Amelia’s Magazine | The Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts

The annual book lovers festival located in the small town of Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh borders. Pic by: FINN BEALES Tel / fax: (01497) 821859 / Mob: (07812) 032137. Email: finn@surestate.net All rights © 24/05/09.
The Guardian Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, find Penguin Classics deckchairs, Photography by Finn Beales

The Hay Festival Site, treatment photography by Finn Beales

It’s hot. The air – swimming through the dawning sun’s flare, dyed glowing green by its battle through dew-soaked tent skin – is cloaked by a comforting, mossy smell. Beyond the walls of the glowing nylon pocket, gentle phrases grumble towards a sea of bubbling indecipherable expressions, the smooth surface sound only broken by the occasional questioning voice of a slowly rising zip. Until… from a stage in a distant field…

“Dumph! Dumph! Dumph! Dumph! -”
“Yeah, mutherFUCKERS! Get the FUCK UUUP!”

Good morning, festivalgoer. Welcome to your long saved-for long weekend of bottle torpedo avoidance, flaming portaloo dousing and plastic meals dished up in polystyrene boxes.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Steadily over the past few years, the major festival has been wrestled from the clutches of beer brands and mobile phone companies, and sent lolloping over can-strewn fields in search of a little cultural convalescence. It has emerged in such guises as the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, which welcomes its first visitors this week in the breathtaking Brecon Beacons National Park. Guided by the ambition to “share new visions of the world, and to do that incredibly sexy thing – to renew our sense of wonder”, the Hay Festival calls on comedians, writers, theatrical performers and musicians to deliver a 10-day programme of events that inspire, entertain and provide plenty of opportunities for wholesome escapism.


Photography by Finn Beales

Hay’s series of environment-related events include a forum on the better use of existing resources, agriculture and food sustainability workshops, and river walks; literary additions count highlights such as photographer Don McCullen in discussion with journalist Rosie Boycott, and talks from Bill Bryson, Lynn Barber and Alain De Botton; and the stage and screen element sees site-specific performances and short films played out across Hay.

The Hay Fever programme for kids plays host to the likes of Quentin Blake and Aardman Animations‘ Peter Lord, and the Rocks Riffs Guitar Workshop, Film Making in a Day, Beat-Matching and Scratching Workshop and farm visits are destined to shape a future generation of festivalgoers (and creators) with their expectations set far above late-night silent discos and stadium sell-out headliners with their osteopath on speed-dial.

The festival runs until Sunday 6th June.

Categories ,Aardman Animations, ,Alain De Botton, ,Bill Bryson, ,Brecon Beacons National Park, ,comedy, ,Don McCullin, ,earth, ,environment, ,Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, ,Kids’ Activities, ,literature, ,Lynn Barber, ,Quentin Blake, ,Rosie Boycott, ,sustainability

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Amelia’s Magazine | The Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts

The annual book lovers festival located in the small town of Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh borders. Pic by: FINN BEALES Tel / fax: (01497) 821859 / Mob: (07812) 032137. Email: finn@surestate.net All rights © 24/05/09.
The Guardian Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, find Penguin Classics deckchairs, Photography by Finn Beales

The Hay Festival Site, treatment photography by Finn Beales

It’s hot. The air – swimming through the dawning sun’s flare, dyed glowing green by its battle through dew-soaked tent skin – is cloaked by a comforting, mossy smell. Beyond the walls of the glowing nylon pocket, gentle phrases grumble towards a sea of bubbling indecipherable expressions, the smooth surface sound only broken by the occasional questioning voice of a slowly rising zip. Until… from a stage in a distant field…

“Dumph! Dumph! Dumph! Dumph! -”
“Yeah, mutherFUCKERS! Get the FUCK UUUP!”

Good morning, festivalgoer. Welcome to your long saved-for long weekend of bottle torpedo avoidance, flaming portaloo dousing and plastic meals dished up in polystyrene boxes.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Steadily over the past few years, the major festival has been wrestled from the clutches of beer brands and mobile phone companies, and sent lolloping over can-strewn fields in search of a little cultural convalescence. It has emerged in such guises as the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, which welcomes its first visitors this week in the breathtaking Brecon Beacons National Park. Guided by the ambition to “share new visions of the world, and to do that incredibly sexy thing – to renew our sense of wonder”, the Hay Festival calls on comedians, writers, theatrical performers and musicians to deliver a 10-day programme of events that inspire, entertain and provide plenty of opportunities for wholesome escapism.


Photography by Finn Beales

Hay’s series of environment-related events include a forum on the better use of existing resources, agriculture and food sustainability workshops, and river walks; literary additions count highlights such as photographer Don McCullen in discussion with journalist Rosie Boycott, and talks from Bill Bryson, Lynn Barber and Alain De Botton; and the stage and screen element sees site-specific performances and short films played out across Hay.

The Hay Fever programme for kids plays host to the likes of Quentin Blake and Aardman Animations‘ Peter Lord, and the Rocks Riffs Guitar Workshop, Film Making in a Day, Beat-Matching and Scratching Workshop and farm visits are destined to shape a future generation of festivalgoers (and creators) with their expectations set far above late-night silent discos and stadium sell-out headliners with their osteopath on speed-dial.

The festival runs until Sunday 6th June.

Categories ,Aardman Animations, ,Alain De Botton, ,Bill Bryson, ,Brecon Beacons National Park, ,comedy, ,Don McCullin, ,earth, ,environment, ,Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, ,Kids’ Activities, ,literature, ,Lynn Barber, ,Quentin Blake, ,Rosie Boycott, ,sustainability

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Amelia’s Magazine | Top illustrator Quentin Blake shares 5 tips for creating great illustrations

Quentin Blake by Jenny Robins

Sketch of Quentin Blake at the Royal Festival Hall by Jenny Robins. All images below copyright Quentin Blake.

As one of the most iconic and respected artists of line drawing the world has ever seen, Quentin Blake is in a unique position to explore the possibilities of what can be done with drawing. And I think drawing is the key word here – as we were guided through examples of work that Blake has produced for galleries, hospitals, building projects and charities. Despite being recontextualised on walls, on giant billboards and awnings there was still no doubt that these were drawings not murals.

Quentine Blake - large scale printing

Awning to cover up building work at St Pancras Station.

The work originally done on a small scale on paper and then blown up to huge proportions or printed on transparent acetate to be transferred to walls, of course keeps that energy and spontaneity that makes them so very Quentin Blake. In this way he can hang on to his strong identity as an illustrator working in many contexts – providing an example for the exciting possibilities that new technology provides for illustrators – Blake says that illustration has ‘inherited what art used to do’ – to enhance and decorate and communicate informally.

Quentine Blake - maternity ward 2

Quentine Blake - Maternity ward 1

Work for a Maternity Ward

In looking at how his various projects have been matched and created for different medical and mental health locations – Blake also gave insight into both illustrators’ instinct for this kind of informal communication – and into the great therapeutic effects the right picture can have in times of stress and pain. Working primarily with the Nightingale Project which works to place music and pictures into hospitals, Quentin’s artworks can teach us a lot about how people are represented in pictures, and what effect that can have on the viewer, whether well or ill. Here’s what I took from this very interesting and informative talk:

* Authenticity and Spontaneity – although happy and eloquent in his analysis of his hospital work now, Blake was fast to point out that he did not plan them meticulously – several series he said came about by accident – and he almost never uses a visual reference – he makes his characters up as he goes along. He is a lesson to developing illustrators to trust their instincts as this is where your most vibrant work comes from.

Quentine Blake - swimming mental health

Work for an Adult Mental Heath Centre

* Fantasy – for a children’s hospital Blake drew fantastical creatures and creations interacting with sick or injured children and doctors – reframing the problems faced by his viewers in a safe and imaginary setting. This is another thing that illustration excels at – combatting the troubles of reality by providing fantastical parallels.

Quentin Blake  - children fantasy

Work for a Children’s Hospital with The Nightingale Project

* Metaphor – similarly Blake’s illustrations of old people climbing trees and getting up to unrealistic mischief for an elderly care centre, and his pictures of people swimming fully clothed for an adult mental health centre reframed the issues faced by his audience metaphorically. For Gordon Hospital, the swimming characters are clearly going about their business, interacting with swimming fish and animals and getting on with life despite being underwater – a perfect fit for mental health as they show ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances – but coping with them.

Quentine Blake - old people fantasy

Work for an Elderly Care Home

* Reality – In contrast the work produced for an eating disorders unit was totally based in reality. As the people who end up there have enough trouble with fantasy and distortion of facts, Quentin said a parallel universe was not useful here. Instead his characters in these pictures try on dresses, feed pigeons, interact with food but don’t focus on it. As always his characters feel real and identifiable.

Quentine Blake  - eating dissorders normal

Work for Vincent Square Eating Disorder Service.

* Agency – In another series for a maternity ward Blake painted more swimming figures – this time naked mothers and babies. As well as providing a calm and happy scene of what was soon to happen – the meeting of mother and child – these pictures illustrate something which is so important in Quentin Blake’s work – agency. These are naked female figures with their own agenda and their priority is connecting with their babies – in each picture the mother and child make eye contact and seem oblivious of the viewer. Unlike the images of naked women we are so used to both in modern media and classic art, there is no male gaze here at all – like all Blake’s characters they have their own believable life, their own agenda, which ultimately, is much more useful an example for any kind of viewer – much better to hold up a mirror of a full life than a posing subject. I think perhaps this is the real fact of what makes Blake’s work so satisfying. And this immediacy is what good illustration is really capable of.

Categories ,Advice, ,AOI, ,Association of Illustrators, ,drawing, ,Eating Disorders Unit, ,Gordon Hospital, ,illustration, ,Jenny Robins, ,Nightingale Project, ,Quentin Blake, ,review, ,Royal Festival Hall, ,St Pancras Station, ,Talk, ,Tell Me a Picture, ,Vincent Square Eating Disorder Service

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Amelia’s Magazine | Pick Me Up Contemporary Graphic Art Fair 2011: Mokita Symposium

amos_plastic_workshop_london-portrait
Wisdom of Caleb bare leaves

James Jarvis spoke at Mokita, approved where he was asked to address the role of illustration in commerce. The insights below have been put together from comments he made both in his talk and in the following conversation with others on the panel of Mokita.

James Jarvis Degree Show poster
James Jarvis’ Brighton Degree Show poster.

