Sunday, February 07, 2016
I went to London on Wednesday for the opening of 'Reframing The Myth', hosted at The Guardian offices and created by Central Illustration working with Graeae Theatre (pronounced 'Grey Eye’).
Graeae is a theatre company made up of people with all kinds of disabilities, created to 'break down barriers, challenge preconceptions and place disabled artists centre stage'. It champions accessibility - for both performers and audience - and provides a platform for new generations of deaf and disabled talent through the creation of trail-blazing theatre, at home and abroad. Their founder and Artistic Director Jenny Sealey wrote and produced the 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony, and was awarded an MBE in 2009.
So, quite a lot to live up to then!
The brief invited a selection of artists to respond to material supplied by our subject - mine was 24-year-old Jacqui - all of whom were Graeae theatre members - in any way we wanted, whether that was focussing on their history, or achievements, interests, lives, thoughts, inspirations, physicality...or any combination thereof.
Jacqui is a poet which gave me plenty of potential material, seeing as I like to work with words, but in the end it was the ambitious and aspirational little girl at the very beginning of her story that caught my imagination, and created a piece which didn’t need any words!
The broken glass bubble is a reference to something she said in her interview, and once decided upon as a central feature, lent the whole thing its magical look!
Here’s what I said about it in my recorded interview (recorded so that the people of Graeae with sight problems could listen in on our ramblings too!)
“The thing that had the most impact on me were these two things: the photograph of Jacqui as a tiny little girl, an unfeasibly huge smile on her face, and her defiant line ‘we don’t all live in a bubble in the forest you know’, referring to the way people assume she knows ALL the other disabled people.
Jacqui was a little girl who wanted to be an astronaut, then a vet, then a Power Ranger...then a Ninja Turtle.
This is a picture of the spirit of the Jacqui I saw, that aspirational, excited little girl reaching for whatever she wants to do, without fear. Those very toys of her childhood - examples of super human ability and physical powers - marvel up at Jacqui as she flies around in her own vast sky, aided by the stars, having bust out of ‘the bubble’ while leaving her beloved sparkly purple wheelchair - her first as a little girl - safe on the ground. The animals she would have looked after if she had chosen Vet Jacqui are looking up too.
Her forest is a fantasy one where the trees are purple and pink, and the grass is lime, and the moon suggests the space-helmet of an astronaut framing her face.
She is wearing the dress she has on in the picture she supplied of herself as a small girl; I liked its collar, and fact that it is too big for her - she makes reference to her feet staying tiny, and her clothes being too big. In this picture, the world can hardly contain her!"
The collection is currently on show at The Guardian heaquarters at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, just behind Kings Cross and very close to the House of Illustration.
No, you’ve got it all wrong, this is ELDERFLOWER WATER.
So fast forward from 2006 to nine years later and I’m drawing for Coke again - this time, a very clever campaign which took the Tweets of selected lady Diet Coke drinkers, and turned them into physical objects sent as gifts to them Tweeters themselves, under the hashtag ‘ReTweetsOfLove’.
They had no idea they were going to receive them!
They took the form of T shirts, pads, ice sculptures, PARK sculptures, jewellery and prints, even a digital display in Times Square.
I did 7, with one was cancelled; a necklace, which would have made a fiiiine piece of work but is posted here anyway, as me and the art director did a lot of work on it so it deserves an airing!
Here’s my poster, from sketches to completion. The Tweeter’s name and original quote had to go in verbatim (which meant including any strange grammar or punctuation issues - sorting that one out was an interesting discussion for a grammar perfectionist!)
Then there was the iPhone case:
A T shirt:
Two notepads (sent to writers!):
And then the best bit, my own Coke can!
The necklace gave me a right old taste for 3D printing though, so this isn’t the last you’ll hear of THAT!
Thanks Bernstein & Andriulli Coke, Droga5 and Fast Horse for a great job, and nice to have a solid collection of pieces.
I’m about to post some ads I did for Diet Coke recently, and I suddenly remembered while prepping the files that I’ve worked for Coke before. These pieces are not in my folio as one was a ‘below the line’ thing for internal use, and the other wasn’t used - the product they were going to launch never was! Here are some of the pieces from those jobs.
You can tell how old they are as the line quality is very specifically from a certain era, but I like them a lot - they have a particular cheeky/crude energy. That machine thing with the scientists is bonkers. I miss drawing this way, all action, no pencil sketch, no micro-art-directing!
Also - interesting, look at the comparison of the Head with a job I did nine years later for The LA Times - they’ve never seen this piece as it has never been featured in a folio, but there’s a lot of similarity.
Bet you can’t guess what new drink they were considering going into…? Red…green…white...
Nice to observe the energy and quality in these, though I really didn’t have a very good scanner at the time. I drew a car, and it doesn’t look like it would instantly crash!
This was all to do with chilling’ with your cup of...
Finally, here’s the head I did for the same job, again about developing ideas, and the one for LA Times years later. You can see that I was trying to get to grips with Illustrator at the time, so I offered them both an Illustrator version and a Photoshop-from-drawing one - I was never sure which I preferred (probably the ink) and I don’t know which one they chose in the end!