Over the last year, I've had the pleasure of working with the RSPCA branch in the Cotswolds on their branding for a new cats and dogs home...Read More
Bournstream is a local play and picnic site for children with special needs. In early 2013, they commissioned me to produce two murals for their site.Read More
With a wonderful launch, last month, the collaborative exhibition from Laura Wady and myself is now up in 'The Snug' in Tobacco Factory's Cafe Bar and on til the end of December.Read More
I don't often put on an exhibition of my own work and I've never done an exhibition quite like this one.Read More
Running now for a number of years, The Bristol Palestine Film Festival is an in-depth showcase of film-making from up-and-coming directors, as well as digging deeper for film reels from past decades. Previous festival imagery was created by the talented - and also Bristol-based - illustrator Aurelia Lange who delivered a stunning set of delightfully loose and engaging illustrations, which focused on Palestinian landscapes and the process of watching a film.
This year the festival wanted a change in direction with their imagery and so I was commissioned to create an illustration that has a greater focus on the human nature behind the films, picking up on themes of gender, expression, identity, power, choice and autonomy.
By focusing on a female character confidently posed and in a head-dress, this hints at the festivals themes. And by having the head-dress constructed out of film-roll this is enough of a visual indicator to the nature of the festival itself. I choose to keep the image very raw in construction, with obviously hand-drawn lines, rendered in a rough, immediate and textured way, to further emphasis the conviction and independent spirit behind many of the films to be shown.
Being a free-lance illustrator can mean taking on all sorts of unusual and varied commissions from large-scale jobs, spread over many months, to smaller, local projects that perhaps only a few people may actually physically see the results of.
I was recently contacted by a local researcher, who works directly with disabled children and wanted to create a bespoke, sensory book for each of the five children in their study. Rather than simply insert a photo of the child in question, she commissioned me to catch some of the energy and character of each of the five children in the form of a simple portrait.
Between us we opted for the very immediate and common-place medium of felt-tips, with their bright, bold colours and immediately recognisable line. Working from a selection of photographs, I sketched out each of the five children and after a few amends, under direction from the researcher, translated the rough sketches to the final, felt-tip line drawings.
While this was a very small job, with a quick turn-around and with the images now already in use in the play-books - I felt this worth-while blogging about, as it's these sorts of jobs that can sometimes be the most rewarding, due to it's immediacy and very personal use - almost like making a present for someone. Longer and larger commissions can sometimes, depending on the nature of the job, require a reserve of energy to stay motivated and excited about the project in question.
Smaller projects also remind me how useful it can be to break down larger jobs into manageable, bite-size chunks and to tackle a number of those "chunks" in unison. I've found that if I'm struggling to find a solution in one area, by focusing on another section of the project, this can then allow me to return to that original problem area with fresh-eyes. A benefit of being free-lance and managing your own time can mean that you can create a time-table of projects and project sections, allowing you to move between areas with each part potentially influencing and motivating the other.
I've had my head down for the best part of the Summer working on a few things that I can hopefully shout about later this year. In the meantime, here's a quick project I enjoyed collaborating on with studio buddy and quality graphic designer, Dan Hayman, back in July.
When I'm not in my studio, you can often find me digging for records and sometimes even playing them in some of Bristol's bars and clubs. In July, myself and a few friends were invited to put on a night at one of Bristol's legendary underground spaces - Cosies. Dan and I took on the task of designing a poster for the night, which was covering all things disco, house and electro.
After some thought, we decided it'd be quite fun to go for a tongue-in-cheek approach by creating a marvel-comic-book-superhero inspired look to go with the outlandish title of the night. I sketched up a character in this style - taking classic elements from super hero poses and combining them to form the "Supersmash" heroine. We had also decided to produced a small run of screen-prints to give away to early arrivals, on the night. This limited our colours to two and with one being a punchy black, I introduced some half-toning to give the figure extra depth, with the orange colour picking out clothing and other elements across the design.
I then passed this illustration over to Dan who worked on the text, layout and background "burst".
We then spent an evening screen-printing the finished design out.
Regular client Tobacco Factory also have a hand in one of Bristol's best back-street boozers - The Barley Mow (not to be confused with the one in Bedminster, Bristol). Via them, I had the rather lovely commission to visualise the regular pub happenings to fit an A6 promotional flyer format, complete with a simple, quirky map targeting some key local areas.