A character artist.
The baggage of being an illustrator is confusing so he prefers to think of himself as a graphic artist. It’s a journey into self awareness. He recently found his old degree graduation poster and realised that you can see his style developing even then, information pills when it was all done by hand. He has become very well known for drawing funny characters in depressing situations but he doesn’t like being seen as a character artist only.

Sole Inspector by James Jarvis
Sole Inspector by James Jarvis.

He knew the route.
James’ mother was an art history tutor and he knew he wanted to be an illustrator from an early age. The plan was to make kids books but nobody wanted his work and editorial art directors thought he was too kiddy in style, so he was stuck in no mans land. But he was accepted within the skateboarding world, where his work was discovered by the forward thinking art directors at The Face. He was lucky in that his images were companions to the articles, and he didn’t really have to answer any briefs. The magazine was a massively influential shop window that gave him credibility in the mainstream.

Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos
Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos.

ATP Amos concert poster
An Amos collaboration with ATP music festival.

People just want funny characters.
From working with The Face he became involved with clothing brand Silas, and together they created a toy to publicise the brand. It became an object in its own right and soon after he started Amos, his own toy making company; it doesn’t make him much money but he is involved with lots of other projects as a result: he now makes films, t-shirts and curates music festivals. He wants his characters to be more than just toys, avatars for a more substantial world. Even now though, many years later, advertisers still just want to buy into his associations with Streetwear culture and The Face; everyone wants a potato head character. For instance he’s currently working on something to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Coca-Cola. Only the most enlightened art directors ask for something different and new: most just want something he produced a long time ago so it’s up to him to keep pushing ideas forward.

James Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino print
James Jarvis lino prints.

Self publish for sanity.
Making products is a different world to the one of illustration. He started to make ‘plastic illustrations’ from his toys but soon found that he was getting farther and farther away from his unmoderated link to thought. So much intermediate process meant he was at danger of losing his core spirit. To keep sane he now maintains a practice of self published work, which he publishes online. For example he’s been very disciplined, creating The Wisdom of Caleb, a daily cartoon strip for 150 days (this has now been taken offline). He rejoices if he gets a few hundred hits – but it’s important to build up an audience over time, and if you keep your conviction then the work will find that validity. The comic strips are very basic, with no retouching.

James Jarvis lino work
Working with lino print.

Back to basics.
He’s been inspired by Roger Hargreaves to create some very minimal characters. He has also been creating a lino print every week in editions of seven, which provides a grassroots connection with his audience that is direct and democratic. He sells the prints directly and finds there’s an honesty in taking them to the post office himself.
He’s aware that he’s “highly involved with filling the world with plastic” and it makes him quite uncomfortable. He likes the simplicity and honesty of making things by hand at home, such as resin figures – and using the web to sell them direct. This kind of work never felt accessible when he was at college.

wisdom of caleb worksheetWisdom of Caleb safe squirrelWisdom of Caleb
Cartoons for the Wisdom of Caleb.

His greatest hits.
He has sold 10,000 toys over the years and he’s grateful for that because there’s a bond with his audience. He would be stupid not to engage with what people want. But James also concedes admits that he has been massively lucky – tons of people at college were better drawers, and his success has been as much down to circumstance as being clever.

James Jarvis hosts the Amos Miniature Plastic Workshop at KK outlet in Hoxton between 6-31 May, 2011.

Wisdom of Caleb bare leaves

James Jarvis spoke at Mokita, page where he was asked to address the role of illustration in commerce. The insights below have been put together from comments he made both in his talk and in the following conversation with others on the panel of Mokita.

James Jarvis Degree Show poster
James Jarvis’ Brighton Degree Show poster.

A character artist.
The baggage of being an illustrator is confusing so he prefers to think of himself as a graphic artist. It’s a journey into self awareness. He recently found his old degree graduation poster and realised that you can see his style developing even then, web when it was all done by hand. He has become very well known for drawing funny characters in depressing situations but he doesn’t like being seen as a character artist only.

Sole Inspector by James Jarvis
Sole Inspector by James Jarvis.

He knew the route.
James’ mother was an art history tutor and he knew he wanted to be an illustrator from an early age. The plan was to make kids books but nobody wanted his work and editorial art directors thought he was too kiddy in style, so he was stuck in no mans land. But he was accepted within the skateboarding world, where his work was discovered by the forward thinking art directors at The Face. He was lucky in that his images were companions to the articles, and he didn’t really have to answer any briefs. The magazine was a massively influential shop window that gave him credibility in the mainstream.

Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos
Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos.

ATP Amos concert poster
An Amos collaboration with ATP music festival.

People just want funny characters.
From working with The Face he became involved with clothing brand Silas, and together they created a toy to publicise the brand. It became an object in its own right and soon after he started Amos, his own toy making company; it doesn’t make him much money but he is involved with lots of other projects as a result: he now makes films, t-shirts and curates music festivals. He wants his characters to be more than just toys, avatars for a more substantial world. Even now though, many years later, advertisers still just want to buy into his associations with Streetwear culture and The Face; everyone wants a potato head character. For instance he’s currently working on something to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Coca-Cola. Only the most enlightened art directors ask for something different and new: most just want something he produced a long time ago so it’s up to him to keep pushing ideas forward.

James Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino print
James Jarvis lino prints.

Self publish for sanity.
Making products is a different world to the one of illustration. He started to make ‘plastic illustrations’ from his toys but soon found that he was getting farther and farther away from his unmoderated link to thought. So much intermediate process meant he was at danger of losing his core spirit. To keep sane he now maintains a practice of self published work, which he publishes online. For example he’s been very disciplined, creating The Wisdom of Caleb, a daily cartoon strip for 150 days (this has now been taken offline). He rejoices if he gets a few hundred hits – but it’s important to build up an audience over time, and if you keep your conviction then the work will find that validity. The comic strips are very basic, with no retouching.

wisdom of caleb worksheetWisdom of Caleb safe squirrelWisdom of Caleb
Cartoons for the Wisdom of Caleb.

Back to basics.
He’s been inspired by Roger Hargreaves to create some very minimal characters. He has also been creating a lino print every week in editions of seven, which provides a grassroots connection with his audience that is direct and democratic. He sells the prints directly and finds there’s an honesty in taking them to the post office himself. He’s aware that he’s “highly involved with filling the world with plastic” and it makes him quite uncomfortable. He likes the simplicity and honesty of making things by hand at home, such as resin figures – and using the web to sell them direct. This kind of work never felt accessible when he was at college.

James Jarvis lino work
Working with lino print.

His greatest hits.
He has sold 10,000 toys over the years and he’s grateful for that because there’s a bond with his audience. He would be stupid not to engage with what people want. But James also concedes admits that he has been massively lucky – tons of people at college were better drawers, and his success has been as much down to circumstance as being clever.

amos_plastic_workshop_london-portrait
James Jarvis hosts the Amos Miniature Plastic Workshop at KK outlet in Hoxton between 6-31 May, 2011.

Pick Me Up runs until Sunday 27th March.

Wisdom of Caleb bare leaves

James Jarvis spoke at Mokita, decease where he was asked to address the role of illustration in commerce. The insights below have been put together from comments he made both in his talk and in the following conversation with others on the panel of Mokita.

James Jarvis Degree Show poster
James Jarvis’ Brighton Degree Show poster.

A character artist.
The baggage of being an illustrator is confusing so he prefers to think of himself as a graphic artist. His job is a journey into self awareness. He recently found his old degree graduation poster and realised that you can see his style developing even then, when it was all done by hand. He has become very well known for drawing funny characters in depressing situations but he doesn’t like being seen as a character artist only.

Sole Inspector by James Jarvis
Sole Inspector by James Jarvis.

He knew the route.
James’ mother was an art history tutor and he knew he wanted to be an illustrator from an early age. The plan was to make kids’ books but nobody wanted his work and editorial art directors thought he was too kiddy in style, so he was stuck in no mans land. But he was accepted within the skateboarding world, where his work was discovered by the forward thinking art directors at The Face. He was lucky in that his images were companions to the articles, and he didn’t really have to answer any briefs. The magazine was a massively influential shop window that gave him credibility in the mainstream.

Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos
Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos.

ATP Amos concert poster
An Amos collaboration with ATP music festival.

People just want funny characters.
From working with The Face he became involved with clothing brand Silas, and together they created a toy to publicise the brand. It became an object in its own right and soon after he started Amos, his own toy making company; it doesn’t make him much money but he is involved with lots of other projects as a result: he now makes films, t-shirts and curates music festivals. He wants his characters to be more than just toys, avatars for a more substantial world. Even now though, many years later, advertisers still just want to buy into his associations with Streetwear culture and The Face; everyone wants a potato head character. For instance he’s currently working on something to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Coca-Cola. Only the most enlightened art directors ask for something different and new: most just want something he produced a long time ago so it’s up to him to keep pushing ideas forward.

James Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino print
James Jarvis lino prints.

Self publish for sanity.
Making products is a different world to the one of illustration. He started to make ‘plastic illustrations’ from his toys but soon found that he was getting farther and farther away from his unmoderated link to thought. So much intermediate process meant he was at danger of losing his core spirit. To keep sane he now maintains a practice of self published work, which he publishes online. For example he’s been very disciplined, creating The Wisdom of Caleb, a daily cartoon strip for 150 days (this has now been taken offline). He rejoices if he gets a few hundred hits – but it’s important to build up an audience over time, and if you keep your conviction then the work will find that validity. The comic strips are very basic, with no retouching.

wisdom of caleb worksheetWisdom of Caleb safe squirrelWisdom of Caleb
Cartoons for the Wisdom of Caleb.

Back to basics.
He’s been inspired by Roger Hargreaves to create some very minimal characters. He has also been creating a lino print every week in editions of seven, which provides a grassroots connection with his audience that is direct and democratic. He sells the prints directly and finds there’s an honesty in taking them to the post office himself. He’s aware that he’s “highly involved with filling the world with plastic” and it makes him quite uncomfortable. He likes the simplicity and honesty of making things by hand at home, such as resin figures – and using the web to sell them direct. This kind of work never felt accessible when he was at college.

James Jarvis lino work
Working with lino print.

