Friday, March 23, 2007

I ♥ pink & yellow... & dogs

This post requires a little secrecy, since it's all for a project so secret that even I know nothing about the whats and the whys.

I was asked by, oh, let's say person X to do something about dogs in London. Deft interrogation on my part failed to establish what kind of something she really wanted, but amidst all the self-destructing tapes and coded telegrams I did garner two contradictory clues. One said make it a cool, street, urban type image, and the other said make it a fun cartoon about a dogs guide to London. Not having the skill to reconcile these two briefs I simply came up with two answers.

This one I did first. It's the "cool" one, by the way.

It's cool because it looks like a shitty 'zine, you see. I was really proud of it when I first did it, but the two people I've shown it to so far have met it with such keen disinterest they practically fell asleep right there and then, so maybe it's rubbish.

And here's the dog's guide to London. I really didn't know how to handle this, knowing almost as little about dogs as I do about London. Instead of just redrawing some of my own cartoon strips with myself sporting a wet nose, I went instead into pun megadrive, straining for the lowest possible common denominator and often hitting way below it. I think it may be because I've also been recently trying to make some comic strips for kids too.

I'm actually embarassed by the shitness of it. "He says paws instead of pause! He's a dog! Geddit!? Eh? Eh?..." but apparently the "clients" at the other end liked it, and have asked for more. Isn't that odd?

Saturday, March 17, 2007


I'm not going to go on about Don't Panic. I've lost, it's over and I've already made all the "time to panic..." kind of jokes too many times.

Instead I've decided to enter another unwinnable internet competition: this time the ongoing one for international T-shirt printers Threadless (or as I call them, "Fredless"). They pay you in money at least and not roached up old flyers.

I had had this idea whilst at work, where I stumbled across an almost identical design down the back of the internet.* For it I've basically developed this new set of characters by slicing the ears off Alfie and Betty, stars of my dormant Inappropriate Alphabet project, to create general vaguely sweet but not too cliched creatures, just like those guys did with Animaniacs all those years ago.

I struggled with the colourways with this quite a bit. Originally I was thinking light blue because it's kind of icey and so the reflections seem more likely:

But for t-shirts I seem to think red and white is always a good idea:

And ended up going for something more like this:

Perhaps it's because I stared at it for several hours late into the night, but something about it looked a bit off to me. Maybe it's their white eyes like cataracts, but at the time I thought it may be the order of things. Because, I reasoned, when looking at a picture one scans from left to right and since this has a kind of "punch-line", namely that the reflections aren't actually reflections but are in fact being painted onto the ground by one of the rabbit-things, that that should be seen last. So I flipped it all horizontally. Now this looks weird to me, but I'm not sure if that's just because it contradicts the original version which I have burnished onto my retina by staring at it too intently for too long.

If you're wondering how I did the subtle fur texturing on the bodies (which only really worked on the light blue version), I used a light box: a new method I'm experimenting with. My dad actually made me the box for my eighth birthday. Good ol' dad. Because that's how things worked when I was a kid, in the nineties. When your birthday rolled round you didn't get an X-box 360 stuffed with cash, your dad had to spend hours toiling over a drawing tool at the kitchen table, and to deftly make it look exactly like a kitchen drawer to avoid arousing suspicions from the recipient to be. Here it is on our glass sixteen-seater dining table:

So I drew the main lines, and then on a seperate sheet drew some fur, resulting in this kind of thing which actually looks a lot more interesting than the finished picture.

If you want to vote, and I'm sure you do, I'm going to put the link up as soon as I get it.

*Not really of course, I am one hundred percent original.

EDIT: It got approved so you can vote now. You're not too busy are you?
My Submission

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Don't Panic: Morality

The last Don't Panic competition was a complete bust, despite my best efforts. I'd probably do better and end up less hurt in a DP competition in the porn-film sense (wikipedia) .
It was suggested to me that to be in with a chance with the kind of sheepish scenesters that probably do all the voting on a site like DP! I should just embrace some tired urban cliches and let the people that vote for me think that they're cool.
So I started with the "urban landscape". The side of a building on our way to work (me and Charlotte work in the same building now, by the way). Check the bin bags for the extra touch of poverty-chic.

Then sketched out the kind of , um, "piece" I wanted to lay down in Photoshop:

Pay attention to the question mark. It's like, asking a question without asking one. Like, who's really moral, man? Is it the man, man? No, man. It's like the voice of the streets etc. etc.
Then I drew it all out on paper, trying to embrace all the kind of over-used graff memes I could think of at the time: CCTV cameras, sweeping arrows, artificial drips.

Then I stuck that over the wall for instant street-cred graff.

But it just looks really shit. Weak linework will always bring a picture right down, but when it's combined with bad colouring and a poor source photo- a vaguely well turned out office worker on the way to work on a sunny morning- it's almost embarassing. Certainly, that quick sketch works better.
The next morning then we took some more photographs, in more urban places. This time round I tried to capture the kind of playfulness of the sketch. These characters, incidentally, were drawn entirely on a Wacom tablet, a first for me.

First: oooh, shop shutters. "Yeah, don't open up your shop round here, it's too ghetto blud." and so on.
The paint on the steel works well, but Charlotte looks a bit funny and the framing is all off.

