Monday, 28 March 2011

Dwarf King's Hold - It's here!

Mantic Games' new title Dwarf King's Hold has been released! Check out a selection of the artwork I produced for the project on my site here, and you can buy the game from the Mantic store here.

Saturday, 26 March 2011


Biba is one of those things I thought I knew about, but on closer inspection I was woefully mis-informed. I'll come back to this point later. My face-palm moment came as the result of watching the excellent documentary Beyond Biba (website here), which profiles the life and work of the British fashion designer with the improbable name of Barbara Hulanicki.

The young Hulanicki had a nerve-racking escape from Israel after her diplomat father was assassinated at the start of World War II. A precocious child, she settled in what she found to be a dull wartime England. Art college followed and she went on to set up the fashion label Biba, which defined the zeitgeist of the late 60s and early 70s. The ‘fresh little foals with long legs, bright faces and round dolly eyes’ was the look for the best part of decade thanks to the brand and its distinctive visual aesthetics. Hulanicki and her late husband Stephen Fitz-Simon first set up a shop in the fashionable King's Road area of London, which, on the back of their opulent but affordable clothes, they swiftly outgrew. They ended up in their flagship store - a seven-floor Art Deco temple of a shop which attracted a million customers every week. Alas, the company became over-stretched and, after disagreements with new owners, Hulanicki left and the brand went into decline. It was effectively defunct by the late 70s.

You get some idea of the look of the brand from the images below. Hulanicki cleverly mixed deco, Egyptian, gypsy and 60s looks to form a confident, bold melange which proved irresistible. I vaguely knew of the brand as I grew up and, from what little I had seen, assumed from the gold, black and sparkles that it was an early 1980s entity. Clearly I was out by about 15 years, which is either testament to my stupidity or (I would prefer to think) Biba just being way ahead of the curve.

The label rose from the grave in 2006, sans Hulanicki, and was re-launched a second time in 2009 under the House of Fraser, where it has seen some success.

You can see the Biba Wiki here.

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Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Arabian Nights

The Guardian newspaper website published a fascinating article recently on the history of the illustrated versions of The One Thousand and One Nights. It delves into the history of the West's relationship with the tales, how the illustrations have been instrumental in their popularity and how the pictures reflect the Occident's changing view of the Near East.

I will be blogging a bit more about the Nights in future, as it's been the inspiration for a recently completed project.

You can read the article here.

Some of my favorite images are below.

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Monday, 14 March 2011

Noam Galai - another amazing photography story

Readers seemed to like my previous post about the discover of Vivian Maier's photographs so I hope this one will inspire as well. This excellent video by Fstoppers profiles the portraits of a quietly spoken Jewish-American Noam Galai which have become a meme throughout the world of graphic design, graffiti and goodness-knows what else.

Noam has even set up a blog where he posts derivatives of his portraits. You can see it here.

What did we ever do before flickr and the interwebs?

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Monster Brains did an excellent series of posts recently unleashing ten tons of video nasty box art. While sifting through the ungodly pile of images I came across the cover for a film called Gremloids (AKA Hyperspace). Intrigued, I YouTube'd it...

Check out the clip below. Go on, I dare you!

The comment posted by postbear sums the thing up, "those boxes of c3pos are now worth more than the entire budget of this awful thing."

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

New work from John Blanche #5

John Blanche has unleashed another surreal and macabre image for your viewing pleasure.

Entropy is possibly his most unique work to date. It stands apart from the rest of his published portfolio in terms of the composition, which is an unusually close and detailed view of one of his Magna Maters. A dense undergrowth of tubes enables her to host to some infernal machine. This relationship is again tended by a cloud of inferior drones, but here leaves her ecstatic like Bernini's St Theresa. She is a giant female angler fish about which the tiny males swarm.

This work is also unique in the photographic quality of the rendering.  Blanche's more idealised cat-like subjects have here been replaced by a more realistic visage, complete with a cropped Emo haircut.

The illustration is "ratted". This is a term Blanche has borrowed from the custom motor cycle scene, where it is used to describe heavily repaired, unkempt but functional bikes. He has attacked his creation and distressed the surface. The result resembles his dry-brushed mist effects, but is altogether more visceral and tactile.

Bow down before the face of "mental prayer" in the Blanche-ian future-verse!

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Monday, 7 March 2011

Sunday, 6 March 2011

London graffiti - part 2

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Dwarf King's Hold - BoW preview videos

You can see my floorplan tiles in these excellent preview videos for DKH from the folks at Beasts of War.

London graffiti - part 1

I have never been that interested in graffiti but the images below caught my eye as I cycled through the Holloway area of North London. They were obviously "approved" works as they sat neatly on the grey hoardings which bounded some new but as-yet-unoccupied commercial units. Perhaps it was the very fact they were regimented and stood out against this backdrop that made me notice them.

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Thursday, 3 March 2011

Abney Park cemetery

I was enjoying a quiet morning in the British Museum's Paul Hamlyn Library when I came across the tome The Egyptian Revival; Ancient Egypt as the Inspiration for Design Motifs in the West by James Stevens Curl (Google books link here).

In it I found a passage about Abney Park Cemetery in North London. I used to live nearby and have some wonderful snaps of the Egyptianised gates. Here is what the book has to say about the place:

The second instance when Egyptian forms were used by a cemetery-company in England was at Abney Park cemetery, Stoke Newington in 1840, when Professor William Hoskings (1800-61) and Joseph Bonomi Jr. created created impressively solid-looking stone gate-lodges in a convincing and scholarly Egyptianising style complete with hieroglyphic inscription informing those able to decipher it that these were 'the gates of the abode of the mortal part of Man'; even the cast-iron gates incorporated correct Egyptianising motifs.

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Tuesday, 1 March 2011

London Hackspace

In the film Demon Seed a computerised house named Proteus incarcerates hapless resident resident Julie Christie. It toys with her a bit and then things get nasty in an unpleasant computer-rape way. This is, of course, an unlikely scenario in the real world unless you strayed into a computer-controlled building, which is basically what the London Hackspace is.

Located in London's fashionable Shoreditch area the Hackspace is a community funded and run project to provide lab and shop space for all kinds of crazy projects to members. It's stuffed with workshop tools, IT kit, laser cutters, cupcake 3D printers, genetic sampling terminals (no, really) and lots and lots of cables. They were running an introductory afternoon for prospective new members so my pal Tomki and I went along to have a look.

We were pretty impressed by the space and facilities and I am eager to give the laser cutting machine a go. Tomki was itching to get some woodworking projects underway. It's clearly the abode of a tightly-knit group of techies and serves as a home-away-from home (they have a fully stocked kitchen!)  There is a computer controlled door mechanism which talks to visitors, so I might let people know where I am going lest the system gets frisky.

You can find out more about the Hackspace here.

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