Monday, December 21, 2009

Gocco Christmas

What enormous fun! The annual Inkymole seasonal greeting was produced this year on a recently-acquired Gocco PG-5, a tiny all-in-one Japanese printing machine.

It's a cross between rubber stamping and screenprinting, and my initial results are amusingly oafish - a big loud Christmas greeting rendered in chunky colours which started off neatly contained in their own spaces, but soon bled excitedly into one another making some of the cards outrageously 'spontaneous'. A hefty amount of ink is required, but this little creature can produce up to 1000 prints from one screen. Seeing them pile up over every available surface in the studio, with gaudy Christmas lights bouncing off them, was truly delightful.

I've been moaning ever so slightly over the last eighteen months or so that I don't do enough print, and so in a year where we seem to have received far fewer 'physical' cards, and more 'e-cards', I was proud to be lugging bagfuls of hand-printed, slightly wonky things to the post office. Actually...that sounds like last year. Come to think of it, the year before, too...and...

I think I finally appreciate now that if ever the year comes when I don't send something hand-made (or at least hand-drawn) out into the world in December, there will be uproar.

Thanks little lavender Gocco monster. Can't wait to see what I do with it in 2010!

Prepare, as I geek out most publicly. Here's how the printing was done:

The artwork has to be drawn in one take onto thin non-reflective paper, using a carbon-heavy tool - a pencil, the special RISO Gocco pen, or you can use a photocopy. After an initial disaster using the original art (bottom left) which revealed the Special Pen to be Not So Special, I went for an old-fashioned sticky-with-carbon photocopy.

Gocco lid open, ready for action:

You put the artwork down on the sticky pad, press the lid down and expose the screen using these amazingly glass-fruit-like bulbs, which pop like 70s flashbulbs and die after just one screen. Ahhhhh....

Then you cover the reverse of the screen with as much ink as it will take, blocking off areas you don't want to bleed with ink blocking foam. I only used a bit of this, as I wanted to see just how amusing the bleeding would be.

The screen looks like this after a while - completely smeared with ink:

Press down and clunk to print...

Print again...

Till you can't print any more...

And get your Mum to stamp and label them! (Note starring sprout being coy behind prints drying in cute Gocco rack.)
Gocco mentalism!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Girls' Night In

Not that many people know about all the 'chick lit' books I do, as there isn't room to get them all on the website, but I've worked on an awful lot of this particular genre. I found this as I was stomping through WHSmith today: a bargain 6-book 'Girls Night In' Collection (whatever did the apostrophe do to offend them?) for the silly sum of £4.99.

Can you tell which are Mole's?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It Wasn't Me.

The other day we were sitting discussing the heating system for the new studio (we're aiming to make it as off-grid as possible, not an easy task) when a text popped in. 'Hi, in London. Just saw (insert Ad Campaign/Poster/Book Cover), did you do it?'
Now, often the answer to a query of this nature would be 'yes', but this time it wasn't.

A quick Google revealed both client and illustrator. Nice folio. Lovely job. Did I teach them? Seems familiar. Really nice work. I can see why they thought it was me. Yeah, I can definitely see why...hell, this is practically studied. In fact, if there was an Inkymole School of Illustration, this person had to have put in at least a couple of years graft. I was due for a run that afternoon and, feeling unsettled by the similarities in the work, I ran and ran and ran further than I have for months. It felt good.

See, there is no Inkymole School of Illustration. As I've had to tell a few curious emailers lately, my (current) style wasn't taught in a certain specialist class, nor did I do an extra course, and neither is there one you can enrol on now. Every time someone gives me a platform to pass on some of the wisdom I've gleaned from a few years doing this, I tell students the same thing: keep evolving. Keep moving. You absolutely, cannot, ever sit back and rest on your laurels - there's going to be a litter of pup illustrators yapping excitedly around your feet every twelve months, and good luck to 'em too, because we've all been one - and probably taught a few of them.

Illustrator X doesn't know how heavily they've referenced my work (or maybe they do), nor should they. They're just getting on with 'getting on with it'. When things like this come along it's a reminder that it's time to apply the same thinking as in my run - push a bit further even if the limbs ache a bit. Work it off. Evolve. And take the whole thing as a ginormous compliment. If I didn't...I'd be a grumpy old fool, and the illustration biz has absolutely no room for those.

'Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us'.
Albert Schweitzer
(oh, and this one was me).

Must. Try. Harder. Always.

I love looking at other people's work, especially when it's really, really good. And specially when it's by people who don't know they're that good. Makes me want to be a better illustrator. Like this fella:

I like this font:

A font created using items from the Mitchell Library’s (The State Library of New South Wales) broad and eclectic collections, to celebrate its hundred year anniversary. If you go to the library you can click on any letter and see the elements it's made from.


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