Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Procession of the Vintners

This was created as a late entry for the AOI competition for Secret London. I used the Procession of the Vintners as a template for my design;

With London being so rich in history and culture, almost beyond compare. I thought it would be a travesty not to depict the breadth of characters and heritage that have come together to make it the place that it is. The procession of the Vintners seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Containing both history going back to 1205 but also with the wealth of cultural links and involvement with all aspects of life that have kept this tradition alive for such a very long time. Exactly the kind of culture and tradition that gives London it’s character and makes it the place it is today.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Baby Dinos

My daughter's room needed a little brightening up so this was done on a whim. It began as a simple layout as I was planning to paint it directly onto canvas.... Obviously it went a little further than that!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Boom Crash Smash

Here is a preview for a line of Tee-Shirts I have been working on for about to launch website where you will be able to buy all sorts of poker related paraphernalia.

The designs are mostly based around nick names for common ( or not so common ) poker hands. Eg, Two eights is referred to as 'Snowmen'. Some are just in theme with the name of the site which is a reference to going 'all in'.

They will be printed on high quality Tee-Shirts and should be available soon.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Paper robots.

Definitely getting into the whole paper robot thing.
After trying my hand a t a bit of simple origami earlier this week wanted some thing a little more involved and came across the robot cut out books in the local design book shop.

Here's something from the blog Custom Paper Toys from Matt Hawkins to give people out there in blog land an idea of what's capable.

Found a whole bunch of other stuff while I was browsing and am about to set about my first model before I try something more custom.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Deja Vu

This weeks theme on Illustration Friday is Deja Vu. I have simply chosen to portray a usual situation to illustrate this theme.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010


Here's a piece inspired by the theme of the week at Illustration Friday.
The theme is 'Mail' so I decided to highlight the problems faced by the postal service during the festive season, especially the difficulties caused by the increasing number of orders from digital retailers now-a-days.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010


Just stumbled across this rather interesting vector based illustrator.
From his web-site:
"Ben Yin-Pan Kwok (BYK) aka BioWorkZ is a traditionally trained illustrator with a BFA Degree in Illustration from California State University Long Beach. Ben was born in Taipei, Taiwan and moved to California at the age of 4 and has lived in Los Angeles ever since. Working as a graphic artist in the fashion industry for several years has allowed Ben to develop his comfort with vector programs."

Though this work interesting, what really caught my attention was the stuff on the merchandise link that leads to . Which is full of all sorts of inspiring and interesting stuff. I especially liked the videos which are all available as little pop-out previews (see pic).

Thursday, 6 May 2010


Through the year I have seen and heard from several practicing professionals and this post will explore the different pressures experienced by two of those individuals and how hey respond to them. I have chosen to look at Container PLUS who, in their words are "a multidisciplinary art and design collective specialising in playfully creating multifaceted fantasy worlds across a multitude of 2D and 3D platforms", and compare them with Andrew Foster whom I have talked about in a previous post.
There are a number of similarities with these two parties, the types of commission they are usually associated with include shop displays and a free heavily painted and hand produced style. There are also very distinct differences. Andrew Foster works alone, often through Central Illustration Agency ad has been responsible for much self motivated promotional work that has led to gallery exhibitions and a self authored approach to much of this work.

Container PLUS work as a collective, primarily driven by the founders Nicola Carter and Luise Vormittag who met whilst studying at Camberwell. Sharing a sense of humour and various other interests, they began working together, initially by promoting each others work when visiting clients and the like until they began to work on joint pieces and established their joint identity.This work led them to work with various other photographers, set designers and assistants, at times just hiring, at others with them becoming part of the group. Patricia Niven (a photographer) recently becoming the third member and forming the group as we know it.

Self Initiated work from Container PLUS. 'The Evil Twins' Showcasing the combination of illustration, set design and photography that has given them their name.

Nicola and Louise have now developed so much with each other that they say it is impossible to tell their work apart, one can take over from the other at any time and no-one would know the difference.

