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!


  1. Hey. I've now posted two comments and both not appeared?? Anyhoo... Thanks so much, love it all and so interesting and I'll pass to my studes if ok and get a date and a few figure for you if you're free to come in. Prob next year? Xxx cheers A x

  2. Hey Caroline. Sorry about the comments trub. Glad to do it, thanks for asking. Look forward to hearing about a potential visit. Cheers! Andy x