Tuesday 30 June 2009

Machines, cyclones and sunshine

Yes the sun is shining on New York, New York. Finally had to reach for the factor 25 and a hat to protect myself from the fierce June weather that my wardrobe had anticipated!

It was a weekend of firsts really; first truly hot day, first visit to an experimental art/theatre piece off-off-Broadway and my first Baseball game.

I went to see the Brooklyn Cyclones, which is a feeder team for the Mets. It was a colouful, lively experience with the game seemingly a footnote to the food, socialising and product placement that is so alien to a regular attendee of English sports games. The Cyclones won, which was great and I took some fun pictures:

and one scarier photo of a guy two rows in front of me:

The sun is flooding the image a little, which is a shame but I thought it might be foolhardy to ask him to move so I could get a better shot of his Hooligan tattoo!

Short but sweet post this morning as I'm heading over to the New York Times today to show my portfolio, but the show I mentioned was Machines, Machines, Machines, Machines.. and it was really amusing, especially for someone who is a fan of such oddball comedies as Green Wing, Big Train and Spaced.

Finally I caught the end of the Art Directors Club show yesterday. I took plenty of pictures of work that I enjoyed so I think I will dedicate my next post solely to that rather then rush through it now.

Have a great day!

Friday 26 June 2009

A weekly round up

I feel like I've neglected the blog this week, but luckily that translates into having plenty of material to feed it with right now.

Once again I've been super busy. On a professional level I've dropped my portfolio with Harpers magazine, then at the New Yorker. I've also been in for a chat at R/GA and with Mike Joyce of Stereotype design

RGA was a great experience, a massive company housing what seemed like thousands of buzzing creatives dashing back and forth but in reality was a mere 300+ (!) and discussing their work was really interesting. I wish I'd had something akin to the Ballers Network when I was captaining teams in the past, would have made life so much easier.

Chatting to Mike over at Stereotype was great, made even better because on route the sun came out for the first time in days! We discussed a whole range of topics and it was wonderful to indulge my love for typography in a place adorned with type based posters. I also came away with the delightful business card below (apologies for the poor photography). Thanks for your time Mike!

But I'm getting ahead of myself, right at the start of the week I went to the Inkubator Summer Series, to see a reading of Dusty and The Big Bad World one of three new plays written by women that are being shown (for free) in June. I had a chat with the co-curator at the interval, who told me that the series is driven by the fact that most new plays never get a second production, so playwrights often miss out on the chance to add new ideas to a script and see them performed, which is what this series aimed to rectify. The playwrights undertake a week long workshop to try new ideas out and develop the material before the reading of the 'new' play takes place at the end of the week, where hopefully it will be well received and possibly lead to a second production.

Dusty and The Big Bad World was fantastic; funny, emotive, sensitive and political. A brief synopsis is on the website, but I really hope this play gets a second production somewhere as it was too good not to be seen by a greater audience.

Saving the best until last and again in a theatrical context, Wednesday brought about Twelfth Night. Anyone who has seen my twitter account will know my reaction to this but for everyone else, IT WAS AMAZING.

I had seen the posters around the city and they had caught my eye because of the wonderful (as usual) design by Pentagram

and the fact that Anne Hathaway was in the show. As I was in Manhattan early on Wednesday I decided to take a chance and join the line for free tickets, yes I did say free. I got there at 9:30am, tickets were distributed at 1pm, yet the line began at 3am. That is dedication! But for the chance to see an Oscar Nominee in her professional Shakespeare debut I could understand it. The idea of bringing Shakespeare outdoors and making it so accessible (if you can stomach the wait) is such a brilliant idea and the show did not disappoint. I'm no theatre critic (despite the previous blog entries) so I'll leave the reviews to the experts: New York Times Theatre Review but I found it magical and yes I did buy a poster!

Finally it's a frivolous day today; the Gossip Girl tour. Ha. And as it's Ed Westwick's birthday tomorrow (apparently) it is a specially themed Chuck tour where all participants have to get dressed up as their favourite character. Decisions, decisions....