The way these parties have approached their careers raises several questions about the nature of the industry and illustration as a whole. Both have in their own way carved a niche for themselves. Container PLUS have created a unique identity and taken on vastly different commissions with their ability to adapt by hiring people they need to complete the job in hand. Andrew Foster admits that he struggled after leaving educational security and has had to approach things much more from a more personal stance and produced much work that is for his own pleasure. He has a very personal style and it seems the nature of his work means that he is defined by it, being deemed only suitable for certain articles and installations. Currently he is attempting to promote himself and feels like he was tossed aside after his graduation with little actual knowledge of the industry to rely on.

We don't have to look far to see examples of the kind of collaborative efforts that are found now-a-days within illustration. It has become more and more acceptable to have a group identity and push design forward as a group effort under one umbrella, producing self-authored indulgent pieces that let the illustrators' more artistic , indulgent side shine through to create fetishistic, exclusive items produced purely for pleasure and contrary to the accepted norm of client-based illustration. Limited runs of specially printed posters and cards, mugs and tea coasters are pretty run of the mill for any self respecting studio or illustrator now and it seems are almost a necessity for anyone that wants to make a living.

It appears that Container PLUS will have their online shop open some time this year...

So, is this indicative of a failing industry ? Are there just too many graduates now? Is it necessary to club together and scrape an existence together by hanging on with the few people that were in your class at school? The ladies at container PLUS admit that they don't make a lot of money, besides enough to live on and most of their funds is pumped back into self-promotion. Many would call this a victory and I'm not about to deny it. They admit having to look further afield than just the 'safe' umbrella of the illustration community. Looking at themselves much more as a creative whole they are happy to exhibit in more art oriented exhibitions.

The opening that I attended in Sheffield was for Mr Foster's private work and was being exhibited purely as art and as not really having a lot to do with his illustration work at all. We were invited to watch videos of Andrew talking candidly and with an almost uncomfortable feeling the business-like side of things was thrown aside as we saw a much more intimate view.
I admit I wasn't really prepared for this, but being a fine-art student prior to enrolling as an illustration student has opened me up more to the sensitivities of the fine-art world and it was an interesting change from the vast majority of work I was looking at at the time.
Andrew is of course represented by Central Illustration Agency but admits that this can be hard, waiting for a commission whilst your agency handles it's other clients.

Example taken from Andrew Foster's show, 'Precious in Thy Sight', Illustrating the personal nature of the work involved.

Surely it is easy for an agency to hire as much new talent as it desires? They are in a win/win situation. If they don't get you work then they don't pay you. They are eliminating the competition by signing everybody. And if you do score yourself some work..well they'll take a cut.
It seems though that seems self-promotion is a must. Agencies are finding new ways to promote their clients and also to show that they are more creative than others, that they have better talent on their books and so-on but that's their job and if they weren't doing that, well someone else would be.

Either way it seems both of the parties we are looking at having to fight to be where they are.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Studio or Sheltered, lonely existance? Self-Authored or client driven?

We all know the image of the illustrator working from home, stuck in a room somewhere, alone and shying away from the rest of the world, but recently there has been a big shift to the communal aspect of illustrators working together and taking part in promotional projects for the greater benefit of all.
Collaborative efforts such as Eboy are world renowned for pushing boundaries and having an identity that is so much of the group that it is almost impossible to tell one member's work from another.

Other projects have been more loose in their execution with studios and agencies bringing practitioners together to work on joint projects to promote the organization and raise awareness, Central's exhibits in the royal exchange come to mind as a good example. The illustrators involved were given a loose brief to work to and the pieces were all exhibited as a continuing piece where they had all had to communicate with each other on what colours they were going to use and where lines met up next to each other.

Exhibits such as PickMeUp at somerset house, -that I was lucky enough to go and visit recently- shows some of the community spirit being exhibited of late. Different studios were all housed up together within the exhibit and work was completed within and as part of the exhibit.
It was evident here though that there were not merely different people working separately in isolated rooms. Most of the work was being completed by groups of people collaborating together on group work. Most of this seemed decorative too, and not set by a client in a brief, but more for the enjoyment of any interested party, the artists themselves not being least in this equation.

So, that leaves us, about to graduate, scared to death, most of us looking for clients and seeing (perhaps) a narrow pathway of find client, email client, meet client, wait for client to contact you...or does it?
The authorial approach being taken by many nowadays in collaborative and personal efforts has exposed a market that gives us the opportunity to work in a sustainable way, and to support each other's efforts through collaboration and individual endeavors. To inspire and push each other in new directions and places o which we never would have gone.

