Specialist decoration – Super Snail Art

Specialist decoration on these pages form a part of my portfolio

Specialist decoration and artistic decoration has been my job for slightly more than 30 years. Graphics have now become more common. On the specialist decoration side this can be broken down into a number of areas.

  • Broken colour and paint effects
  • Stencilling
  • Murals
  • Trompe l’œil work
  • Sign writing

The graphics include some of the following:

  • Websites
  • Logos
  • Marketing materials
  • Banners
  • Illustration
  • Photo montage

A keen photographer my main love are landscapes and joining photos together to break the stereotypical rectangular photo frame. I am currently working on a separate site for the photos as they don’t form part of my commercial work. This page will be updated when it’s up and running.

A brief introduction to some of my work

On this home page I will give you a brief introduction to some of the work that I do. If you are interested further please go to the appropriate pages in the menu above (or to the left if you are on a computer) where you will be able to see more example of my work and more detailed explanations of techniques, ideas, briefs and commissions I have been given. Some of the images will appear on more than one page. This is because frequently one work falls into two or more categories. For example the sign writing that you can see here is included in sign writing and trompe l’œil because of the sign and the fact that it was painted to appear as if it was lifted from the wall surface.

I hope you enjoy looking at my work and if you’d like to contact me with questions or commissions, feel free. My contact page is here and in the menu above or to the left.

Also please realise that some of the work was done in the days prior to digital photography – so please excuse some of the quality of the image reproductions.

A quick aside of some specialist decoration equipment

Naturally I use paint brushes. In many cases they are the same as a normal painter decorator would use – big and flat. But there are many other tools at our disposal. I will list a few here:

  • Stipple brushes
  • Graining combs
  • Graining rockers
  • Check and graining rollers
  • Goose feathers
  • Badger softening brushes

These following two pictures show stipple brushes, and graining tools.

Specialist decoration - stipple brushes

Specialist decoration – stipple brushes

Specialist decoration - graining tools

Specialist decoration – graining tools

Specialist decoration – Painting

Broken colour – a common specialist decoration technique

Broken colour is the art of using more than one colour to create an effect. The style involves painting a base colour, allowing it to dry before painting a further colours over the top and then removing some of the subsequent colours to allow the first base colour to show through.

Other similar techniques involve blending multiple colours together in various ways with various tools to create movement and depth in the finished painted surface.

These techniques often form the basis of further techniques and effects such as painting false wood finishes (know as faux bois from the french), false marble and distressing techniques.

Mural painting, large scale and theatre

Over the years as part of the specialist decoration I have been called on to paint murals. The ones I enjoy the most are for children – I can go a bit crazy. I’ve also painted play and pantomime sets. As mentioned above, a lot of this work was done pre-digital age. The result of that is that many photos are either lost or in someone else’s possession and I don’t have records. On other occasions contractual obligations meant I wasn’t allowed to photograph the work. Where I have photos I have posted them on the relevant page.

Sign writing the traditional way

In this digital age it is fairly simple to make signs with practically any font you like. I used to have to paint these signs. A different kettle of fish. Painting a sign gives more scope for different effects and in general last longer. The plastic film that is used on computer generated sinage does deteriorate over time (especially in hot countries with high UV in the sun) where as painted signs tend to just fade a bit. This link (the same as the sign linked above) is a picture of a sign I painted probably 25 years ago. It still exists and can be seen on Google Street View. The outside of the building has been repainted many times but the owners have managed to keep my sign intact. It’s one of my favourite painting jobs and I’m delighted that a quarter of a century later it still exists.


I came into graphics as a result of two things. Firstly the change of fashion in home decoration, the adoption of minimalism. Naturally the minimalist vogue effectively ended the need for de-luxe paint finishes and effects. The second reason is because I found that I have and affinity with computers.

I’ve never owned a PC. I went straight for Mac. This was prompted by the fact that Macs are pretty much the industry standard for arts. I’ve never regretted it. I did train on Windows 98. But since then we’ve had NT, Millennium, XP, 7, 8, 10 (they forgot about 9). Meanwhile Mac released OSX (10) in 2001 and it’s been the same ever since. I’m now on 10.14. My first Mac OS was 8.6.

Retraining at 42 years old in a class of 16 – 19 year olds

Returning from living in Ireland in 1999 I enrolled on another foundation art course. I was older than the tutors. This was to learn the Adobe suites. Predominantly I now use Photoshop and Illustrator for my graphic work and Lightroom for photos.

I then taught myself basic html and css and started to try and build websites. Then along came WordPress.

I do build websites

Granted I’m never going to build an Amazon or eBay. Then again I don’t want to. When I build websites they tend to be for people and small companies that simply want a web presence, an “about us”, a contact form, a short description of their work or wares, a few photos and that’s it. I also like blogging. It’s more about the layout and the text.

Branding and corporate identity

Small businesses, musicians, artists etc. have to create a brand, something people will recognise. Think of Google’s G and Nike’s swoosh. And, showing my age, think about Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. These are brands and logos, but when you see them you know straight away who it is, what to expect.

Labels have become super important. Some people will only buy products that are emblazoned with a company’s logo. I try and do the same for clients. I include their logo (or I design it) on their business cards, compliment slips, websites. In fact you can see my logo at the top of this page above the menu. It’s a stylised QR from my initials and comes from how I used to sign my paintings. It looks a little like a snail. Hence SuperSnail.

Illustration and photomontage

I have also been called upon to create illustrations of various kinds for various projects. Photomontage is one of the ways I like to do this but I will use more conventional illustration if required. In my “free time” I like to make political commentary using photomontage. In the old days I’d have had to source dozens of magazines (often the same issue for repeat images) to make collages. Photoshop makes it easy. I first started to get interested in collage when I met the British artist Penny Slinger in the mid to late 70s. She had a powerful effect on me.