His greatest hits.
He has sold 10,000 toys over the years and he’s grateful for that because there’s a bond with his audience. He would be stupid not to engage with what people want. But James also concedes admits that he has been massively lucky – tons of people at college were better drawers, and his success has been as much down to circumstance as being clever.

amos_plastic_workshop_london-portrait
James Jarvis hosts the Amos Miniature Plastic Workshop at KK outlet in Hoxton between 6-31 May, 2011.

Pick Me Up runs until Sunday 27th March.

Wisdom of Caleb bare leaves

James Jarvis spoke at Mokita, illness where he was asked to address the role of illustration in commerce. The insights below have been put together from comments he made both in his talk and in the following conversation with others on the panel of Mokita.

James Jarvis Degree Show poster
James Jarvis’ Brighton Degree Show poster.

A character artist.
The baggage of being an illustrator is confusing so he prefers to think of himself as a graphic artist. His job is a journey into self awareness. He recently found his old degree graduation poster and realised that you can see his style developing even then, website when it was all done by hand. He has become very well known for drawing funny characters in depressing situations but he doesn’t like being seen as a character artist only.

Sole Inspector by James Jarvis
Sole Inspector by James Jarvis.

He knew the route.
James’ mother was an art history tutor and he knew he wanted to be an illustrator from an early age. The plan was to make kids’ books but nobody wanted his work and editorial art directors thought he was too kiddy in style, so he was stuck in no mans land. But he was accepted within the skateboarding world, where his work was discovered by the forward thinking art directors at The Face. He was lucky in that his images were companions to the articles, and he didn’t really have to answer any briefs. The magazine was a massively influential shop window that gave him credibility in the mainstream.

Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos
Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos.

ATP Amos concert poster
An Amos collaboration with ATP music festival.

People just want funny characters.
From working with The Face he became involved with clothing brand Silas, and together they created a toy to publicise the brand. It became an object in its own right and soon after he started Amos, his own toy making company; it doesn’t make him much money but he is involved with lots of other projects as a result: he now makes films, t-shirts and curates music festivals. He wants his characters to be more than just toys, avatars for a more substantial world. Even now though, many years later, advertisers still just want to buy into his associations with Streetwear culture and The Face; everyone wants a potato head character. For instance he’s currently working on something to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Coca-Cola. Only the most enlightened art directors ask for something different and new: most just want something he produced a long time ago so it’s up to him to keep pushing ideas forward.

James Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino print
James Jarvis lino prints.

Self publish for sanity.
Making products is a different world to the one of illustration. He started to make ‘plastic illustrations’ from his toys but soon found that he was getting farther and farther away from his unmoderated link to thought. So much intermediate process meant he was at danger of losing his core spirit so to keep sane he now maintains a practice of self published work, which he publishes online. For example he’s been very disciplined, creating The Wisdom of Caleb, a daily cartoon strip for 150 days (this has now been taken offline). He rejoices if he gets a few hundred hits – but it’s important to build up an audience over time, and if you keep your conviction then the work will find that validity. The comic strips are very basic, with no retouching.

wisdom of caleb worksheetWisdom of Caleb safe squirrelWisdom of Caleb
Cartoons for the Wisdom of Caleb.

Back to basics.
He’s been inspired by Roger Hargreaves to create some very minimal characters. He has also been creating a lino print every week in editions of seven, which provides a grassroots connection with his audience that is direct and democratic. He sells the prints directly and finds there’s an honesty in taking them to the post office himself. He’s aware that he’s “highly involved with filling the world with plastic” and it makes him quite uncomfortable. He likes the simplicity and honesty of making things by hand at home, such as resin figures – and using the web to sell them direct. This kind of work never felt accessible when he was at college.

James Jarvis lino work
Working with lino print.

His greatest hits.
He has sold 10,000 toys over the years and he’s grateful for that because there’s a bond with his audience. He would be stupid not to engage with what people want. But James also concedes admits that he has been massively lucky – tons of people at college were better drawers, and his success has been as much down to circumstance as being clever.

amos_plastic_workshop_london-portrait
James Jarvis hosts the Amos Miniature Plastic Workshop at KK outlet in Hoxton between 6-31 May, 2011.

Pick Me Up runs until Sunday 27th March. A more in depth article about Mokita will follow shortly!

Wisdom of Caleb bare leaves

James Jarvis spoke at Mokita, sales where he was asked to address the role of illustration in commerce. The insights below have been put together from comments he made both in his talk and in the following conversation with others on the panel of Mokita.

James Jarvis Degree Show poster
James Jarvis’ Brighton Degree Show poster.

A character artist.
The baggage of being an illustrator is confusing so he prefers to think of himself as a graphic artist. His job is a journey into self awareness. He recently found his old degree graduation poster and realised that you can see his style developing even then, about it when it was all done by hand. He has become very well known for drawing funny characters in depressing situations but he doesn’t like being seen as a character artist only.

Sole Inspector by James Jarvis
Sole Inspector by James Jarvis.

He knew the route.
James’ mother was an art history tutor and he knew he wanted to be an illustrator from an early age. The plan was to make kids’ books but nobody wanted his work and editorial art directors thought he was too kiddy in style, more about so he was stuck in no mans land. But he was accepted within the skateboarding world, where his work was discovered by the forward thinking art directors at The Face. He was lucky in that his images were companions to the articles, and he didn’t really have to answer any briefs. The magazine was a massively influential shop window that gave him credibility in the mainstream.

Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos
Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos.

ATP Amos concert poster
An Amos collaboration with ATP music festival.

People just want funny characters.
From working with The Face he became involved with clothing brand Silas, and together they created a toy to publicise the brand. It became an object in its own right and soon after he started Amos, his own toy making company; it doesn’t make him much money but he is involved with lots of other projects as a result: he now makes films, t-shirts and curates music festivals. He wants his characters to be more than just toys, avatars for a more substantial world. Even now though, many years later, advertisers still just want to buy into his associations with Streetwear culture and The Face; everyone wants a potato head character. For instance he’s currently working on something to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Coca-Cola. Only the most enlightened art directors ask for something different and new: most just want something he produced a long time ago so it’s up to him to keep pushing ideas forward.

James Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino print
James Jarvis lino prints.

Self publish for sanity.
Making products is a different world to the one of illustration. He started to make ‘plastic illustrations’ from his toys but soon found that he was getting farther and farther away from his unmoderated link to thought. So much intermediate process meant he was at danger of losing his core spirit so to keep sane he now maintains a practice of self published work, which he publishes online. For example he’s been very disciplined, creating The Wisdom of Caleb, a daily cartoon strip for 150 days (this has now been taken offline). He rejoices if he gets a few hundred hits – but it’s important to build up an audience over time, and if you keep your conviction then the work will find that validity. The comic strips are very basic, with no retouching.

wisdom of caleb worksheetWisdom of Caleb safe squirrelWisdom of Caleb
Cartoons for the Wisdom of Caleb.

Back to basics.
He’s been inspired by Roger Hargreaves to create some very minimal characters. He has also been creating a lino print every week in editions of seven, which provides a grassroots connection with his audience that is direct and democratic. He sells the prints directly and finds there’s an honesty in taking them to the post office himself. He’s aware that he’s “highly involved with filling the world with plastic” and it makes him quite uncomfortable. He likes the simplicity and honesty of making things by hand at home, such as resin figures – and using the web to sell them direct. This kind of work never felt accessible when he was at college.

James Jarvis lino work
Working with lino print.

His greatest hits.
He has sold 10,000 toys over the years and he’s grateful for that because there’s a bond with his audience. He would be stupid not to engage with what people want. But James also concedes admits that he has been massively lucky – tons of people at college were better drawers, and his success has been as much down to circumstance as being clever.

amos_plastic_workshop_london-portrait
James Jarvis hosts the Amos Miniature Plastic Workshop at KK outlet in Hoxton between 6-31 May, 2011.

Pick Me Up runs until Sunday 27th March. A more in depth article about Mokita will follow shortly!


Mokita by Catherine Askew.

Mokita was billed as a chance to discuss the role of illustration today and specifically what it means to be an illustrator, more about and how that definition is changing. Compared with fine art the applied art discipline of illustration is indeed under-critiqued, side effects so I was keen to take part in the discussion and hear what others have to say. Convened by illustration lecturers Geoff Grandfield, viagra Roderick Mills and Darryl Clifton, from departments at Kingston University, Brighton University and Camberwell College of the Arts, this was destined to have a highly theoretical flavour. We were presented with a lovingly put together booklet on arrival in the bowels of Somerset House, but then, really, would you expect anything less?! Inside it politely asked that shy audience members should text questions to the panel – a nice touch.

Adrian Shaughnessy by Harriet Fox
Adrian Shaughnessy by Harriet Fox.

Proceedings kicked off with an introduction from Adrian Shaughnessy, who describes himself as a self-taught graphic designer. He co-founded Varoom, writes for numerous publications and is now a visiting professor at the RCA. Mokita is a Papua New Guinean word that means “the truth we do not talk about” and as Adrian said, “the subject never gets discussed, it’s as if illustration has a permanent Mokita moment.” How often do illustrators discuss what they actually do? As Darryl would later state, there are no textbooks on the subject: instead you’re more likely to discover books on how to airbrush, or more recently, how to photoshop. Adrian described how graphic designers can hide behind typefaces, layout and rules, whilst illustrators must reveal themselves, appearing naked from the get-go. Interestingly, all of his recent students at the RCA have chosen to work on projects for social good, an area which he believes is becoming increasingly important. We were assured that this would not be a whinging session, though “most commissioners are mean as hell, blind and defective” – I do hope I don’t fall into this category.

Mokita 2011-booklet

Next up Darryl Clifton raised the idea that commerce is not the only context for illustration – a hypothesis that I would have thought was pretty obvious. But I think that what he was really getting at is that where once illustrators relied on relatively expensive technology nowadays it is now possible to disseminate images cheaply without the aid of large corporations – through zines and online for example. Both he and Geoff were keen to emphasise that the discipline of illustration gives a good visual education for life: an illustrator must learn to construct a rich inner world, interpret ideas, experiment and problem solve: all transferable skills even if there is no obvious job market for a graduating illustrator.

James Jarvis gave an intriguing talk about how he sees himself as an illustrator in the context of the commercial world, which included the intriguing fact that he prefers to call himself a graphic artist because it encompasses a wider range of possibility (witness the subtitle of Pick Me Up) You can read a summary of this talk on this blog.

Roderick Mills by Harriet Fox
Roderick Mills by Harriet Fox.

