Wednesday, 23 December 2009

italic poster

Got this from which seems a bit like

Monday, 21 December 2009

do you want to see a picture of an interesting clock?

if so, click here:

Damn, you will say, that is an interesting clock.

graffiti from London

A couple of photos of this piece of graffiti in London, making use of those industrial looking doors with the zig zags. You'll see what I mean if you click that link. I dare you. Click it. Now click it again.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

3D projection on buildings

Projection on Buildings from NuFormer Digital Media on Vimeo.

How did they do it? I don't know.

Is it even possible? I'm not sure.

So what have I just watched? Couldn't say.

Supposedly this video features 3D animations projected onto buildings. It looks great, and it's a great idea (but what could you use it for?) but I need to research how they did it. It's so clear as well that I'm finding it hard to believe it is a genuine projection.

Apparently it is. Slightly more information is available here:

A conversation I had about this with my friend Ben:

i mean this is EXACTLY that bit in back to the future 2
when he thinks he's gonna get eaten by a 3D Jaws
but this actually looks MORE realistic

i would just use this
to make it look like there was a door on a wall
and have people walking in to it on the projection
and then a real person would try
but it would actually in reality just be a spike

Everybody doin'

Friday, 11 December 2009

old photos of plane stuff

Come for the links, stay for the air hostesses. Or don't. Whatever.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Computer game covers

Almost universally computer game covers are shit. The absolute worst.

In my effort to illustrate basically everything I'm doing, I have done two covers for the computer game which has nearly destroyed my life since it came out: Modern Warfare 2.

There is a level in the game where you take part in a terrorist attack on a Russian airport. That was the moment in the game that stuck with me, and that's what I wanted to put on the cover. I was trying to boil it down to graphical symbols (bottom one), then I did the slightly kitsch version (top one), which maybe I prefer. I don't know.

Friday, 4 December 2009

animation which is funny

Raise your spirits with this funny LSD story:

The animation is ok, but the story is great. I think the soundtrack makes it.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Work is ruined/all jobs are now over

There's something poignant in here, I am definitely, totally, completely, all-encompassingly certain.

Friday, 27 November 2009

real time action painting

Holy SHIT people. This thing rules.

It's an online program where you basically use MS Paint simultaneously with other people.

It's absolute carnage and I have seen exactly nothing good produced on there, but it's somehow so much fun. What the hell.

most hunts fail

I was out in town, everyone else massively lost at this point, and probably gone home, so I flagged down a taxi. My money spent on drinks, I tell him I have some at home.
You got a cash card? He asks.
Why yes, I say.
So get some out, he says.

We stop in Levenshulme for me to get cash. I get out all cool, like I actually have something in my bank account, but then I just fucking run.

I’m lost in this barbaric maze estate having run away after doing something bad; a feeling which is all too familiar. I’m at the age where most people have stopped doing this, or made it their career.

I make it back to the A6 and figure I could just do this again, all the way home, and be alright. So I’m flagging down taxis, then anyone, and eventually this guy stops.

We’re driving, I’m hitchhiking I guess, and he starts rubbing my leg.
He says how would you feel if I started sucking your dick?
I say, Well I’m not gay.
Me neither, he says.
I just like feeling men go hard in my hand.

I like giving pleasure, he tells me. I felt bad, because he was 40 something, obviously lonely, and he’d worked at the set up and he offered me a blowjob and probably thought I’d be like Yeah! But I was like Nah; I’m ok, so I asked if he did this a lot, driving up and down to pick people up. Then I asked if he’d heard of the internet because there’s probably websites he could do stuff like this.

Actually I feel quite uncomfortable now, I’ll just get out up here, I said.
No, look, I’m sorry, he says, I didn’t mean to freak you out. Where do you live? I’ll give you a lift.

I was maybe four miles from home; I was staying with a friend, so he dropped me off.
It was about 6:30am.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Mel Blanc

Snow White as I have written it

Normally such stories involve alcohol but this time the girl was sober when she found herself with seven dudes in the woods.
She’d stumbled on some kind of commune; the other residents unwelcoming initially them each having Pasts. But she took to this, seeking her own clean slate, and became resident maid and cook and was accepted by the other seven, since they had issues with even basic hygiene living as they did in the woods and, because they were dwarves, spending all day down the mines which dwarves have done since Tolkien invented them with such force they became real and we now have dwarves in real life.

The dwarves left their problems at the cave mouth, but the girl’s mouth was getting her into trouble. A psychotic witch sought her out, disguised as an old woman selling apples. Typically one of these apples was poisoned, a practice which has become common place today. The girl bit the poisoned apple and fell into a magical coma. The witch was then chased over a cliff by local wildlife in a freak circumstance. She survived the fall only to be mauled to death by a mountain lion.

The dwarves find the girl, decide she is dead and put her in a tomb. A day later a young man who enters tombs looking specifically for recently perished girls thinks jackpot and, getting started, plants a kiss on her lips which magically revives her. He thinks rumbled! But it turns out he’s a prince; marries the girl and runs the kingdom into the ground.

So I haven't stopped making images

Yeah. I know you're all wondering. All of you being me, and only me. I've been trying to make images based on things I've been doing, or watching, or reading. So here is an image I made based on a TV show about the overfishing of fish, particularly from around the British Isles.

I could probably do more with it, since I don't have anything on there about the volume of fish being harvested. But whatever.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


I love stuff like this. A retrospective of coca cola bottles. HOORAY.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Possibly old school rotoscoping.

Assuming I'm right in thinking rotoscoping is basically when you trace another video, then this may be some old rotoscoping. Plus it's a totally boppin' tune.