And there's this one, boarded up windows perhaps. Charlotte looks good but kind of takes over, and there's not much wood texture coming through.

And then this one, the building site. The characters being much bigger makes them all the more dramatic, and this is the one I decided to enter. It doesn't exactly look like a witty critique of artistic conventions, but I like it.

I was late to join the race though, so please vote for me and help me catch up. Currently Greg's poster is doing pretty well. I voted for it, and if he wins I'll be almost as happy.
Why not look at both of ours and decide which one you like best, then vote for me anyway.
Anything but that Lauren Steinberg idiot who's currently winning!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Old Lady

In a bid to be more Gregarian I bought a white gel pen recently. It's nice for cutting back through black lines you've already put down and making negative shapes- I used it for that Entertainment poster, for example. So far I've only really used it on white paper though, and it's not very dramatic. Like pissing on yourself in the shower, most of the time.
Talking about pissing on yourself most of the time, here's an elaborate sketch of an old lady I did as a kind of practice. The hair in the bottom left is the closest to the kind of effect I'm getting at.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

More sketches

I've found a few more sketches dotted round in little books I have. I said in the last post I only really stop and sit in two places: on a bus and on the sofa, but there are a few more.
Here's another bus though:

And here's a hungover Sunday afternoon on the sofa, watching the OC with Char, Hugh (visiting from Newcastle, brought cookies, now sadly missed) and Soph (ex-housemate, brought sunshine into our lives, now sadly missed):

Right, so that's just buses and sofas then. But don't believe for a second my life is anything less than a white-knuckle roller-coaster ride of sex and drugs and rocks and rolls. I'm young, I live in the capital, I have a modest disposable income. I'm averagely intelligent and ever so slightly creative. You never know where I'll sit next! On the edge of a wishing-well, on a Camel, in a second-rate simulator on the pier, on a bench by some pidgeons... Anywhere!

Here's one from when I was sat on the loo:

I have traveled a bit though recently. Desperately trying to claw back the sense of self-worth inherent to being a student, I've gone all the way up to Yorkshire and all the way West back to Bristol. Anything to help me shrug off the crushing weight of realisation as I settle into my hourly-wage life in an office, telling anyone who'll listen that "I'm an artist, really."

This is from the train journey back from Yorkshire. As with the buses, it's worth bearing in mind that these vessels really shake when you try and draw on them. I thought perhaps the foggy hangover I was suffering on this journey might cause my right hand to shake in just the right way to countenance the carriage judder making for clean lines all round, but I guess it wasn't to be.

And here's another trip. This time to Bristol for much longer than we were welcome. Here I've tried to use representative colours, but put them all over the cream at a 70% opacity to try and make for a cohesive palette. Is it more effective? I don't know. In fact, I don't even understand what I just said.

Monday, March 05, 2007


I went throught a stage last month of carrying a little blue book and a felt-tip pen with me everywhere I went, tied up in a handkerchief on a stick. I'm living life like a true artist, I thought. Documenting everywhere I sat. It soon became boring though: there are only two places I ever sit.

The first is on our sofa, watching Charlotte watching MTV.

The second is on the number three bus, from Brixton to Crystal Palace and back again. An hour long journey I really grew to enjoy.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Strip Show Special

Some strips. I don't know why I stopped doing these for such a long time. I guess they're fun to write, that takes all of ten seconds, but then to draw them isn't all that exciting and takes about ten hours. I don't know though. I like them. When I get a good arsenal I'm going to try sending them off to people. Maybe newspapers, maybe magazines, maybe though just to members of the public, just to see what happens.

This one I did a long time ago, and I think I drew it in a relevant state, hence it's shitness. I've done alternative versions, repacing "comedown" with "hangover". Clever, eh?
Home Coming Down


Skinny latte

Friday, March 02, 2007

And now a flurry...

This blog is like a cheap fence, flimsy and meaningless and with such a distance between the posts. Now it almost feels awkward, wrong. I've forgotten how to write for it. Who am I writing for? Why?
With my last post (now deleted) having no picture ready I tried to write a little something. Something pitched somewhere between a diary and a stand-up routine. Jumbling basic truths of real-life with crude charicatures from my last job I tried to paint an entertaining picture of grim office life in a bid for an entertaining aside. It came out cruel and misjudged though, which I felt really bad about. Especially when those involved-who I actually really liked and got on with- read it. I learnt a real lesson that day. About the ol' Blogosphere, about relationships, about being a grown-up...
This is a sketch blog, designed to chart my artistic development over the months, the years. So I'll put up some more pictures.
We're online by the way now. My life is panning out pretty much exactly like Kris Marshall's in those series of BT adverts, that is, we've got a homehub.

Anyway, here's the first. For Arron's Bristol Indie night, Entertainment.

Apparently the title was too small, and they needed an UBU logo, though, so I reworked it to this. I really regret the grey stars, though. They're intended for neon paper, for leaflets, by the way, which should make them stand out a bit more.

And here's a Pavilion picture I've been struggling with for ages. I took a load of cards round Brighton the other week, actually, and this was one of the most succesful. I got a couple of orders, but I think I'm going to wind up Jack Noel Card Co., for a bit. At least until I think of a snappier name, anyway.