Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It Takes A Nation Of Hairdressers.

In Sunday we painted the windows of our friends' Katie and Tom's Aveda salon. It was partly because they have big empty windows, because it's ages since I did anything large-scale, and because they said we could!

'We' was Me and Tiffany Hurlston, who I invited to draw on one of the windows while I did the other. Having to create a pair of illustrations which complemented each other without compromising our respective styles was easier than first thought, because even though I work in ink lines and she likes to draw in pencil, the common denominator was a life-long love of drawing 'pretty ladies' and flowing healthy hair. And what else could a salon wish for on their windows?

First came the rough - here's my Photoshop sketch where I've traced Tiffany's drawing (left as you look at it) and my spontaneous sketch on the right.

This was approved by Tom and Katie, then we lent Tiffany one of our walls to practise working at a large scale for the first time:

I drew some ideas in a sketchbook but abandoned the mopey fringe, the spaced-out curls and and Rihanna-esque sulkfest for a serene Art Nouveau side profile:

When this didn't really mirror Tiffany's haughty-couture lady, a re-draw of the original wind-blown sketch was made with Aveda's herbal ingredients skittering through her hair in the autumn wind:

We put our drawings onto acetates so that they could be projected from inside and the guidelines followed (less used to freestyling, Tiffany was more comfortable using a guide for her first large-scale piece - I followed suit to get eyes, nose and chin in the right spot).

On site, we covered the windows with lining paper to enable projection and keep nosy eyeballs from seeing what was happening. Projecting wasn't the most brilliant idea, but for this job was the safest in ensuring a good result in the tight time available (an afternoon!)

Painting commenced.

Then we ripped off all of the paper to reveal...

And I knitted the two pieces together with a hand-drawn salon welcome (which had to be written backwards of course):

Tom and Katie with their faces of approval!

And this is how it looks from the street:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wobbily Painted Stones III: Overalls.

'Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work'.
Probably my favourite quote of all time.

Thus far in this gently sporadic collection of bits of advice, I've covered expectations on leaving college, and Ethics:



I'm going to post other chunks of information culled from twenty years at the mucky coalface, and compiled from a very long seminar I've delivered many times over the years (with regular updates for changes of landscape and technology) in the hope that they are useful for people wishing to learn, and make a living from, the same (or similar) trade as me.

It IS a trade. Remember that. We're not here to be superstars. Or to get gongs, massive public acclaim, tons of birds, money or film credits (though some illustrators have done all of those things).

No. Our job is to turn this:

- into this:

and be accountants, directors, marketing managers, financial planners, account handlers, traffic managers, the human resources department, tea lady, media planner, student liaison, bailiff and PR guru at the same time. As well as the odd bit of drawing.

For me, this sometimes doesn't happen till right at the end of the day, when I've dealt with the hectares of email, web stuff, brief reading and printing, skipping through the manuscript I've been sent, discussing things with the ever-patient assistant or accounts lady, blogging, updating my website, accounting software, banking, done stuff in town, and made my phone calls. That moment is nice - pencil in hand, I finally get to 'the real stuff'.

But of course it's all 'the real stuff'. You're a business, and as soon as you get comfortable with that idea, the better. You might well end up actually doing 'the work' at night time, when everything else is done. But that's OK, as long as you do (and as long as the client knows, and you're keeping on top of their expectations.) For now, then, I recommend this book as a way to get started in arming yourself with the detail of running a creative business, ‘The Illustrator’s Guide to Law and Business Practice’ is by Simon Stern, and published by the Association of Illustrators. It's not their latest book, but it's still a great guide to the basics of law, copyright, fees, licences and more. Don't buy it from Amazon - get it here, and support the only trade body we have in the UK for our industry.

That's it for now.

Next, I do The Web. All of it. Yeah - you best get that kettle on.

Ever-decreasing Circles

This time last year I was watching B. Dolan get married under a bright blue Massachussetts sky. You might have seen his wedding invitation on my website, it's one of my most favourite ever pieces in my entire folio.

This year, I was sitting under a grey English sky drawing a poster for B. Dolan's tour with band Circle Takes The Square. This was a job out of the blue, quite fast. A commission for a friend. 'Do what you do best' he said. I like what emerged. Especially because as I was drawing it, I thought 'this doesn't really look like me'.