The odd looking zebra is based on the pub's mascot - a charming, vintage wooden toy zebra.
Making sure this was printed on high-quality, matt, thick pulp-board stock was important to the aesthetic of the flyer's hand-drawn, keeping-it-local and lo-fi focus.
Cats are pretty special. But some cats go that extra mile. In this case quite literally.
Over 50 years ago, France launched Félicette the cat aboard Veronique AGI sounding rocket No. 47 (October 18, 1963). Félicette was recovered alive after a 15 minute flight and a descent by parachute. Epic, I think you'll agree?
In a small effort to promote those cats who, quite rightly, are famous in their own right - I present 'Cats of Fame'. Kicking off with a very limited-edition run of printed bags featuring Félicette - the 1st French cat in space. Each bag is hand printed by myself. Drop me a line, if you would like one.
Look out for more feline activity in the coming months.
Long-running club night, Alfresco Disco, hosted another secret-location party recently and I had the pleasure of devising a creative way of artworking the words 'MAXIMUM JOY' to serve as visuals for the night.
These promoters know how to put on a good party, but they also know the value in getting something new and unique to them, particularly when it comes to the look and vibe of a night. A tight budget and time-scale on this particular event meant some thrifty thinking on how to effectively portray the MAXIMUM JOY words in a quick, yet effective fashion.
The venue, being on the top floor of the Arnolfini / Bush House building, boasts incredible panoramic views of Bristol's harbour and waterfront and it seemed advantageous to make use of the windows surrounding the loft space, but without blocking the evening Summer sunlight.
I focused on constructing a design that used a single shape that could then form a patterned grid, out of which the words could be revealed by removing shapes to create negative space - important space to be able to look through. By sourcing large sheets of coloured acetate, it was a simple matter of cutting out 400 of these identical shapes to then use on the windows.
Before installation, I'd already mapped out each window exactly to work out which shape went where, to save time on the single day we had to set up. I used spray mount to fix the acetate onto the glass, to ensure an easy post-event-cleanup.
The same colours and shapes I carried over to decorate the front of the DJ booth, along with a single infamous Alfresco stag logo.
And to further celebrate this slogan and to pull the focus towards the music, as the night crept in, I adapted the window design to a static visual projected behind the DJ booth that faded between four colour-ways and the stag logo.
Look out for more Alfresco Disco action. This one sold-out in under 24 hours.
lead and final photo credit: Kane Rich
Look what came in the post from Lentejas Press.
On their third issue, this Barcelona based outfit work with Do The Print to risograph print each edition in two colours. This issue has fluo pink and black as the chosen two.
I submitted a playful drawing and am lucky enough to have been included, alongside incredible talent from Austria, Chile, Germany and, of course, Spain.
Each of the 16 pages is a delight and I don't want to reveal too much, as you should go and jolly well buy one as soon as you can. If you're in Barcelona, you should nip along to this event tomorrow (28 June) and buy from them direct.
Otherwise, keep an eye on their etsy shop page and follow them on facebook to find out how you can bag yourself a copy. They have printed 165 copies, so be quick.
We had an open day for our Drawn in Bristol studios recently. Situated inside Hamilton House, Stokes Croft, our studio swung open its doors to the general public for a nosey around. Jenny organised a pop-up shop area, Kieron a pop-up cafe and I ran a screen-printing demo. You can read more about the open day over on the Drawn in Bristol blog.
For my demo, I used a new image, loosely taking the idea of "opening something up" as inspiration (excuse, perhaps!) to create a Jack in the box print.
After sketching out some thumbnails in my sketchbook, I then developed these into an A3 drawing, complete with the word "BOING" stretched out to form a background. I used three different colouring pencils to figure out how to separate the layers for a two-colour screen-print. The purple colour showed where the blue and red would overlap, making tracing out the layers an easy job.
In preparation, I screen-printed the first layer in three different colours (20 of each colour) and during the Open Day guided visitors through printing the second layer on top, with each visitor taking away the result of their efforts.
It's been all go in the Drawn in Bristol studio recently, with quite the Spring clean going on. Part of sprucing up the place has many of the studio members customising their own (IKEA) stool for the meeting area, so keep an eye on their blog for updates.
For mine, I wanted to play on the circle shape and not do anything too serious. Taking elements commonly found on stereotypical pirate maps, I opted for a disaster-at-sea situation in the form of a whirlpool ensnaring sea monsters and a few nautical characters. Painted in acrylic and sealed with two layers of matt varnish, this should hold up for some time.