Monday, 2 November 2009

"Green graffiti"

This is sort of nice/interesting/kitsch/etc but enough of this "in this spore borne air" shit. I don't know, there's probably all kinds of meaning behind it and the lettering is really nice BUT GOD the DRAMA THE DRAMA

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Awesome painted elevator floor

I don't know where in the world this is but SOMEONE has painted the floor of this elevator to look like it has NO FLOOR. If you have just been born and this is the first thing you've ever seen - you have seen ONE AWESOME THING.


Thursday, 22 October 2009

Jesus 2000

Very vibrant animation. I love the fluidity and the fun of it.

JESUS2000 from jesus 2000 on Vimeo.

from vimeo:

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Tiny figures

I love the idea of finding these. I feel like I want to protect them.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Sunday, 4 October 2009

chairs covered with grass, for fucks sake

It's a chair covered with grass, what more do you want? No idea how it could conceivably work, but I also don't need a grass chair. If you filled a really nice garden with "grass furniture" it might continue to be a nice garden.

I can't tell how I feel about these chairs. I'm sort of really angry and sort of really like them. Just can't tell.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

laser day

Not exactly sure what this is. I think it's some kind of machine that tracks objects with lazers and makes a sound. Worth a look.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Today I've got the goods

And they are going to waste at least 30 seconds of your life:

Sunday, 13 September 2009

I want toast

a piece and a poem

On the phone with Rose a while ago I mentioned this idea I'd had about when I got my camera stolen in New York and how it had made me feel somehow very connected to the place. I tried to make an image about it, as she suggested. It was shit.

Then I went to this meeting about a new magazine featuring poetry and illustration, the idea being writers and illustrators will work together directly to create "pieces" (quite how these will manifest themselves is still uncertain). I revisited the piece in order to send it off to some of the writers I met there, to get us started, more or less. Here is the image.

I have also written a poem which won't be featured in the magazine or mentioned by me again. Here is the poem:

Gmail, the shittest thing on the internet.

Gmail, send my fucking emails
you whore.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Roland Tiango

I don't know what this poster is for exactly. But I like what the guy is doing with inks and materials, making it something interactive.

But do I make better use of that name?

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

cardboard cloud

I love stuff like this. The concept, a cloud made of cardboard boxes, is not exactly mind blowing, but the sheer spectacle is fantastic. You've got to have faith in an idea like this to see it through. I probably never would. I barely have faith in my ability to get dressed in the morning (still fairly certain I'm doing it wrong).
Got to look up some puns about cardboard now.
Oh! I just thought: something about flaps and birds? You do the rest.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

website up

Finally got the website working. A big thankyou to Lewis, who put it all together on Flash for me!

any have a look

Friday, 19 June 2009

Friday, 12 June 2009


Mountain Dew is my second favourite fizzy drink. Josh Cochran is one of my favourite illustrators.

NOW Josh Cochran has done a commercial for Mountain Dew. What are the chances.

I'm hopefully going to meet Mr Josh Cochran when I land in America in a couple of weeks. Couldn't be more excited. I'm going to drink nothing but Mountain Dew the entire time I'm there, until my blood is green and sugar. Try and stop me. Go on. Try.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Martin Wilson

So this guy makes images out of the film of photos he takes. You follow?


Looks painstaking to create, imagine finding out at the end you took one the wrong way round...

Great though! Check out MORE HERE.

Probably worth mentioning I found this on drawn as ever. I should probably name my first child "drawn" as a tribute.

giant website

Ok so for anyone who isn't aware: the Giant website is ONLINE. Check it out. My work is on there as well as several other Stockport college graduates and students. Worth a long look.

This post was typed with one hand, whilst on the phone to Francesca Lloyd, an illustration student at Bristol, so everyone say hi. Obviously she can't hear you, and neither can I.
Don't you feel stupid now?

Friday, 5 June 2009

car park

this please me deeply. But I am safe, behind a monitor. If I actually saw it in real life I might freak out and think I was still playing a computer game, crash and die.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

guest lecture: Fake I.D.

Right. Here is my “write up” of the last guest lecture, two guys from Fake I.D. I have copied out my notes exactly.

Fake I.d.

San Fran? James: “international”

language – Data from Star Trek, undermines pretentious “language” title.

Puerto, learns from Data – no contractions.

Gang graffiti – cool, but bored.

“best thing…radio…without earlids, can’t close ears,” – Tony Something

Ridiculous writing sounds, really right brain stuff. WTF.

Al said “lots of type”, maybe this is a lead in?

Novel lecture – leaving open?


“4th wall” crap, ernie Kovacs – credits = great.

Reminds me of Napoleon Dynamite.

Avalanche mag – artists, not critics, p.o.v.

Unknown length – lecture – horror film.

Placas – barrio calligraphy.


WLTF – is “gang” brought to life through mags, pirate radio.

Play radio b.casts.

Then this lame interview transcript + show random, half cropped photos + bits of interview.

LS+N – workshop with Fake ID, whole thing sounded fake.

Noise talk

“please hold” – I get it, but it’s pointless. End up doodling – I am waiting. Being tortured?

Then it’s over. WTF – main guy looks like he is about to cry.

All art directors repeat each other – it’s all “graphic design” + decisions.

issue: Agents, you know?

The word freelance in illustration seems a woolly term.

As a freelance illustrator, in my mind, you’re constantly calling people up, sending out a portfolio or cards, trying to get work however you can.

But it seems like you’d still be doing that if you were part of a collective or studio. Or at least someone there would be doing that. Maybe you split up the work load, in terms of calling people. Or you pool your resources and, Le Gun style, have one website related to your studio featuring work from all the resident designers, although I know they spend time calling up art directors trying to get work.

