Domanic Li is an illustrator whose practice includes research projects, private and commercial commissions.
At the heart of all of our Illustration and Animation lecturer’s varied work is a genuine love for drawing.
“Drawing is what got me into art and design in the first place,” says Domanic.
And his lectures at Hull School of Art and Design (HSAD), where he has taught since 1997 are, he says, informed by this passion and by his own experience as an Illustration student on an experimental course.
“It was a real-eye-opener,” he says. “I still refer to it now – it was a course with an open approach. Students were encouraged to dip into other fields, such as model-making, or graphics.”
This interdisciplinary approach to illustration practice has characterised Domanic’s work ever since.
After graduation, he moved straight into industry, via the New Designers exhibition. http://www.newdesigners.com/
“I picked up my first commission on the day of the exhibition,” he says. “The following day, I landed an agency, The Organisation, http://www.organisart.co.uk/ which I am still with for commercial work.”
Initially working with paint and print, Domanic’s professional career took off with editorial work, later moving into digital illustration at a time when technology was little used by illustrators. His work was selected for publication in industry magazines, such as Computer Arts, Computer Active and, notably, Image, the Association of Illustrators’ annual publication. Freelance commissions followed.
“I was quick to realise, freelance work is not just about the work, it’s about giving people the confidence to trust you and give you work in the first place,” he says.
Having embraced the digital technology that was emerging in the 1990s, Domanic says:
“You can make things as easy or a difficult as possible, you just have to commit. My attitude was if I could learn the digital packages, then I could concentrate more on applying it to help me produce and develop work. I could see the potential of it.”
Now, in addition to his ongoing freelance practice, Domanic’s work can be seen advertising cultural events around the city of Hull, at conferences, on various online platforms and, increasingly, in progress, as he creates live drawings or paintings, either to accompany events, or for his own Urban Sketching research project.
“Urban Sketching began as a personal challenge,” he says. “I had students telling me they couldn’t manage to fill their sketchbooks with work, that they had difficulties with location drawing. So, I realised it had been a while since I had done purely observational work and went out on the streets one summer to sketch.”
Leading by example in this way was not only highly satisfying. It also inspired others. Domanic was soon joined on the project by Illustration, Animation and Games Design lecturer Gareth Sleightholme. Gradually, HSAD students, fellow academics and other creatives in and around Hull also began to stop, look around them and document the sights of the city, adding their own scribblings to an online urban sketchbook.
And, with each individual uploading their work to a website, Domanic’s germ of an idea has grown into a vibrant research project.
Domanic’s live painting projects include work has been seen at arts and music event Something Entirely Different, also at Fruit, at the two-day gaming conference Platform Expos and at the city centre’s Humber Street Sesh music festival.