Saturday, May 30, 2009

So you don't have to be dead then?

This week the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, from whence I carved my degree in illustration, rang to tell me they were naming their new annual illustration prize after me.

My first thought was, 'Oh, my God, how wonderful', followed immediately by 'Don't you have to be dead to have a prize named after you?'

Well not so, it seems. I was not only a student there but have taught there on and off for over sixteen years, delivering seminars, workshops, Q&A sessions and just good old-fashioned illustration tutoring. So perhaps it isn't so surprising, and I am, of course, completely floored to be asked (for a second I was welling up).

The prize giving is in June and as I'll be away, my best friend Melanie Tomlinson a fellow BIAD post-graduate and maker of magical metal things, is handing over the award on my behalf. The award isn't just a certificate - oh no - I've organised a handsome trophy in the form of a one-year subscription to Bikinilists, a consultancy with my good mates at The Design Conspiracy, a portfolio surgery and a signed limited print. They also receive an Association of Illustrators' membership, so whichever fortunate student I choose as the recipient will exit the course armed with a fearsome set of tools to make their way in the illustration world.

Damn - I wish I'D had the Sarah Coleman Prize when I graduated! 'Must try harder'...

You can get information on BIAD's degree shows here.

(This is Catherine Linton, from Wuthering Heights, a 1/3 scale costume model from my degree project. She's made of welded steel and has real hand-sewn clothes. Yes I did do illustration, honest - I just liked to stretch the brief a bit...)


A friend of mine found this the other day,

Apparently this illustration makes them think of the Seventies - which is fine by me, I was a 70s baby of course!
There are some gorgeous objects on this blog - bags, jewellery, coats, furniture - with about an hour and a credit card I could do considerable damage...

Computer artist.

I'm in this month's Computer Arts Projects mag, showing you how to create very analogue-looking lettering with sneaky digital means, in a more-complicated-than-it-looks tutorial.

It's nice to see big close-ups of nib hitting paper, but when Nick rang - in a spooky Facebook-related telepathy incident - and asked me to contribute an article, I couldn't help thinking, 'eh? me? I'm all ink and mess, mate.' But actually, I do use my digital artillery more than I realise, and writing this article threw a big 50's-style interrogation spotlight on exactly what processes I do use, and the steps they involve. Cheers to Nick and Julia for asking me to take part.

If you live on an island surrounded by newsagent-eating sea monsters, you can download my tutorial here.

I'm in the July issue of Computer Arts too, so watch the shelves! Or even better - subscribe!

The Harley.

Sometimes an object is so beautiful it takes the wind out your pipes - and when your own pipes are being overshadowed by the glittering beasts on this new Harley XL883C Custom Sportster, that's not an insignificant event.

This is my Dad, John (that's Mum bringing out the tea) and this is his new bike. In Vivid Black and chrome, this diminutive beauty was already making far too much noise when it arrived at my door, Father astride it with newly-blacked boots and head-to-toe in leather. 'Oh yes', I agreed, as he pointed at the exhaust pipes in that unique muffled 'helmet-on' language only bikers understand; 'it is a bit noisy isn't it? Be better when you get the quiet ones fitted'.

A black leather finger wagged in my face. 'No,' said the helmet. 'These are going. I'm getting the loud ones fitted tomorrow'.

And he did. And they are loud. And the bike goes, according to Dad, just as he expected - like a great big joyful bag of bricks with a totally impractical pillion seat. He normally rides a fast and gargantuan Suzuki V-Strom in flame red, which looks after the little American cousin in the newly-tidied garage (anything from the Land of the Rising Sun is apparently always going to be genetically superior). But here is the bike, and here are its breathtaking curves and details.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Doesn't cost a penny

I recently had the pleasure of joining the Smile gang in Birmingham at the opening of their new (well, their first!) studio at The Bond in Digbeth. As well as providing a live pianist and free posters, they deserve full credit for the drool-inducing and huge variety of cakes on offer, all baked specially for the occasion, and for the hot tip of Big John's takeaway for a post-party tea (fresh-made cheeseless pizza and chips for under a fiver - result!)

Smile are Matt, Nathan and Sue, and are, amazingly, still final year students on Birmingham Institute of Art and Design's Visual Communication degree. I met them first while drawing my V for the Baskerville project - they did all the filming and photography, as well as taking the studio photos of the work I did for the Witches exhibition, which they did a superb job of.

Already working professionally for clients including Type, The Plus+ International Type Festival and Aston Science Park, Smile do branding, identity, web design, photography and much more. Just days away from graduating, these three are already far ahead of their game. I simply cannot wait to see how this very savvy little team make their way in the world! And I hope to work with them again on all sorts of projects...especially if they involve those things most beloved of Inkymole: type, and baking.

See their website here: Smile!
Stop-motion animation of the entire evening here: Blog.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Kevin and Henry

I suppose it's a bit unorthodox to mirror the blog of one of your mates, but our friend Kevin Foakes has put the new artwork for his next LP online, and it's bloody gorgeous.

Henry Flint contributed the earthy, scratchy, detailed illustrations which caught my attention in the way little has since I discovered Vania Zouravliov, Aya Kato and Laurie Lipton.

We can't wait for the album now! We're actually listening to tasters as I type.

In the meantime do, as they say, check it out:
Kev's Blog

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The One That Got Away - one of many!

Sometimes I do speculative work or work for pitches where I think there's a chance the job could go live, or it's just too juicy a project to turn down, paid or not.

I've got quite strict criteria on these, but often, contrary to what might be expected, they produce work I'm really pleased with, or which goes into competitions, or gets picked up by a client or and therefore earns its keep in some other, unexpected way.

Previous examples of this were a thrown-together invite I did for my talk at the Apple Store in Regent Street - that piece has brought in more jobs than I can count - clients loved it. Another example was Dollface, produced as a personal piece of work and a screenprint, which has recently got me a proper juicer of a job for Saatchi's in New York. In fact there are so many examples, I might even start a series! Or a book...

ANYWAY - here's one I did last week. It was for Progression Design, and was a campaign to be run at Glastonbury this year. it's far from perfect, and the job didn't go ahead, but I enjoyed it a lot. I think I like doing these because the pressure's off - it's just a case of doing the best you can and having a bit of an experiment!


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