But everything we’ve been told this year has been that, basically, Art Directors are real hard asses to whom the idea of looking through a studio’s website to find an appropriate illustrator occupies the same area of consideration as having their family pets turned inside out (there’s a morbid sense of curiosity but probably they’ll choose not to, and anyway they’re too busy).

An alternative is agents.

I hate the idea of agents, basically. Or I did when I started thinking about this. Blood sucking money whores, right? Well I haven’t got any kind of conclusion just now, but I’m starting to figure all agents are different. They’re expensive, but it’s a balancing act. They should be getting you more work, so it might work out alright.

I guess it depends on how well you’re doing. It would be stupid for a student to get one in this late stage of our course – the D&AD exhibition might get our names out some (though probably not in my case – so I might have to start thinking about an agent after I’m done at the course). So now what I expected to be a crappy essay written with almost no thought at all has become a real bastard and is now something Serious to Think About.

Did a google search, got this website.

The person who wrote it is, seemingly, an agent (maybe “Anna Goodson”?) and they’re giving some advice on how to ask agents to hire you, as an illustrator, as well as briefly talking about what it is they do.

They talk about how they handle “the business end of the business”, and they mean that literally. Dealing with numbers, contracts etc. All that stuff that makes me feel dead inside when I think about it.

When I read that something clicked. No way can I handle that stuff myself, I will need an agent for all that horrendous crap but I won’t have the money to deal with the cost. The next few months after college are going to be turbulent for me, fiscally anyway. I need to get out of Stockport, need to find a place that living in doesn’t make me want to die. So an agent is more or less out of the question.

But again, with agents, I tend to only think of awful business stuff. On the positives: it is their job to get me jobs, after all. Maybe that’s exactly what I need when I’m trying to start out as an illustrator? I wouldn’t make too much money from illustrating, but my name might get out and this could have a snowball effect.

But maybe I can work hard enough to make it alone. Seeing those editors and things wasn’t that bad, I could definitely trick myself into enjoying it.

However I could exhaust myself doing that and I’ve already said I hate all the business side of illustration. I basically hate numbers and resent having to use them at all times. The idea of filing reports, doing numberish stuff, makes my blood run cold. That could quickly wear me down and is a big tick in the “get agent” column, for my money[1].

Hoping for more debate I’ve been reading the AOI agents forum, for the discussion of agents. One thing I’m consequently clear on is they should not be asking you for a joining fee, the bastards.

What could I do for self promotion without an agent? Well I remember Otto Dettmer saying he got obsessed with self promotion when he left uni, so I guess I do everything.

Making cards, making books, sending them to potential clients or art directors and selling them independently to shops. Manchester is a good place for this, with Oklahoma, Travelling Man and various other independent shops in the Northern Quarter taking in DIY products, such as books. I have friends always trying to put out zines and there are various zines, in all the cities of England, who want illustrations and love putting unknown illustrators into their publications. These aren’t going to pay the bills, but it is promotion.

[an image by Otto Dettmer like]

Then again Otto Dettmer said the best promotion is doing a job well. On the other hand I imagine a lot of agents have the same approach when it comes to putting your work out. If you do something a little different, creating a pop up book that you send an art director, or photos of an installation, something unique, that might go a long way to making an impression. You wouldn’t get lost in the sea of illustrators being hauled in by various agents.

It sounds like a lot of this (agents you’ve hired as well as clients you’re hoping will hire you) is about communication. You need to make sure your agent is doing their job and you need to understand the details of a commission/contract so they don’t screw you over. But if you’re quite open with them and have a good dynamic, that won’t be a problem. Likewise if you make a more personal connection with a client you seem more likely to get hired, to be seen as more than just “another illustrator”.

This connection comes from visits, calls, back and forth between you and the art director.

Finding a good agent, dealing with your agent or clients, it comes down to communication. Being honest, open and all that other lovely stuff.

I really like the idea of an agent that’s basically a buddy. Maybe I could trick someone I know into being my agent?

[1] Not a pun.

Monday, 27 April 2009

when illustration and basic mathematics collide: a lament

Typically I work on A4 photoshop canvasses. They're something like 21 by 29 cm. I understand that. I know them.

My major project started on a4 and at some point I made the jump to 12x12 so the pieces would represent 12 inch records.

I changed all the pieces i'd done to 12x12 and all new pieces i started working on were on a 12x12 canvas.

Except instead of 12 by 12 inches I was working in centimetres.

Wasn't I supposed to have stuff like this figured out by primary school? You have failed me education. I will not forget.

The problem now is that alot of the work is quite intricately put together. I can't drag the images to fill a 12 inch canvas because the resolution will be terrible. To be honest alot of the resolution in the photographs I've used is too poor for that anyway. And recreating the images is just too much of a ball ache; they won't come out quite the same and I will fly into a rage everytime I look at the end product.

I fucking knew something was wrong the whole time, goddamnit.

So my only real option is to make the final images 7x7 inches, which is an increase of only 3 inches all round but 3 inches, in this instance, I can be proud of.

Plus 7 inch is, I think, the same size as 78s which was fairly popular in the day (that I am representing with this project), even though 12 was standard. I believe this because I did some research.

Bottom line: I hate maths.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

guest lecture: Andy Pavitt 2

Andy Pavitt talks about Big Orange.

I can barely read my own notes for this mini lecture. A lot of it looks like it was written backwards. Entire lines took apparently a second to scrawl out.

I have a pretty clear image in my head of Andy Pavitt. The first time he came to speak to us Pete commented how he had the atypical look of an illustrator. So I drew a little picture of him, from memory, before he turned up. I got Pete and Dave to do the same.

Mine was fairly inaccurate. Pete’s involved a swastika.

Andy Pavitt spoke here once before, in our second year. That talk was about his work and influences and rather than repeat that he opted to talk more or less exclusively about life at Big Orange, a well renowned illustration studio based in London.