We then moved onto a debate on ‘self-authorship’ between Roderick Mills and Peepshow illustrator and former Amelia’s Magazine contributor Luke Best. I found Illustrator as Author, new paradigm or death of a discipline? a confusing and circuitous conversation. As Luke rightly pointed out, the illustrator as author is not a new concept. Some people seemed particularly riled by the success of the Four Corners Books, which famously works with fine artists rather than illustrators to re-imagine famous texts, including Vanity Fair (my boyfriend has a copy, it is very beautiful) and Dracula.

mokita1-by-catherine-askew
Mokita by Catherine Askew.

I think the main issue is that illustrators would ideally like to be accorded the same amount of responsibility for interpretation of a story or idea – something which is clearly the case in the Four Corners projects. As a member of the audience pointed out, the best thing would be if a dual voice spoke to the reader: an eloquent marriage of equal weight – as is afforded the soundtrack for the movie Taxi Driver.

Vanity Fair published by Four Corners. Illustrations by Donald Urquhart
Vanity Fair published by Four Corners. Illustrations by Donald Urquhart.

Adrian told us that American illustrator Brad Holland was famously asked to illustrate for Playboy, which not only offers an amazing shop window but pays well too – yet he refused to do so unless he had the same brief to work from as the author. Periodically we returned to the theme of illustrator as mediator for ideas about social engagement: and it was pointed out that this has a long long history.

Norman Rockwell - Christmas Homecoming, 1948
Norman Rockwell – Christmas Homecoming, 1948.

Geoff Grandfield then led us on a whistlestop tour of the Theory of Illustration, which was a potted history of its use across the years, from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, via illuminated manuscripts, William Blake’s Line of Beauty and on to the propaganda images of Norman Rockwell. Throughout time the role of illustration has been to act as a visual memory, inform us of abstract ideas and critique personal, social and political relationships across language boundaries. Illustration has an especially important role in the development of children, for whom characters are invented to communicate all sorts of ideas.

Roald_Dahl_Day_Children
Children by Quentin Blake.

In a perfect world there is a symbiotic relationship between author and image maker – just think of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake – its often hard to separate their visions. The most recent incarnation of illustration rose in popularity alongside the rise of print media from the 1950s onwards. There followed a discussion with Sam Arthur, one of the founding members of Nobrow Press, who was drafted in to replace Simone Lia at the last moment. You can read about this conversation in my separate blog.

Mokita by Catherine Askew
Mokita by Catherine Askew.

We finished off the day with a panel discussion: Do we need a theory of illustration? Again, a bit of a confusing title given that we’d just had a potted guide. For this all six men sat in a row at the front of the room, with Adrian adjudicating from the side. It was postulated that illustration needs a structure to become a transformational experience that will allow illustrators to engage with ideas outside themselves. I think that’s over-complicating the matter – most illustrators work intuitively and that’s the very beauty of their drawings – as Darryl said, the very diffuseness of the topic may be a benefit, allowing the idea of what illustration is to remain malleable.

Mokita 2011-James Jarvis
One of the more minimal pieces by James Jarvis.

After an audience member introduced himself as happy to say he was an illustrator James Jarvis conceded that he might actually be happy to call himself an illustrator again too. “The trouble is that you feel like you are at the bottom of the pile as an illustrator… but it’s not important what I call myself anyway, I change my ideas all the time.” It was mentioned that often an illustration degree is the last place to teach really good drawing skills, but Geoff and Darryl feel that the subject still needs greater structural depth. I think maybe there’s a book that needs to be written, and who better to work on it than these two? Sam counteracted that it shouldn’t really be necessary to know where it comes from… “shouldn’t the work do the talking?” which I have to say is my opinion too. No amount of theoretical framework is going to ensure a good illustration alone, though it may well be helpful in an illustrator understanding their place and method of working within a historical context.

Mokita 2011-sketching

In the past five years the popularity of illustration has grown exponentially, mainly because of the huge amount of self-initiated work now available online – something which worries Roderick Mills. He feels that illustrators should be careful how they represent themselves, self-editing way more before posting work online. Because illustrators are always evolving, even when they graduate, they should ensure there is enough time for self-reflection or we run the risk of being “paralysed by vacuous images with which we have no attachment.” Yes, by all means be careful what you represent in a proper online portfolio and in mailouts but this isn’t an opinion I agree with – I think it’s brilliant that illustrators put their work online, especially on blogs, where it’s possible to see the development of their work over time, a very exciting thing to watch.

Mokita by Catherine Askew
Mokita by Catherine Askew.

As the symposium drew to a close Geofrey Zeel asked why there were no women on the panel. Then, to my absolute delight, two other women commented, saying “maybe because we’re not at the pub with you?” and “it feels like a boys’ club” – both phrases that I had been thinking myself (Geoff admitted that Mokita came about via conversations in the pub) and intended to write in this piece. To disbelieving gasps from the audience Roderick stated that “maybe it’s the male ego, more outward going”. Geoff assured everyone that he had tried his hardest to get more females on the board. This isn’t strictly true – I volunteered to take part but when Simone Lia dropped out they asked Nobrow to join the panel. I love Nobrow’s work but given the lack of women and the fact that most of my work is based on the power of illustration to inspire social change I think that was a pretty weird decision. I do think it’s shocking that more was not done to address what was a totally male representation of a subject that is made up of more than 50% female practitioners.

Mokita by Paper Peggy
Mokita by Paper Peggy.

The first Mokita symposium was an interesting starting place but I feel it could be so much more: the audience was predominantly students (all busily sketching away) and lecturers, and it would have been nice to feel that practitioners too were present and welcome as well as other interested parties, and that more discussions could have been had in smaller groups, especially when it came to some of the more nebulous topics that went around in circles – to which surely the audience (whom were mostly silent apart from a vocal few) would have been able to contribute just as much as those up front.

I also felt that hardly anything was done to address the rise of illustration on the internet – perhaps because some of those running the conference have very narrow profiles online and don’t engage with it much themselves. Here’s hoping that the next Mokita will be bigger, more interactive, more ambitious and open in its scope…. and led in tandem with some inspiring women from the field.

Mokita 2011-Valerie Perezon
Valerie Perezon.

You can read another blog about this event here: by former Amelia’s Magazine art editor Valerie Perezon, who like me was perturbed by the lack of females present.

You can read my review of Pick Me Up here, it’s open until Sunday 27th March.

Categories ,Adrian Shaughnessy, ,Book of the Dead, ,Brad Holland, ,Brighton University, ,Camberwell College of the Arts, ,Catherine Askew, ,Darryl Clifton, ,Donald Urquhart, ,Dracula, ,Four Corners, ,Four Corners Books, ,Geoff Grandfield, ,Geofrey Zeel, ,Harriet Fox, ,illustration, ,James Jarvis, ,Kingston University, ,Line of Beauty, ,Luke Best, ,Mokita, ,Nobrow Press, ,Norman Rockwell, ,Paper Peggy, ,Papua New Guinea, ,Peepshow, ,Pick Me Up, ,Playboy, ,Quentin Blake, ,rca, ,Roald Dahl, ,Roderick Mills, ,Sam Arthur, ,Simone Lia, ,Symposium. Somerset House, ,Taxi, ,Theory, ,Valerie Perezon, ,Valoche Designs, ,Vanity Fair, ,Varoom, ,William Blake, ,Zeel

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Amelia’s Magazine | Pick Me Up Contemporary Graphic Art Fair 2011: Mokita Symposium

amos_plastic_workshop_london-portrait
Wisdom of Caleb bare leaves

James Jarvis spoke at Mokita, approved where he was asked to address the role of illustration in commerce. The insights below have been put together from comments he made both in his talk and in the following conversation with others on the panel of Mokita.

James Jarvis Degree Show poster
James Jarvis’ Brighton Degree Show poster.

A character artist.
The baggage of being an illustrator is confusing so he prefers to think of himself as a graphic artist. It’s a journey into self awareness. He recently found his old degree graduation poster and realised that you can see his style developing even then, information pills when it was all done by hand. He has become very well known for drawing funny characters in depressing situations but he doesn’t like being seen as a character artist only.

Sole Inspector by James Jarvis
Sole Inspector by James Jarvis.

He knew the route.
James’ mother was an art history tutor and he knew he wanted to be an illustrator from an early age. The plan was to make kids books but nobody wanted his work and editorial art directors thought he was too kiddy in style, so he was stuck in no mans land. But he was accepted within the skateboarding world, where his work was discovered by the forward thinking art directors at The Face. He was lucky in that his images were companions to the articles, and he didn’t really have to answer any briefs. The magazine was a massively influential shop window that gave him credibility in the mainstream.

Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos
Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos.

ATP Amos concert poster
An Amos collaboration with ATP music festival.

People just want funny characters.
From working with The Face he became involved with clothing brand Silas, and together they created a toy to publicise the brand. It became an object in its own right and soon after he started Amos, his own toy making company; it doesn’t make him much money but he is involved with lots of other projects as a result: he now makes films, t-shirts and curates music festivals. He wants his characters to be more than just toys, avatars for a more substantial world. Even now though, many years later, advertisers still just want to buy into his associations with Streetwear culture and The Face; everyone wants a potato head character. For instance he’s currently working on something to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Coca-Cola. Only the most enlightened art directors ask for something different and new: most just want something he produced a long time ago so it’s up to him to keep pushing ideas forward.

James Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino print
James Jarvis lino prints.

Self publish for sanity.
Making products is a different world to the one of illustration. He started to make ‘plastic illustrations’ from his toys but soon found that he was getting farther and farther away from his unmoderated link to thought. So much intermediate process meant he was at danger of losing his core spirit. To keep sane he now maintains a practice of self published work, which he publishes online. For example he’s been very disciplined, creating The Wisdom of Caleb, a daily cartoon strip for 150 days (this has now been taken offline). He rejoices if he gets a few hundred hits – but it’s important to build up an audience over time, and if you keep your conviction then the work will find that validity. The comic strips are very basic, with no retouching.

James Jarvis lino work
Working with lino print.

