Monday, 29 November 2010

New work from John Blanche #3

John has kindly sent through some more images. I was quite astounded when I saw these as they mark a significant departure in terms of composition. These close-cropped and intimate portraits bring the viewer much nearer to the subjects. The delicate treatment of the girl's skin in the first is at odds with the brutal spike jutting from her jaw. The maxillofacial steel is reinforced by the metal spires that rise behind her. We feel rather sorry for this beautiful creature who gazes wistfully across her dystopian world.

We feel less pathos for the woman in the second, who stares coyly back at us. She is a Mother Ship in the literal sense, with her fleet of tiny drones circling about her, perhaps docking via the red-raw maw in her shoulder. These sulphurous, buzzing little passengers reinforce the feeling of decay that surrounds the Magna Mater who proudly bears her cracked spines and charred stubble.

I will unleash another image later this week.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


My friend The History Man is a keen reenactor whose day job involves visiting schools to teach history using his vast collection of reenactment kit. He tells the following story:

He was driving in his History Man Wagon to a school early one morning. His van is unmarked and he was stopped by the Police, as a large white unmarked van meandering through the countryside in the early hours is somewhat suspect. The Police pulled him over and asked, "What's in the back?"
"Two suits of armour, several swords, knives and some medieval torture instruments. Oh and a miniature canon." replied The History Man.
The Police paused and looked at one another. After some moments they asked, "May me have a look, Sir?"
"Of course!" was the answer, and The History Man led them to the back and eagerly showed them his collection.
The next question on their lips was, "Can we try it on, Sir?"
Thus The History Man made two friends as he suited them up in his armour by the roadside.

The History Man and I visited The Original Reenactors Market (TORM) last weekend. TORM is a twice-yearly fare where reeneactors go to buy their kit. Two large halls are full of stalls selling everything from fur to swords, wool, leather, bows, arrows, firearms and goodness-knows-what. The vendors cater for all periods up the the twentieth century. To the reenactor it is a Mecca that one must visit at least every year to stock up on materials for our projects, and to the interested passer-by it is a fascinating and bonkers collection of awesome things. It is one of those places where, no matter how many times you've walked down a row of stalls, the next time you always see something you had not spotted before.

I came away with wool for my ancient Persian outfit, a brooch and a book. The History Man got some linen which he'll no doubt be showing to a baffled Policeman very soon.

The back of the History Man's Wagon with a fraction of his kit.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, 22 November 2010

Tintern Abbey

I feel very much at home amongst antiquities so it's fortunate I am British as we can barely move without bumping into a castle, Roman road, well or some such site of interest.

Over the summer a friend and I went to Wales and on our tour we visited Tintern Abbey (Wiki here). These impressive ruins loom over the River Wye. Built over a 400 year period beginning in the twelfth century the Abbey was home to monks from the Cistercian order. It was destroyed in the fifteenth century by Welsh rebels and then surrendered to the crown when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries. The site lay forgotten and decaying until the eighteenth century when the Romantics took interest in such picturesque locations. The Abbey was painted by Turner amongst others and is now preserved as a tourist location.

Walking around the remains it struck me that the immense walls with their sturdy buttresses form a stark contrast to what must, in our eyes, have been cramped, twisting interiors. Looking at the door apertures and wall footings one can see that the rooms and thoroughfares were tiny by today's standards. Narrow corridors allowed the monks to creep up to the main chapel's clerestories (upper windows) and the now exposed ducts and channels which conducted water to the kitchens formed of a network of winding tunnels. True, there were spacious quadrangles which must have been idyllic in the summer sun, but being buried between those stone walls on a wet winter night must have been an altogether more primeval experience.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Awesome travel website

I saw posters for the website on the London Tube today and was impressed by their design and particularly the logo. It turns out their website is equally cool and features panoramic photographs with infographic overlays. I like the way their promo material avoids the cliched "papyrus and hieroglyphics" aesthetic while retaining the antiquated charm by the use of the brush font (and the way the Ankh forms the "t"). Awesome!

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, 18 November 2010

New work: JUNK logo and development

As most fans of Grindhouse Games know they are developing a red-hot new product under the name of JUNK. A while ago Jim at Grindhouse came to me and said he needed a logo. And fast. I got cracking and you can see my progress below.

The stages I outline are pretty standard for any logo job and I find myself going through most on all such commissions. The only real difference here is that Jim needed a bold vector logo. As readers may know, my "trademark" is the full colour photo-realistic thing which usually follows the last stage you see here. I'll talk more about those full-blown logos in future.

Stage 1 - Before I begin I try to elicit as much as I can about the product the logo is for and the world it is set in. Fortunately clients in the game industry tend to be pretty visually articulate and so I am usually supplied with lots of background info. I then move to this first stage which is pure brainstorm. This stage is, more often than not, executed in pencil but in this instance I knew a relatively simple vector logo was required so working in Illustrator was appropriate.

