Monday, 29 November 2010


Following up from Jo's
earlier post here are a few more images and observations from other studio visits and exhibitions we were lucky enough to experience whilst in Berlin.
A small group of us trotted off to prostrate ourselves at the pixel based alter of Eboy. Svend Smital was our gracious host (the other two eboyers now living and working in Canada) After navigating a warren of courtyards and stairwells we found Svends studio stacked high with a dizzying array of pixel based madness. Half studio half warehouse as the space is used to create the famous Eboy imagery but also as a base to mail out all of their merchandise. Eboy sneakers, iphone covers, posters, toys, apps, books, stickers, stakeboards, snowboards, toasters (only joking)
The detail of the imagery and the multitudinous contexts was mind blowing, three of them there maybe but they must work 24 hours a day. In this reassuringly cluttered abode Svend generously gave us an hour plus of his time, answering questions from students,
flicking though portfolios and revealing the working methodology of the E-boy team. We are sworn to secrecy.


Our next illustrative pilgrimage was to the rather swanky apartment of Mr Henning Wagenbreth. Henning was kind enough to invite us (about 10 plus.....gulp think I said 8 max) to his studio and home, all around were the collections that feed his expressionistic highly coloured imagery, African masks, wooden sculptures, musical instruments, textiles, Japanese prints, all of these items were referenced at some point and fed directly into his work. Living testimony that life and work are often totally intertwined for illustrators.
He showed a range of work from beautifully crafted stamp designs for the German Football League through crazily coloured textiles to huge silk screened posters for a jazz festival. He tackled any project with confidence because he made it his own, found his own way into difficult potentially dull projects and made them come to life with strange stories and facts. A truly inspiring visit.

7x7 anthology

This years collaboration with MMU creative writing students, was more ambitious than ever. Our brief was to produce an illustrated anthology of 7 new stories to be launched at the Manchester Literature Festival 2010. The seven writers were teamed up with 7 pairs of illustrators who in turn worked with teams of Moving Image students to produce 20/30 second intro animations which introduced each author as they read from their text on the night.
The anthology was beautifully designed by two third year graphic design students also from Stockport College
. If I said it went smoothly I'd be lying through my teeth, the project was plauged by technical difficulties, and often tempers flared. But this was a sign that all involved wanted it to be a success, from an educationally stand point there was a lot of learning taking place throughout the project, technically, professionally and emotionally we were all tested. But that's what college is for, to create those situations in which real life learning can happen within a safe environment.
The images and the animations worked supremely well and complemented the stories wonderfully. Thanks to all those involved, hopefully we'll be back next year, older and wiser (well one out of two ain't bad)

The future or a fad? iPad picture books

COMING TO THE APP STORE IN DECEMBER! A remarkable new interactive picture book iPad application like you've never seen before. As illustrators are we scared or very excited?

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Comma Film

I went to an Arts Council Funding meeting last week and though this might seem a strange time to promote looking for public funding after graduating, the good news is that the "Grants for Arts" scheme will not receive a funding cut. Grants for Arts supports and funds proposals from artists and you can find all the information needed, plus examples of successful bids and projects at the Arts Council website. I bumped into a friend there, who has been able to fund his publishing company Comma Press through this scheme for several years. Ra Page (of Comma Press) also runs Comma Films, a springboard site for new graduates to showcase their work. Much of this is animation, all drawn from poetry. He will be holding a screening for Comma Press this Saturday and you're all welcome to attend, here's a link:

Or follow on facebook ('Vresion Fest' and 'Comma Film')

Monday, 22 November 2010

Do you read me?

A super find in Berlin, a dream shop called 'Do you read me?'. As you can see I have also greatly added to the list of magazines that we hope you will absorb yourselves in and seek inspiration. Many of them were on sale here and some titles were new to me.

Studio visit to Olaf Hajek and Martin Haake

We have just returned from a great trip to Berlin - even in the rain! We packed a lot in to the 5 days. First stop was a visit to Olaf Hajek's studio. Olaf was very welcoming and made room for the 12 or so students who appeared on his doorstep. He let his riffle through his book collection, talked about his career, the industry and how he firmly rejects working digitally. He finds that there is so much work being produced digitally, he feels that the work is "too much the tool". He talked to the group about how he has to explain his working process to clients who sometimes don't understand how long it takes to produce his images using traditional techniques. The studio was filled with brushes, inks, paints and reference books. Olaf exhibits his wonderful paintings as well as working as a commercial illustrator. He feels that he has been able to sustain his career as he has stayed true to himself and while at one time thought that his work would be deemed old fashioned as it was not produced using digital media, he now feels this is his strength and one of the reasons why clients like his work.

We learnt that he shared the studio space with Martin Haake (one of my hero's!), who then arrived and I nearly fell over. Martin had just returned doing a talk at a college in the UK, so did not mind casually showing us the presentation that he had put together for this. In contrast Martin had let his work develop naturally with digital processes. He found the advantages were that it made his work more flexible and he could make changes for clients. Thankyou to Olaf and Martin for letting us be so nosey!

House of Illustration and The Folio Society's book illustration competition

First prize a £4,000 commission from The Folio Society. House of Illustration’s are working with The Folio Society on this competition and have chosen 'The Outsider' by Albert Camus as the book to be illustrated. The judges include Quentin Blake & Laura Carlin. The competition is open to anyone over 18 who is not a Folio Society published illustrator. The deadline is 10 January 2011. This website tells you everything you need to know about how to enter.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The Visual Telling of Stories

I came across this website by Dr Chris Mullen, a while ago and it has recently been updated. It began as course support for the MA Narrative Illustration/Editorial Design course at the University of Brighton for part-time working illustrators and designers, much of the material can not be found elsewhere on the internet and comes from Chris's own archive. It us unlike most websites I have been on and more like a bizarre delve around an Aladdin's cave. It is a rich resource for any magpie illustrator. Take a look!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Working Drawings: Exhibition and Conference

A date for you diary: Friday 3rd DecemberLink

Drawing can be used in a number of ways and settings. From a pictogram that transcends language barriers, a visualisation of topography, an emotional response to words or thoughts and as a formal means of communication - working drawings are the (sometimes instant) solution to many problems.

The exhibition includes drawings by Jill Calder, Roderick Mills, Ken Garland, Ed Fella, Abram Games, Alan Fletcher, Saul Steinberg, Jason Ford, Lee Ford, Frazer Hudson, Lydia Monks and Simon Spillsbury.

Here is the link to book your tickets

Monday, 1 November 2010

Guess who's coming to Stockport....

The wonderful Riitta Ikonen is coming to do a talk for us on Dec 7th. She will share with us her wonderful world. A description of her work explains,

"My work is concerned with the performance of images, through photography and costume design. Certain items, usually small and insignificant, excite me to the point where I have to wear them and then document that process. The super- garments I make open up new experiences. In my costumes tremendous things happen - to me and to the people I work with. Today I exploded an egg in the microwave. Next, I want to make an egg costume."

If you aren't familiar with her work read more
here (source of quote).