Masters of Reality
July 10th, 2014
My contribution to The Critter Shed’s ‘Creatures of Extinction’. It’s based on an engraving from an 1854 edition of the Illustrated London News.
The illustration shows a dinner party being held inside the mould of one of the Crystal Palace dinosaurs on New Years Eve 1853. The artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins designed the dinosaurs with the help of Richard Owen, first director of the Natural History Museum. Hawkins and Owen are there, along with 20 or so of their scientific and literary friends, celebrating the launch of the models. And here are a couple of the completed iguanodons.
So, this is what people imagined iguanodons looked like in the 1850s. Or maybe I should say, this is what people from the 1850s imagined iguanodons looked like in the Cretaceous period, 145 million years ago. And this is what they thought they looked like when I was growing up in the 1970s/80s…
And this is what they think they looked like now…
Since I was a kid, one of my favourite dinosaurs got demoted and isn’t a dinosaur any more, another one now has feathers and there’s one less planet in the solar system.
July 2nd, 2014
I’ve been experimenting with animated gifs over on my Today’s Animal blog.
The Crisis Deepens
June 16th, 2014
This is my contribution to a collection of artworks produced by staff at Liverpool School of Art and Design – ‘I Don’t Love Soccer Because Soccer Has Never Loved Me‘. Each piece is a response to an essay titled The World Cup and Its Pomps written in 1978 by Umberto Eco.
The dialogue in my illustration is sourced from vox pops with fans on the Cardiff City website. They were about to get on the bus having been beaten 4-0 at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.
There will be an exhibition of all the work at Bold Street Coffee, Liverpool on the 25th of June.
When is a sloth bear not a sloth bear?
June 13th, 2014
I’ve just started up a new blog called ‘today’s animal’. I draw a new animal every day. The quick turnaround throws up all kinds of challenges.
For one thing I have to cut down on my tinkering time. Drawings have to go up with minimal revision. For another thing, I have to come up with a treatment without an audience or context to help make some of the decisions for me.
One of the hardest choices with wildlife illustration is how realistic to make the wildlife. Animals have defining taxonomic characteristics, but while I want that animal to be that animal, I don’t necessarily want to attempt a photorealistic depiction.
But if, for example, I only change the eyes of the creature, am I just gluing teddy bear eyes onto a stuffed animal?
Children’s picture book illustrations often (not always) work best as a kind of expressive shorthand for the animal. And societies that have animals as important parts of their religion usually depict highly stylised, symbolic versions of the animal.
At the moment, I’m relying on my pen and wash technique to get a creature out of the door each day but, should I get ahead of myself, I’d like to start exploring more varied ideas around the depiction of animals.
The Lady with a Cat for a Head and other tales of Mystery and Imagination
June 3rd, 2014
Some recent images from my Instagram feed.
The Beasts of Oldham
May 21st, 2014
I’m going to be running a monster making workshop in Oldham on Saturday as part of Festival Oldham. There are going to be all kinds of exciting things going on in the town centre. What kind of things? Pop-up art exhibitions, skateboarding displays, Small Cinema’s going to be there and also BMX dancers! I could have been a BMX dancer, but I only had a Grifter.
May 6th, 2014
I’ve been getting a fair bit of storyboarding and animatic work recently. Images are drawn directly into Photoshop and can then be taken straight into After Effects to be used as animatics. Working with a drawing tablet and laptop in this way also allows me to come into agencies and work alongside the other creatives producing the work.
These images were produced for Uniform.
The following images are taken from a storyboard produced for Lion Eyes TV
February 3rd, 2014
Click on the image for a little 2.5D test animation.
January 31st, 2014
The Beast Rider can often be seen patrolling outside the Art and Design Academy in Liverpool. Click on the image to see him keeping his dog at a canter.
Lime Street Cat
November 9th, 2013
Giant cat at Lime Street Station. I managed to film this on my phone just before it ran off. Giant cats are becoming a real problem in Liverpool at the moment. Click on the cat to see the clip…
The Y Project
July 8th, 2013
The Y Project is an education resource addressing some of the issues relating to gun and knife crime.
I was asked to create a series of illustrated backdrops for the film clips featured on the site.
The Y Project was produced by Unity Theatre and developed by Bev Ayre and Tim Brunsden. The website was designed by Chris Jackson.
July 3rd, 2013
Illustration for the match day paper ‘Field’.
Field is put together by the Spiel team.
Exhibition of Dreams
July 29th, 2012
Microfiche readers, slide viewers, taped dream recordings, transcribed dreams on index cards, cryptic post-its and an office décor caught in time.
Sam Meech and the rest of the Re-Dock fellas have done a great job of creating an installation that exhibits and archives the material generated during our year long project at St Helens Central Library.
The Library Of Dreams exhibition is now open at the Godfrey Pilkington Art Gallery in St. Helens World Of Glass Museum.
July 26th, 2012
The Library of Dreams exhibition opens in the Godfrey Pilkington Art Gallery, St. Helens on Saturday and runs until Sunday 30th of September.
This sketch is based on one of the many dream records collected during the project.
Library of Dreams
July 13th, 2012
I’ve been working with Re-Dock on a wonderful project called ‘Library of Dreams’ in St Helens over the past year.
St. Helen’s central library has all kinds of terrific I.T facilities, including iMacs, drawing tablets, digital cameras and software. Re-Dock developed ‘Library of Dreams’ as a project that would encourage library users to take advantage of all these great resources.
The idea was to run a series of family friendly workshops, themed around documenting, interpreting and sharing dreams.
Each workshop would feature a different artistic/multimedia technique, from illustration and animation to music design, video editing, film and poetry.
The project was organised to culminate in two events – ‘Music for Sleeping’ an audiovisual concert which took place at the library in March, and an exhibition which will run from Saturday July 28th July to Sunday 30th September at St. Helens World of Glass.
The Music for Sleeping concert was a great success. You can see a film of it on the Library of Dreams site. Here I am drawing a young participant’s dream.
Another dream image recorded on the night…
As well as facilitating a number of the workshops and taking part in the concert, I also developed the branding for Library of Dreams. Because there were so many strands to the project, I created a modular logo that could change depending on its context – whether it was being used for a poster, a dream log book or membership card, or whether it was advertising a drawing based event, a film event or a music event.
The Library of Dreams project is supported by St Helens Arts Service through funding from Arts Council England. Archive film used with permission from St Helens Local History and Archives Library, and support from the North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Under the Oak Tree
April 12th, 2012
Click on the image to see a larger version.