I for one think it would be a shame if everyone that has been working together, developing relationships and feeding each-other's creativity should all just suddenly go our separate ways.
I wont deny that there's a part of me that wants to go and do my own thing, see how I get on and (hopefully) make something of myself. I've worked bloody hard and no-one's done it for me. But I still feel that the example given by people like the London Print Studio and people working collaboratively all over the world is one that makes a lot of sense.

There are the obvious financial considerations (something that me and some others have begun to look into) when attempting to set up something like this. But benefits should include the greater amount of ideas, work produced and camaraderie. More people to do promotion and the general spectacle of it all, as well as of course the group identity.

There should be nothing to stop people doing their own work and taking on their own projects, rather the point should be that that's what the group is there for. People could offer support and advice and down the line maybe more, different types of professionals could be added to help things run smoothly.

I'm sure there would be some financial issues to sort out initially, some investment and maybe a little sacrifice but the idea is that it would pay off down the line.
Having the motivation of all that schooling and having paid all those course fees should be enough I think to want to push the idea and make things work.

So let's take the example of people like Adrian Shaughnessy and Tony Brook breaking away from publishers and wanting to make better work 'by designers for designers', and push in our own direction, instead of pandering to an industry that so readily controls and dilutes and starves the young talent it breeds.

Adrian Shaughnessy

I got to see Adrian Shaughnessy and Tony Brook's lecture at the printworks yesterday, a D&AD sponsored event that was partly engineered by staff at Stockport College. The lecture focussed on the launch of the pair's new publishing company, Unit Editions.
Founded in 2009 they have set out to produce high-quality books about graphic design and visual arts in the way they want to, without the pressure of someone else telling them what to put in them.

I was lucky enough to attend a Q&A session with Adrian before the lecture and he gave us advice on how to meet clients and get started in the industry.
As someone who has experience of setting up his own studios and business and a former editor of Varoom magazine he was an ideal contact and had lots of relevant advice for us all.

He told us to make the effort when presenting portfolios to not just show them to ourselves, he is amazed by the amount of people who just sit there and admire their own work when presenting to him, not bothering to turn it to face the client and just burying their heads in their own work. He gave us advice on the layout and format for the folders and about putting things in context so clients can see pieces in-situ.

Next up he explained how much of a difference it makes when things feel personal to a client, the way he prefers things to be put to him Little things like a complement on past work and why you are interested in working with someone can make a client warm to your proposal and help set you apart, not just looking like you have sent out the same letter to ten different prospective employers.
Things like hand-writing addresses and making the appearance of the whole package look like it was considered and works with the samples you send can also help.

We talked about always leaving something with the client and what/how much is appropriate. Letting the client have something to remember you by and staying fresh in their minds by keeping them updated on your progress, recent work and accomplishments can all help to get you more, perhaps better work down the line.

He also gave us some advice on internships saying that he has always paid his interns something, and whilst of course it's a personal choice, you should consider very carefully whether or not you are prepared to sacrifice and work for nothing. One thing he did say about this kind of work is that if you're going to do it then you must make yourself and invaluable member of the workforce. So that when you leave they will be scratching their heads thinking to themselves; 'Oh no, what are we going to do without here..'.

About a three to four month window was recommended for posting new things to clients to keep them interested, once you have met someone they become a contact and must be kept informed and refreshed.

And last but not least, always be looking for the next job!

Laser cutting

Here's a picture of the work I recently completed for KPMG's new building in Canary Wharf.
The piece was a challenge from start to finish.
I first started work on the project in 2009 for the D&AD student awards and received in-book status. This led to a follow up pitch before the KPMG art committee at which I managed to secure a commission. This meant pushing the design even further and then getting the perspex cut and the fittings ordered.
As you can see the piece works nicely in it's location near the presentation suite in the new building that has recently opened.

Mocking up samples for my project meant recently getting my first experience of laser cutting. The laser cutter at Fred Aldous’ was recommended to me and using it was an exciting and revealing experience.