The illustration had to reflect and respect the artwork of the band's LP, by the horribly talented Drew Speziale, who  also drew the heart being drilled for oil on Sage Francis' Human The Death Dance LP, which I did the typography for a few years ago.

And as it turned out...Circle Takes The Square is Drew's band. Drew took my illustration and worked with it, altering colours and even chopping bits up - which would normally incense me, but this just looked brilliant. I think I've just had my first accidental collaboration, and I adore the result.

So, if you're in the US and living on the East Coast, coming to a venue near you is this terrifying collection of artistes, their poster preceding them. Here's how it developed. Seems Mr. Dolan has a knack for getting the most out of my pens.

A small collection of Drew Speziale's album artwork:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Drew is a ****

Personal work, or off the clock work, can be a 'big-gulp-of-air' opportunity to do something you wouldn't normally do, or it can be another vehicle to produce what you're known for.

When people commission you, they're doing so from a catalogue of things they've already seen - ie; your folio. Which is what a folio is for. But this means they're always choosing from what's gone before. But it's the stuff that you do outside of your folio, often the unpaid work, which moves that folio forward. Otherwise, your folio would stay frozen in time - and you'd become boring and uncommissionable in no time.

So shows, personal projects, requests from mates, tattoos, unpaid pitches, these all provide such opportunities. As do local art projects. I have to be frank and say I have never get involved in those - our local paper has a history of featuring aspiring young creatives, musicians, actors, artists, only for them to crash and burn before ever reaching their potential. Call me superstitious, but no. I shan't be going in the local rag, or doing anything which might get me in it.*

I made an exception for this project, run by my friend and ex-teaching colleague Alisha Miller. I really wanted to do it. 'Decorate a meter-high MDF sunflower however you like, to be put on show as part of a trail through Nuneaton Town Centre with loads of other sunflowers.' 'Does it have to be about Nuneaton?' 'Up to you.'

So I thought about what I know of Nuneaton. I do have a real fondness for the place. My Dad worked there as a probation officer in the 70s and early 80s, and we often went to his office and hung out. We also went to Wales Chippy as children - and still do now, for a crinkle-cut treat - and my first pair of contact lenses (so grown up at 16!) came from the optician in Bond Gate.

Growing up, 'the hard kids' came from Nuneaton. We were scared of them but secretly fascinated. I thought about how public art projects in troubled places can be received. Badly - a waste of money. Graff'd up, kicked, leaned on, spat on, decorated with chips and 'chuddy'. In fact our sunflower broke before painting, and I felt bad for my butchered piece of public sculpture, but the idea was born.

What, I thought, would happen if the vandals loved a piece of art so much they wanted to express that, but in the same way they'd express sneering cynicism?
Real graf from the area was collected for reference, and the rest is a combination of real-life names, dialect and phrases, acrylics, Molotow paint, Tipp-Ex, Poscas, Hardcore© markers and sheer physical exuberance.

The result is summarised with the bit of blurb generated for the label:

'What would it be like if the vandals loved what they saw? Nuneaton, much-maligned and oft-abused, holds many fond memories for me. Lifelong relationships were formed in the Sunny Nunny of my youth.
The flower underneath is pretty, but the love and raw enthusiasm expressed over it is beautiful.'

In the end my piece was censored and politely stood in a gents' clothes shop with its naughty back to the wall, its broken stem mended, so it didn't communicate quite the way I had intended it - loudly, rudely gleeful, and outside, happy to degenerate with the elements. I'm not sure it's what was expected, which was, of course, the point. Alisha loved it, and the energy and humour I piled into it is there for all to see.


You can see my delinquent sunflower at Cream, Abbey Street, Nuneaton, until 28th September: https://www.facebook.com/TheCreamStore

Collecting 'graff' on my travels.

Ed helping me with painting.

*Solo One, our local superstar graffer living in London for the past 15 years, is the exception to this rule. He was in the local paper for his criminal offences. This actually had the opposite effect from the one the paper usually has, as his client list will tell you.


Related Posts with Thumbnails