There is also mention of an internship down there for two students. That’s kind of a buzz word for me. The idea of being an “intern” makes me a little sick. But the internship down there sounds genuinely great and I start thinking about whether or not I want to be an illustrator. Then I started thinking about my life in general, trying to plan around what I assumed would be an epic undertaking in London, perhaps lasting months. I don’t want to live in London, I can’t afford to. It would screw up literally all of my plans.

I realised I was getting ahead of myself. The internship would only be for a week. I could afford it, probably. It would be do able. And it sounded like it would be the best possible way to get started as an illustrator given the amount of experience and contacts that would be available. I wonder how I’d react in a situation like that; if I’d let it slip through my fingers like a fool. Or maybe I’d have a characteristic mood swing and throw myself into it with the awesome force of a flaming zeppelin. Maybe, probably, there’re others in the class who would benefit more.

Pavitt has been at that studio 7 years. It has been around for 15 or 16 years and was started by a few RCA graduates including Andy Something (I genuinely cannot read this name, maybe Lovell?) and Darryl Rees who runs the prestigious Heart Agency.

The space is large carrying, at it’s peak, 18 illustrators.

Now it’s split in two with the AOI taking up half. We (me, Pete, Dave, Kachia, Sarah) actually saw this in person, AOI people doing AOI stuff. One grenade and it’s all over Pete said about that when we were right there looking at them.

The AOI help pay the studio rent and other bonuses to Big Orange include: free membership to the AOI (Andy Pavitt says this is cheeky) and they get free advice about prices for illustration and contracts and the like. The AOI, basically, are good guys.

The studio sounds good. The rent is split between all the illustrators there. The rent, cost of which we’re getting to, pays for cleaning, phones and an up to speed computer network as well as other fanciful London things like, presumably, robots (unconfirmed).

Advantage: there’s a mix of illustrators there for you to bounce ideas off. Everyone has doubts about their own work, according to Pavitt (who seems like an extremely earnest guy, very personable), and you can quickly get other opinions with a lot of experience behind them.

Location is important, but not everything. Big Orange is in trendy Shoreditch, inhabited by haircut warriors I learned to quickly despise when I was there.

When they moved in there it was a ghost town. There are some good galleries and studio/shops around there now though.

QUESTIONS. I put my hand up.

Maybe this will sound cold, I say, like an idiot, but what does the rent cost?

Pete says something unintelligible. He's telling me, I later find out, that Andy Pavitt already mentioned the cost.

Andy Pavitt repeats: £200 a month.

Of course he already said that. I have this problem with numbers. As soon as I see them on a page I skip them. As soon as I begin to hear them my mind goes blank. I just can’t deal with them. They almost don’t exist for me. It does get me into a lot of trouble.

By contrast Rose’s studio costs £50 a month. But it sounds like a send up of a “Northern Art Studio” with lots of damp and no heating and etc. But maybe I could dig that.

Pete and Dave are thinking about getting a studio in town and I would be up for that, except I will definitely never have any money ever again. So if they literally mean a shoebox, as in using a shoebox as a studio, maybe I could stretch to that. But what would be the point? I mean it’d be a shoebox.

PAVITT, A., talks about name dropping Big Orange. Not everyone knows his name but he can say I work at Big Orange and everything clicks into place. This would be another advantage to doing an internship there, GODDAMNIT.

On sharing contacts: Some people are more generous than others. I’ve written: respect this. Presumably in relation to the sentence that went before.

Big Orange is open 24 hours a day, perhaps because everyone there has a key? I don’t know! I DON’T KNOW.

It’s not common. Someone that works there, “Toby”, sometimes comes in early, 5 am or so, to work. Sometimes he’ll be out drinking til 2, then he’ll drop in to do his work and fall asleep on the sofa all day which sounds like something I’d do.

Art Directors don’t really care how the work gets done. Often you’ll get 2 day briefs and you’ll have to work really hard and fast at ridiculous hours to get them done. Like jobs from out of the UK. Apparently New York art directors are the worst for this, having (either consciously or not) no comprehension of time zones. They call you at 11pm and expect you to have the work done in 12 hours.

Art directors apparently sometimes think giving out a job is a privilege for illustrators, like they’re doing you a favour. The Guardian is meant to be bad for this.

So disadvantages to working in a studio: if you get BAD DYNAMISM it is BAD. If someone “takes over” a bit too much.

So it seems like the internship is the way forward and I’m thinking about that when I realize very clearly that I want to go surfing.

I wonder if I have some kind of weird synaesthesia where instead of mixing up sensory information with other sensory data I’m mixing up my sensory stimulation with other desires. The desire to get ahead in illustration leads me to want to be a surfer.

A surfer.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

what i did recently was this

had trouble focussing lately, feel like a dick about it, want to sort my life out. Basically saw this film at the start of this project: Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus and it had a couple of quotes in it that stuck out, for me, with regards to the brief I'm working on. One of them was You know you're alive when you're sad and I wanted to make an image about that for my major project, without being all emo and that.
So I made this today:

Oh GOD it looks so emo with that big red heart thing and that little tattoo style swirl. Well shit. The idea was I liked mixing this big ink streak thing and a more rigid graphic shape, I did that a couple times for this project already and I liked the shape of the heart on this. Those little swirls are "traditional" looking bits of decoration you might get on signs and boards and things in the 1930s South of America. So that's not a huge idea really, is it? I am sort of just basically essentially throwing things together at this point to try and make a picture.

[edit: I revised the image to make it marginally less stupid]

Feel free, though not obliged, to enjoy it.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Comparison between Otto Dettmer and Damian Gascoigne

The main difference for me between these two illustrators is Damian Gascoigne’s lecture made me want to go and draw and take photos and explore things whilst Otto Dettmer’s made me want to go and read a book, or something.