(images courtesy of RGA website, Mike Joyce of Stereotype Design, the NYT online photo gallery and Pentagram's website)

Monday 22 June 2009

Williamsburg/Manhattan/Coney Island

If only you could get frequent 'flier' miles from your own legs I'd be eligible for all sorts of gifts, treats and upgrades. Ok, so that analogy got a little confused but the point of it is pretty clear; I am covering a lot of ground.

I even snuck in a run around Prospect Park on Saturday morning, which was great. I really adore the way the parks are such a hub of activity in New York. I know it happens in other cities, but there is a real sense of ownership here and the general public will use that space for all sorts of activities, one man rode past me on a unicycle with his dog in tow. An inventive, albeit dangerous, way of walking the dog.

Friday I spent in Williamsburg, it was my first ever visit and I took a walk down Bedford Avenue before my five gallery extravaganza began. I'm not going to list them all, but my favourite was the work of Steven Brower and his Brower Propulsion Laboratory at the Parker's Box Gallery.

The whole concept revolves around the (fake) aerospace company BPL and the exhibition is designed to operate as a precursor to a 'mission' the company will undertake later in the summer. The space is filled with objects for the mission and the walls are adorned with ironic internal memos and corporate press releases, which are funny and raise some interesting questions about modern society, corporate spending and power.

You can read all of the memos on the corporate site of BPL and it's definitely worth it. The No Parties memo (shown above) is my personal favourite. A great show, really fun and interesting and the inventions and paintings displayed were well crafted and sympathetic to the overall concept.

Friday Night I took a visit to Broadway and managed to snag a last minute seat to the Noel Coward play 'Blithe Spirit' starring Rupert Everett (in his Broadway debut) and Angela Lansbury. Although in my head the full cast ran more as Everett, the lady from Murder She Wrote, Karen Hayes from 24 (Jayne Atkinson) and the blonde lady who I knew I should know but didn't (Christine Ebersole - multi award winning actress!).

But despite my limited knowledge of the cast's theatrical experience I knew I was in for a treat and so it turned out. The play itself is a gem and the sort of thing that I love to go and see, but I also thought the performances were fantastic. Rupert Everett has such a powerful stage presence and had the audience under his spell from the minute he delivered his first line. Angela Lansbury gave a marvellous comic turn as Madame Arcati and the rapport between the two leading ladies was convincing and engaging. A great first taste of Broadway for me!

Last, but absolutely no way least was the Mermaid Parade at Coney Island. I don't want to go into too much written detail as a few simple words will sum up the experience: bizarre, wet but fun.

The pictures below give you a taste of what I experienced stood in the torrential rain on Surf Avenue, Coney Island. It really was an odd procession. Undoubtedly a family event, but just not a family I'd be comfortable being a direct descendant of in some parts (although these pictures are pretty tame and don't show some of the more spectacular sights). But it was certainly enjoyable and worth the trip.

That's it for now. Back to Manhattan tomorrow for a few more meetings and portfolio showings. Remember if you're reading this in New York and want to see my book, just drop me an email.

Friday 19 June 2009

Week 1

It's been a busy first few days in New York City. I've pounded the streets with my laptop on my back and boy are my feet paying for it. But along the way I've encountered some interesting people, things and places, all adding up to a great first week (and I still have the Mermaid Parade to come!).

One of the things I did was pop in to see Dave Tabler and Jami Giovanopoulos at the ispot offices in Midtown. I've had a portfolio on the ispot since the beginning of the year and spoken to Dave and Jami several times about things to do over here, so it seemed only apt that I called in to say hi and thanks for the advice. Dave and I did the obligatory photo too:

Also in the Midtown vicinity I went along to the Center For Book Arts to check out the “\’flo\: art, text, new media” exhibition. Although the premise was interesting I didn't find the show particularly inspiring. I think in situations like this my image as communication prerogative rears its head and I find myself questioning what the piece is trying to say and who is its intended audience. Besides from those big issues I also question the state the work is presented in, taking the time and care to select an appropriate housing for your work is, to me, a big part of exhibiting and some of the work on show here felt like it had been thrown up with little consideration of how that affected the message. But it was interesting and there were a few pieces that I enjoyed, chiefly the work of Chris Burnett and a piece called Reading Through. I've tried Google for more information but all I found was an out of date blog, but nonetheless I enjoyed that work, in particular the 'Truck Stop'.

