The skyline’s the limit for Jason...

His artwork of his beloved Cork is putting Jason O’Gorman on the map. He tells COLETTE SHERIDAN how he decided to give free rein to his creative juices
The skyline’s the limit for Jason...
Mini Cork artwork by Jason O'Gorman, graphic artist

GAZE at the artwork above for a few seconds, and Corkonians will soon start ticking off the landmarks... Mangan’s clock, the Elysian, Shandon church, the Glow ferris wheel...

The fabulous image was produced by an up-and-coming designer, Jason O’Gorman, who describes himself as “a hardcore Corkonian”.

The artwork is called ‘Mini Cork’ and resembles a neatly-shaped island.

“Basically, it’s me sitting down and pulling out all my favourite landmarks around the city and joining them up,” explains Jason.

“I had 30 or 40 illustrations of landmarks which, I thought, looked weak on their own. I assembled them into one scene and tried to geographically illustrate them from east to west.

“There’s the Shaky Bridge on the left. It pans out to the other side and takes in Roche’s Point Lighthouse.

“As well as the Shaky Bridge, there’s Fitzgerald’s Park, Blarney, the airport, UCC, and you come up over the northside towards R&H Hall in the port of Cork.

“It ends up down by Cobh and Midleton. There’s Cobh’s cathedral there and the Jameson Distillery.

“So it’s a condensed version of Cork. Once I had the whole thing assembled, I coloured it up. That took time. But it’s selling very quickly.”

Jason is fast making a name for himself and his art. A successful graphic artist for 25 years, at Dynamite Studio on George’s Quay, he recently launched a new website for his own design and illustration work.

After a day’s work designing logos, branding and doing photo manipulation, there’s nothing he likes more than going home in the evening and doing purely creative work.

The illustrations on his website — www.jasonogorman.ie — “are a collection of all different landmarks in Cork,” he says.

“Everything that’s important to me is there. I’m a northsider and I’m not too familiar with the south-side. I have done some iconic illustrations such as the reservoir.

“Altogether, I’ve done three or four city-scapes. It’s a cross between doing stuff by hand and digital illustration, using the computer.”

Jason says there’s no such thing as lounging in front of the TV in his house. When, after work, he comes home to his wife — who looks after accounts for the business — and his three young children, he has “a bit of craic” with them. Once the kids are in bed, Jason does his creative work.

Artist Jason O'Gorman
Artist Jason O'Gorman

“There’s no limits to what I can do. It’s pure illustration. That’s where I shine. It’s a bit of creative freedom.

“If the work is good enough to put up on my walls, then I put it up on my website.

“All the work is hand-done. When I say ‘hand-done,’ it’s on a computer or tablet. Some of it is very intricate.”

Jason adds: “One of the landscapes, called ‘Cork Northside’, took me four months to draw. It measures 9ft x 3ft and is hanging at the airport at the moment.

“When I started doing this, people were wondering if I’d be able to sell prints of these Cork pieces. I didn’t have the facility to do that so I set up my website so that I have a facility whereby I can sell prints to people who want them.

“I only started doing this work before Christmas and I’ve sold about 50 prints. The work includes a map of Cork with all the city’s slang words, so it’s not too serious.

“They’re pretty, designed to make people smile. There’s also a print with facts about Cork and there’s more stuff about Cork to come.”

A loyal Corkonian, Jason never tires of doing illustrative work of his beloved city. The prints cost around €50 for larger ones and €30 for small ones. They come in black and white as well as colour.

Jason says the prints are not standard ones. “They’re printed with pigment pasting and the colour is guaranteed for75 years, which makes them a bit more expensive for me to produce.”

Clients for the prints are, obviously, people living in Cork. “But I’ve shipped one or two to the UK and I have been asked by a lot of people in the US if I ship the prints to the States. I don’t have that facility on my website so I’m trying to figure out how to do it. I’m not very technical.”

While Jason (right) never set out to sell his creative work, he is delighted to have found this side-line which satisfies him creatively.

But working every evening after the day job must take its toll? “I spend two or three hours doing the creative stuff in the evening. But I’m not a workaholic. It’s not work to me.”

Such is the popularity of Jason’s illustrative work of Cork that he has been asked to do something similar for Galway and Dublin.

Jason loves his day job as well. Drawing from an early age, he has no formal training in art or graphic art.

“When I finished school (Terence McSwiney Community College), I went straight into a graphic design studio. I was employed there for my drawing skills.

“Graphic design is more about using computers so I trained myself to use them.”

Jason has had his studio for six years. One other person is employed there as well as his wife. Jason has local and international clients and has no plans to expand. “The business is flying. And I’m delighted to have the time to do more creative work.”

Artistic at school, Jason “learned to draw before I could talk. That was my passion growing up. I’d have loved to have gone to art college but I ended up training on the job.”

He says that his illustrations are printed on matte paper with no shine off it. The prints are attractive and it will be interesting to see whether Jason will start producing Dublin and Galway illustrations.

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