Not that it wasn’t interesting, it just seemed very academic, very dry. I thought his work was good, he was very polite. It’s only that he was quite an insular figure, solitary seeming, whereas Gascoigne seems in his element around people, soaking up inspiration from his encounters with interesting students or things.

It seemed like Gascoigne more or less processed the world in terms of images. He clearly loves drawing and learning and this came across in the work he showed us.

Otto Dettmer didn’t seem like some huge misanthrope, it’s just his apparent approach to illustration was a lot more direct, whilst Gascoigne’s is maybe more winding or scenic.

But this sums up their different illustrative styles as well, fairly succinctly. Dettmer’s a little colder, more graphic based, Gascoigne’s slightly more ramshackle, personal.

(piece by Otto Dettmer)

(piece by Damian Gascoigne)

My understanding of the illustration industry, and achieving success within it, is that you have to be really, really good in terms of ability, productivity, efficiency, professionalism. You also have to really love illustration and just creating images, the way Damian Gascoigne seems to process the world in that way. You also maybe have to be incredibly lucky with meeting people and being chosen to do certain jobs and all of that good stuff.

A middle ground between these two illustrators, in my mind, is Paul Davis.

(piece by Paul Davis)

He has been in the business for years on end, probably more than I’ve been alive (which really goes for all three of these figures). But he just seems so prolific. I saw his desk when I was at Big Orange and it was covered with drawings he’d done and was working on. He has shelves and draws and things full of stuff, lots of pens and drawings and pieces of paper and whatever. Otto Dettmer seems maybe to have done even more pictures in his career, but I can’t be sure.

He has spent a lot of time making all these books, his commercial work for newspapers and this huge archive of stock illustration (which is maybe a really good idea but seems deeply impersonal and inherently skeptical with regards to the illustration industry and clients attitudes. But he didn’t seem so skeptical so I don’t know).

Then again Gascoigne didn’t go on about how exciting he found every job and fresh challenges or anything. But he did talk about how much love he had for his students, how he loved to draw, how he stood for half an hour watching a Korean couple on a date and wondering about their lives and the circumstances that brought them together.

Gascoigne is a teacher as well as an illustrator and an animator. He talked about how he’d had a year of terrible pitches which had all been shot down and talked about illustrators needing the nerves of a gambler and that sounds about right to me. But as much as he makes a living from illustration and his hard work pitches he also gets paid for teaching and this must be a two way bonus for him.

On the one hand it means he can relax a little, because he’s getting paid regularly. On the other hand, which is actually the wrong phrase to use here because these are both good things, he gets to spend time with fresh minds and new people every year: his students.

This seems like it would be extremely important to Gascoigne, both in terms of inspiration (in life as well as illustration). Maybe that’s the big difference between these two cats. Illustration follows Gascoigne wherever he goes; he walks it like a dog. Dettmer approaches it, brings it out to perform tricks, like a bear maybe, or a monkey.

The other way in which Davis shares, in my mind, a connection with one of these two is his emphasis on drawing (something he shares with Gascoigne). I remember visiting Le Gun and one of their boys (Chris Bianchi) saying we like the pen. Gascoigne and Davis do too. It seems like use of the pen inherently gives you a class that is rare in other illustrators[1].

(piece by Chris Bianchi)

It’s like there’s a sort of respect, amongst illustrators, for people who can actually draw. Not a sort of sighing, laughing relief sort of respect that we have for Paul Davis doing funny drawings like oh yeah he can draw but ha ha so can I, I guess.

David Hughes, Charley Harper, James Jean: these are the stone bastards we’re all in awe of.

(piece by James Jean. Link to bigger version:

When I was in London speaking to a guy from the Telegraph about my work he said he’d never seen anything like it and it sort of broke my heart a little. I’ve seen so much work like mine. That makes sense and everything but it sort of goes to show: there’s so much because it’s sort of easy maybe. And it’s like there’s different standards within illustration and outside of it. I’m not often amazed by my own images. Likewise if some other student had produced the same maybe I’d think it was quite a good attempt, as I imagine they’d feel about mine. But when it comes to raw drawing talent I have a tendency to step aside and let it pass, as I think a lot of illustrators/illustration students do. Whereas to an outsider, so to speak, it all looks good.[2]

What’s harder, although I don’t exactly know what I’m talking about, is bringing an entire life into illustration. I mean we all do this, all of us, at least subconsciously. That’s why my blog had, pretentiously maybe, all those song lyrics as headers. Why I write about buying a hat in my visit to Le Gun. Gascoigne does it very consciously, so does Davis, in a less stupid way than I do.

They pick up on the earnestness of things they over hear, people they see in the street. This comes into their drawings; knowingly quite rough and sort of innocent, though that’s not really the word I want. And, like I say, I’m assuming that’s why they draw like that, along with that subtle difference thing I was talking about before.

Dettmer’s work is not devoid of humanity, or anything. There’s still quite a lot of humour in it, for example, it’s just under a couple more layers, a little more removed.

(piece by Otto Dettmer)

I think his love is with screenprinting. You get a feel for that when you’re holding the books he makes. But he just has to produce work so fast, it seems, he has to leave the screenprinting to side projects.

I understand that illustration happens fast, generally, so it makes sense for Dettmer to use a computer in place of screenprinting and I would be the same. Technology is obviously there to make things easier.

It seems like you need to work really, really hard as an illustrator and be almost constantly making images, or else just really love it and try to explore and learn as much about it as you can, and explore the world through illustration, almost process all your experiences through imagery. And that might get you somewhere.

[is this post any good? is it even remotely like what it's supposed to be?]