There was a little advice to get acquainted with the technical side of things, preparing files and some basic laser settings. I learned about things like setting the speed and focus of the laser to achieve different depths of cut for different materials then, before to long I began to see my designs coming to life. It was so satisfying seeing something that had previously only existed on a computer program becoming an actual physical object.

As I left the machine to do its thing I had time to look around the studio and chat with Paul as he explained some of the other projects that had been created using the machine.

This was extremely interesting and gave me lots of new ideas. There was a small wooden block with the Manchester City F.C emblem engraved in it and I heard about how new players to the club are presented with a box engraved this way containing the club’s code of conduct.

Other samples included wedding and christening invitations made from card, pieces of jewellery made from Perspex, signs for desks or shops and an engraved ipod.

Some pieces are engraved at different depths with the scorched wood effect looking particularly nice.

The whole experience has filled me with new ideas and possibilities for using this technique and above all gave me lots of information to help complete this project.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Adrian Shaughnessy

Looking forward to seeing Adrian Shaughnessy tonight in Manchester. Been looking into his stuff. There's a great interview about his book here with SpeakUp a division of Under Consideration.
The pic here shows his description as seen at AIGA.. (to save me having to type it all)

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Pick Me Up at Somerset House

I had time to pop in and see the Contemporary Graphic Art Fair 'Pick Me Up' this week and it turned out to be a great exhibition containing a wide variety of prints, toys, fanzines and all sorts of other things being created and shown. Including an exclusive piece for the fair created by each of the artists present.

All the work was available to buy and there was something for everyone as you could walk around the working studios such as the London Print Group (who are inviting several carefully picked practitioners to come along and use the studio), and Rob Ryan's paper cutting and press studio.Others present included Le Gun, a film theater from It's Nice That, Nobrow, and Peepshow.

I enjoyed seeing work from Mr Bingo and Claire Scully particularly, along with Jess Wilson, Ville Savimma and Hvass and Hannibal. (see pics)
I kind of lost track of time while I was there as it really is quite an expansive exhibit with the displays being so interesting and varied that you must be able to find something. I really recommend it.

Jackie Hampsie at Prima Magazine

I had a meeting with Jackie and her team while I was in London a little while ago to give her the opportunity to look over my portfolio and discuss the way they commissioned illustration and why.
Although ultimately my work didn't really suit the style of their magazine at the time of my visit they were all very helpful in suggesting other people I might try talking to to get a start. I was given a contact to talk to and keep posted with my work and I thought perhaps down the line after some more development I might mail them something again.

I didn't think I would be so different from what they might normally use for illustration (although this does seem a little limited at the moment) as the magazine actually has quite a strong, graphic look. They suggested I would need something more feminine for their mag and we discussed maybe doing some mock up's of articles from their mag using some past articles. It was suggested in-fact that they would have liked to have seen more mock-up's, or work actually printed in context to give a better idea of how I work throughout the portfolio.

This is something I want to do as I get more time to myself and less work from college and seems a good way to build up relationships with clients for future commissions or even in-house work.

She, along with her staff, was nice enough to suggest some other publications that I might try, some that are good for taking on new, fresh illustration to get a foot in the door and others that might suit my style more.
So, this is on my to-do list now.

Contact report: Nick Palmer at Computer Active magazine

I arranged a meeting with Nick a little while back to get some feedback on my portfolio and discuss maybe working for him.

When I eventually located their offices, I had a brief meeting with him and his assistant and they talked about the in's and out's of their job and the way the magazine worked.
Whilst they explained that their budget for illustration wasn't what it used to be they explained that they were still very interested and it was a largely enjoyable experience.
They explained things like their usual budget for covers, spots and repeat commissions in the overseas versions of their magazine. We talked a little about the normal timescale to give me a better idea of how things would probably work.
He did mention regular people that they use when time is short, when they can't think of anything themselves.

Whilst he was complementary on the whole I felt that my portfolio at this time was not as rounded as I would have like it to have been and could understand the slightly confused feeling I seemed to get from him as he looked through it.
I did however get a personal address for him and mailed him a pdf containing the best bits of what I had shown him.

This is something that I intend to do again further down the line to maintain contact and keep him posted on what I'm doing.
All in all it was an enjoyable, if slightly nerve racking, experience.

In at the deep end. You learn fast. Swim or die...