Back to basics.
He’s been inspired by Roger Hargreaves to create some very minimal characters. He has also been creating a lino print every week in editions of seven, which provides a grassroots connection with his audience that is direct and democratic. He sells the prints directly and finds there’s an honesty in taking them to the post office himself.
He’s aware that he’s “highly involved with filling the world with plastic” and it makes him quite uncomfortable. He likes the simplicity and honesty of making things by hand at home, such as resin figures – and using the web to sell them direct. This kind of work never felt accessible when he was at college.

wisdom of caleb worksheetWisdom of Caleb safe squirrelWisdom of Caleb
Cartoons for the Wisdom of Caleb.

His greatest hits.
He has sold 10,000 toys over the years and he’s grateful for that because there’s a bond with his audience. He would be stupid not to engage with what people want. But James also concedes admits that he has been massively lucky – tons of people at college were better drawers, and his success has been as much down to circumstance as being clever.

James Jarvis hosts the Amos Miniature Plastic Workshop at KK outlet in Hoxton between 6-31 May, 2011.

Wisdom of Caleb bare leaves

James Jarvis spoke at Mokita, page where he was asked to address the role of illustration in commerce. The insights below have been put together from comments he made both in his talk and in the following conversation with others on the panel of Mokita.

James Jarvis Degree Show poster
James Jarvis’ Brighton Degree Show poster.

A character artist.
The baggage of being an illustrator is confusing so he prefers to think of himself as a graphic artist. It’s a journey into self awareness. He recently found his old degree graduation poster and realised that you can see his style developing even then, web when it was all done by hand. He has become very well known for drawing funny characters in depressing situations but he doesn’t like being seen as a character artist only.

Sole Inspector by James Jarvis
Sole Inspector by James Jarvis.

He knew the route.
James’ mother was an art history tutor and he knew he wanted to be an illustrator from an early age. The plan was to make kids books but nobody wanted his work and editorial art directors thought he was too kiddy in style, so he was stuck in no mans land. But he was accepted within the skateboarding world, where his work was discovered by the forward thinking art directors at The Face. He was lucky in that his images were companions to the articles, and he didn’t really have to answer any briefs. The magazine was a massively influential shop window that gave him credibility in the mainstream.

Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos
Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos.

ATP Amos concert poster
An Amos collaboration with ATP music festival.

People just want funny characters.
From working with The Face he became involved with clothing brand Silas, and together they created a toy to publicise the brand. It became an object in its own right and soon after he started Amos, his own toy making company; it doesn’t make him much money but he is involved with lots of other projects as a result: he now makes films, t-shirts and curates music festivals. He wants his characters to be more than just toys, avatars for a more substantial world. Even now though, many years later, advertisers still just want to buy into his associations with Streetwear culture and The Face; everyone wants a potato head character. For instance he’s currently working on something to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Coca-Cola. Only the most enlightened art directors ask for something different and new: most just want something he produced a long time ago so it’s up to him to keep pushing ideas forward.

James Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino print
James Jarvis lino prints.

Self publish for sanity.
Making products is a different world to the one of illustration. He started to make ‘plastic illustrations’ from his toys but soon found that he was getting farther and farther away from his unmoderated link to thought. So much intermediate process meant he was at danger of losing his core spirit. To keep sane he now maintains a practice of self published work, which he publishes online. For example he’s been very disciplined, creating The Wisdom of Caleb, a daily cartoon strip for 150 days (this has now been taken offline). He rejoices if he gets a few hundred hits – but it’s important to build up an audience over time, and if you keep your conviction then the work will find that validity. The comic strips are very basic, with no retouching.

wisdom of caleb worksheetWisdom of Caleb safe squirrelWisdom of Caleb
Cartoons for the Wisdom of Caleb.

Back to basics.
He’s been inspired by Roger Hargreaves to create some very minimal characters. He has also been creating a lino print every week in editions of seven, which provides a grassroots connection with his audience that is direct and democratic. He sells the prints directly and finds there’s an honesty in taking them to the post office himself. He’s aware that he’s “highly involved with filling the world with plastic” and it makes him quite uncomfortable. He likes the simplicity and honesty of making things by hand at home, such as resin figures – and using the web to sell them direct. This kind of work never felt accessible when he was at college.

James Jarvis lino work
Working with lino print.

His greatest hits.
He has sold 10,000 toys over the years and he’s grateful for that because there’s a bond with his audience. He would be stupid not to engage with what people want. But James also concedes admits that he has been massively lucky – tons of people at college were better drawers, and his success has been as much down to circumstance as being clever.

amos_plastic_workshop_london-portrait
James Jarvis hosts the Amos Miniature Plastic Workshop at KK outlet in Hoxton between 6-31 May, 2011.

Pick Me Up runs until Sunday 27th March.

Wisdom of Caleb bare leaves

James Jarvis spoke at Mokita, decease where he was asked to address the role of illustration in commerce. The insights below have been put together from comments he made both in his talk and in the following conversation with others on the panel of Mokita.

James Jarvis Degree Show poster
James Jarvis’ Brighton Degree Show poster.

A character artist.
The baggage of being an illustrator is confusing so he prefers to think of himself as a graphic artist. His job is a journey into self awareness. He recently found his old degree graduation poster and realised that you can see his style developing even then, when it was all done by hand. He has become very well known for drawing funny characters in depressing situations but he doesn’t like being seen as a character artist only.

Sole Inspector by James Jarvis
Sole Inspector by James Jarvis.

He knew the route.
James’ mother was an art history tutor and he knew he wanted to be an illustrator from an early age. The plan was to make kids’ books but nobody wanted his work and editorial art directors thought he was too kiddy in style, so he was stuck in no mans land. But he was accepted within the skateboarding world, where his work was discovered by the forward thinking art directors at The Face. He was lucky in that his images were companions to the articles, and he didn’t really have to answer any briefs. The magazine was a massively influential shop window that gave him credibility in the mainstream.

Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos
Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos.

ATP Amos concert poster
An Amos collaboration with ATP music festival.

People just want funny characters.
From working with The Face he became involved with clothing brand Silas, and together they created a toy to publicise the brand. It became an object in its own right and soon after he started Amos, his own toy making company; it doesn’t make him much money but he is involved with lots of other projects as a result: he now makes films, t-shirts and curates music festivals. He wants his characters to be more than just toys, avatars for a more substantial world. Even now though, many years later, advertisers still just want to buy into his associations with Streetwear culture and The Face; everyone wants a potato head character. For instance he’s currently working on something to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Coca-Cola. Only the most enlightened art directors ask for something different and new: most just want something he produced a long time ago so it’s up to him to keep pushing ideas forward.

James Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino print
James Jarvis lino prints.

Self publish for sanity.
Making products is a different world to the one of illustration. He started to make ‘plastic illustrations’ from his toys but soon found that he was getting farther and farther away from his unmoderated link to thought. So much intermediate process meant he was at danger of losing his core spirit. To keep sane he now maintains a practice of self published work, which he publishes online. For example he’s been very disciplined, creating The Wisdom of Caleb, a daily cartoon strip for 150 days (this has now been taken offline). He rejoices if he gets a few hundred hits – but it’s important to build up an audience over time, and if you keep your conviction then the work will find that validity. The comic strips are very basic, with no retouching.

wisdom of caleb worksheetWisdom of Caleb safe squirrelWisdom of Caleb
Cartoons for the Wisdom of Caleb.

Back to basics.
He’s been inspired by Roger Hargreaves to create some very minimal characters. He has also been creating a lino print every week in editions of seven, which provides a grassroots connection with his audience that is direct and democratic. He sells the prints directly and finds there’s an honesty in taking them to the post office himself. He’s aware that he’s “highly involved with filling the world with plastic” and it makes him quite uncomfortable. He likes the simplicity and honesty of making things by hand at home, such as resin figures – and using the web to sell them direct. This kind of work never felt accessible when he was at college.

James Jarvis lino work
Working with lino print.

His greatest hits.
He has sold 10,000 toys over the years and he’s grateful for that because there’s a bond with his audience. He would be stupid not to engage with what people want. But James also concedes admits that he has been massively lucky – tons of people at college were better drawers, and his success has been as much down to circumstance as being clever.

amos_plastic_workshop_london-portrait
James Jarvis hosts the Amos Miniature Plastic Workshop at KK outlet in Hoxton between 6-31 May, 2011.

Pick Me Up runs until Sunday 27th March.

Wisdom of Caleb bare leaves

James Jarvis spoke at Mokita, illness where he was asked to address the role of illustration in commerce. The insights below have been put together from comments he made both in his talk and in the following conversation with others on the panel of Mokita.

James Jarvis Degree Show poster
James Jarvis’ Brighton Degree Show poster.

A character artist.
The baggage of being an illustrator is confusing so he prefers to think of himself as a graphic artist. His job is a journey into self awareness. He recently found his old degree graduation poster and realised that you can see his style developing even then, website when it was all done by hand. He has become very well known for drawing funny characters in depressing situations but he doesn’t like being seen as a character artist only.

Sole Inspector by James Jarvis
Sole Inspector by James Jarvis.

He knew the route.
James’ mother was an art history tutor and he knew he wanted to be an illustrator from an early age. The plan was to make kids’ books but nobody wanted his work and editorial art directors thought he was too kiddy in style, so he was stuck in no mans land. But he was accepted within the skateboarding world, where his work was discovered by the forward thinking art directors at The Face. He was lucky in that his images were companions to the articles, and he didn’t really have to answer any briefs. The magazine was a massively influential shop window that gave him credibility in the mainstream.

Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos
Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos.

ATP Amos concert poster
An Amos collaboration with ATP music festival.

People just want funny characters.
From working with The Face he became involved with clothing brand Silas, and together they created a toy to publicise the brand. It became an object in its own right and soon after he started Amos, his own toy making company; it doesn’t make him much money but he is involved with lots of other projects as a result: he now makes films, t-shirts and curates music festivals. He wants his characters to be more than just toys, avatars for a more substantial world. Even now though, many years later, advertisers still just want to buy into his associations with Streetwear culture and The Face; everyone wants a potato head character. For instance he’s currently working on something to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Coca-Cola. Only the most enlightened art directors ask for something different and new: most just want something he produced a long time ago so it’s up to him to keep pushing ideas forward.

James Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino print
James Jarvis lino prints.

