Long before he became famous for his seismically sublime, photo-realistic quality fine art illustrations, much celebrated contemporary figurative exponent, Rob Hefferan was equally famous for being an incredibly gifted commercial designer and illustrator. So it would seem that creativity flows through his veins and seeps from every pore? Which is of course, correct. Born in Warrington in North West England in 1968, Hefferan has, it’s fair to say, always done things his own way, and has always proved himself wrong, often against the odds and by going against the grain to a certain extent.
Regularly being met with disapproving faces when, as a child, he expressed his desire to become a professional artist when he grew up, it was – as is so often the case – Hefferan’s art teacher who first spotted (and thereafter actively encouraged) their charge’s artistic endeavours. At least through the secondary schooling system. For the record, it was him/her that initially identified Hefferan’s (then) childish sketches of dinosaurs offering something altogether special, and subsequently a fledgling creative talent which needed to be nurtured.
Skipping a few years, and Hefferan won a place at Padgate College of Art, where he successfully studied between 1985 – 1989, before going on to secure entrance to a higher education qualification course at Salford University, which he attended between 1989 and 1991. On leaving this establishment, Hefferan entered the wonderful world of media in the capacity as a designer/illustrator, albeit in a freelance guise, whereby he bagged a number of high profile contracts.
Working predominantly on advertising campaigns for the blue chip corporate likes of BMW, British Airways, Sony, and Volkswagen, Hefferan also progressed this chapter in his career to take in the illustration of children’s literary titles and the origination of his own, bespoke greetings card line. Yet throughout this hugely rewarding period, Hefferan couldn’t help but think of the ‘what if?’ What if he had become a full-time artist artist as it were, and with it the freedom to create absolutely anything he wanted rather than being responsible for fulfilling other people’s creative briefs.
Hefferan had all the time continued to paint for his own interests and ends behind the more corporately-engaging scenes, and eventually he decided to showcase his hitherto portfolio; choosing the prestigious Spring Fair, hosted by Birmingham’s NEC and well-known for launching many contemporary artists over the years. And it looked like Hefferan himself was about to join the long list of (almost) overnight success stories as his exhibition pieces sold out within an astonishing half an hour of the fair’s opening.
This opportunistic juncture did provide Hefferan with the Launchpad he’d been searching for since his youth, and offered the perfect shop window for his extraordinarily illustrative compositions which (at that stage) formed his back catalogue. Indeed, the general public couldn’t get enough of Hefferan’s art and to this day the artist hasn’t looked back as his reputation for the manifestation of exemplary illustrative pictorials has gone from strength to strength. Addressing his creative stamp as such, and Hefferan’s undeniably unique style and graphical presence has matured and evolved considerably over the last decade in which he’s been active as a professional figurative artist. His most recent examples are both beautifully and intricately composed and depict people and experiences which are very much of the here and now, compared to previous bodies of work which have often centred on a different and forgotten era of more opulence and lifestyle decadence it has to be noted.
Tellingly – and as a definitive Hefferan hallmark which is found to be recurrent in his retrospective pieces – his foregrounds are filled with elaborate detailing, whilst broader brush strokes are habitually depicted and lavished on his backgrounds. When the two combine, and something which Hefferan is synonymous with as a result – there’s a distinctly three-dimensional illustrative tone and diction to the typical composition, which stems from this energetic and free-flowing execution from the outset.