[1] But not impossible to find. I would say Dettmer has this classiness; Matthew Richardson, Martin O’Neill. Illustrators who don’t draw, who make use of digital stuff but aren’t huge slags about it, like, say, me. Where people like Gascoigne, Davis or David Hughes deviate, in terms of style, from the guys at Le Gun, is that their styles seem very personal and distinct and whilst the work of the people I spoke to at Le Gun seemed very personal it was also very similar. Which is not exactly a bad thing. Davis’ work shares a lot, stylistically and even in terms of content, with David Shrigley to the point that they’re compared in almost every essay either is mentioned in. Do you see what I did there?

(piece by Neal Fox, from Le Gun)

People are largely the same, and similar people are drawn together (that’s not an illustration pun, please believe me). The differences are subtle, like the work of the guys at Le Gun, like Shrigley and Davis. At least I think that’s just how it is.

[2] Case in point: these computers games covers someone did. Basically computer games covers are the worst of the worst, the most trashy, awful, dull shit. And they sort of sum up, in a way, all that is bad about games today. But we won’t get into that. Someone, a while ago, redid these film posters in a sort of Saul Bass, Penguin Book Covers style and now someone has just peddled the same thing with games covers. Your average gamer is age 15 (actually I think someone told me it's 23, but we're talking hypothetical mental age) and they are used to covers featuring explosions, tits and exploding tits. Possibly aliens also, who gives a fuck? So you show someone a very basic redoing of these games and they will think God has literally shat on the page in front of them.

I’m not saying these covers are bad exactly. I think the one for Grand Theft Auto is complete genius. It’s just anyone with a design degree and half a brain (and has played the games) could have done this and wowed the entire gaming world – a world which knows largely nothing about design.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Andrew Bannecker contact

Got in touch with this guy, Andrew Bannecker. Here's what he had to say for himself.

Hi Roland,

Sorry for the delay. Here you go! : )

1) Where do you get these patterns and textures from?
My textures and patterns come from all sorts of places. I create many of them by hand and others I find from found object that I get at flea markets and antique shops. I love to find bits of fabric and old ephemera and use those to create my textures.

2) Clearly you do a lot of printing of various types. Is this the result of a fascination with process or the act of doing something handmade?
I actually create everything on my computer. Since I work digitally I use those tools to create the printed effects. I do love printing and I think that's why I tend to create those effects in my digital work.

3) Sometimes it looks like you've printed on to wood, or wallpaper. Is that right?
Working digitally gives me the advantage to look at different ways that my work can look and then go from there. So when a piece looks like it was created on wood it's all digitally manipulate to look that way.

4) Also I've noticed pieces of newspaper and things like that in the background of your pieces. Are these textures ever added with photoshop or otherwise how much of that textural background stuff to you get through?
As before I take these pieces and scan them in to manipulate them for my needs. The way I work is most always by accident. I never know what's going to come of it which is why working digitally is so wonderful!

5) How close is the finished image to your initial conception?
With commercial work this can varies from project to project but in general my concept is pretty close to the final art. There are those cases when the final looks nothing like the original idea but those are far and few between.

6) I mean a lot of your images are very busy and presumably come about through a lot of play and trying different things. And this question ties in with the adding with photoshop question; if you're using pieces of found wood and such how much playing with that stuff can you afford to do?
I think it's very important to play and grow. I would say it's crucial to explore and never stop trying new things.

7) I mean how many interesting backgrounds/canvasses have you gathered?
To be honest I have been collecting for years so I would say countless. ; ) lol

See where I asked him about all his work being printed? And then he says how it's all digital? GOD I AM A MORON ALL THE TIME.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Saturday, 21 March 2009

just something i just made

Made this cover for the book I'm reading, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, by David Foster Wallace. Can't tell if it's the most stupid, awful and defacing idea of all time or if it's not a bad cover.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

research: where the wild things are poster

ok SO Where the Wild Things Are = one of my favourite books and a while ago, like a couple years, i heard how they were making a film with Spike Jonze directing and Dave Eggers (one of my favourite authors) writing the script. WHAT THE FUCK that still blows my mind how great that is.


(only a link because image is huge:

Sunday, 15 March 2009

guest lecture: Damian Gascoigne

There have been three really Great guest lectures at college. Paul Davis, Andy Martin and Damian Gascoigne. Andy Pavitt’s was also really good and I’m not saying I didn’t learn anything from the others but these three were clean kills, heads severed at neck.

But I was worried when the lecture started. The title screen read “Stockporticus talk, 110 years in animation.” Oh fantastic, I’m shuddering at the back of the room ready to spend an introspective three hours dodging flake humour revolving around cats and chickens or some awful shit like that. And then the first slide is a picture of his mum.

You gotta see a picture of my mum.

How many times has he given this talk, I wonder. It is a low flying plane, all earnest and bold and neatly tied together.

I realise almost straight away that most illustrators hate talking full stop. Do they hate words, or just presenting themselves? Otto Dettmer was definitely an insular guy, and Damian Gascoigne isn’t exactly brimming with confidence, he seems like a low key guy. But it seems like he genuinely enjoys this, talking, thinking, discovering (to make it sound way pretentious).

He’s broken the presentation into four sections.

Number 1. Research: when you just got things going on.

He makes some jokes about his Fear of the North, his fear of his Auntie Lizza and I am right on board, he is a funny guy.

A theme that runs through the presentation is about how he is learning 3D animation software now, at a late stage in his life. He talks about tech, how it has improved so much so quickly. Anyone can be slick and do all this cool stuff but coming up with good ideas is just as hard as it ever was.

Creative people – they’re nosey, they need to be. He is so nosey. It’s part of creating. It’s all snooping, doodling, collecting. He shows a photo of the top of a supermarket carrier bag on the floor. It is an interesting shape, almost a rabbits head.