Self publish for sanity.
Making products is a different world to the one of illustration. He started to make ‘plastic illustrations’ from his toys but soon found that he was getting farther and farther away from his unmoderated link to thought. So much intermediate process meant he was at danger of losing his core spirit so to keep sane he now maintains a practice of self published work, which he publishes online. For example he’s been very disciplined, creating The Wisdom of Caleb, a daily cartoon strip for 150 days (this has now been taken offline). He rejoices if he gets a few hundred hits – but it’s important to build up an audience over time, and if you keep your conviction then the work will find that validity. The comic strips are very basic, with no retouching.

wisdom of caleb worksheetWisdom of Caleb safe squirrelWisdom of Caleb
Cartoons for the Wisdom of Caleb.

Back to basics.
He’s been inspired by Roger Hargreaves to create some very minimal characters. He has also been creating a lino print every week in editions of seven, which provides a grassroots connection with his audience that is direct and democratic. He sells the prints directly and finds there’s an honesty in taking them to the post office himself. He’s aware that he’s “highly involved with filling the world with plastic” and it makes him quite uncomfortable. He likes the simplicity and honesty of making things by hand at home, such as resin figures – and using the web to sell them direct. This kind of work never felt accessible when he was at college.

James Jarvis lino work
Working with lino print.

His greatest hits.
He has sold 10,000 toys over the years and he’s grateful for that because there’s a bond with his audience. He would be stupid not to engage with what people want. But James also concedes admits that he has been massively lucky – tons of people at college were better drawers, and his success has been as much down to circumstance as being clever.

amos_plastic_workshop_london-portrait
James Jarvis hosts the Amos Miniature Plastic Workshop at KK outlet in Hoxton between 6-31 May, 2011.

Pick Me Up runs until Sunday 27th March. A more in depth article about Mokita will follow shortly!

Wisdom of Caleb bare leaves

James Jarvis spoke at Mokita, sales where he was asked to address the role of illustration in commerce. The insights below have been put together from comments he made both in his talk and in the following conversation with others on the panel of Mokita.

James Jarvis Degree Show poster
James Jarvis’ Brighton Degree Show poster.

A character artist.
The baggage of being an illustrator is confusing so he prefers to think of himself as a graphic artist. His job is a journey into self awareness. He recently found his old degree graduation poster and realised that you can see his style developing even then, about it when it was all done by hand. He has become very well known for drawing funny characters in depressing situations but he doesn’t like being seen as a character artist only.

Sole Inspector by James Jarvis
Sole Inspector by James Jarvis.

He knew the route.
James’ mother was an art history tutor and he knew he wanted to be an illustrator from an early age. The plan was to make kids’ books but nobody wanted his work and editorial art directors thought he was too kiddy in style, more about so he was stuck in no mans land. But he was accepted within the skateboarding world, where his work was discovered by the forward thinking art directors at The Face. He was lucky in that his images were companions to the articles, and he didn’t really have to answer any briefs. The magazine was a massively influential shop window that gave him credibility in the mainstream.

Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos
Caleb toys by James Jarvis for Amos.

ATP Amos concert poster
An Amos collaboration with ATP music festival.

People just want funny characters.
From working with The Face he became involved with clothing brand Silas, and together they created a toy to publicise the brand. It became an object in its own right and soon after he started Amos, his own toy making company; it doesn’t make him much money but he is involved with lots of other projects as a result: he now makes films, t-shirts and curates music festivals. He wants his characters to be more than just toys, avatars for a more substantial world. Even now though, many years later, advertisers still just want to buy into his associations with Streetwear culture and The Face; everyone wants a potato head character. For instance he’s currently working on something to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Coca-Cola. Only the most enlightened art directors ask for something different and new: most just want something he produced a long time ago so it’s up to him to keep pushing ideas forward.

James Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino printJames Jarvis lino print
James Jarvis lino prints.

Self publish for sanity.
Making products is a different world to the one of illustration. He started to make ‘plastic illustrations’ from his toys but soon found that he was getting farther and farther away from his unmoderated link to thought. So much intermediate process meant he was at danger of losing his core spirit so to keep sane he now maintains a practice of self published work, which he publishes online. For example he’s been very disciplined, creating The Wisdom of Caleb, a daily cartoon strip for 150 days (this has now been taken offline). He rejoices if he gets a few hundred hits – but it’s important to build up an audience over time, and if you keep your conviction then the work will find that validity. The comic strips are very basic, with no retouching.

wisdom of caleb worksheetWisdom of Caleb safe squirrelWisdom of Caleb
Cartoons for the Wisdom of Caleb.

Back to basics.
He’s been inspired by Roger Hargreaves to create some very minimal characters. He has also been creating a lino print every week in editions of seven, which provides a grassroots connection with his audience that is direct and democratic. He sells the prints directly and finds there’s an honesty in taking them to the post office himself. He’s aware that he’s “highly involved with filling the world with plastic” and it makes him quite uncomfortable. He likes the simplicity and honesty of making things by hand at home, such as resin figures – and using the web to sell them direct. This kind of work never felt accessible when he was at college.

James Jarvis lino work
Working with lino print.

His greatest hits.
He has sold 10,000 toys over the years and he’s grateful for that because there’s a bond with his audience. He would be stupid not to engage with what people want. But James also concedes admits that he has been massively lucky – tons of people at college were better drawers, and his success has been as much down to circumstance as being clever.

amos_plastic_workshop_london-portrait
James Jarvis hosts the Amos Miniature Plastic Workshop at KK outlet in Hoxton between 6-31 May, 2011.

Pick Me Up runs until Sunday 27th March. A more in depth article about Mokita will follow shortly!


Mokita by Catherine Askew.

Mokita was billed as a chance to discuss the role of illustration today and specifically what it means to be an illustrator, more about and how that definition is changing. Compared with fine art the applied art discipline of illustration is indeed under-critiqued, side effects so I was keen to take part in the discussion and hear what others have to say. Convened by illustration lecturers Geoff Grandfield, viagra Roderick Mills and Darryl Clifton, from departments at Kingston University, Brighton University and Camberwell College of the Arts, this was destined to have a highly theoretical flavour. We were presented with a lovingly put together booklet on arrival in the bowels of Somerset House, but then, really, would you expect anything less?! Inside it politely asked that shy audience members should text questions to the panel – a nice touch.

Adrian Shaughnessy by Harriet Fox
Adrian Shaughnessy by Harriet Fox.

Proceedings kicked off with an introduction from Adrian Shaughnessy, who describes himself as a self-taught graphic designer. He co-founded Varoom, writes for numerous publications and is now a visiting professor at the RCA. Mokita is a Papua New Guinean word that means “the truth we do not talk about” and as Adrian said, “the subject never gets discussed, it’s as if illustration has a permanent Mokita moment.” How often do illustrators discuss what they actually do? As Darryl would later state, there are no textbooks on the subject: instead you’re more likely to discover books on how to airbrush, or more recently, how to photoshop. Adrian described how graphic designers can hide behind typefaces, layout and rules, whilst illustrators must reveal themselves, appearing naked from the get-go. Interestingly, all of his recent students at the RCA have chosen to work on projects for social good, an area which he believes is becoming increasingly important. We were assured that this would not be a whinging session, though “most commissioners are mean as hell, blind and defective” – I do hope I don’t fall into this category.

Mokita 2011-booklet

Next up Darryl Clifton raised the idea that commerce is not the only context for illustration – a hypothesis that I would have thought was pretty obvious. But I think that what he was really getting at is that where once illustrators relied on relatively expensive technology nowadays it is now possible to disseminate images cheaply without the aid of large corporations – through zines and online for example. Both he and Geoff were keen to emphasise that the discipline of illustration gives a good visual education for life: an illustrator must learn to construct a rich inner world, interpret ideas, experiment and problem solve: all transferable skills even if there is no obvious job market for a graduating illustrator.

James Jarvis gave an intriguing talk about how he sees himself as an illustrator in the context of the commercial world, which included the intriguing fact that he prefers to call himself a graphic artist because it encompasses a wider range of possibility (witness the subtitle of Pick Me Up) You can read a summary of this talk on this blog.

Roderick Mills by Harriet Fox
Roderick Mills by Harriet Fox.

We then moved onto a debate on ‘self-authorship’ between Roderick Mills and Peepshow illustrator and former Amelia’s Magazine contributor Luke Best. I found Illustrator as Author, new paradigm or death of a discipline? a confusing and circuitous conversation. As Luke rightly pointed out, the illustrator as author is not a new concept. Some people seemed particularly riled by the success of the Four Corners Books, which famously works with fine artists rather than illustrators to re-imagine famous texts, including Vanity Fair (my boyfriend has a copy, it is very beautiful) and Dracula.

mokita1-by-catherine-askew
Mokita by Catherine Askew.

I think the main issue is that illustrators would ideally like to be accorded the same amount of responsibility for interpretation of a story or idea – something which is clearly the case in the Four Corners projects. As a member of the audience pointed out, the best thing would be if a dual voice spoke to the reader: an eloquent marriage of equal weight – as is afforded the soundtrack for the movie Taxi Driver.

Vanity Fair published by Four Corners. Illustrations by Donald Urquhart
Vanity Fair published by Four Corners. Illustrations by Donald Urquhart.

Adrian told us that American illustrator Brad Holland was famously asked to illustrate for Playboy, which not only offers an amazing shop window but pays well too – yet he refused to do so unless he had the same brief to work from as the author. Periodically we returned to the theme of illustrator as mediator for ideas about social engagement: and it was pointed out that this has a long long history.

Norman Rockwell - Christmas Homecoming, 1948
Norman Rockwell – Christmas Homecoming, 1948.

Geoff Grandfield then led us on a whistlestop tour of the Theory of Illustration, which was a potted history of its use across the years, from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, via illuminated manuscripts, William Blake’s Line of Beauty and on to the propaganda images of Norman Rockwell. Throughout time the role of illustration has been to act as a visual memory, inform us of abstract ideas and critique personal, social and political relationships across language boundaries. Illustration has an especially important role in the development of children, for whom characters are invented to communicate all sorts of ideas.

Roald_Dahl_Day_Children
Children by Quentin Blake.

In a perfect world there is a symbiotic relationship between author and image maker – just think of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake – its often hard to separate their visions. The most recent incarnation of illustration rose in popularity alongside the rise of print media from the 1950s onwards. There followed a discussion with Sam Arthur, one of the founding members of Nobrow Press, who was drafted in to replace Simone Lia at the last moment. You can read about this conversation in my separate blog.

Mokita by Catherine Askew
Mokita by Catherine Askew.

