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A designer has been inspired by his childhood hero Tintin, the world-famous investigative journalist, in his print recreations of Irish lighthouses.

Bert Dufour, originally from Belgium, developed a fascination with lighthouses after moving in 2011 to Clonakilty, a town in County Cork, Ireland.

His adventures spanned from Rathlin on the tip of Northern Ireland to Fastnet in Cork on the south coast. He has travelled over 2,000km in three years, capturing all 80 operational lighthouses on the island.

Now the 55 prints made so far have been framed – and are set to go on display later this month at Gifted, Ireland’s largest craft and design fair.

"There is a beauty to these towers, and how they stand over the ocean," he said.

"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."

Tintin’s ‘big influence’

Mr Dufour, founder of business The Designer of Things, said his work has been inspired by renowned Brussels-born graphic artist Herge, who is best known as the creator of The Adventures Of Tintin comics.

Fittingly, the illustrations – crafted using on-site sketches and still photographs, before being edited digitally – have been likened to the famous stories about the adventurous boy reporter and his loyal companion dog, Snowy.

"I have been told by a few people that my illustrations reminded them of the Tintin books," he said.

"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 hard cover prints."

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

The graphic artist hopes to finish the lighthouse project next year.

Although he said he could not pick his favourite lighthouse, he shared that he did carry a soft spot for Fastnet.

"I am drawn to any of the lighthouses that were built on rocky islands in these crazily remote locations," he added.

"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."

The designer also created a 1,000-piece jigsaw of 16 of his lighthouse prints, to be included in the exhibit at Gifted, from 30 November to 4 December at Dublin’s RDS.

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