Friday 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick return to the neglected blog to say Happy Christmas to everyone..

Monday 18 April 2011

San Francisco project

As you may recall in Spring 2009 I set off to New York City for a stint of promotional meetings and self initiated work and during that time I worked on a project with writer Michelle Bower. Over a few weeks of my trip Michelle greeted the morning in London with words, which I picked up on waking in New York and turned into an image over the day. Highlights of the project can be seen on my website and the original project sits here

It was a great project that opened many doors for both of us and we've oft talked of repeating it. So recently when I went to San Francisco for a long weekend, despite our busy schedules and bigger time difference, we decided to do a mini version with a few changes. Firstly Michelle pre-prepared the statements, so I could take a look at the options and work out feasible illustration routes once I landed. Then I decided (after trying to do the first image late in the evening and before breakfast the next day) that it was too exhausting to squeeze in 3 full illustrations around my exploration of the city, especially when walking up and downhill all day. Instead I worked out the ideas and composition during my days in San Francisco and now I'm making the time to do the artwork. I've completed one and I hope to do another at the weekend, so watch this space. Image 1 below...

"The sun reminds you just how bright our outlook should be."

- Michelle overheard this statement on the bus in Sunny London. I woke up to a grey, drizzly, misty San Francisco and set out to find an angle I could work with.

To give it context the earthquakes and subsequent tsunami in Japan had happened only a week earlier and that was still at the forefront of my mind. On another note anyone who reads this blog often will know I'm really interested in politics, current affairs and global economics, and curiously I'd read an article before setting off to San Francisco about the impact of the disaster on industry and trade, share prices and the future health of Japan as a nation. It had talked about the immediate cost of lost lives in the wake of the tsunami but also discussed the potential losses in future from depleted Government funds, a wrecked economy, an old population and the inevitable pressure on public services. I remembered these concerns (which at the time I had oscillated between finding insensitive or pragmatic) and I found myself thinking about it as I wandered around San Francisco, witnessing first hand the closed stores due to the slow economy and hearing the relentless news of job numbers, share prices and future forecasts on the multiple news channels.

With all this swirling around I happened across the closed Virgin Megastore in the city. Much like its counterpart in Times Square this is a monument to a pre-digital download age and sits there empty, casting a large shadow with its barren windows and locked doors, taunted by the shiny, busy Apple store directly opposite teeming with tourists and locals alike, all in love with the brand. The Megastore is a sad store, abandoned and starting to show it, a gloomy reminder that despite the decent crowds wandering by tills are not ringing as loudly as they once were and the retail industry is posting poor numbers, underlined by the frequent 'sale' signs or worse 'closing down sale'. A reminder that the economy is fragile, unemployment is high and for a lot of people times are hard.

But, as I caught a glimpse of sunshine sliding between the clouds and illuminating the remaining Virgin banners, I realised that in light of the fragility of human life being so horrifically showcased in Japan, I could illustrate that by being alive and surviving in the face of economic hardship and fear "The sun reminds you just how bright our outlook should be":

I doubted myself over whether this illustration was crass, or would be seen as an attempt to simplify two unrelated issues, but hopefully the thought process detailed above illuminates my thinking and once I made the visual connection between the brand image and the Japanese flag I found it difficult to let go of my initial thinking.

I hope this image is received in the right way and I hope people don't think it is an attempt to trivialise or attach commerciality to an horrific natural disaster. It is not either of these things, but these were the things I was exposed to as I tried to solve this brief and the image above is the result.

I'll be posting the remaining images as I complete them, so keep an eye out for them...

Wednesday 16 March 2011

The City of Bohane

Back in October I mentioned that I was illustrating a book cover, but what I couldn't do was say who it was for or what the book was called, or more importantly show the cover.

But having just spotted the book on Amazon it seems I can finally share it...

The book is called 'City of Bohane' by Kevin Barry, an Irish Author who has won several awards for his short stories and this is his first novel for Random House. You can see what the cover looks like on Amazon:

The actual illustration spans the full book and looks like this:

This was such a cool commission, the dream job, the sort of illustration I love to do with barely any changes and positive responses from all involved. So I'm pleased I can finally share it on here!

When I get chance I'll give an overview of the brief but for now I hope you'll enjoy looking at the design.

Sunday 6 March 2011

A return to blogging (hopefully)

Wow it’s been an absolute age since I was last able to post on here. It’s been on my to-do list for the last few months and finally I'm back with plenty of illustrations to show.

Rolling back the months a bit, I got hold of my copy of American Ilustration 29, with a dramatic cover by Sam Weber:

My image 'Pedal to Enlightenment' that I created for The Ride journal back in Winter 2009, was selected for this book and can be seen below:

I was also lucky enough to be able to go out to New York for the launch party of the book back in November, so here are a couple of pictures from the event. It was held in the Angel Orensanz, an old Synagogue in the Lower East Side, and it truly was a magical venue, everyone remarked upon it whilst entering the space and it just added to my love of the city:

On a vaguely illustration related note I stayed at a beautifully designed hotel, The Jane, designed to mimic a turn of the century ship, with cabin like rooms and styling. I first saw this hotel advertised on in their amazing travel guides (I was researching a project at the time) and after mentioning it to a friend who raved about it I was convinced to go there myself and I wasn’t disappointed by the kooky experience including proper bellhops:

(Promo photograph)

As always I had an amazing time in the city, but this isn't a travelblog so back to the illustration and here is a selection of images created in the last few months or so:

Illustration for IET magazine, in the style of Russian revolutionary posters.

Another illustration for IET, this time parodying the cover of 'A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian' for a magazine featuring an interview with the author. All of the text is handrawn.

An illustration with a completely different feel, one for Learning Disability Practice Magazine about song therapy.

I've also just started doing a regular monthly illustration for a problem solving column in Social Work Now and the first image is below. This is a nice change of pace because the images are quite small and thus need to convey a message quickly and simply in a limited space:

I did another illustration in January for a finance magazine about American banking regulations impacting Asian markets. It was a difficult one to get my head around as they wanted me to show the Statue of Liberty stretching from one panel illustration across 2 double page spreads to a panel illustration. I'm not convinced it doesn't look mightily odd, but I was happy with the spread, unfortunately I don't have a version with the copy in, but the layout looked like this:

I've done lots more pieces, but I just wanted to show a selection here, so there you go. I can't wait to share the book cover I did back in October, but I'm waiting for it to be published first then I'll get it on here.

That's all for now, hopefully I'll be back soon.