Friday, February 19, 2016

If I could illustrate any book cover...

**  I'm reposting this blog today, due to the upsetting news that Harper Lee has died **

Earlier this year Diane Luger at Grand Central Publishing asked me to illustrate a cover for the 50th anniversary edition of To Kill A Mockingbird, one of my favourite books ever.

Leaving aside the nerves at taking on such a responsibility, this meant an immediate phone call to my friend Jules who is also a life-long fan and who can still, years after our O levels ended, quote whole sections of the book. She lent me the DVD of the film and had on standby her copy of the book and, together with my friend Drew, provided ideas and thoughts and, later in the process, very objective feedback on what I was putting together, helping keep some of the 'less confident' ideas from the art directors' eyes!

For me the most poignant moments are those when the feared Boo Radley leaves his little gifts for Scout and Jem hidden in the tree, especially the tiny figurines of the children. That needed to be central to the image and in the end, it literally does form 'the spine' of the book. The other elements were Scout's tomboy clothing and the trees (forming play areas and hiding places), and, since I've been working with silhouettes a lot recently, a nod to the work of American artist Kara Walker, whose work frames themes relevant to the book such as race, history, narrative, power and shame.

Ink drawings of Scout and Jem:

An early sketched cover idea:
To my relief the end result was approved of by both Jules and Drew, art director and author. I get quite excited when I think about Harper Lee's eyes on my artwork. Not known for her sociability, it is rumoured she keeps a very low profile in the town of Monroeville where she lives, and where Mockingbird is alleged to have been set. But it seems she liked it. In an enlightening coincidence, a recent BBC documentary on the 50th anniversary of the book led the presenter to Morris Dees, founder of The Southern Poverty Law Centre in Alabama, also a client, and one I'm proud to work for. You can read his narrative on 'What To Kill A Mockingbird Means To Me'.

'The small-town life that Harper Lee wrote about in Mockingbird may be fading away, but many of the attitudes about race live on. Just as importantly, the deep, underlying structures of racism in our country have not been eliminated. On the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee’s classic, we must dedicate ourselves to the work that remains to be done.'

Now, the OTHER one I'd love to do is Wuthering Heights, but for I'll have to wait until 2047 for the next anniversary...


About the book.
Harper Lee.
Southern Poverty Law Centre.
Buy a copy of the book (US only, sorry).

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Shit Just Got Real: Apple vs The US Government.

I adore Apple, but I also adore the safety and comfort offered by the breathtaking developments in technology created by not only this company, but by countless scientists, engineers, coders, product designers and inventors of the past.

Apple have this morning made this announcement, and they have my full and unequivocal backing.

I suspect they have the backing of millions of other people too, but I felt an urgency about putting  this here in order to spread the word.

I've known friends and colleagues in security and encryption, and in government departments, in IT and related fields. Equally I've been in situations where I was party to some cheeky breaking-in of various kinds in the name of creativity over the years. 

But possibly the most powerful government agency on the planet forcing a company to make the first move in essentially taking the hinges off the back doors off our houses, handing over the keys to our online safes and letter boxes and listening to our conversations?

"Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable".

Nope. Here's where we draw the line.


February 16, 2016

A Message to Our Customers
The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand. 

This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.

The Need for Encryption

Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.

All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply committed to safeguarding their data.

Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.

For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.

The San Bernardino Case
We were shocked and outraged by the deadly act of terrorism in San Bernardino last December. We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected. The FBI asked us for help in the days following the attack, and we have worked hard to support the government’s efforts to solve this horrible crime. We have no sympathy for terrorists.

When the FBI has requested data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we’ve offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal.

We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.

The Threat to Data Security
Some would argue that building a backdoor for just one iPhone is a simple, clean-cut solution. But it ignores both the basics of digital security and the significance of what the government is demanding in this case.

In today’s digital world, the “key” to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.

The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.

The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.

We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data. Criminals and bad actors will still encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them.

A Dangerous Precedent

Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.

The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by “brute force,” trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.

The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.

Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government.

We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.

While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.

Tim Cook

Copyright © 2016 Apple Inc. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sarah at the Apple Store, Covent Garden.

I’ll be giving a short talk at the Apple Store in Covent Garden next week, Tuesday 23rd February.

From 6pm, you can book tickets here - it’s free - and first come first served.

I’ll be talking about illustration and related but non-serious matters involving pencils and pens. And maybe I’ll mention an Apple gadget or six.

Come along!
(I think there may be refreshments…oh wait, no, just a massive amount off Apple gear to fondle).

Tuesday, 23 February 2016 at 18:00
Apple Store, Covent Garden
No. 1-7 The Piazza
London WC2E 8H

Join Sarah J Coleman, aka Inkymole, as she explains how a love of ink inspired her to pursue a career in illustration and lettering, and why she’s so excited about the possibilities of digital ink with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. Register before arrival.

Snug like two beans in cocoa pod.

I’ve been back at the windows of Cocoa Amore leading up to the great celebration of Saint Valentine; patron saint of affianced couples, guarding against fainting, bee keepers, happy marriages, love, plague, and epilepsy.

I didn’t include any bees or plague as that might have confused the message, but I did keep it simple and bright with an explosion of little none-cutesy hearts bursting from the Cocoa Amore logo, which itself is pretty darned heart-shaped. I made some of the cocoa beans romantic colours too (is purple romantic? Steady…)

Then it was just a case of sprinkling them around the windows to reflect the overall sense of adoration and longing (for chocolate, of course).


Sunday, February 07, 2016

Grey Eyes Made Glittery.

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.

Me and Coke: Part 2!

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!

And here is the necklace which SO NEARLY made it…technical issues with the fineness of my calligraphy meant that they used a font in the end, and chunked it up a bit so it could be made quickly with fewer technical concerns, but here is the set of four necklaces designed to be worn together, on my ‘borrowed’ décolletage (sorry lady whoever you are!)

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.


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