Tuesday, 26 July 2011


If you entered the 80's Last Supper competition, then your prize pack should have found it's way to you either yesterday or today via the postman... hopefully you Art Directors out there are not above a good bribe for extra work!

It became an epic undertaking just to get the print quality I was after on some of the items, in the end the printers at Carter & Jackson did a great job, they are the firm that have printed all my stuff in the past, but I just had to wait until they got a new machine in to tackle this job... and they came up trumps again!

One of the items in the bundle was the Harry and the Hendersons cut-out toy above, if you got one, I'd recommend making the slits for the arms a little longer than the white line, otherwise you won't be able to fit the hands through properly.

Here's a little fun we had with the toy at the McConkey House at the weekend... this was a joint McConkey artwork, the image above was created by Bethany McConkey, Matty McConkey and Uncle Bill.

As you can see we've customized our Harry's, the one on the left with yellow crown is called "Beario" and was created by young Matty, the middle one with the blue hat is called "Squario" made by Uncle Bill, the one on the right sporting the 3D glasses called "Hairio" was created by Bethany.

The babies were supplied by Bethany and put on a green screen (like they do in films) and we added the background with computer graphics!

You can see quite clearly in this illustration the Harry's are in a forrest teaching Babies.. I mean who else is going to do it?! Either that or this is a very odd nativity scene.

If you're a client and you want to play along, send me your photos of your Harry doing something with a story or caption.

To everyone that got a prize pack, thanks for playing along, and enjoy the prizes!

Friday, 15 July 2011


I rarely (if ever) post up anything not directly work related up here on this blog, but well if you're one of my more regular clients, then some time throughout the past year, you'll have missed me via phone call or email because I was at the dentist... Ha, I imagine some of you may have thought this was a porky.. I mean who goes to the dentist that much?!!..er, well as you can see from the above snaps me!

Over the past 16 months or so I've been on the long process of finally getting my teeth fixed
and my Dentist sent me the before and after pictures this week, now we've finished treatment.

As you can see from the "Before" pic I had a set of British gnashers that would put Austin Powers to shame, I mean look at that upper right one, what the hell's going on there?!

That was the first one we treated, my Dentist Fayaz, removed the tooth behind it, and using a contraption that fitted in my mouth like a gum shield, with a hook and an elastic band, that was able to lure the tooth down from way up in my mouth down to the correct position... I know, it's amazing what they can do with dentistry now?!

There were no veneers or crowns done throughout this period, all the above work was done with my own teeth, for twelve months or so we used various brace type contraptions and clear aligners (near invisible gum shields) to straighten and move my teeth in to the correct positions.

Look at them chompers now! The irony is that because i'm not used to giving it a big toothy smile, that er.. probably no one gets to see them anyway, still at least i'm not self-conscious about hiding them. Job done i'd say!

Just like to give a big thanks here to the Dentist/Genius Mastermind of this work Dr Fayaz Ladak and the girls who helped with the treatment Keeley and Sarah, and all at PR Jones & Associates for there time and hard work.

Also big thanks to all my clients for helping to pay for all this work, doesn't come cheap, so cheers for the work you've been putting my way.

Now i've done with the teeth, any takers for helping me with my breast augmentation procedure?!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Jobs Round Up!

Here's another selection of jobs that have seen print over the last few weeks or so, above is a cover for Insurance Age magazine.

The brief was this; have all the trademark characters from the most famous insurance companies, like Direct Line, Go Compare, Admiral, Compare the Market, and Churchill's looking a bit beaten up, with a two finger salute in the foreground.. this coming from the smaller independent insurance firms, or arguably it could be coming from everyone in this country that has to sit through their God awful adverts.

I think if i'd ever suggested putting a two fingers up on the cover, I can imagine a look of disgust appearing on most art director's faces, fortunately Iain Winfield (Formerly of Accountancy Age!) who art directed this and came up with the idea, is a ballsy fella, and is not afraid to come up with something that may stir up a bit of a reaction.

I'd argue perhaps that this is more tongue in cheek, and done with a good deal of humor as opposed to being straight out confrontational... it's something I wish other magazines would take on board. Where's that satirical bite we British made famous?!

Here's an interior illustration for Financial Director magazine, this was commissioned by the Editor Gavin Hinks, who i'd also worked for on Accountancy Age.

