Interview Craig McCann aka Fishink

We are pleased to expand our interview series to share the work, thoughts and advice of Fishink (Craig McCann.) Based in Manchester he has some great roots in the area, and a blog all of his own which is overflowing with inspiration, advice & more.

“Growing up with books and working in bookshops for many years of my early life, I still don’t think an e-book is quite the same as a physical book that you can hold in your hands, but times as ever are changing and perhaps the next generation of readers respond better to visual material on line.”Craig McCann Fishink

birds quirky fishink illustration

Do you enjoy living and working in Manchester? What do you think attracts so many creatives to live and work in and around the area?

I love being based in Manchester, it has always had more than it’s fair share of creative people, whether they be Songwriters, Photographers, Playwrights, Illustrators, there’s plenty around. Perhaps they stemmed from the days of the Mill workers and industrial times or just from the North being more of a deprived and depressed area in the past that people turned to crafts and instruments in order to keep themselves sane and to make a living from. Creatives attract people to an area and in turn are attracted to an area because other creatives are there. It’s a two way process.

Are you involved in any local creative events or groups? Do you network much online? Which do you prefer?

I’m more of an online networker so do take part with the SCBWI (Society of Childrens’ Book Writers and Illustrators) and Draw North West through Facebook. I meet people more through my blog and often get to meet local makers and creatives through interviewing them for a post or commenting on their work.

I’m hoping to establish a monthly meeting space for children’s book illustrators and illustrators generally so anyone who would be interested in coming to such a group, please let me know.

fishink cat

What is your ideal workstation or place to work and develop ideas?

I’m most happy when I can work in my sunny studio and create new ideas on the Mac or when drawing and painting characters for my next book or range of cards and stationery products.

You’ve written and illustrated books during your career, what are the challenges in projects like that? Do you have any plans for more books in the future?

The books have so far been personal projects. Ideas that I’ve wanted to try out for myself just to see if I can rise to the challenge of putting words and images together in such a way that it gives others pleasure. I have many characters that tend to ‘live’ in my head or amongst the pages of my sketchbooks and need a place to eventually call ‘home’. I’m just the estate agent ! More books would be great, I’m still looking for an agent or agency to illustrate with, so if anyone’s reading this then please get in touch. The challenges are mostly in getting publishers for them afterwards. It’s an incredibly difficult industry to make a name in, but I keep on trying.

Were you inspired to create books by other illustrators? Do you think publishing your own books is something that is much easier in today’s climate?

I guess I’d feel more comfortable illustrating for other authors than writing for other illustrators. The drawing is more of a natural process for me. I would love to do some collaborative work with someone who’s idea match my own. Publishing your own books is relatively easy with the likes of and its the distribution and selling them that is the hard part.

Have you experimented to design and sell any books exclusively for the web to download, with thoughts in mind of the culture of tablets and iPads etc?

My first book was released as an i-book. Growing up with books and working in bookshops for many years of my early life, I still don’t think an e-book is quite the same as a physical book that you can hold in your hands, but times as ever are changing and perhaps the next generation of readers respond better to visual material on line.

fishink birds

What advice would you offer to a young creative hoping to follow a similar career path to yourself?

Well my career path has been so varied that I doubt anyone would do it in quite a similar way. I’d say work hard, develop the areas you love and that people praise and admire you for and strengthen those that you know aren’t so good. Energy, effort and strong self belief do pay off eventually.

What sources of inspiration online and offline do you prefer to visit on a weekly basis?

I’m always on the lookout for inspirational work for my blog and things that inspire me in my personal life too. I read a lot of 1950′ and 1960’s children’s books and love textile designs and styles from that era. I can sometimes look at the work of 20 new illustrators work per day when deciding who I’d like to write about next. I always check out the wonderful blogs by Bowie Style, Hazel Terry and Barbara Mazzoleni. And for my 50’s fix My Vintage Book Collection and The Art of Children’s Picture Books.

Can you share with us some of your creative peers and friends who’s work you love?

Mark Hearld, Sarah Morpeth, Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden, Jon Klassen, Helen Borten, Bernice Myers, Emily Sutton, Angie Lewin, Ed Kluz and many many more.

Who are your favourite people to follow on twitter?

I don’t really follow any individuals on Twitter to be honest. I use twitter more as a store of possible contacts and people who’s work might inspire me for a future blogpost. It’s my ‘visual address book’ and I’ve already reached my present limit of 2000 people I’m following, what do I do now ? I need a bigger address book.

What are your favourite films and music to enjoy?

Fav films are The Big Blue, Stardust, Valetin, C.R.A.Z.Y, The Squid and the Whale.

Music wise Kate Rusby, Fleet Foxes, ETBG, Kate Bush, Laki Mera, Tori Amos, Indigo Girls.

birds fishink

quirky fishink

See more of Fishink on his Blog | Website | Illustrations | Facebook