Saturday, 11 December 2010

Two triangles, one rectangle

It's strange writing about your work. I always have the feeling that I need to make sure what I write is entertaining, witty, and that there aren't any embarrassing speling misstakes, but this is coupled with a sense of "ah well, it's not like anyone's going to actually read the thing is it?!". Anyway, I hope you do enjoy what I write on here (and by "you" I mean the people I assume don't read it).

I should probably get on with it now, eh?

I've had quite a few things to get done by the end of term - both for my "Typographic Fundamentals" module (bet you wish you were doing that), and for Illustration. I posted my type work yesterday, so today is the turn of the work produced for Lloyds TSB's "Art of Nurture" competition.

This image was made to support the theme of "We Succeed Together" - the idea that all the various kitchen utensils work as one to make this beautifully tasty image of a cake. This was firstly created by hand, before some jiggerypokery involving scanners and printers.

My second image made me feel like a true artist. I wandered into a group crit where we were to display our final ideas, and you can imagine my embarrassment when I held up this:

My speech went something like this: "Well, erm, this is my design for "We make it simple", and, well, I'm not sure, it all seemed too easy, and too... well, simple."

Amazingly, this piece of work, which to create probably took around 18 seconds, drew great praise from my tutors - probably the most positive response I've had from them all year. I found my self in the strange position of being compared to Josef Albers, Mark Rothko, and other such "artists".

Anyhow, I wasn't about to ignore the advice of people who work in the industry, so I will submit it as a part of my brief. For the record however, I definitely prefer the cake.

Friday, 10 December 2010


People from the West Midlands pronounce "tiling" as "toiling", which is fairly apt...

Here's my final typography poster, produced in association with Wolverhampton Art Gallery, to advertise an exhibition of the work of Ed Ruscha.

The "n" represents the tent, and I used this frame to order the rest of the text. The green is representative of the grass.

Upon completion, the main task we were set was to "tile" the piece together - in order to create an A2 piece, I instead printed onto two A3s, and tacked the two together. Not as easy as it sounds.

By the way, Ruscha didn't ever live in a tent (to my knowledge), for the full story of why the poster contains what it does click here.

Monday, 29 November 2010

A Positive Change...?

All that faffing around with paint-splats didn't work - tutors didn't like it, I didn't like it, and in a fit of protest I deliberately chose non-fairly-traded chocolate last week at ASDA. Childish? Perhaps.

However, I decided a comeback had to be on the cards - after giving it a rest for a couple of weeks I re-visited it with fresh eyes, inspired by the empty bottle of rosé Fi had left in my bedroom...

It's far from polished and professional, but it's about as good as I can get it (especially with me theoretically being the wrong side of the deadline). The main changed involved ditching the paint, and containing the whole image as a single graphic on the page, as opposed to having bits spilling out off the sheet. The type is rougher - created by hand and then scanned. The inspiration gained from my wine-drinking girlfriend was simply to make the bottle semi-transparent, so the explosion of colour can be seen behind.

As I say, it's far from perfect, but I'm far more confident with it than I've been with my other illustration work so far. Unfortunately I can't pursue it much further - time is short and deadlines are many.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Of tramps and typography

As you may have spotted on Facebook, my latest type assignment is to do with "Wolverhampton personalities", and it would feel wrong to overlook one of the city's most famous persons (or ex-person, as he sadly died 3 years ago), when tackling an assignment such as this: Jozef "Fred" Stawinoga.

For those of you who don't know, this is a man who lived in a tent on the Wolverhampton ring road for nearly 40 years before he died (at the age of 86, no less) - a bit of an icon in these parts, and a man who has over 6,000 "likes" on Facebook.

Anyway, you get the picture. To begin our brief, we had to come up with a "cultural statement" about Wolverhampton, and Mr Stawinoga was my inspiration for this: "with only a tent to shield him from the circling pack" - it makes reference to his tent, the ring-road, and a cheeky reference to Wolverhampton locals (or a wolf-pack).

This particular project is a project given to us by Wolverhampton Art Gallery, to promote a series of work by Ed Ruscha, within the theme of "Artist Rooms". Ruscha's work often involves similar ideas - quotes and statements based on the culture of his native America. I'm too lazy to post some of his work, I'd much rather post my own.

So far it looks a little crowded, especially at the bottom, but I like how it's going. The yellow was put there to lift the piece and give it more prominence, and "circling pack" in capitals to give it an edge of menace. This may be a little false as Jozef Stawinoga was very much accepted by the locals, but in terms of this poster, it seems to work fairly well. The next steps are to continue hand-drawn experiments, with a view to producing the best one or two digitally.

Oh, a footnote on Mr Stawinoga - he was awarded an honorary degree by Wolverhampton Polytechnic... So, if this project doesn't go according to plan, you may see me pitching a tent on Saint Peters.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Chattin' Pollocks

We had a taught session on the importance of blogs yesterday. The main problem with Uni doing this wasn't that it was patronising (which it was), it wasn't that they made us use Pebblepad (quite simply the worst blog/networking site I've ever clapped eyes on), it was that that session justified blogging as work. Hence, this counts as productivity. So here I am, blogging on the work that I should be doing during the time I'm spending blogging about it.

Follow that? Nope, me neither.

