Hailing from Monaghan in Ireland, Donough O’Malley is now based in Bristol where he works as an illustrator and storyboard artist for a range of publishers, broadcasters and production houses. His graphic, retro style is equally at home in children’s books and magazine spreads.
Donough loves the challenge of creating visuals for his clients, and the sense of freedom and independence he gets from being a freelance artist. Some of his favourite fellow illustrators are Steve Simpson and Peter Donnelly – also from Ireland – but he recently realised that one of his biggest influences was The History of the 20th Century. Published by Purnell in the 1970s, Donough devoured its illustrated episodes in history as a boy and it shows through a little in his work today.
As well as drawing, he enjoys badminton and it fascinates him that the woman pirate Grace O’Malley is in his family tree. He’s travelled a great deal in South America and Asia, and now has his sights set on Europe.
After completing a foundation in Art and Design at the University of the West of England, Donough went on to do a BA in Illustration at the same institution. Then he attended Brighton University where he received an MA in Narrative and Sequential Design.
When a project kicks off, Donough first makes sure he has a thorough understanding of the brief. Then he grabs his pencils and sketchpad and explores some ideas, making notes and working out a composition. The composition is the key and when he’s nailed that he moves on to the execution and colour choices. His pencil rough is brought into Photoshop and fine-tuned using handmade textures he’s collected over the years.
Typically, Donough’s images have a graphic and retro feel to them, with colours, shapes and textures all brought together with the aim of generating a sense of fun. And he likes to have fun when he’s creating his images. Donough’s graphical style lends itself well to screenprinting, which he’s into at the moment, but he’s equally happy creating more traditional-style illustrations to be used in children’s books, for instance.