We finished off the day with a panel discussion: Do we need a theory of illustration? Again, a bit of a confusing title given that we’d just had a potted guide. For this all six men sat in a row at the front of the room, with Adrian adjudicating from the side. It was postulated that illustration needs a structure to become a transformational experience that will allow illustrators to engage with ideas outside themselves. I think that’s over-complicating the matter – most illustrators work intuitively and that’s the very beauty of their drawings – as Darryl said, the very diffuseness of the topic may be a benefit, allowing the idea of what illustration is to remain malleable.

Mokita 2011-James Jarvis
One of the more minimal pieces by James Jarvis.

After an audience member introduced himself as happy to say he was an illustrator James Jarvis conceded that he might actually be happy to call himself an illustrator again too. “The trouble is that you feel like you are at the bottom of the pile as an illustrator… but it’s not important what I call myself anyway, I change my ideas all the time.” It was mentioned that often an illustration degree is the last place to teach really good drawing skills, but Geoff and Darryl feel that the subject still needs greater structural depth. I think maybe there’s a book that needs to be written, and who better to work on it than these two? Sam counteracted that it shouldn’t really be necessary to know where it comes from… “shouldn’t the work do the talking?” which I have to say is my opinion too. No amount of theoretical framework is going to ensure a good illustration alone, though it may well be helpful in an illustrator understanding their place and method of working within a historical context.

Mokita 2011-sketching

In the past five years the popularity of illustration has grown exponentially, mainly because of the huge amount of self-initiated work now available online – something which worries Roderick Mills. He feels that illustrators should be careful how they represent themselves, self-editing way more before posting work online. Because illustrators are always evolving, even when they graduate, they should ensure there is enough time for self-reflection or we run the risk of being “paralysed by vacuous images with which we have no attachment.” Yes, by all means be careful what you represent in a proper online portfolio and in mailouts but this isn’t an opinion I agree with – I think it’s brilliant that illustrators put their work online, especially on blogs, where it’s possible to see the development of their work over time, a very exciting thing to watch.

Mokita by Catherine Askew
Mokita by Catherine Askew.

As the symposium drew to a close Geofrey Zeel asked why there were no women on the panel. Then, to my absolute delight, two other women commented, saying “maybe because we’re not at the pub with you?” and “it feels like a boys’ club” – both phrases that I had been thinking myself (Geoff admitted that Mokita came about via conversations in the pub) and intended to write in this piece. To disbelieving gasps from the audience Roderick stated that “maybe it’s the male ego, more outward going”. Geoff assured everyone that he had tried his hardest to get more females on the board. This isn’t strictly true – I volunteered to take part but when Simone Lia dropped out they asked Nobrow to join the panel. I love Nobrow’s work but given the lack of women and the fact that most of my work is based on the power of illustration to inspire social change I think that was a pretty weird decision. I do think it’s shocking that more was not done to address what was a totally male representation of a subject that is made up of more than 50% female practitioners.

Mokita by Paper Peggy
Mokita by Paper Peggy.

The first Mokita symposium was an interesting starting place but I feel it could be so much more: the audience was predominantly students (all busily sketching away) and lecturers, and it would have been nice to feel that practitioners too were present and welcome as well as other interested parties, and that more discussions could have been had in smaller groups, especially when it came to some of the more nebulous topics that went around in circles – to which surely the audience (whom were mostly silent apart from a vocal few) would have been able to contribute just as much as those up front.

I also felt that hardly anything was done to address the rise of illustration on the internet – perhaps because some of those running the conference have very narrow profiles online and don’t engage with it much themselves. Here’s hoping that the next Mokita will be bigger, more interactive, more ambitious and open in its scope…. and led in tandem with some inspiring women from the field.

Mokita 2011-Valerie Perezon
Valerie Perezon.

You can read another blog about this event here: by former Amelia’s Magazine art editor Valerie Perezon, who like me was perturbed by the lack of females present.

You can read my review of Pick Me Up here, it’s open until Sunday 27th March.

Categories ,Adrian Shaughnessy, ,Book of the Dead, ,Brad Holland, ,Brighton University, ,Camberwell College of the Arts, ,Catherine Askew, ,Darryl Clifton, ,Donald Urquhart, ,Dracula, ,Four Corners, ,Four Corners Books, ,Geoff Grandfield, ,Geofrey Zeel, ,Harriet Fox, ,illustration, ,James Jarvis, ,Kingston University, ,Line of Beauty, ,Luke Best, ,Mokita, ,Nobrow Press, ,Norman Rockwell, ,Paper Peggy, ,Papua New Guinea, ,Peepshow, ,Pick Me Up, ,Playboy, ,Quentin Blake, ,rca, ,Roald Dahl, ,Roderick Mills, ,Sam Arthur, ,Simone Lia, ,Symposium. Somerset House, ,Taxi, ,Theory, ,Valerie Perezon, ,Valoche Designs, ,Vanity Fair, ,Varoom, ,William Blake, ,Zeel

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Amelia’s Magazine | Making Great Illustration, by Derek Brazell and Jo Davies: Book Review

Making Great Illustration cover
Released just in time to make the perfect gift for an illustrator this Christmas: the excellent new book from AOI gurus Derek Brazell and Jo Davies. Making Great Illustration is a big squarish yellow affair with a careful choice of scratchy type on the cover, thereby avoiding the need to pick any one illustration as a defining image of the volume. Inside the pair have picked out some best examples of illustrators working on a variety of different types of projects, including fiction, decorative, children’s, editorial, typographical, fashion (hurrah) and political (very timely).

Making Great Illustration intro
Making Great Illustration tanya ling
Making Great Illustration rob ryan
What’s really nice is the concentration on personal studio practice, with the authors visiting the featured artists in their studios. Whilst it’s improbable that you will like all the work in this book (I don’t) this ensures that for any burgeoning illustrator or intrigued long time practitioner there is still plenty to learn. Of particular note are the chapters on fashion illustrators Tanya Ling and David Downton – perfect for fans of ACOFI.

Making Great Illustration Hvass Hannibal
Making Great Illustration catalina estrada
Of course no contemporary illustration book would be complete without a section devoted to wonderboy Rob Ryan, who is single handedly responsible for the world’s reignited love of paper-cutting, and it’s also nice to see the work of Hvass&Hannibal, who’ve long seduced me with their colourful abstract artworks. Catalina Estrada is the famed Spanish illustrator who has successfully made a cross over into fashion textile design and you are bound to discover some exciting new artists: for me this included the bold perspectives of late starter Yuko Shimizu and the evocative children’s illustration of Kitty Crowther.

Making Great Illustration yuko
Making Great Illustration kitty crowther
Amongst some of the newer upstarts you will also find the legendary Ralph Steadman and the doyen of children’s publishing, Quentin Blake. Ah, memories of childhood.

Making Great Illustration is a must buy book for anyone who wants to learn more about illustration, created with great attention to detail by insiders who are immersed in this wonderful world. Read more on the dedicated Making Great Illustration website. The book is published by A & C Black, part of Bloomsbury Publishing. If you like the sound of this don’t forget to check in with my two illustration books Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration and Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, both of which feature the personal work practice of a whole host of up and coming illustrators.

Categories ,A & C Black, ,ACOFI, ,Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration, ,Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, ,AOI, ,Association of Illustrators, ,Bloomsbury Publishing, ,book, ,Catalina Estrada, ,David Downton, ,Derek Brazell, ,Fashion Illustration, ,Hvass & Hannibal, ,Hvass&Hannibal, ,illustration, ,Jo Davies, ,Kitty Crowther, ,Making Great Illustration, ,Quentin Blake, ,Ralph Steadman, ,review, ,Tanya Ling, ,Yuko Shimizu

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Amelia’s Magazine | Making Great Illustration, by Derek Brazell and Jo Davies: Book Review

Making Great Illustration cover
Released just in time to make the perfect gift for an illustrator this Christmas: the excellent new book from AOI gurus Derek Brazell and Jo Davies. Making Great Illustration is a big squarish yellow affair with a careful choice of scratchy type on the cover, thereby avoiding the need to pick any one illustration as a defining image of the volume. Inside the pair have picked out some best examples of illustrators working on a variety of different types of projects, including fiction, decorative, children’s, editorial, typographical, fashion (hurrah) and political (very timely).

Making Great Illustration intro
Making Great Illustration tanya ling
Making Great Illustration rob ryan
What’s really nice is the concentration on personal studio practice, with the authors visiting the featured artists in their studios. Whilst it’s improbable that you will like all the work in this book (I don’t) this ensures that for any burgeoning illustrator or intrigued long time practitioner there is still plenty to learn. Of particular note are the chapters on fashion illustrators Tanya Ling and David Downton – perfect for fans of ACOFI.

Making Great Illustration Hvass Hannibal
Making Great Illustration catalina estrada
Of course no contemporary illustration book would be complete without a section devoted to wonderboy Rob Ryan, who is single handedly responsible for the world’s reignited love of paper-cutting, and it’s also nice to see the work of Hvass&Hannibal, who’ve long seduced me with their colourful abstract artworks. Catalina Estrada is the famed Spanish illustrator who has successfully made a cross over into fashion textile design and you are bound to discover some exciting new artists: for me this included the bold perspectives of late starter Yuko Shimizu and the evocative children’s illustration of Kitty Crowther.

Making Great Illustration yuko
Making Great Illustration kitty crowther
Amongst some of the newer upstarts you will also find the legendary Ralph Steadman and the doyen of children’s publishing, Quentin Blake. Ah, memories of childhood.

Making Great Illustration is a must buy book for anyone who wants to learn more about illustration, created with great attention to detail by insiders who are immersed in this wonderful world. Read more on the dedicated Making Great Illustration website. The book is published by A & C Black, part of Bloomsbury Publishing. If you like the sound of this don’t forget to check in with my two illustration books Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration and Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, both of which feature the personal work practice of a whole host of up and coming illustrators.

Categories ,A & C Black, ,ACOFI, ,Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration, ,Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, ,AOI, ,Association of Illustrators, ,Bloomsbury Publishing, ,book, ,Catalina Estrada, ,David Downton, ,Derek Brazell, ,Fashion Illustration, ,Hvass & Hannibal, ,Hvass&Hannibal, ,illustration, ,Jo Davies, ,Kitty Crowther, ,Making Great Illustration, ,Quentin Blake, ,Ralph Steadman, ,review, ,Tanya Ling, ,Yuko Shimizu

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Jack Bailey: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featured artist.

