Francis Boag is an artist based in Stonehaven and is well known for his expressionist interpretations of the local landscape. He has been described as one of the foremost contemporary artists in Scotland and his work is exhibited across the UK and abroad.

Over the past few months Francis has been working with Ruairdhri Wright, a student studying Communication Design at Gray’s School of Art. Throughout this time the pair worked on Francis’ existing artwork to digitally enhance his paintings, helping him to launch a print business. We caught up with Francis to discuss his experience working with Ruairdhri and Talent Exchange.

What prompted you to contact Talent Exchange?

It wasn’t really a business need but my wife mentioned Talent Exchange to me so I went along to an event where a member of the Talent Exchange team was presenting and thought it sounded like an interesting opportunity.

Can you describe the process which led to your engagement with a student through Talent Exchange?

I attended the event and during the presentation we were shown some examples of how it had worked in different industries. I thought it would be a good idea to collaborate and get the input of a young person. I didn’t have strong digital media skills so I thought this might be a good gap for a student.

Can you describe the project that was undertaken?

The project was to create 4 - 5 prints initially through digital enhancement on photoshop/possible repainting and to display these in galleries where my originals are already exhibited.

What was the outcome of the project?

What was the outcome of the project? The project met my expectations. I originally wasn’t very sure what I wanted and due to the fact that I live out in Stonehaven and Ruairdhri doesn’t drive, I realised that I would have to be much more specific about the project and once I was able to do this the project worked very well. Ruairdhri acted as a technician and was able to input his technical knowledge to work alongside my brief. I think I have learnt a lot from him.

How did you work with Ruairdhri?

As I am in Stonehaven and Ruairdhri doesn’t drive we had one meeting where we went to my studio so that he could see where I work. This would have been nice to do more often but it does mean that these opportunities are not restricted just to Aberdeen businesses, if they are planned well. We primarily communicated over email and sent large files back and forth over Dropbox but I never felt like we got stuck or there was a miscommunication.

How do you think he benefited?

Ruairdhri was able to develop his technical abilities through practicing on software such as photoshop and will be able to use the prints for his portfolio and at his degree show.

Do you think that the project has impacted your business?

Learning technical skills from Ruairdhri has impacted the business. I have a digital print business with my son and originally the colours in the photographs I had taken of my paintings were washed out. Through Ruairdhri’s help and working at it the prints are now much better quality. That has been a big help and I learned the skills much more quickly learning from Ruairdhri than I may have done teaching myself.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the start?

Not really. I was a teacher and have experience in working with young people and so I knew that they had a fresh outlook, especially where it comes to technology. It is invaluable to have that outlook as they are cutting edge and that’s part of their life.

What would your advice be to others considering working with RGU students?

What is there to lose? It is a no brainer. The time and monetary commitments are minimal and you get a lot out of it.

What was your experience of working with RGU?

It is a very good initiative and everything seemed to run well. It was straightforward and I felt I was in good hands. There was a good ambience and I was impressed. It was solid and efficient and not overdone.

For more information on Talent Exchange, visit the Talent Exchange webpages or to talk to a member of the project team about a work experience opportunity email talentexchange@rgu.ac.uk or call 01224 262046.