I can't remember what the actual article was about, but I was hired to create the illo above, legs walking away from a rather tarnished crown, as though it's just been stood dropped and stood on.

This was a quick one, and I remember being a little anxious about the perspective/viewpoint, and the fact that this was a very different kind of drawing from what I usually get, which is in most cases built around some kind of portraiture... in the end though I was pretty happy with the results.

This above image proved to be very taxing for both me and the Art Director, it was an infographic based image on the subject of a new targeting system on an Apache Helicopter, this saw print in Nuts magazine.

I'm not sure what threw me most on this job, whether it be the fact that I was at the time completely overworked, or in this case I had issues with the composition, which had been laid out by the Art Director Simon Freeborough.

I've worked to other people's compositions (Simon included) before and not had too many problems, it's just on this one, I had problems making the rocket work... also I completely overworked the original drawing.. perhaps it was a case of being tired on my part, and having to work in a more formal style with this kind of stuff.

Still after all the teething problems we had originally, upon seeing this in print I couldn't actually see what all the fuss was about on my side, it looked perfectly fine on the page, and I think it's all brought together because of the circular motif Simon used on the final image, my hat goes off to Mr Freeborough for bringing it altogether in the end.

That's it for now, more images coming this way soon!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Men's Health Illos!

As ever i've been slow in putting up new images, anyway to make amends here are a collection of jobs that have been commissioned by the top people at Men's Health magazine over the last couple of months.
Above is another "Rise of the Machines" illos, they are really enjoyable to do these... I do hope that this will become a bona fide genuine series, as i'd like to do a T800 Endoskeleton, or a T1000 working out... this one shows the Arnie T800 using a bit of gym equipment called the Power Rack, this was again art directed by the ace Kerem Shefik at the mag.

Art Editor Rob Milton got in touch to ask whether I fancied this job of coming up with a series of headshots/character designs, these as you can see were placed into the above photographs of the "Guess Who?" board game.
"Great, i'll do it!" I said without hesitation, the characters I had to illustrate should personify particular work identities in the office environment said the brief, these being; 'The safe pair of hands', 'The office light relief', 'The networker' & 'Ambition personified'
At this point I thought how do I make someone look like a reliable 'safe pair of hands' from a headshot?! I ended up basing this character partly on my brother Mick, the others came surprisingly smoothly. Another enjoyable job this, big thanks to Rob for sending this my way.

Above is another advertorial job for Promotions AD David Godfrey, this time for Nicorette.. this one proved tricky, for a couple of reasons; i'd just come off a series of jobs that asked for a more realistic drawing style, when it came to this job my drawing had become stiff and too realistic, and secondly I rarely just work in black and white, this is usually only at the start of the process in rough stage, then I colour and iron out any problem.. so in my head, when i'm working in B&W it still feels like i'm at the rough stages.
It ended up taking a while to get these anywhere near right, but we got their eventually, luckily David was very patient with me on these, and I think the one with the girls in particular works very well, believe it or not I was struggling to make my girls hot enough! I know criminal, this isn't an area that usually causes me any problems, I should maybe work on a series of pin ups to get a bit more practice.
That's it for now, another post will be coming up shortly that collects together another series of images i've been doing for various magazines.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Royal College of Physicians!!

I've felt terrible over the weekend just gone, I thought I had a bout of hay fever, but now I think i've come down with a Summer cold or some kind of flu... anyway enough of my woes.

Above is some work I produced recently for the RCP; that's Royal College of Physicians for the uninitiated, the two images above are just fragments of an A3 poster I created for the RCP's magazine called Commentary, the artwork will also be used on their websites, and various other printed material in the run up to the 2012 Olympics.

As the poster won't be printed in it's entirety until a later date, I've stayed away from posting the entire thing here.

The commissioner of this artwork, is a rather lovely person called Emma Tennant, who is now Editor of the RCP's in-house material, now me and Emma go way back, are you sitting comfortably? As I can feel a story coming on...

Okay, so when I set out on this journey of becoming an illustrator many years ago now, in fact 2013 will officially mark a decade in the business, anyway when I started out I was lucky or unlucky (depends how you look at it!) to be signed to one of the UK's leading illustration agencies.

At that time my work was a very layered collage/photoshoppy approach to making images, very much in the mould of my illustration hero of the time Dave McKean, this style of work had been popular from around late 90's to 2001/2002.. although arguably stylistically it was already on it's way out by the time I became pro.

