Thursday, 22 January 2009

The rules

Here' a new piece.
When you create an illustration style, you have to make rules that apply to that look. These are often more instinctive than planned - but here they are as I see them:
1. Keep it simple stupid!
In my opinion simple ideas are the best.
I cannot bear it when a client tries to add absolutely everything that is in the article.
It's a joy when you get an art director (as in this case) who says - we like your work, do what you want (within reason) they will always get a better job than those trying to meddle. That is not to say I am not averse to changes - the client is always right (even when they are wrong!)
But I think that adding loads of bits that may be found in the article is unnecessary, fussy and in my opinion inferior to a simple cleaner idea that represents the article (or may even add to it) in one bold design.
2. Limited colour palette
In this case and in a lot of my work, I am using a 50's inspired 2 tone colour palette.
In the past they would use just 2 colours, when that is all they were allowed in the printing process. But as in many cases having to kick against a limitation can allow creativity to roam.
3. Old style Typography.
These letter were printed using old fashioned printing blocks.
It's hard to believe, but at Manchester Polytechnic in the early 90's they still had sets of old lettering blocks - with the actual leading (gaps in between.) There were barely any computers then, and we certainly didn't use any for illustration. The computer though is just another tool - the idea is most important. The computer just lets you create it easier and quicker (though this is not always a good thing.)
4. Brown Paper.
All my work begins with a sheet of old brown or yellowing paper. The edge are uneven and look torn.
5. Distressed image.
A distressed screen print look that matches the typography.

Friday, 16 January 2009


As part of my regular column I was asked to create an illustration on how the credit crunch effects sales of guitars. As I'd already done a personal piece on this theme, (seen further down in this blog) I decided to adjust it to suit this subject. I was really pleased with the new version. It has the simplicity and balance I want to achieve in my work. It also has that feeling of a vintage poster that I like. As usual with my best illustrations, it was relatively quick to put together - it is the ones that I struggle with for days that often are least successful.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Vintage Rock!

Some friends of mine make electronic music, I did this piece for them. Inspired by Monty Python's Flying Circus and using my collection of vintage illustrations.

Monday, 12 January 2009

The Eligible Bachelor

Flicking around the TV channels yesterday I came across 'The Eligible Bachelor' a film made by Granada in 1992. It was the first job I had after leaving Manchester Metropolitan University. I had to draw the images Sherlock Holmes saw in a dream and had scribbled down. (They had to be purposively 'scruffy'.) It was very exciting going to see the actors rehearse and take photos of the late Jeremy Brett, I remember him saying "the eyes need to be black darling like yours, very black." It was all very 'actor' like. Brett was widely considered to be the definitive Holmes of his era. I didn't know it at the time but he had been hospitalized for much of the last decade of his life suffering from bipolar disorder .This film was sadly the last they made before his death in 1995.
I remember the joy of clearing my student overdraft with that first and in some ways most exciting of jobs.

Friday, 9 January 2009

A slow week.....

It's been a slow week getting back into it, and not feeling particularly inspired after the Christmas break. It's difficult to explain the creative process, sometimes no matter how much you try - it just doesn't 'flow', at other times it comes so easy!
I'm currently waiting for a few jobs that are pending.....
I did get an email enquiry from nowpublic who wanted to use a photo of mine on an article about how a lot of Brits are contemplating getting a scooter. It was taken just coming out of a London pub - I just saw the red of the scooters and phone boxes and had to take the photo.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Happy New Year!

I'm actually happy to be back at work today, after all the festivities.
As a great start to the new year, I'm featured as a selected artist at the front of the Association of illustrators (A.O.I) website. This is the website I always go to as a resource, and information about publications, pricing etc. They also have a great forum where you can contact other illustrators, and find out what's going on in their world - it's good to see the opinions of people in the industry.