JACK BAILEY illustration
Jack Bailey was one of the fantastic new illustrators I discovered at this year’s New Designers graduate show who answered my callout to take part in the colouring book open brief. His energetic art is created on a large scale then turned into fantastically busy pictures like his colouring book page, inspired by the game of Ultimate Frisbee.

JACK BAILEY illustration
Where do you find inspiration for your characters?
The inspiration for my characters comes from a mix of sketching outdoors and making loose marks on a large sheet of paper. When I apply the loose marks to a piece of paper I relate back to my original outdoor sketches and start to interpret the mark as the shape of a body or a facial expression. The characters barely resemble the original sketches however I find studying from life allows me to interpret the marks made in a variation of forms. Previous to this brief my characters where always produced in colour, so it was fun to experiment in black and white for the colouring page and this is something I have continued doing.

JACK BAILEY illustration
Can you tell us more about what is going on in your artwork for my colouring book? who are all those people?
The piece for the colouring book was inspired by an article I read in the New Yorker about the chances of Ultimate Frisbee becoming an Olympic sport. Immediately, due to the word ‘ultimate’, I imagined a huge, chaotic game of Frisbee where only those playing understood what was going on. Almost like looking at a London underground map for the first time. The characters in the image are the people playing the sport and I packed the image full of people to show its rise in popularity. Unfortunately not many people play Frisbee in Liverpool so I picked up on the dynamic poses through watching youtube videos, which also contributed to the hectic feel of the image.

JACK BAILEY illustration
What led you to study at the Lincoln University and what was the best bit about your course?
In all honesty studying at Lincoln was totally by chance as I was still unsure if I was going to go to university at the time. I attended a university fair in Manchester where I picked up information packs and Lincoln University was one of them. When I got to Lincoln for the interview however I knew it was the place for me. It was quiet enough for me to be able to get on with my work and the old architecture of the city really appealed to me. As well as this everywhere was in walking distance and so really accessible. I guess you could say it was destiny! The best bit of the course for me was having tutors from a variety of backgrounds. It really enhanced a brief when you knew a tutor was passionate about the subject and had experience in the field. Another aspect of the course I enjoyed was the encouragement to try different media and new ways of working. Before the course I believed a single image had to be produced using the same mediums and on a single surface. Now I’ll use a whole bunch of mediums on separate surfaces allowing me to be a lot more expressive and confident in the way I work.

JACK BAILEY illustration
JACK BAILEY illustration
How do you translate your ideas between 2D and 3D artworks?
It works in a similar way to how I translate a sketch from life into one of my characters, in that they often don’t appear anything like the original influence. Between the 2-D and 3-D image they will often only share similar characteristics such as the amount of legs, hair style and facial features. Working in paper mache means capturing a dynamic pose is often difficult. This is why I use string to decorate the creatures. I feel the shape and swirl helps add movement to a static creature.

JACK BAILEY illustration
What is the process of creating your 3D pieces?
To create my 3-D pieces I start with a single sheet of paper, often from an old book as I like the stained colour of the pages. I dip this into a wallpaper paste and begin moulding it into any shape that feels natural. Similar to when I create my characters I try not to think too much about the early steps of the process and make shapes with papier mache whilst not thinking of the end product. This is so I don’t miss out on a nice, natural shape for the character. Once I have combined a few sheets of paper I use this as the body, from here I will refer back to my 2-D character and begin creating a head and other features. I finish by adding a face and decorating it with string and found objects.

JACK BAILEY illustration
JACK BAILEY illustration
Why do you find it easier to work on a large scale?
Working on a large scale is easier for me as I find it enhances my creativity. I find the characters look a lot more natural on large sheets due to me not being worried about them running off the page. The marks I make on large sheets are more expressive and full of energy as it is my whole arm moving the brush, not just my wrist. I also find working on a large scale creates new ideas. The sheets become a visual mind map. If I need a tree for an image, on a small scale I will produce one whereas on a larger scale I will produce as many as I can to fill the length of the sheet. This then becomes a new image for me to play around with.

JACK BAILEY illustration
What is it about drawing buildings that appeals to you?
Mainly that they don’t walk off as I try to draw them! What I enjoy to study on a building is the smaller details, often found towards the tops of buildings. I find the top of buildings to have the most character. There are unusual patterns and decorations, small windows and chimneys. You can interpret these as faces, creating relationships between two buildings or as body parts and the buildings can become giants peeping over trees.

JACK BAILEY illustration
How has living in Liverpool influences your approach?
I think the diversity of Liverpool has influenced my illustrations. The city centre is a collection of classic and modern architecture, renovated buildings and desolate warehouses. I also think it encourages creativity here too, with a variety of contemporary and classical art galleries there are always avenues to explore for inspiration.

JACK BAILEY illustration
JACK BAILEY illustration
Why is your new project with Cygnet Ink inspired by Quentin Blake? what is it you love about his work?
What I love about Quentin Blake’s artwork is the energy and looseness of the characters. Each line contributes to the personality of the character and he includes just enough information in each image to depict a scene. His characters also have a nice balance about them too, the positions are believable and you almost move with the character as you look at it. Blake’s backgrounds are a huge influence to me as he approaches them so cleverly. They depict real environments, but he will leave sections out or use a splash of watercolour to describe an area so the characters are the centre of attention.

JACK BAILEY illustration
You can find Jack Bailey‘s lively art in Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion, available soon from Kickstarter, and the ideal present for that special person this Christmas!

Categories ,#ameliasccc, ,Adult Coloring Book, ,Adult Colouring Book, ,Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion, ,Coloring, ,Colouring, ,Colouring Book, ,illustration, ,interview, ,Jack Bailey, ,Kickstarter, ,Lincoln University, ,Liverpool, ,New Designers, ,Quentin Blake, ,Ultimate Frisbee

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Amelia’s Magazine | Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration launch party illustrations: meet Michelle Urvall Nyrén

MattBramford_ACOFI_Joana Faria
Sarahs_Scribbles_by Joana Faria
It was a delight to meet Sarah Williams of Sarah Scribbles, more about who is a prolific tweeter and blogger.

Ahhhh, try the lovely Joana Faria. She came to the ACOFI launch event all the way from Portugal, where she works in advertising as an art director. As a relative newbie to the world of fashion illustration she has developed an impressive style very quickly – stick thin figures sport impressively large hair and big eyes that emphasise the architecture of an outfit. Here’s her contributions to the great ACOFI illustrated launch party.

Alex Cox_ by Joana Faria
I love Alex Cox’s big bushy eyebrows. He interviewed me for Don’t Panic.

Francesca_salih_by Joana Faria
Francesca Salih from Forward PR kept us in Vodka O and Adnams far into the night.

Holly_MakeLemonade_by Joana Faria
Here’s Holly Ladd from Make Lemonade.

Nikki_Nakki_Lou_by Joana Faria
Nikki Nakki Lou came all the way from the Wirral to visit my launch event. Very appreciative of her effort, recounted in her lovely blog here.

Johann Chan_ by Joana Faria
Johann Chan from Digital Arts Magazine was tempted along by the Lily Vanilli cakes. Read my Q&A with editor Neil Bennett online here.

Michaela_by Joana Faria
Michaela from Tantrum Magazine. Read their write up here.

Siam_Goorwich_by Joana Faria
Siam Goorwich writes on Not Another Fashion Blog.

You can follow Joana Faria on twitter on @joana_faria and don’t forget you can buy Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration here, with a special 10% if you use the discount code ACOFI LAUNCH up until the 28th February 2011. Here’s Joana talking to me about how she first got into drawing her friends when she was a little girl back in Brazil. Why not take a little gander? She’s a very delightful lady indeed.

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Ellie Loughran Michelle Urvall Nyrén
Ellie Loughran of Pretty Much Penniless was beautifully turned out. And her blog about the event is absolutely stunning – what wonderful images!

Michelle Urvall Nyrén is as elegant in person as her fashion illustrations, pharm which she creates in just a few graceful watercolour strokes. She’s also a very talented fashion and textiles designer so until recently fashion illustration was just something she did on the side. I think she’s far too fabulous to leave her second career on the back burner. What do you reckon?

Here are her portrait versions of my tea party guests. For some reason she managed to pick a total of three beautiful girls called Ellie to illustrate. What are the chances? Just delightful.

Ellie Broughton Michelle Urvall Nyrén
Ellie Broughton is an East London based journalist who writes for The Wealth Collection.

Ellie Good Eggmag editor Michelle Urvall Nyrén
Ellie Good from ethical culture magazine Egg Mag has been a big supporter of my antics for some time, and I was very happy to welcome her along for tea. An amazing lady who set up her own independent magazine to promote ethical fabulousness.

Zoe Robinson Michelle Urvall Nyrén
Egg Mag contributor Zoë Robinson of Think Style also came along. She runs an image consultancy specialising in eco fashion… very interesting stuff.

Naomi Law Michelle Urvall Nyrén
Michelle also captured Naomi Law in action, her blood red lips glowing out from beneath her sleek hair.

Philippa Dunn Michelle Urvall Nyrén
I had a great chat with Philippa Dunn from the House of Illustration, which is a super exciting project that was initiated by illustrator god Quentin Blake. I hope to get involved with some of their upcoming events in the future.

Tamara Cincik Michelle Urvall Nyrén
She also snatched a sketch of ethical stylist Tamara Cincik from afar, who she described as very pregnant and beautiful. As indeed she is.

You can follow Michelle Urvall Nyrén on twitter on @MichelleUrvall and don’t forget you can buy Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration here, with a special 10% if you use the discount code ACOFI LAUNCH up until the 28th February 2011.

Michelle Urvall Nyren. Photography by Liz Johnson-Artur
Michelle Urvall Nyren takes tea. Photography by Liz Johnson-Artur.

Here’s Michelle talking to me about being taught ethical fashion at school in Sweden and how it’s been going at her latest internship at Mark Fast:

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Categories ,Egg Mag, ,Ellie Broughton, ,Ellie Good, ,Ellie Loughran, ,House of Illustration, ,Liz Johnson-Artur, ,Mark Fast, ,Michelle Urvall Nyrén, ,Naomi Law, ,Philippa Dunn, ,Pretty Much Penniless, ,Quentin Blake, ,Tamara Cincik, ,The Wealth Collection, ,Think Style, ,Zoë Robinson

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