Friday, 22 May 2015

Jules Verne Tech, Cyber Religion and Alien Worlds

I've been doing quite a bit of regular work for BBC Focus magazine recently, amongst other commissions, so here's a bit of a catch up on the Baxter's Into the Future illustrations from the last three months. Firstly, a look at how Jules Verne is inspiring the technology of tomorrow such as an electricity generating Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion plant. Secondly, the future of religion in an increasingly secular world and thirdly a piece on habitable worlds in the universe featuring a quizzical alien being looking to the stars. See all the Into the Future illustrations on the site here.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Ancient DNA

Here's a recent editorial for the Wall Street Journal on how studies in ancient DNA are telling a new human story about our ancestors. See more work for the Wall Street Journal here.

Monday, 11 May 2015


Here's my entry for a competition run by the BFI and Harper Collins  to create a film poster for a yet-to-be filmed sci-fi novel. One of my all-time favourite novels, William Gibson's Neuromancer, has yet to make it to the big screen, despite having a huge influence on sci-fi cinema, so it was a no-brainer for me to take on the cyberpunk classic. Last I heard director Vincenzo Natali was on the Case (protagonist pun intended) so the film version might yet happen. See the poster and related work on the site here.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Showcase 100

I currently have an illustration up in the Showcase 100 Exhibition at the Framers Gallery in central London. It's a juried exhibition and publication set up by the good folk at Little Chimp Society and Hire An Illustrator. There's some great work in the show so it's well worth a look...if you can get down there by tomorrow when it finishes that is! If not, you can always get the book.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

BSFA Award Nom

Very pleased to find myself nominated in the Best Artwork category at this year's British Science Fiction Association Awards for Sophia Mcdougall's Mars Evacuees cover. The awards are held at the Dysprosium Eastercon convention this coming Easter weekend and I'm up against some stiff competition so my fingers will be crossed at all times until then. Looking back at the history of the awards it's a real privilege for me to be nominated amongst some of the hugely influential names on there, Jim Burns in particular, was a big inspiration for me as a sci-fi art obsessed youth.

Giffery From Brussels

I've been sitting on a bunch of photos from various trips over the last six months that I wanted to blast into the blog-o-sphere somehow so I'm going cutting edge, circa 1987, with the latest in gif - with a hard G - technology. Firstly, here are a few scenes that stole my eye on a lovely trip to Brussels late last August. You can find more photography over on my Instagram account if you fancy a gander.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

The Universe Next Door

Here's a new cover illustration for the latest issue of BBC Focus on the mind-bending concept of a twin universe 'next door' to ours where time runs backwards. The illustration also needed to be animated for the iPad edition of the mag which you can see below. More work for BBC Focus can be found on the site here.

Thursday, 12 March 2015


Here's a recent cover illustration for HR Magazine that required a simpler graphic approach to get across the idea of Human Resources under examination. I've posted the original and a different colour-way for the actual cover. See more work for HR Magazine on the site here.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Life Of Brian

Here's an editorial for American Airlines luxury mag Celebrated Living for an article on 'high-energy' chef Brian Malarkey and the opening of his new venture in Las Vegas. See it in more detail and with related work on the site here.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Ice Age London And Hologram Heat

Here are a couple of recent editorials for my regular slot in BBC Focus' Into The Future column. First up is a depiction of an Ice Age London, not hard to imagine that one, and a Valentine's themed take on technology and relationships. You can see more work from the series on the site here.

Monday, 23 February 2015

ABRSM Plays On

So two months have flown by since my last post due to a blog-killing combo of leisure, being away for a few weeks, and stress, being stupidly busy because of not being in the studio enough. I've managed to pop up for air to get back on top of this posting lark. Thought I'd start with a batch of the most recent music book cover illustrations in a continuing series for ABRSM. Here are illustrations for the Singing Syllabus and Sight-Singing, the Harp and Guitar specimen sight-reading. You can see them on the site here with other work for ABRSM. Thanks to Kate Benjamin as usual for her direction and design.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Olympic Park Winter

Here's my latest illustration for Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to promote their Winter campaign.  Working with Premm Design again we went with a darker background and vibrant colour scheme to emphasise the Christmas element and warmth of the indoor activities. Along with the illustration I also created an animated version for moving billboard ads. You can see all previous work for QEOP on my site here.
That's me done for the year. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you on the other side.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Double Visions

Catch-up time! Here are a couple of recent illustrations for my regular BBC Focus sci-fi commission for Stephen Baxter's Into The Future column. There's a look at some Einsteinian teleportation theories and a vision of Helium 3 mining in Jupiter's atmosphere. See the collected Into The Future work on the site here.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Undocumented Children

Here's a recent editorial illustration for Texas' San Antonio Magazine on the plight and provision of undocumented children crossing at the US/Mexican border. You can see previous work for San Antonio Magazine on the site here.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Faster Than Light

Soon after completing the recent 2054 themed BBC Focus cover and feature illustrations I was chuffed to do it all over again for the following issue. This time the theme was How To Travel Faster Than Light so I worked up a cover featuring a wormhole-traversing pilot and a second outside view of the spacecraft zipping through the light tunnel. Great fun to illustrate and animate for the iPad edition. See further detail on the site here and other work for BBC Focus here.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Life Of Maria Callas

I'm back in the blog-seat after spending the last couple of weeks zipping around Scandinavia. Will post some pics here soon but have been peppering Instagram with shots en route. So this week I'm playing catch up and have a whole bunch o' posts to work through.

First up is a long-delayed animation I finished roughly a year ago to create a condensed life story for the legendary diva Maria Callas. It was commissioned to coincide with the launch of an album collection of remastered arias called Pure for Warner Classics, the release of which was pushed back until recently, and having sat on it for a while I'm very happy to see it out in the Youtube world.