I can't wait to see what my fellow studio-mates do with theirs.
Drawn in Bristol have their Summer exhibition coming up.
It's called Holiday Homes and is a celebration of the humble bird box. With a portion of the sales going to the incredible work of St Mungo's Broadway - a charity helping people recover from the issues that create homelessness - buyers can feel extra positive about dipping into their wallets to purchase one of the 30 illustrated bird boxes that will be on display inside Bristol's No1 Harbourside bar.
Being a bit of an enthusiast for bird life, I opted to transform my bird box into a keen bird-loving character, on an ornithological mission. Clutching a pair of binoculars, I thought it would be comical to have have this surprised "twitcher" not only have a few cheeky birds perched just out of his eye line, but also to have them potentially popping in or out of his own mouth.
The bird box has a nifty hanging fitting at the back and is sealed for all manner of weathers, but equally might simply make for a quirky bit of indoor artwork.
For more information about the launch evening on 12 June and to spy updates of other bird boxes, simply follow this link. The exhibition continues til 21 June.
Bristol's Big Market is part of Bristol's Big Green Week and, if previous year's successes are anything to go by, this year should be another incredible event. Stretching all the way down Corn Street and off into the surrounding roads, it quite literally is the biggest market for the city.
The design brief was to capture an essence of the atmosphere and location of the market with an illustration. Corn Street has a number of remarkable buildings with heaps of fine detail, stunning sculptures and great architecture, towering over the, what can feel like, quite a narrow road. Referencing photos and memories of last year's market I noted how the street is transformed when the colourful stalls are in place and especially when the sun beams down into the market, flooding the central street with light.
Working from my own photographs of key buildings along the street, I sketched up an image that combined many of the elements of the buildings, focusing on an atmosphere rather than an exact replica of the street. I then drew out a series of different people in various states of shopping and walking. I scanned these all in along with some watercolour washes and experiments. These experimental textured washes formed my palette for the people, which I pieced together digitally.
The resulting illustration formed the main focus of the design, with the header, logo and key information sitting within the image. This will be now be used as a promotional advert and as the front of the event flyer. I'll be working on a map to go on the flyer's reverse.
Thanks to all those who’ve been in touch with their reactions to my blog post, earlier this week, about this project. This post covers the other two designs, plus additional design work for this project.
Moving up one floor to the inpatients unit, you are greeted by a wall of my robot illustrations, which frame the entrance to ‘Area 61’ and the social space (called ‘The Chat Room’). For those with astute memories, you may recognise some of these robot characters from many years ago, when I did a series of small paintings for an exhibition.
As this third space will have a lot of traffic going through it, I wanted to create an artwork that would be visually rich, so a frequent visitor might see something different every time they pass by. I also wanted to encourage a sense of activity and playful fun, connecting the viewer to the social space beyond. The characters are also doing a wide variety of activities - the hope being that a viewer may identify with some of these.
The final space is in fact another key entrance space for those coming into the unit. Leading from the older building onto the new build down a long corridor, the project team expressed a keenness to have an artwork that introduced the unit and had a direct connection to patient’s experiences. My meeting with a few of the patients (referred to in the previous blog post), family members and others connected to the project was critical in understanding the many things, thoughts, experiences and motivational quotes that were central to those going through cancer diagnoses and treatment.
I built up an enormous amount of notes, doodles, thoughts and quotes from these dialogues and began to build them into a loose info-graphic that would take the viewer on a journey into the unit, allowing them to interpret and take ownership of whatever would be most appropriate and relevant to them. This illustration went through a number of changes and was the biggest challenge to get right as any words and images, of course, had to be sensitively thought through as to how a viewer may interpret them.
The final artwork was drawn out as a vector file and coloured digitally, which proved useful for final tweaks and changes - especially in a few instances when the dimensions of the entire wall were changed and the bumper rail dimension was adjusted.
Finally, the project team asked if I could design some symbols for the toilet and shower door(s), as well as a graphic for ‘The Chat Room’, so that they all tied in with the overall illustrated artwork aesthetic of the unit. A first draft of the toilet/shower symbols, while very playful, were deemed possibly too confusing for a patient on medication and so a more straight-forward solution was called for.