When you’re waiting around, even without a sketchbook, you doodle on receipts. He is amazed by students who don’t have a pen or a sketchbook to hand. Sometimes these doodles become something more, they stand out, put their hand up, ask to be used again, to stretch out. Some doodles he shows us.

To this end he talks about how, having none, he is into hair. Draws hair all the time. Also posture and goddamnit if I don’t love postures. It’s Egon Schiele’s fault. I love weird exaggerated poses, all twists and angles and he does too. He sketches and takes photos of people, strangers, his students, all in these weird poses. Maybe they don’t lead to anything, but they don’t have to.

That resonates with me. I’m always looking for drive and purpose. Not always, sometimes a thing is an end in itself, or it doesn’t have an end; you’re just doing it.

Maybe it doesn’t lead to anything, but it doesn’t have to.

This is the start of something big, Damian. He is pull the curtains on something I’d forgotten about: genuine interest in other people and things.

He draws everyday, all too often not from life. But man he shows us these stone bastard drawings he did in Lisbon when his class went there last year, or earlier this year. Lots of India ink and looseness, fucking awesome. But drawing from life like that sharpens you up, and when you take that to the studio it makes you fresher.

He wants students to notice the things around them, not to just have blank pages in your sketchbook to look at. He shows us a picture of a couple in a Korean cafĂ©. He is rigid, in a suit, she is in a frock (?), a cardigan. His hands are on his lap, her drink has hardly been touched. He says it is a first date, you just know there isn’t going to be a second. For half an hour he was stood there taking pictures, peering into someone else’s life.

There are stories starting all around, he says, he shows us a picture of a child at the Tate Modern. The kid’s dad, in this art gallery, all he wants is to take a photo of his kid walking around.

This is why I like the music I like, the books I like. It’s stories, other people.

I have sketched out a couple of his photographs, just to get my hands moving, to feel more of a connection. I notice Anna has done the same, but I think she’s drawing Damian.

The next day, only a little hungover, I’m at Manchester townhall, drawing what’s around me. Loose, just to move my hands. I’ve bought two cans of Mountain Dew and I’m drinking one as I write this. There is an intense feeling of belonging walking around Manchester, the sun half out and all that. I can’t feel like this all the time, and I sort of miss the feeling already. But I feel very alert, very fresh and specialised.

Part 2: personal work.

Yeah he talked briefly about this gallery thing he did in Korea. It was interesting but not as interesting as

Part 3: Pitch Requiem.

You don’t get paid to pitch, suckers. It is deadly competitive. Last year he made seven pitches and none worked out. He shows us these pitches. They are clean. His commercial work is much, much cleaner than his personal stuff. Which makes sense and is fine. You can see how it all fits together and that’s the important thing.

His pacing of slides is fucking great. Mountain Dew is delicious.

You need nerves of steel for this job, the spirit of a gambler. Despite the seven that didn’t work out he got one, or two, that did. He’s more in love with his work than ever, but he’s now unemployable. He couldn’t have a boss telling him when to get to work, what to do, all that shit and I start thinking maybe I can be an illustrator, maybe this is what I am.

He talks about the conversations we’re going to have with ourselves, the ugly ones when the jobs don’t come. Why am I doing this? The sweat soaking stone whatever. You either walk out or you don’t, spirit of a gambler.

Part 4: new territory.

This presentation was a roving drive through Damian Gascoigne. He shows us part of an animation he’s working on. It’s good because it’s not generic. Has all this pen texture and 2d drawn quality but also this 3d thing going on. It was nice to watch, not to write about.

But it showed how the people around you become a direct inspiration.

He ends saying he’s enjoying the battle.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

guest lecture: Otto Dettmer

The big Dettmer; prolific commercially, does a lot of books. Mostly works with screenprinting which he started doing in 1995 during an MA at Kingston. Had this cool mailout which was a sheet which unfolded featuring lots of pieces he’d done for a regular column in (I think) The Guardian. A lot of his work, on screen, looked abysmal, like full on the worst I’d ever seen, but when it was printed, in the context of the paper, it looked fantastic. I wonder if he was conscious of this, if it comes from years of experience.

Showed us prints dealing with graphic symbols, ideas of negative space, objects cut out of objects.

His old work featured lots of space, they’re spot illustrations, fix or six to a page, tiny, dotted around. One is literally just a blue blob.

He talks about Polish and Russian work from back in the day. The artists would do the text and all the visuals.

He left college obsessed with self promotion. It would detract from the quality of his work he was obsessed so. He says doing a job well is the best promotion.

He observes in England you get jobs based on merit, business and leisure are kept very separate. On the continent you get less jobs from scratch, people don’t just give you a chance, you have to be introduced to people, know people.

He has been reusing a lot of illustration. He keeps the copyright, says everyone should. He has 20 years of illustration built up; sometimes reusing old ideas or layouts is essential.

He says art directors sometimes have good ideas.

He talks about a piece he did for a column in the guardian where someone described a partner as an old cardigan.
When gives then, he says, why try to be clever? The image was in that description.

There is massive Russian Constructivist style to the layouts in his books.

Advertising – the money is amazing, pays for the studio for 4-5 years, but unbelievably stressful. Worth it, apparently.

Advertising clients are weird people, says Dettmer. The offices are designed to instil respect, but the clients themselves often have no idea what they’re doing, but massive budgets.

Showed us his website, said most commissions come from his work in papers, not site, but that this may have changed in ten years time.

Had these stock illustrations he’d done, vaguely generic but there were damn tons of them, all recognisably in his style. Interesting concept. Cheap and numerous pieces an art director can rummage through and pick out for purchase. Future of illustration? Maybe not.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

contact report: meeting Le Gun

Pete and I have been awake for an hour. I’m explaining why it’s fine for me to give him my phone, his out of battery, because I will get to this place, this advertising director class meet thing place at 3 and meet someone we know with a mobile phone. Then I can call him and we can meet up and swim victorious to Euston station.