I also found time to meet Jesse Kuhn, illustrator and creator of The Quirkles, a science based children's book series. We had a chat about all things illustration, which was fun, it's always nice to meet other illustrators and swap stories. I wanted to mention him on here as if you happen to be in Brooklyn this weekend you can pick up one of Jesse's prints at The Seventh Heaven Street Fair, which sounds like a great event and one that I will be attending.

Right at the beginning of the week I went along to 'Tearing the Veil of Maya' a comedy show at Union Hall in Park Slope. It was great, I enjoyed all the comedians, but the one that stood out was a guy called Mike Birbiglia. He's quite a big deal over here and I was fortunate to get to see him on my first day in town. He has his own site and a YouTube channel. But I've embedded a little animated skit below too:

I think that gives a brief overview of my time here so far. I'm planning on heading to Williamsburg today to check out the galleries there and have a wander around. Although I'll be heading back into Manhattan for this later today.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Bryant Park..

is not the subject of this post, only my current location. Is there anything more wonderful then free wi-fi in the city? It certainly saves on phone costs when you open up a laptop and collect your twitter messages for free..

I thought I'd take the opportunity as I have a spare minute to post a few pictures from my journey into Manhattan this morning. I'm still finding my feet Brooklyn wise, but feel on familiar ground now I'm back in the city. My twitter updates have mentioned my excitement at discovering the fantastic Tina Fey is filming only a few blocks away from where I have a meeting, so I'm hoping I can get a picture of that later on. But for now, here are 3 images of things that caught my eye today. The rest of my 300 or so photos you might find featuring in some illustrations as I've gone textures crazy today.

Left in a hurry, or a statement of intent from a LA hating Brooklyner?

Hopefully the tickets are added after they've been swiped, or that is one big effort at the subway.

Worshipping the Times Square sun, sunbathing Manhattan style.

Monday 15 June 2009

Hello from Brooklyn

Ok, so the countdown ended prematurely at 2 days to go, but for anyone harbouring a simmering resentment at my abandonment of the blog I can only apologise and blame the length of time it takes to print and file a whole new set of portfolio images. To give that statement a context, it takes a lot longer then the 2 hours I allowed. Rough translation, I was still printing at midnight on Friday, even though my alarm was set for 6:15am on Saturday. Not cool.

Today I've had my first full day in Brooklyn, so I took the opportunity to have a wander and do a bit of sketching in Prospect Park. I bought some inks and a dip pen and had a play with that, as I haven't worked with ink since my 2nd year at uni. It was a little disheartening as the wrist injury I had earlier this year has left my drawing hand a little weak, and whilst it doesn't make too much of a difference when I'm working up artwork with a Wacom tablet and pen, it does make it difficult to work with real accuracy when the edit tool is removed! But one of the motivations for this trip was to get out and do some personal work and drawing on location and today definitely gave me the taste for it.

Tomorrow I intend to take my whole set of recording equipment with me and hopefully I'll produce something that I can post here within the next few days. I have a little project up my sleeve which I'll be introducing on here soon. But for now I'm going to rest my weary jet lagged head and prepare for another creative day in New York City.

One final thing, I did get the chance to pick up the Little Boots album before I left the UK and I'm very pleased about that as it sounded great on my ipod in the sunshine drenched park today, I definitely recommend it

Thursday 11 June 2009

2 days

and preparations are stepping up, contacts are being sought and meetings set up. The printer is full of ink ready to supply a whole new set of prints for my super red Prat Portfolio and the careful selection of images tailored to suit an American audience has begun.

With all this going on I've had little time today to source any exciting sites, so I thought I'd make this a musical post and embed my favourite Brooklyn themed track. This has been on my ipod for months but the song and video is great and well worth a post.

JayZ ft. Santogold - Brooklyn (Go Hard)

Visuals by Evan Roth for (Red)wire. Love the typography themed video!