This was a wonderful and exciting project to work on and a great opportunity to problem-solve across several different types of spaces with varying uses, as well as employ a number of different aspects of my portfolio. My sincere gratitude goes out to the whole team who I worked with, who were always helpful with feedback and direction. It’s heartwarming to have already had feedback from the nursing staff at the unit as to the positive impact of the artwork.
If you happened to spy the occasional sneaky peek on my twitter or instagram over the last few months, you will have something of an idea of this project, which I’m now able to reveal in full.
Towards the end of last year, I was sourced by Willis Newson to work with Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and Teenage Cancer Trust on four designs that would then be transferred onto vinyl and applied onto key walls in a new specialist Young People’s Unit at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre.
Having already submitted a portfolio of work to the project team, along with a number of initial ideas for the various spaces, my first meeting with all of the parties involved already had a basis on which to discuss the direction of the four designs. A walk-through the partially built unit - hard hat on! - was an immensely useful exercise, revealing the scale of the project, the spaces where my artwork would be placed and how they would interact with the unit, as well as who would view them and when.
The unit is split across two floors, with one floor for day patients and the other for inpatients.
The first wall space to consider was around the day patient entrance, which faced out onto the waiting room area for the adult units. It was immediately highlighted that the artwork for this space, should appeal to those occupying it, as well as introduce the viewer to the new Young People’s unit. Already on the walls were a number of close-up photographs of flowers against white backgrounds. The nursing team were particularly drawn to the nature and bird-life imagery in my portfolio. So, it made sense to tie in the colours and themes, already in the photographs, into the new artwork for the entrance.
I sketched up two roughs, one referencing optical illusion shapes and building blocks mixed with birds and another with flowers, leaves and two birds framing the entrance. I dropped by the waiting room space, incognito, and presented the two drawings to those who happened to be there at the time, to gather feedback. The latter design featuring the two birds was the clear winner, being described as restful and having the most appeal. The other did clock up some positive comments, but was deemed too “edgy” and, while possibly appropriate for a youth space, ultimately was going to be primarily seen by the adults in the waiting room. These sentiments were agreed on with the project team and I was able to move onto final artwork phase.
The second wall was in the social space for the day patients. This was a side room, equipped with a computer desk, chairs and football table. The wall in question had no interruptions across it’s surface, so no concerns to be had with factoring in plug sockets or doorways. The room has one window and while this provides an ample amount of light, it was clear the artwork should not be too “heavy” in colour as it may over-power the space. It felt right to think along the lines of play and fun.
I met with a few of the patients going through treatment. This was a eye-opening experience into the trauma of diagnosis, the effects of cancer and the incredible battle and journey that they were going through. It was a lengthly but useful discussion, during which we talked a lot about the various things, activities and aspirations that had kept them going and kept them positive. One key element that came up several times was music.
I really wanted to get this amazing feedback from the patients into the artworks and a theme of music seemed like an appropriate one for this social space. Not wanting to tie into a specific musical genre was tricky though, until I considered headphone listening, which quickly led onto the idea of a silent disco. A number of characters could be enjoying any kind of music, but together as a group having fun. By bringing in animal masks, this introduced an element of fancy dress and the bright colours, against a clean white background, helped keep the overall feel of the room light.
As the artworks were to be enlarged and reproduced, by a reprographic company, onto heavy duty specialist vinyl, I was able to produce all the artwork from my own studio space. It was important to take into account my scanner and software capabilities in capturing the final artwork, as three of the four designs I intended to produce traditionally - the fourth being a vector artwork. This meant some careful dimension calculations before I began putting paint to paper.
Each artwork (except the fourth) was painted as a single image using acrylic paint and water-soluble colouring pencils. I sized up my rough to the correct size and dimensions, to produce the artwork at, and traced this down, from a print out, onto stretched paper, which I’d painted with a base coat. I then scanned the finished artwork at a very high dpi, before cleaning it up and preparing it for print, on the computer.
I’ll be blogging about the third and fourth designs very soon.
Opening from April are two pop-up shops in Quaker's Friars, Cabot Circus, Bristol. And yes, for those who know all about shopping independently, these are familiar faces: Paper Scissors Stone and Made in Britain return.
But, with a new hexagonal look on their joint flyer.
The design process, in this instance, began with a discussion with Bryony Morgan, the mind behind Made in Bristol, as to what the role of this flyer should be. We talked about how people respond to adverts, a flyer's longevity and whether it could have multi-purpose roles.
