Meet the West Cork designer inspired by comic books

Bert Dufour, owner of The Designer of Things, believes we should create the kind of work we would like to see
Meet the West Cork designer inspired by comic books

Bert Dufour.

What’s your background?

I grew up in Belgium. I studied interior architecture and graphic design. At the time, use of the internet was expanding and the development of websites was a new thing, so I went down the route of graphic design and multimedia.

I lived and worked in Amsterdam and London before settling down in West Cork in 2011. I have my own design business called The Designer of Things.

In recent years, I began creating a print series of the lighthouses on the Irish coastline. I have 21 in the series so far and am on a mission to visit (and make available in print) every lighthouse on the coastline.

I enjoy being creative in lots of different mediums, from animation to illustration to web design and sculpture.

Last year, I created a set of 10 driftwood sculptures of lighthouses for the exhibition Lighthouses, Beacons and Buoys, held in Clonakilty in Etain Hickey’s Art Gallery. They were very well received, and I continue to make them on request.

I also take illustration commissions on the lighthouses or any other buildings such as the illustration, Marion’s House.

Bert Dufour's driftwood sculpture of a lighthouse.
Bert Dufour's driftwood sculpture of a lighthouse.

What’s a typical workday like for you?

It is a mixture of completing graphic design jobs for clients here in Ireland and abroad and having some time for my own design work as well. I try to start around 9am-9.30am and finish up by 6pm.

In the afternoons, I will work on my own designs, if I have the time. I will work on in the evenings if I have a deadline on a project coming up.

Tell us about a recent project or design you have worked on.

I was at Showcase in the RDS in January. I was there with the Local Enterprise Office for North and West Cork. It was my first time exhibiting there, and it was a wonderful experience.

I was exhibiting my original print series depicting the 12 Great Lighthouses of Ireland ( the lights 01), as well as introducing a second moodier series called the lights 02 in a new format.

I was blown away by the breadth of talent at Showcase. I met a lot of buyers and people interested in selling my work, which was great.

Unfortunately, when Covid-19 first hit, these orders were initially on hold, but as soon as the restrictions lifted in the summer, that picked up again and has been steady since.

I had been planning on taking part in Gifted this year and as this has moved online (giftedfromireland.com), I will take part in that and will be introducing an Irish lighthouses calendar for 2021.

The Belgian comics I loved to read in my youth inspire me. The stories and the humour still hold up

Galley Head Pale Ale (design by Bert Dufour).
Galley Head Pale Ale (design by Bert Dufour).

What’s your design style?

It’s a simple, pared-back design, which you will see from my lighthouse designs.

I would say that my studies in interior architecture have influenced my drawing style as well.

Poolbeg Lighthouse by Bert Dufour. 
Poolbeg Lighthouse by Bert Dufour. 

What inspires your work?

The Belgian comics I loved to read in my youth. I still enjoy them. They are timeless to me — the stories and the humour still hold up today, which is amazing. They inspired and taught me how to draw as a kid.

Marion's House by Bert Dufour.
Marion's House by Bert Dufour.

What’s your favourite trend at the moment (if you have any)?

I don’t follow trends, to be honest, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my new range of lighthouse prints were very “on trend” this year.

Apparently, the classic blue I chose for the background is the Pantone colour for 2020. An interior designer told me this.

What’s your most treasured possession?

It’s not a possession, per sr, but more about having the time and freedom to do you what you love. I love where I live. It is wonderful to have this countryside and coastline on my doorstep in West Cork.

Who is your favourite designer?

I love the work of Belgian comic artist André Franquin; I find that every time I return to his work, I discover something new in it.

Galley Head by Bert Dufour. 
Galley Head by Bert Dufour. 

What would be a dream project for you to work on?

In the long-term I would love to be able to focus solely on my own designs, and step away from the graphic design work. I would love to complete my lighthouse print series and work on other creative projects of my own.

Your design advice?

Go with your gut and create the work you want to see. Give room/space to design — not everything has to be filled, white space is a good thing!

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