The process proved to be similar to that of the Claude Debussy animation. I was tasked with researching Maria's life to create a succinct narrative that touched on all the career highlights and provided an arc for her dramatic personal story. After some invaluable help from the classical experts at Warner I had a script and began crafting the style boards based on the striking packaging image of Callas that would form the centrepiece of the animation. A rough animatic was created from archive photographs to approve content and timing with the chosen aria O mio babbino caro. My brushpen then went into overdrive creating portraits to be collaged into scenes created in Photoshop before animating these 2d elements in the 3d space of After Effects. The colour scheme was reduced to a minimal red-tinted monochrome, also based on the album cover, to keep a consistent tone and atmosphere. I thoroughly enjoyed making the animation and hope you enjoy also, you can see more on the main site here.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Blog Tour

I was recently asked to hitch my digital wagon to the Blog Tour, a growing trail of creatives set loose on four career illuminating questions before inviting others to join the convoy. An old BA Hons buddy from Portsmouth Uni nominated me, Caroline Pedlernow a super-talented artist based in Cornwall, along with Tom Hubmann. Previous to Caroline were John Kilburn and Amber Hsu amongst others. Anyway, here goes...

What are you working on right now?
I've had a really busy period over the last three months working on an eclectic mix of different projects involving both illustration and animation. I'll run through a few recent jobs that represent an average cross-section of a working week as the stuff that I'm actually working on right now I can't post yet.

I'm currently creating an animated iPad version of my second cover illustration for BBC Focus Magazine, for which I've created a lot of science/tech editorial work recently. I also have a monthly column, called Into the Future, that I illustrate for the magazine where I get to play out a lot of my childhood sc-fi obsessions. Here's a recent example about deep space communications...
I'm usually juggling 2 or 3 different editorial commissions a week, some with 24 hour turnarounds such as this recent illustration for Wall Street Journal on the Ebola virus.
I've had ongoing rebrand work for the last few years illustrating book covers for the UK's largest music examining body, ABRSM. Here's a recent cover for the Guitar Scales & Arpeggios.
Earlier in the Summer I worked on my second brand illustration to promote Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park around London which included animation work for moving billboards. It's certainly a massive buzz seeing the work on a massive Ok...
I like to have personal work on the go alongside the commercial as often as possible. A recent project, Post-Invasion Cards, involved transforming found vintage postcards into UFO crash-site scenes. I've since turned them back into postcards to be made available as a pack of four soon...
How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I like to straddle lots of different genres and styles while keeping a recognisable quality to the work that is identifiably mine. This can be my unapologetic use of vivid, and probably ridiculous, colour or my approach to photo collage or drawing style. I like to be versatile for the personal creative freedom it offers and the obvious commercial reasons of being able to tackle varied work. I've developed a brush pen drawing style over the last few years that is quite different to the Photoshop orientated work I create. I really love working with both of these digital and analogue methods and I'm constantly trying to bring the two together in more harmonious ways. More successful examples of this marriage of styles can be seen in my Claude Debussy: Life In Miniature animation...

...or a series of portraits for a book of rock and roll poetry A Circus Mind such as this Ken Kesey illustration.
Ultimately I like to be as stylistically simple (usually drawn) or hyper-detailed (Photoshop) as I feel the work requires, be it personal or commercial.

How does my illustration process work?

For commissioned work I'll read the brief or article before doing a little internet picture research around the subject for added, and often unexpected, inspiration. Some clients provide specific imagery to work around which can be really useful, in terms of clarity of brief, but can be creatively limiting. Either way, hopefully I'll have a good mental image of how the illustration should look and run with it. I often doodle a crude layout then build up an illustration-in-progress in Photoshop before sending a semi-developed image over to the client that's closer to a final rather than a bunch of sketches. It saves everybody time if it's green-lit as it's practically there. I'll happily return to the drawing board though if the client needs more ideas, every job finds it's own way. Below is an example of a smooth running job for ASAE in the States from client sketch, to approved semi-developed rough to fully detailed final.
For personal work the process is more organic than the commercial route and ideas can sit evolving in my brain for some time until I feel the need to get around to them. When I do, however, I approach them with a similar urgency and need to exorcise them quickly. Strike while the pen/mouse is hot as nobody says.

Why do I illustrate what I illustrate?

I'm driven by the joy I get from image-making mostly and exploring the varied ways I can communicate visual ideas. I feel fortunate that I can make a living doing something I've always loved to do so I'm going to keep doing it as long as I'm allowed, damn it! My personal work explores themes I'm interested in, obviously, but I don't feel there's overriding subject matter I need to explore obsessively besides the process itself. My childhood imagination was heavily influenced by imagery from films, art and books and the desire to translate the results to paper somehow and that's never really changed I'm glad to say.
That's me done for. Over to the fantastic drawer/painter Kenn Goodall and the wonderful world of Wellington Drawe!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Your Life In 2054

Here's a hefty commission for BBC Focus magazine's current issue on what the future holds for us in the year 2054. I had to create a cover and three feature illustrations for technology-centric stories based in the home, leisure pursuits and the work environment. The cover was the big one requiring me to exhaust all my Photoshop tricks to create a detailed futuristic London(ish) cityscape with towering number structures. I then had to animate a looping scene and create some audio for the iPad edition which was great fun to do. You can also see the work and full magazine spreads on the site here.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Bokhari Illustration Remix

The guys at Bokhari Records are celebrating their 10th release and have asked some of their previous record sleeve artists to remix each others imagery. I've chosen to remix Radio Design's splendid 3D cover by stripping back all the abstract majesty and turning it into a daft lil' eye-headed hand creature. All the remixed artworks are available as posters at the Bokhari site. You can my previous sleeve art for Bokhari on my site here.