Stage 2 - This is really brainstorm again, but I am working with the feedback received from the first batch. The response was that the logo needed to be more "punk" and graffiti related, hence these doodles are leaning more in that direction.

Stage 3 - Jim and his team picked one of the concepts to run with and I then produced various options exploring the possibilities it allowed.

Stage 4 - As mentioned above, my clients are usually pretty visually aware and capable. The image here was actually one Jim sent me after he'd played around with the option he liked best. He was adamant this was the final version (which is a good thing - indecisive clients can be challenging!) and all I had to do was neaten it up.

Stage 5 - This is the final version showing various colourways. A bit more work has gone into this than meets the eye. I like my final Illustrator versions to be nice and neat. I like them to contain simple bezier shapes with as few brushes as possible to maximize their compatibility. Anyone who has worked with Adobe Illustrator will know that creating all the knockout groups and compound shapes which allow a design to be dropped on any background can be a heap of work.

I am pretty pleased with the final design and Jim and his team have done an excellent job of incorporating it into the JUNK website and promo materials.

You can find out more about this awesome robot-related product that is JUNK here.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Liz Corbett

Illustrations from the amazing Liz Corbett. Website here.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, 15 November 2010

New work from John Blanche #2

This is the second and final duo of illustrations sent though by John Blanche. Enjoy!

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 13 November 2010

New work from John Blanche #1

Many readers will know that I have worked with Games Workshop's Art Director John Blanche (who I am assuming needs no introduction). Under his mysterious and macabre auspices I have produced animations, mood boards, websites and even portable tarot machines. I ran John's own website for several years but we agreed to let it Rest In Peace a little while ago simply because we were both extremely busy.

I am very pleased to announce that John has sent through a new batch of images which he has kindly allowed me to unleash upon you. In their style and execution they hark back to his pre-Games Workshop illustrations of the 70s and early 80s. They depict the strange an baroque denizens of some retro-futureverse where plague-ravaged Jacobean sky-pirates gaze thoughtfully at the viewer while their appendages are tended by clouds of mechanized bone-drones. These are truly the mad, bad and dangerous to know of the history of a time to come, and it is only fitting that John keeps these and other portraits bound in huge leather presentation tomes.

John has sent through four images, two of which are below. I'll post the other two in the coming days. Expect more Blanche-ian updates in future too.

Posted by Picasa

Protein Forum #7: Infographics

When I was a student I spent a lot of time (arguably too much) making films and videos. I was fortunate to go to University College London which had thriving film and television societies who not only screened films but made them too (UCL is the alma mater of Hollywood A-list director Christopher Nolan, who is a former member of the Film Soc.) My interests gradually moved to motion graphics and I would regularly attend the London section of the Onedotzero graphics festival. I have rather lost touch with the festival recently (I think it "skipped" a year or so) but was delighted to see it was returning and... OH MY GOD... it had a talk on infographics which featured the famous David McCandless on the panel.

My excitement turned to horror when I saw the talk was already sold out. I then noticed my friend Andrew Schoben (of the excellent Greyworld) was also speaking and he kindly sorted me out with a guest place - thanks Andrew!

The talk was excellent and showcased new work, investigated the power of visual information displays and posed challenging questions about their place in the media and society. The single most important point which I came away with was David's analysis that in today's Internet age we live in a world of information overload and infographics are a useful tool in relieving this deluge of facts and figures.

I am getting more interested in infographics. I will shortly be uploading a body of infomatics work I have done for the National Health Service. I want to devote more time to broadening my portfolio. Therefore, stay tuned for further updates.

Andrew Schoben of Greyworld showcasing his icecream tasting visualisations.

Below - two of David McCandless' infographics

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, 11 November 2010

I cannot believe I missed this...

Secret Cinema is, in their own words, the cutting-edge producer of large-scale cinematic experiences, fusing film with music, theatre, design and live performance. This summer they created an immersive viewing of Blade Runner in London with live actors and roleplaying adding to the spectacle. Which I completely missed.

Video below and website here.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Bombay Saphire advertising campaign

This campaign is at least two or three years old, but I came across the images I saved in my Picasa and thought I would share them with you.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Hallowe'en pt4: The Palacio de los Muertos Halloween Spectacular

Although Hackney has a bad reputation, I must admit I have never had many problems in the five years I have lived here. Sunday night was no exception. Except that I looked like some kind of grinning cadaverous Stormtrooper, which seemed to keep folk at bay more than usual.

The finale to the Hallowe'en weekend saw us troop off to the Mexican Day of the Dead themed party The Palacio de los Muertos. Facepaint was in abundance and my pal Miss Miranda made her hair look ghoulish with the addition of a tiny, real bird skull. We encountered a bizarrely dressed young couple on the train there. "You look really weird!" I said, and realised my death-and-sallet helm might have something to do with their terrified looks.

Luna Rosa performed, I bumped into many friends (including the wonderful Benjamin Louche and Rose Thorn, who run the Twin Peaks themed Double R Club) and the night proved a fitting end to a raucous Hallowe'en weekend.

Posted by Picasa