Ian finds joy in creative arts

Ian Forss has had the kind of career that many would dream about. Strap yourself in for the highlights reel.

When Ian Forss’s grandkids curl up on his knee to listen to a book with grandpa, it’s an extra special experience.

Why? Because grandpa is the creative genius behind the illustrations in many of the books they read together.

Ian has worn many different hats over the 38-plus years he’s worked in the creative arts industry – graphic designer, illustrator, court room artist and teacher.

But his favourite role to date is ‘grandpa’, he says.

“My grandkids are my greatest achievement – that’s the way I feel,” says Ian.

“When I read to my granddaughter and she gets a real buzz out of all the things I’ve drawn, it’s fun to think I’ve created it for her.”

Ian started his career working in design studios and on animated films.

He worked with GTV Television Channel 9 as a graphic designer, and also as a court room artist.

There were stints working on Ossie Ostrich Video Show and on graphics for the news.

At the same time, Ian was doing freelance work for publishers illustrating books.

“It got to the point where I couldn’t do both,” says Ian.

“I decided to concentrate solely on being a professional illustrator and started my business, Azoo Design.”

A decade later, Ian’s wife was working at Chisholm and through that connection, Ian was invited to talk to the students about life as a book illustrator.

One of the Chisholm managers asked Ian if he was interested in doing any teaching. In particular, they were looking for someone to help run a screen and media course.

That was 17 years ago.

“I never had a plan to be a teacher when I was younger, it just happened,” says Ian.

Given Ian’s diverse professional background, he has taught both the visual arts and graphic design streams at Chisholm, as well as screen and media in the past.

Ian finds teaching extremely rewarding.

“The idea that you can have a positive impact on someone’s future is a nice feeling,” says Ian. “I had teachers when I was younger who influenced me a lot.”

Ian says the best part of his job is seeing his students succeed.

“With some students, you can see they are going down a certain road. But by building up their self-confidence and sense of worth, they’ve gone in a different direction.

“Suddenly there’s an opportunity for them to really shine and see what their potential is.”

When Ian’s not teaching or illustrating, he loves spending time with his grandkids, working on his property, going to the beach and seeing friends.

One day in the distant future, he’ll retire. And when that day comes, Ian plans to go back to chapter one.

“When I was at art school, we would go into nature and sit around and draw, just for the fun of it,” he says. “It would be nice to get back to that.”