Previous joint flyers had advertised one shop on each side, which - while providing a dedicated space for more information about what each shop had to offer - the viewer would only ever see one side, when casually glancing at it, and may never realise the double-sided and double-advantage of going to the same area for both shops.
We also wanted to avoid a sell-by date on the flyer - i.e. including a date for a launch or specifying a time period the shops were open for. By removing any mention of a date, then all the printed flyers could be used to advertise the shops, the website and be placed in various locations or given out to customers, without them being veiwed as defunct promotional media.
Finally we wanted to create something that could be seen as a piece of artwork in its own right, maybe even something that a viewer would pin up somewhere. Conceptually, we wanted to hint at a working creative community. The interlocking nature and strength of a beehive honeycomb structure seemed to convey this idea.
Drawing on a colour palette, provided by fellow designer Dan Hayman, and working with hexagonal shapes, inspired by honeycombs, we developed a pattern that could be tweaked to create an eye-catching flyer front that doesn't give too much away.
Carrying over the hexagon shapes and colours to the back of the flyer, provided a link to the front. Information was kept to an absolute minimum, with the onus on the viewer to play detective and find out more.
The flyer is printed on matt stock card, softening the colours, lending a slight screen-printed aesthetic to the artwork and the white space - on the reverse - allowing and easy-to-take-notes surface.
The hexagon shapes and colours will also be used in the window displays and interiors of both shops, lending coherence to the whole brand.
I'll be knocking back a launch-night tipple on 2nd April - more details here - while checking out the world of handmade gifts and artwork from talented Bristol (and beyond) people. Come join.
Last week, the good people of LIFE agency, in Birmingham, invited me to paint a large mural in their front meeting room. The brief: to illustrate and include the phrase “Today is a good day”.
There were other factors to take into consideration too.
The meeting room faces out onto the road and you can see the “mural wall” as you walk up to the building and go through their front door. It was important that the mural could be seen from the outside. However, it also had to work from within the room, without dominating. Also, one side of the meeting room is covered in a dense black and white Jon Burgerman wallpaper pattern, which is playful - filled with swirls, continuous lines and his fun characters.
I developed three sketches for the wall, one based around nature, one with birds and one with two monkey characters, which was the favoured design. To work with the above factors I kept the illustrations clean and simple, by using big shapes and keeping lots of space around it. I referenced the LIFE logo,which uses a deep orange/yellow, as a starting point to create a limited colour scheme, to aid the finished mural not overwhelming the space. And, I included a fluidity and movement in the designs, so that they would sit comfortably alongside Jon’s wallpaper.
Of course, the phrase had to appear in the mural. The monkey design has the characters telling the phrase to each other, while rejoicing in a rich find of their favourite food. This character has appeared a few times before in my work, so it was exciting to be granted the opportunity to paint him and his friend an a large scale.
With my trusty trolley loaded up with paints, brushes, tubs, rags and all those little things I need to paint, I caught the train from Bristol to Brum and spent the best part of the week painting the two cheeky monkeys onto the meeting room wall. Earphones in and a variety of podcasts, tunes and DJ mixes helped keep me going, as well as a few cups of the strong stuff from the coffee place nearby.
It’s been quite a journey over the last two years with local curios bar and restaurant, The Gallimaufry. Right at the start I was invited to create their stage mural, with which I applied some already existing characters and introduced some new ones. At the time I wasn't really aware of how defining of the venue this mural would become, so it only seemed appropriate to create an image for the first year party, featuring all of the characters.
The Gallimaufry is a magical venue - full of other artistic creations from Tom Mead, Lucy Smailes and Josh Owen, as well as carefully curated exhibitions. Add on the delicious food, an excellent drink selection, top-notch live music and friendly staff - and you can see why it's like a second home for me.
As well as being involved artistically, it's been a joy to hold down a regular DJ residency, playing vinyl-only sets to weekend crowds.
To celebrate two years of being open, I've created a new drawing, this time featuring two of the characters on a mysterious journey, one supporting the other.
This drawing will be available as a limited edition, signed print on the 2nd year party night - 16 March, 3pm til late. The originals of both drawings will be on display and for sale in the exhibition area.
Year 2 party details here.
I'll be kicking the proceedings off with a choice selection of soul and jazz.
All are welcome.