This is what my bedroom floor looks like. Being in a poky student room, this kind of dominates the floorspace somewhat - I've already stepped in paint on numerous occasions. The idea has been done a thousand times over - paint splatters/splashes/flicks, call them what you will. It's my Jackson Pollock impression, but without the chain-smoking and the alcoholism. I want to scan this sheet and then blow it up so the tiniest splatters are huge.

The brief is another illustration one - an editorial design to front a piece celebrating 15 years of Fairtrade. My initial ideas all centred around champagne/wine bottles:

Rendering the hands proved difficult, and so I feel it would be best to get rid completely, and to use a slightly more celebratory angle on the bottle such as the one on the right. The paint splatters will hopefully fit in behind the bottle - like with the fruit on the left copy, but with more abandon and freedom.

Of course, what I should be doing now is putting those pieces together, rather than wasting time talking about putting them together. I have my excuses lined up:

1. The paint isn't dry, and I don't want paint on my new scanner.
2. Even if it was dry, the software available on my home computer has spent all evening crashing.
3. I'd much rather blog about my problems than try and solve them.

Hopefully, all will be well by Tuesday when this piece will be handed in, and I'll be able to eat a banana without having a panic attack about the slow progress of my work.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Plantin seeds for the Futura

I've been busy this week. Here's why I haven't posted anything:

No, I haven't been to see the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (and boy am I tired of writing that!) - this is our super-exciting typography project. I realised my blog hasn't contained much of a purely graphic-nature, mainly due to the first few weeks not being very exciting. The above image is a flyer, completely hand-rendered, in 10pt, 14pt and 32pt Plantin, Plantin light, Plantin semibold, and Plantin italic. Yep, that's right, the type sizes had to be correct, the serifs had to be correct, the layouts had to be inspiring... I've done six so far, here's another:

Fun isn't it? Actually, in fairness, there's something very satisfying about the end product - it doesn't quite look as neat as a computer program could create it to be, but there's an element of friendliness that comes through; "A typeface is an alphabet in a straightjacket" said Alan Fletcher - here it seems as though the letters are attempting to escape their padded cells and embrace the world.

I have my fingers crossed that what seems quite a tedious task now will prove useful to me over the coming years. I realise that this has been quite a boring post, so congratulations if you reached this point, and tune-in next week where we'll be working with 14pt Futura.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

More animals

Due to popular (at least two people asked) demand - here's a flamingo:

Created by hand this time; sugar paper for the pink, watercolour for the blue, ink for the black. She needs a name though - answers on a postcard please!

I got a little carried away with my cut-and-stick and decided to make a tiger too. I decided I couldn't really resist creating my favourite animal, so here he is (again in need of a name):

I had fun accentuating the child-like nature of cut-and-stick. My initial sketch of a tiger was terrible, so it makes sense that the outcome of this was a little frayed around the edges too. Thanks for reading!

(Creating the tiger reminded me of a book I used to read at my Granny's house, called "The Story of Little Black Sambo". It was definitely one of my favourite boks when I was young. Here it is, along with illustrations:

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Dudley Zoo

Being on a design course, you know trips will generally be fun. So when it came to the option of a group tutorial or a trip to the zoo, the choice was obvious. We of course had to do some work whilst at the zoo, but that proved worthwhile.

I took my camera, but the speed of most of the animals made it tough to capture any decent shots. So the logical step was to get out the sketchbook... Strange decision I know, but I've frequently found that quick pencil sketches are definitely the best way to capture the true nature (and in this case character) of the subject. Some animals were hard to draw (monkeys, otters, turtles - speedy creatures like that), and some were easier - the orangutan below was a bit of a poser.

These are some of the favourite sketches from my moleskin. From there I photographed a few and edited them digitally at home. So, meet Cecil:

The turtles were surprisingly quick! Just as I'd settled down to draw, he moved and I was left about four lines into my drawing. However, I found that these were the crucial lines in order to recognise a turtle, and it makes for an interesting angle of an odd creature. I emphasised these simple lines, and used yellow and white to show the softness of the sand surrounding him. Anyway, enough of Cecil, here's Benji:

I loved Benji's mess of long hair, although it proved difficult to sketch. I highlighted this by having the added orange spill out beyond his arms, increasing the shagginess. It doesn't quite come through in my sketch, but he had a contented, almost dazed look about him as he stared out of the window at the strange creatures photographing him.

Finally, here's Arnie (Fi's suggestion of name, due to him looking "mean"):

Maybe my favourite - and I nearly gave up whilst drawing him. He's an African Hunting Dog, an ugly brute with whacking great ears. He kept running away whenever we went near him, so I was scribbling away from a distance. I added to this scibbly nature, and gave it a moody look by scratching away the blacks and greys.

So there we are! My own little zoo.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


Really poor quality photo of a single page spread produced for a children's book entitled "Moon Rabbit". Hopefully you get the idea!

Drawn in Promarkers and fineliners, to accompany the words "When the city became very busy, Little Rabbit would go to the park to read her book.". We were also asked to produce a double-page spread to accompany the words "Little Rabbit liked living in the city. She had her own place to stay, her favourite cafe, and so many things to see and do.". VoilĂ .

Again, poor quality (and quite small, so you may have to zoom) - but hey ho, every blog has to start somewhere. Overall I was fairly happy with my character and basic element creation, and with my rendering, but I struggled with composition. I'm hoping to scan my finals in order to produce a better image, and perhaps even faff around with text ('cos I quite like to do that.). Will post the results when/if this gets done!