Inside Art with Conor Burke


Conor Burke trained at LARA whilst taking a gap year from studying architecture. In our most recent journal post we talked to him about why he chose LARA, concept art, architecture and atelier training.

Where did your art career begin?

The earliest documentation of my interest in art is a rather large and expensive gardening encyclopedia that belonged to an uncle, which became embellished with several scribbles that three year old me claimed to be helicopters! I always found myself caught up in imaginative worlds in books, films and games. years later it was through browsing a computer game guide I realised that shaping the visual story of these worlds was somebody’s job.

Why did you want to study at LARA?

I had the opportunity to take a gap year during my university studies, by this point I realised that I really wanted to learn how to be a better artist. It was through online forums I discovered the atelier training method, and in turn that LARA taught this method here in London. At this point was relatively confident in my ability to draw the figure (and I could see where I was lacking and how to improve), but I could never quite get my head around how to render. The atelier training method to me seemed like a perfect way to focus on rendering, since the various measurement and comparison methods used at LARA meant that the drawing aspect could be helped by these systems in order to let rendering get more attention.

Some people find it strange that atelier training is relevant to those wanting to study architecture or concept art - why do you think these skills are so relevant in all creative industries today?

I can definitely agree with the statement that atelier skills are relevant to creative industry. If you take a step back and look at an atelier at a broader level, they are in themselves a great study in architectural thought. The built physical space can vary, but how the people shape it and control the light within, the atmosphere etc, this in itself is a study in architecture. On a more direct level the atelier method is fantastic at training the eye and helping you learn how to make visual judgments of distance and light. It even encourages you to question what you are seeing. Architects are regularly called upon to show clients ideas and the easiest medium for this is sketching. The atelier method, in particular life drawing sessions, really inform the mind with regards to giving the figure a sense of scale and seeing a person’s physical occupancy of the local space. In fact a vast many architectural schools offer life drawing classes (as an elective, often only in the first year which is a shame) for this very reason.


As for the concept art industry, atelier study is really useful in terms of the figure and form rendering. Much of concept art will inevitably involve drawing the figure at some point, whether this is at the detailed level of a portrait, or almost a speck in a landscape purely to show the scale of a spaceship about to land. Since we tell stories about people, we need to better understand how to illustrate them in order to design a character, or the costume or prop that might be associated with them. the exact same points as architecture still apply to concept art also, as an artist may be called upon to design the architecture of a fantasy setting.

What skills did you develop?

At the most basic level atelier studies greatly strengthened my knowledge of figure drawing & anatomy, how to handle media and how to really work with value. It also gave me an appreciation for the process, that the end product may not always be the goal, and value of patience and working on a piece over a long period of time.


Who are your inspirations?

There really are too many! I’ll call that a nice side effect of the over saturation of imagery from this internet age we live in. Contemporary digital artists that inspire me are Craig Mullins, Brad Rigney, Michael Kormack, John Park, Jakub Rozalski to name a few! Of course traditional artists too such as John Singer Sargent, Richard Schmidt. That being said I would have to acknowledge the real inspirations being the fantasy worlds that I tend to draw from; Game of Thrones, Dark Souls, Mad Max, The Witcher.... the list goes on.

How do you feel about LARA's teaching methods?

The rigorous training offered by LARA is a great means of really helping the student focus on the task at hand, with direct and informed feedback from the tutors on staff.

What is next for you?

Between personal and freelance work I see myself consistently drifting towards concept art/illustration for the entertainment industry. Right now I'm working on developing a better catered portfolio for making this move.

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