I suppose when you start out, you think you've made it just by getting a top agent, this isn't really the case, but in my first year i'd managed to bag a couple of top name clients via the agents, these being New Scientist and a book jacket for Egmont Books.

The reality is for the most part an agent won't be getting you work week in, week out... and as I found out in my first year often won't get you enough work to eek out any kind of living, luckily i'd bagged a series of jobs with a horoscopes magazine.. strangely enough doing horoscopes, by sending out mailouts, this helped me earn something which looked vaguely like an income for the first year.

Come my second year, and having already paid tax on the pitiful amount that I had earned, I had the task of trying to get new clients and finally try and make a living from this thing.. this proved to be at the time an uphill task.. i'm putting this mildly actually, as month after month went by without hardly any work.

I maybe had done about two paying jobs by the time August/September had come around.. two flaming jobs and there's me represented by the supposed top dog agents in the UK, i'd done an interview with Digital Photographer with them labeling me the new superstar of the field, and here was I with not a pot to pi$$ in! I simply couldn't get work.

Anyway, now i'd been told some months previous by another artist that I should get in touch with a subscription based partwork magazine, that had been heavily using photoshop artists, most of which were represented by my agents.. I'd stupidly thought that work was going through the agency, which is why I delayed getting in touch with the company publishing the magazine, thinking that it was only a matter of time before I got some work through.. this never happened.

Anyway just as I was thinking about jacking the whole profession in, and looking at least to get a part-time job to make ends meet, as a last ditch thing I emailed the company that published the title, this was a relatively small company called Summertime who produced the magazine Mind, Body, Spirit which was in published in partnership with the mega company in this field Diagostini.

A few days later I got an email through from the Editor, a Canadian lady called Jane Burgess, who said she was always interested in seeing new work and that I should email her some samples... which I promptly did.

And then I waited and waited, and nothing; this was despite my work predominantly at that time having been in the whole genre of horoscopes and spirituality.

I was a bit green at the time, and if I spoke to someone via email and had sent them samples, then I didn't necessarily feel inclined to send them printed samples also as a follow up.. in this case I was both desperate and I knew I was right for the title, so I sent Jane some tearsheets, postcard and CD by post.

Maybe a week later I got an email from Emma Tennant, who I think was then Assistant Editor, who asked me if I fancied doing half page images for her on the topic of witchcraft from around the world; I'd be paid I think about £200 for the image, and if it was good this would develop into a series of 12.

At the time I was into my last £100 of my graduate overdraft... I obviously jumped at the chance!

My fortunes flipped 180 degress in a matter of weeks, the other three Editors there; Jane Burgess, Sarah Burnside and Anthony Weaver all got in touch to offer me work... this was for a weekly title, which meant I was often doing three/four jobs a week; all on top pay at the time £4oo for a full page, £800 for a double etc... that series of 12 witchcraft ended up being a series of well over 20, if not 30 images!

Instead of earning probably less than a grand that year, I posted a profit of over 30k all of which, I earned in the last six months of the financial year!

At the time I couldn't tell you how big an impact these jobs had on me, not only the financial thing, but as a person, I got my self-worth back, and helped make me the illustrator and fella I am today.

It was such a amazing period for me, as I got to work with absolutely great people everyday out, also I don't think I could have got schooled better in this profession, working to that amount of deadlines and having to produce to such a calibre day in day out..

I worked with MBS magazine until it's demise some 18 months/2 years after that initial job.. baring in mind partworks generally don't even run past the year mark... it goes to show you how strong a title it was, may even be some kind of record, it ran for I think 3/4 years in total!

So there you have it, a bit of my history and you understand why I owe Emma and the Summertime team a great deal of gratitude.

When Emma came to me with this recent job for RCP, it seemed obvious that a different approach was needed rather than the linework style I now work in for this image to work.. I don't think I'd change my style for anyone else, but I made an exception in Emma's case, and came up with a more print based style of working, that I'd been working on in my spare time, with ink and rollers.

While i'm here i'll also give a shout out to Sarah Pridgeon, formerly Sarah Burnside who I previously mentioned as one of the Editors I worked with at Summertime... we still keep in touch, after all these years, she recently married her fella and moved all the way to Wyoming, USA to be with him, from London to Cowboy country... she's a great writer, I think she should write a book on this, it'd make a very good rom-com!

Next post, less writing..just lots of great illos!