Paul Murray – the camera, the pencil and the wilderness

“My choices are easy for me to make, I have it all around me. It is called life, beauty and nature.” – Paul Murray photographer and artist
South African Paul Murray talks about his transition of photography to freehand drawing. With a mission to showcase the beauty of endangered wildlife, he has had close encounters with a Silverback Gorilla, Bull Elephants and bolts of Lightening – a career adventure that is both wild and creative!

How did you become a professional photographer and artist, furthermore why the interest in Wildlife? I have always been an Animal lover and have been able to travel through most of Africa. Being able to capture the images of things I saw intrigued me. I actually started on an old film camera (which I still have) and only shot Black & White for a long time. It was only after adding in bright colours into my paintings that I started missing colour on my shoots. Don't get me wrong, I’m still a fan of a stunning B&W. I just wanted to capture the rainbow of colour that Africa displays daily. Now I'm using the Nikon 5100, a huge difference, and with its 16.2MP it is easier to shoot something I know I'd like to draw, because I can super zoom in for the fine detail. Majority of my drawings are from my own photographs. I actually studied Architectural Draughting and Graphic Design when I was younger, some of the architectural side can still be seen in some of my drawings, only difference, I only draw freehand. No rulers. I liked drawing the old style buildings but was missing the animals too much. I am contemplating doing some oil paintings but for now will be carrying on with the pencil and coloured pencil. ( says nicely done!)
Managing your own business in the creative industry - is it difficult and what have been some of the challenges that you have faced? I love being an independent artist - it gives me the freedom to be myself and have my own unique style. The difficult part especially being an Artist/Photographer - is as a photographer, I need to keep moving (gypsy style), and being an Artist I need to be stationary to establish myself. However thanks to the internet and my laptop - I can now do both.
What has been some of the coolest moments of your career so far? I have managed to be in Readers Digest, Daily Mail (both UK and USA), and getting accepted into Galleries and Museums is always a great moment for any artist.
Any dangerous encounters with Wildlife? I've been chased a few times by Elephant in the Kruger National Park (mostly during the Musth season). I was lucky in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), whilst watching Mountain Gorillas, I got too close to the troop and before I knew it, I got dumped on my rear end by the resident Silverback. After a bit of chest beating, he left me alone. I do quite a lot of Lightning photography as well, and there have been a few close calls with tree's getting struck next to me. (The team takes notes of how not to make a Silverback Gorilla angry…)
Paul Murray – the camera, the pencil and the wilderness
What is your method of production in terms of artwork and how much time do you dedicate to a piece? I will usually decide what animal I'd like to draw, check to see if I already have a photo of it, if not then off I go to get it. I will then load it onto my laptop which is on the table next to my drawing desk, then I normally do a rough very light layout of what I'm drawing. Once I'm happy that everything is in perspective, I draw the eyes. I won't touch any other part of the drawing till I've completed the eyes. They are the hardest part to master, and the most important part of giving your drawing personality. A drawing will normally take me about 3-5 days from start to finish. From then on the rest is just zooming in tight on the laptop and doing my best to make the drawing look as beautiful as possible!
What inspires your work and why do you pursue certain methods and subjects? My choices are easy for me to make, I have it all around me. It is called life, beauty, nature.
Suggestions for young individuals looking to pursue the same career path? There are plenty of artist websites for free posting. One of my favourites is and another called Pixoto. The latter allows you to post and have your work rated. Art competitions are always good for your art CV as well. Also find out at your nearest Gallery about other artists and photographers in your area, and if they don't (but they normally do have) start an artist discussion group. That way you'll have other people that are in the same situation sharing their methods and ways of selling, as well as their tips on art. ( says awesome!)
Paul Murray – the camera, the pencil and the wilderness
If you could name your own planet what would you call it? Well I suppose I may have to first find out what the surface of the Planet is like first before naming it? I mean if it was yellow and fuzzy like a tennis ball…How about BOB?
Words of advice for the youth of the world? Grab life by the horns and ride it to the bitter end. Along the way, don’t forget to look out of the window and breathe in the amazing scenery that is flying past.
About: You can find out more about Paul on his official website and on his Facebook page.
Artwork and image sources: Paul Murray