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 YouWorkForThem.com . 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 ..name 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...

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


Another gallery I visited while I was in London last week was Kemistry..
Hiden (sort of) down a little side street this little gallery had on a display of polish poster design, entitled 'Homework', the name being that of the design group exhibiting. They hail from Warsaw.

Joanna Górska and Jerzy Skakun enjoy using visual puns in a very concise fashion. Being credited with bringing polish poster design back to life they have imbued it with a new sense of modernity and style.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Digital Pioneers, London, the V&A

During my visit to London this week (more on that later) I had some spare time to go and check out a few of the exhibits that I missed on my last visit. (partly because the V&A is a bit of a maze when you enter from the back and don't have a map)

One of these was the digital pioneers exhibit at the V&A.. As the name suggests this was an exhibit featuring the artists to first use the computer as a design tool. Although only quite a small exhibit the work was varied and featured some stars that I had only seen replicated in text books before, though they are of course only digital printouts of the original item (should that be code?). Featured in these pictures is the work of Mark Wilson and Frieder Nake.
It was nice to see them grouped together like this and make the links between the different artists and work on offer.
Most noticeably the importance of series' of image and the inherent precision as well as the colour palette's chosen by the artists.

Individuals were picked out not only for their pieces but also because they designed the software that they used to create them. The link with science is/was also a major factor of this type of artwork, whereby the artists themselves would be collaborating with scientists to push the work and create new things and explore the capabilities fully.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Anthony Burrill

With a client list to die for and a fresh vibrant style Anthony Burrill's work has been catching my eye quite a lot recently.
A Lancastrian graduate of Leeds poly then a Graphics MA at the Royal College, he works with a range of media including illustration, 3d and video.
I was particularly interested in his 2009 exhibit at Kemistry gallery London entitled 'In a New Place'.
This consisted of perspex pieces that have a shiny fresh modern look and feel (see the pics).
I also noticed his recent video pieces and they are in line with the 60's psychedelic atmosphere of much of his work, with flat vector shapes and bold colours.

Ian Wright

The work of (mr) Ian Wright consists largely of contemporary portraiture, but also some clever graphic ideas. His work has been featured in gallery spaces and also in magazines making him someone interesting to look at.

This video shows him talking to It's Nice That about his work, including an interesting section on installing large artworks on interior walls.

Using everyday objects or those that relate specifically to his subject his work has a character that is intrinsic to it's style.

Hopefully he responds to emails.....

Lauren Moriarty

Although I missed her lecture at our college, I was pointed to the work of Lauren Moriarty and her work at the festival hall in particular.
An interesting application of coloured vinyl to these windows offers more exciting, cast shapes for the interior space.

Anthony Burrill

Hi Chris

Have a look at Anthony Burrills work spotted him in Eye magazine this month.
In an interview it seems that he has used Perspex for a few projects, window displays for Colette and Geometry in Nature.

Might be work a look or even to drop him a line?

Wednesday, 24 February 2010


Well, first bout of appointment making done today in anticipation of visiting London soon and I've got to say I'm feeling more positive about the whole freelance thing.
Getting stuck in talking to people and thinking more seriously about approaching prospective clients really is so much more exciting than reading a book about it! Makes me think I've really got to make the most of my organizational skills to make this work and also about how I can get stuck in..

On slightly different note I was looking for things to do and see while we're there and since I've been working on the onedotzero brief for the D&AD awards this year I'm looking forward to seeing this exhibition at the V&A while I'm there.

In the words of the site;

"decode: digital design sensations showcases the latest developments in digital and interactive design, from small, screen-based, graphics to large-scale interactive installations. the exhibition features both existing works and new commissions by established international artists and designers such as daniel brown, golan levin,
daniel rozin and troika. "

Although it will be a bit late to apply what I learn there to my effort I'm still looking forward to finding out what it has to offer.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Johnny Hardstaff

My tutor put me on to this guys work a while ago and since I have been looking into film and merging different disciplines together he popped back into my mind, I looked at his site again today.

I have been paying special attention to the 'History of gaming' and 'Future of Gaming' videos, and they have been filling my head with fresh ideas and giving me perspective on my own. Containing all sorts of conspiracy theory ideas involving Sony's playstation 2 console ; 'Future of Gaming' cleverly encapsulates a feel of modern society's entertainment obsessed nature.

Its nice that you can see some pages from his sketchbooks on the site (evidenced above) although it would be nice if they were at a resolution good enough to be able to read his notes. You can see from the pages that there is a very strong relationship from his sketch work to the final product.

His site shows that he combines all sorts of media from 3d visuals and vector work to carefully modelled prototype like constructions and everything in-between.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


I am attempting to complete a work for the Onedotzero brief for entry into this year's D&AD competition and so have been looking at some of the film makers they have been involved with .

I have some screenshots and links for some of their work here.

Gaelle Denis has an interesting style whereby composite elements are merged with real time footage. Creating an eerie, fairy tale type feeling.

The examples of film projects listed on Quayola's site are interesting and quizzical. Combing 3d elements (i think) with stills to create work with an ethereal feel to them.

There is also some stuff by Nexus Productions on there too.

I'm not sure if this is from them (please correct me, if you know) but I really like the look of it and the suggestive nature it has for someone like me...

Their work is certainly plentiful. The site is just inviting you to spend at least a couple of hours wallowing in its visual pool, with various music videos, titles, idents and general filmage.


Just searching for new ways to combine texture within imagery, especially with
line art and stumbled across this work posted on 'Behancenetwork'.

I thought I'd better post it as quickly as possible as I was just reminding myself how easy it is to forget where you have seen something and subsequently never find it again..
These images were posted on the site by Florian NICOLLE < link to their profile.