Telling new stories with creative technologies

Last week I attended a workshop in University of Galway on storytelling and the use of new technologies in telling new stories (via Urban Lab Galway and their European partners). As a self-employed artist, I don’t get to attend many things or network so I was delighted to be able to take part in this workshop.

In session 1 I got the opportunity to think about writing for this blog as a storytelling process. We had to write a short story in a tight timeframe based on 3 images of our chosing. I chose 3 images related to what I do as a caricature artist: the subject’s photo, the drawing process, and the finished image. 


“As a caricature artist I provide not just a portrait but a story in a single frame. I start with a photo of the subject and a list of their interests and from this I construct a humorous portrait of a life with signifiers that are personal, and often only recognisable to them. My caricatures are as unique as the subject’s own fingerprints if they had comically large hands.”

As I got to present this during the session I also received immediate feedback on how this could be improve as a “story” about what I do which I found valuable.

The workshop challenged me rethink how I’m going to describe what I do in the future. This session was facilitated by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ema Konstantinova, NATFIZ.

In session 2, facilitated by Sean Burns and Conn Holohan, Centre for Creative Technology, University of Galway, we got to experience the use of AR and VR technologies and it’s made me think about how I might display my own work, perhaps using a virtual exhibition of cartoons at some point. I also got the opportunity to talk about my concerns around AI and the ethics of using it for artistic purposes. Many of the data sets are used for training are simply ripping off thousands of artists and their works without consent or permission. One of the facilitators talked about how the meta data of a piece of art that is used generatively by AI might be utilised to source the original artist and compensate them for the use of their work, which in turn would incentivise artists to use their work in such data sets in future. I also spoke about the need for humans in the creative process , especially on TV and film, as these are iterative processes that require an artistic director and AI cannot respond sufficiently in an iterative process to match the needs or vision of an artistic director.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to attend both days of the event due to work committments and definitely missed out on useful subjects such as funding and spaces. These would be especially useful to me if I ever want to get involved in setting up a festival again (I was a founding member of the Galway Cartoon Festival). I’d be very keen to participate in similar workshops in the future.

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I’m Allan Cavanagh and I have been professionally producing caricatures and cartoon art for over 20 years.

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