RIGHT: Clonakilty based graphic designer Bert DeFour at Ballycotton Lighthouse.

Tintin would be proud, Bert

A Cork based graphic designer is on an epic journey to capture every lighthouse guarding the Irish coast, inspired by his boyhood hero Tintin.

Belgian native Bert DuFour has spent the last 3 years on the hunt for all 80 operational Irish lighthouses, travelling over 2,000km in the process.

So far, Bert has managed to frame 55 lighthouses as artworks across the country including Cork's Fastnet, Youghal, Spit Bank, Roches Point, Roancarrigmore, Old Head, Mizen Head, Galley Head, Crookhaven, Charles Fort, Bull Rock, Ballycotton and Ardnakinna.

“I have a soft spot for Fastnet Lighthouse in Cork. I am drawn to any of the lighthouses that were built on rocky islands in these crazily remote locations,” says Bert, who moved to Clonakilty in 2011.

“Considering the time they were built in, in this case first finished in 1854 and rebuilt in 1897, and the tools available at the time, not to mention the sheer scale of it when you are near it in a boat, it is awe inspiring.

“There is a beauty to these towers and how they stand over the ocean. I am gobsmacked by how these structures were created 150 to 200 years ago. I find how they were built and where they were built utterly fascinating.”

A former architecture student, Bert started up his design business The Designer of Things after moving to Cork and says his work has been inspired by Hergé, the Brussels-born graphic artist and creator of The Adventures of Tintin and Asterix and Obelix.

Bert’s illustrations have even been compared to the famous comic books about the boy adventurer and his dog Snowy.

“I have been told by a few people that my illustrations reminded them of the Tintin books,” says Bert.

“The comics have had a big influence on how I illustrate. I was a big fan of the books growing up and still have a full collection in their original hardcover prints.”

Looking forward, Bert says he hoped to complete his lighthouse mission next year.

To produce his lighthouse prints, he uses a combination of onsite sketches and still photographs. The pieces are then worked up digitally until he gets a good compromise between detail and simplicity. Bert has also created a 1,000 piece jigsaw of 16 of his lighthouse prints.

“I am trying to simplify them in such a way that my prints aren’t photographic representation, but a very stylised representation instead,” he explains.

Burt will be hauling his print collection up to Dublin this week for the arts and design fair Gifted at the RDS from 30 November until 4 December. This year’s fair will feature 400 designers, makers and artisan food producers.