Meet a Maker: Meags Fitzgerald
Meags Fitzgerald is an award winning illustrator, artist, animator and graphic novelist. We have recently started stocking her graphic novel, Photobooth A Biography which is filled with beautiful illustrations and the history of the photobooth. Having a shared passion with Meags for photobooths we decided to find out a bit her and the work she creates. What can people expect from your graphic novel Photobooth – A Biography? The book is made of three parts; first it covers the full history of the photobooth and explains the huge impact they had, next it looks at the artists and archivists who are trying to preserve the last of the analogue photobooths and lastly, it captures ten years of my life as a photobooth fan and chronicles my travels around the world in search of them.
What is it about analogue photobooths that you love? Everything! To be more specific, I love the play between private and public space, I love that you can’t retake or retouch the photos, I love that there is only one true physical copy of each picture, I love the sounds and smells of the machine, I love that it’s a literal box inviting you to think outside of it.
Alongside drawing and writing about photobooths you also use them as part of your wider visual art practice, how do you find them to work with as a medium? There are so many restrictions to using a photo booth (like the quick timing between photos and the tiny space) that my mind is thrilled by trying to figure out how to work within the limitations. I’ve also always been drawn to delayed gratification so having to wait for my photos to develop is a rewarding part of the process. I don’t feel stimulated by the shortcuts that digital technology affords us. I like knowing how things are made and figuring out how to create the photo I desire through analogue techniques.
Outside of your photobooth related creativity, you are a successful illustrator working for major clients, do you have any advice for illustrators who are just starting out?
My main advice is just to stick with it. At some point, all logic will point to quitting because it’s a really tough industry. You’ll probably see your peers changing course and wonder if you should do something more practical too. Dedication and stubbornness are key to establishing yourself.
You starred in a T-Mobile commercial highlighting your superpower as an ambidextrous illustrator, how did you discover or hone this incredible talent? I’m naturally left-handed and because I’ve lived my whole life in a right-handed world, I was already fairly ambidextrous with things like scissors, a computer mouse, sports equipment, etc. In 2011, I had an old Wacom tablet with a pen that badly cramped my left hand, I thought it would be so convenient if I could just switch hands when one got tired. So I decided to start training my right hand to write and then later to draw. I bought those lined notebooks with the dotted line in the middle and spent 3 to 4 hours practising every week for nine months until it started to feel more natural. Where do you draw your inspiration from and which artists do you most admire? I’m lucky to live in a very beautiful area in Montreal, I’m right on a lively street with theatres and cafes and mind-blowing street art, and I’m sandwiched between a mountain covered with hiking trails and residential neighbourhood filled with stunning old mansions. So I start every day with an hour-long walk, just soaking in inspiration from my surroundings. There are so many artists that I admire! My favourite illustrators include Victo Ngai, Michael Cho and Carson Ellis.
What are your favourite tools for making and where do you make most of your work? My favourite tools are traditional ones, like Indian ink and gouache but I also use a Wacom tablet to do digital colouring. I make most of my work in my studio, which is equipped with three desks: one for my computer & electronics, one for drawing and one for sewing & crafts.
And finally, what creative projects have you got in the pipeline? Right now I’m finishing a stop motion animation that I shot in a photo booth, each picture is a single frame so it’s an intense editing process. I’m also gearing up to go on tour with my new graphic novel, Long Red Hair. And I’m discussing some large-scale projects with clients that are very exciting but it’s still too early to talk about them. Do you love photobooths as much as Meags? We'd love to see the creative ways in which you have used our photobooths, tag your pictures with #faphotobooth and we'll be sure to share them.