The way to move around in London is as if you were playing a massive guitar solo, psychedelic like you’re on all the acid in the world. Manchester you can navigate like you’re the rhythm section. But all the Real Players in London have this solo style of movement down and it comes out like some insane free jazz jam fest love in everyone soloing on top of each other.

The air in the tube is obviously very stale but always in motion and that gives it a weird quality. But I’m going to see Le Gun which means I need to get to Hackney and walk a fucking year having got the Overground which I was completely unprepared for.

Le Gun is described as an “art collective” and it’s also the title of a magazine that these people put out from their studio in London. I’m there to speak to this guy, Chris, about what it’s like working in this studio, why get a studio, how’d it get started, show him my portfolio all that good stuff but when I arrive he’s not even there.

Some guy, thick accent (Dutch?) talks to me as if I’ve got a film camera right in his face and he’s trying to get into his car. They called to get Chris down and I have to let him in at the front door. He seems on the edge of bemused and offended and I’m mumbling and incoherent, in an almost high school politeness and he’s about to lead me into the studio I had to leave to get him when he stops and starts talking to this woman.

It turns out her name is Shonagh Rae (thanks Pete) and she used to teach him back in college. I did ask but I can’t remember where it was he studied.

It is a weird coincidence and I feel sort of like an overused bar of soap being crushed, moulding to the fingers, expanding around the pressure. I was going to sink away and be the most awful student guest possible but now Shonagh Rae has kicked the door in and is being as teacherly as possible, asking what Chris is doing now, what his plans are, how he got started in the studio. I might as well be holding her fucking hand.

Chris had been at that studio for about 4 or 5 years and they all knew each other there. Although everyone was working very quietly and separately, it was like being in a library amongst strangers. I got the feeling this was my fault, I brought the library strangeness to the back of their necks and they did not want me there.

I hadn’t been impressed with the stuff on the website but the stuff that was hanging around was much better and more impressive in person.

Chris’ work seemed very separate from the rest of Le Gun’s workers who seemed to lean more towards graphic design but you could have called it illustration and literally no one on earth would have given a fuck.

But Chris’ stuff was all hand drawn, reminded me of a lot of Robert Crumb insanity and independent comic kitschness, but not in an embarrassing student way, though almost. He showed us his portfolio, exactly the same model as Andy Pavitt’s and everyone else in the college class, mine having an extremely minor difference in the strap that holds it closed. Those portfolio store jerks must make so much cash from that portfolio edition and really where do you look to find a goddamn portfolio anyway?

Chris' portfolio features alot of more commerical work as he calls it, the same leg of stuff as featured on the website, with his personal stuff being more spilling and ravanous, to use a couple of words.

Next door there is this print room and everything outside is white, it’s a small gallery sort of a warehouse studio thing where any second a dead body might swing down on a rusty hook. There’s a piano made from cardboard on it’s side and some other cardboard furniture, classier than it could sound.

Alex Wright is a man I meet in the printroom who talks like he’s a really nice guy but has a beard and doesn’t smile. He mentions hearing Stockport has a good reputation, coursewise, and asks about Gary Prendergast. And when I write this I haven’t but he asks me to say to Gary P that he says hi because they used to work together in Manchester. He was even on Eleanor Mulhern’s course at Manchester, I think, and my mind has twisted to the point of breaking, like a coke can in a vacuum.

Sister Rae leaves us and I’m sort of anxious to go too, to this 3pm advert guy thing meeting and Chris says goodbye to Shonagh Rae and I say fuck it and hang out for a bit longer now the ice has broken and I haven’t really taken any solid information punches.

I remember being awake five minutes speaking to Ian and Gary saying I will call them if I can’t get to the 3pm meeting so they’re not waiting around like the Earth’s Assholes while I flap about in Camden market eating the worlds worst fajita which is what I ended up doing because Pete has my damn phone.

Chris takes me upstairs to meet Neal Fox who draws in a slightly, slightly calmer way to Neal. Nick Cave is playing and Neal is very friendly. He smiles more than all the other Le Gun guys, for real. The bond is instant and mountainous. Chris starts rolling a cigarette. I feel like I’ve butted in on a conversation at a party, a little bit like I’m being endured but less than how it felt downstairs. I show them my portfolio and they like it ok. We like the pen says Chris, about the different in our work, and they give me some names; Hannah Bags (couldn’t find anything), Geoff Granfield (love his use of negative space), Robert Shadbolt (don’t like how many smiles he draws, although it implies he is lovely – or psychotic).

Chris says I should have showed my portfolio to Shonagh Rae, that her work was similar, and having seen her work I wish I had too.

They’re talking about how dated collage work can get, how I need to make this style my own. They like that I’ve used some hand made print things and shapes.

Neal sees the piece I did about the crossroads, selling your soul to the devil to play a mean guitar and he tells me about a piece he did about Robert Johnson shaking hands with the devil and I say well I did the same piece look and we laugh the sneaking laugh of kings.

His drawings are massive. The paper stretches across a 10 or 12 foot wall and is at least six feet high on a scroll I’ve never seen the equal of in size. And the drawing that’s up is not even half done yet, there’s another eight foot of it to be drawn.

Neal’s working in this little studio by himself, big papers and books and all sorts everywhere, a big sofa by the window. He has the right idea working up there. That’s a room I would want in a house, let’s leave all that studio nonsense to the non smilers. Let’s work slow and alone, fast is other people.

Outside I dial my number at a payphone and Pete doesn’t answer. I buy a hat at Camden Market.