Creative Review - The year the media died

Creative Review - The year the media died

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Wednesday 10 June 2009

3 days...

At the risk of alienating people who are not going away this weekend I will continue with my Brooklyn countdown. I've been researching hard in the last 24 hours and have signed up to some fantastically informative websites.

First up was Flavorpill, obviously I've been checking out the New York section, but it also has listings information for San Fransisco, Los Angeles, London, Chicago and Miami. It makes me smile to think I've been to 3 of those 6 cities in the last year..

Next is the New Museum, this was recommended to me by some contributors at QBN and if the website is anything to go by it certainly looks like it will be worth the visit. I think I'm in love with the building, it's such a great shot on the site and really grabbed my attention:

Finally I've wanted to go to an outside film screening in New York for many years, but my visits have never coincided with them. This time though I'm in luck, I've just seen on NYCGO that there are a range of venues showing films throughout the week, throughout the Summer. I like to think that I could be one of the people in the image below very soon...

Photo: Julienne Schaer

Tuesday 9 June 2009

4 days and frayed around the edges

Hmm seems my genius idea of scheduling my flight only a few days after I finish lecturing wasn't so smart after all judging by the manic nature of my New York preparations so far!

So with 4 days to go my attention has turned to mundane things such as airport transfers and passenger information forms. But I've also had time to discover a great website called meetup.com

which is a site designed to help people create or join groups with like minded people. You can search for groups based on your location or your interests and if you can't find one for your tastes you can set one up. I've joined a few Brooklyn based arts groups and have rsvp'd to an event or two, hopefully it will give me a chance to meet some New York residents and see what illustrating or designing is like over there.

On a none-Brooklyn note I've just received an email from one of my students who is currently working at Six Pr about a new campaign for the fruit drink Oasis. The campaign is called RubberDuckZilla and there is a website which features "two duck-related Augmented Reality Games", I've been asked to check it out and give her some feedback, so I thought I'd post it here and give other people a chance to do the same. I'm not quite sure I understand what is going on, but I'm going to head back to RubberDuckZilla.com and have a play. You might want to mute the music (it's a little irritating) although it is causing me to feel nostalgic as I remember my Spectrum playing childhood!

Monday 8 June 2009

5 days..

until I leave the country, but could it be less for Gordon Brown? That is certainly the discussion taking place today and with foresight I was asked to create an illustration about it for today's Independent. The inspiration for the image was the famous scene of Doc Brown clinging to the clock tower in Back To The Future, so I envisaged Gordon Brown doing a similar thing to the clock tower that houses Big Ben. Perhaps unfairly it always helps to characterise Brown as decidely unathletic, so you'll notice there is little grace on show, although one might argue that such an observation isn't a bad metaphor for his current position in politics.

Sunday 7 June 2009

6 days and counting

So my recent silence hasn't been connected to the previous post and subsequent result, promise! In fact I've been rather busy in my lecturing role with end of year assessments and haven't had a moment to browse and take note of all the fantastic things happening in the creative world.

My life continues at a great pace this week as I prepare to leave the UK for a little while and decamp to Park Slope in Brooklyn. In honour of this I'll attempt to give a daily countdown of things I hope to experience when I'm there as I frantically try and cram in all the things I need to do before my flight.

So first up is Windows Brooklyn, which "takes art out of the traditional museum or gallery setting and incorporates it into a vibrant public space". Essentially 34 artists will be converting storefront windows into art installations for a week. The event kicked off yesterday and is only scheduled to run until Saturday, so it's unlikely I'll get chance to see them but for anyone in the Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens area this week it should be an interesting sight.

"I Can Make You Feel It" - Home Video from Home Video on Vimeo.

Next up is a track from Brooklyn based duo Home Video. "I can make you feel it" was recently featured on Gossip Girl (a not so secret love of mine) and has a great feel to both the sound and the video. The black and white film with the organic patterns juxtaposed with the graphic shapes of their silhouettes really adds to the layered sound to create an eerie and entrancing experience. The band are playing the Public Assembly in Brooklyn on Friday night, again something I'll miss but relevant for anyone in Williamsburg this weekend.

Anticipation of the trip begins in earnest now...