability to laugh at one's own stupidity and mistakes (a good, perhaps even essential, survival mechanism).
How do you get most of your work?
Personal referrals and recommendations. I'm currently working on various Internet based strategies to compliment and enhance that.
In what ways do you think the "Digital Age" has made life easier and/or harder for artists?
Having an "undo" button is just magic! With traditional analogue airbrushing, if you stuff up, you will often simply have to start again.
I also love the ability to combine media. For instance, I can bring a photo I've taken into a 3D modelling work as a background and still use my airbrush skills to refine the image and add elements of super-fine detail.
The down-side of the "Digital Age" is the proliferation of junk art, by people who really don't have a clue. Many couldn't draw to save their lives, but they do have a computer, some time and some free (or shall we say "borrowed") software. Way too many good artists are getting literally buried under the rubbish.
Do you think that artists are all essentially "crazy"? (... and why or why not?)
I've noticed that the more unstable a personality is, the more interesting the art tends to be. So being a little "crazy" certainly does seem to help with the creation and execution of original ideas. Being able to draw on life experience and influences is very significant.
What things in life matter most to you?
Solitude. I'm a recluse. Too much time spent dealing with the assorted (and often chaotic) energies that surround other people, and well ... I start to get frayed around the edges.
Honesty ... which these days, is too often replaced by the lies of convenience (e.g. social politics).
Respect for Life (in all its forms) ... which is too often replaced by egotistical, greedy self interest.
Helping People ... Though I've never set out to "save the world" as such, I do believe that every little bit counts. My approach is simply to do what I can, when I can, as circumstances either require or permit. Toward that end, I have donated my time and services to several Buddhist organisations over the years.
Everything else kind-of flows on from there ... karma.
Do you think the world "as we know it" will survive into the future, and why or why not?
I can remember telling my parents while I was still at high school, that it was not realistic to believe that we could continue to over-populate the planet and burn up resources at an ever accelerating rate ... and not have (what I thought were fairly obvious and logical) consequences. They laughed at me and insisted I was just being "silly". Not to be discouraged however, I've continued telling any one else "silly" enough to listen, ever since.
Though there is a part of me that would now just love to say "I told you so", to all those who have sniggered, laughed and made derisive comments over the years ... in truth, it is as they say, "a hollow victory". Our self-made future will punish every one ... but sadly, as is always the case, those who are poor and in greatest need will suffer the most.
I suspect that within the next decade, it will be (scientifically) realised and shown that Global Warming had in fact passed "the point of no return", well before the term "Global Warming" even entered the arena of serious public debate.
There is of course an up-side. Those who get bored easily will find the future to be an ever changing and ever more challenging landscape. We are going to find out (one way or another) ... just how clever we humans really are ... or not. The planet, Gaia, will survive ... but that does not necessarily imply that humans will be there to see it.
Where would you like to be ... in say, five or ten years from now?
Still somewhere amongst the mountains and tall trees, in a cool, quiet place (as long as it has broadband of course) ... though probably further south in some hidden nook or on a mountain top with a view. Preferably making a living from my art as an "artiste". I suspect though, that freelancing as a graphic designer and illustrator may be with me for some years to come.
A Parting Message to Readers
I would like to thank all those people, both friends and clients, that have over the years been my teachers. Some lessons were harder than others, and some I would certainly hope not to repeat. But in particular I would thank those who have had faith in my abilities and stood by me, at times when I had almost given up. A special thanks to NyiMa and KiPu for just being, and to my wonderful wife Alaina.
I would like to wish you all a safe journey through this life ... and sincerely hope that you find continued happiness in Your future, whatever direction that may take.
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