Sunday, April 17, 2011

Easter Bunnies.

A couple of months ago I went down to London to help create this Cadbury's advert for Fallon. Along the way I bought 12 different lipstick shades, none of which, it turned out, could be beaten by the splendid pink of the props stylist's Elizabeth Arden lippy, which was used on the final version.

This is the final result, on little billboards, bush shelters and magazines (especially the pink-tops) everywhere. (Unable to eat Cadbury's chocolate of course, we get our Easter gear from this little gem of a firm down the road..)


It's here. This week as well as prepping the show, finishing all manner of structural and garden work and turning out an inhuman amount of illustration in a tiny amount of days, we noticed Spring bounce into our environs with a bang.

A blue sky moved in over our heads, and bright white blossoms popcorned into life on the cherry tree outside. The silver birch had a spurt. Washing went outside. Bees the size of small cars started banging about into things, flies recommenced annoying us, and I shed one layer of clothing (it'll be June before the next one comes off).

And Spring has probably never been evidenced quite as poetically as by these ladybirds. I didn't mean to get all Peeping Tom on them, but just look at him go! I never knew ladybirds saw this kind of action. That's positively Shakespearean, that is.

Clouds over Factoryroad.

For our second ever show Carl Rosati from Newcastle, aka The Cloud Commission, came to install his unique brand of gentle stories of love and loss, told through the tiny expressive eyes of his myriad, exquisitely-drawn people.

We've already told you about the way Carl sees the world, but we weren't prepared for such immediate bonding between visitors and pictures. From his large and perfectly-painted 'Death' tableau on The Big Wall to his tiny pencil-drawn image of a pair who'd rather starve at sea than be parted on land, guests paused to blink and acknowledge the little pain in the heart valves his work generates with such brutal casualness.

Work begins.

The perfect outline (finally...)

Scribble me purple.

Carl's work can look very 'vector' but there isn't one artwork made of pixels. He thinks nothing of creating a 15mm thick, perfectly consistent line with a 0.5mm Rotring, his historical involvement in architecture presenting itself in all of his current pieces, and his pencil sketches, though appearing simple and undemanding, can take more than a day. (We know, we watched). Eyes - the windows to a rainy or overcast soul - go in last, and mouths don't even need to be present. It was argued that the solid, stubby-fingered hands of his characters express more than their dotty eyes, but the jury's still out on that one.

Dance City.

Work for Idle Hands.

He brought with him not only a specially-created print of Bret 'The Hit Man' Hart the 90s wrestler (which we have for sale, for prices, click here.) but a pair of paintings on canvas, a new medium for him and not one he felt immediately comfortable with - though it was noted that this was the pair of images in front of which people spent the longest time. She's extracting her own tooth to stop whatever it is from hurting ('Better'), and he's accidentally shaved off a strip of his hair ('Broken') - every single follicle hand-rendered. Apart they'd be lost causes; together, they might just sort each other out.

Bret 'the Hit Man' Hart.

From our own collection of Cloud Commission works.

As well as a quartet of brightly-coloured screen prints, framed drawings, a trio of mini-screen prints and a brand new large scale print created just for our show, Carl brought his signature laser-cut diamond jewellery pieces with him. You can buy his 'Old Man' bolos, Diamond brooches, rings and cufflinks, along with his available prints, in our shop.

Guests in the form of clients, colleagues, friends, fellow illustrators and artists came from up and down the UK to cast curious eyes over our newly-clouded space...and left with slightly damp sparkly ones. His work looks bright and character-driven - which it is - but it's also beguilingly personal and poignant.

If you want more, go to Carl's website.

If you're interesting in purchasing any of his work, then here's a price list.

Since Carl's the descendent of an Italian ice cream empire, refreshments for the night were by Booja Booja the finest ice cream in the known universe.

Real ale was Goat's Milks 3.8%, supplied by Ridge Lane's Church End Brewery.

and fresh juices from Naturally Good Food in Cotesbach.

Guests Cory from Truth Marketing and Mark Sperry, moved to tears by it all.

Carl and rapt visitor Chrissie, the night before.

Carl, the morning after.

Monday, April 04, 2011

'Excuse me, I thought I was before you?'

'How To Be An Alien' is a book by George Mikes, written in the 50s about coming to London as an outsider. The book, published by Penguin, was the subject of a recent exhibition of work whereby each of the original chapters was illustrated afresh by a contemporary illustrator. (Regarding the originals, as it states on the cover, "Nicholas Bentley Drew The Pictures".)

My chapter was about queueing, which the British love to do and to moan about, and was in the show which opened this month at Great Western Studios in London. I couldn't make the opening myself, but my friends at agency CIA did and sent these pictures. You can just see my 'Queue' behind the hairy visitor's head, with other illustrations by fellow CIA artists.

It's on until 16th April, if you're interested:

Khaled Al-Saai.

Well I think I'm going to just quietly put down the pens, and walk away.

Sometimes you stumble across something which goes way beyond the rather facile urge to 'Facebook share', and makes you want to really try harder while lighting up the inside of your skull. Here's one such glittering gem.

Khaled Al-Saai was born in Syria in 1970 and graduated from the University of Damascus. He has work in the British Museum, the Museum of Calligraphy in Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates, and the US and exhibited all over the world. He has no website (which I find strangely gratifying - it's good for the soul to be denied something you want more of now and again), and images of his work appear to be few. And if I get another lifetime, I'll go to a special school in a far away country and learn this.

Though it's like graffiti, it's not; though its colours remind me of Conor Harrington, he isn't like him; though I think I can read it, I can't. I've never seen anything like it.

The photographs on his gallery's site aren't very good, but you can read more about him at least:


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