Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A Tale of Two Advertorials!

Okay, so there's loads of illustrations to be posted up, all of which i'll get around to adding, whether that be individually or as a massive round up of jobs.. it's been hectic here at McConkey studios for well over a month now, in fact at times it's been bordering on the ridiculous, on the other hand it's obviously great to have your services in demand.

I thought i'd post up these two advertorials to start with, just a recap for those who are not in the know as to what an advertorial is; an advertorial is an advertisement/promotional piece that runs in a publication, which promotes a client/product but is in keeping with any editorial feature that may run in the title.

It's a clever way of advertising, as it's more befitting the magazine it sits in, in reality this is brought about because the brand and the editorial team at the magazine work in conjunction to create the feature.

Which brings us to the illustrations above, this was an advertorial for Gillette Fusion Proglide Styler for  Empire magazine.

They came up with a clever way of advertising this beard trimmer, by creating a feature about beards in film, so I was given a list of film beard to draw; the General Zod, the Spartan, etc..

Now this should have been an extremely simple job for me, and for the most part it wasn't too much of a struggle, however there was a bit of a hurdle, in the sense that the portraits couldn't actually be of the actors who portrayed the characters, neither could they be 100% replicas of the characters from the films, so for instance our drawing of a Serpico style beard could not be a drawing of Al Pacino from Serpico... most of these ran smoothly apart from Gandalf/wizard beard.. you see every time I drew this it looked way, way too much like Sir Ian McKellan... which is probably down to how ingrained his performance is on my psyche, that I found it near impossible to shake off his representation of the character.

The middle set of illustrations shows my first drawing that moved away from looking too much like the actor, unfortunately to my eyes we lost some of the twinkly-eyed warmth that I associate with the character.. kind of looks like a hobo.. so I took another stab at it with the bottom set of drawings.. I think I got the warmth across, but unfortunately it's also on reflection a poorer drawing than the original, and it kind of breaks rank with the others in the series.

Not that there's any defense, but I think I was bit overworked at this point, so things didn't flow as naturally as they should have, anyway they ran the wizard from the middle set in the printed feature, which you can see with the top image... I just wish i'd have finished his hair on the right side, but as I didn't think this one was going to see print, It treated it as a rough.. still won't make that mistake again!

This was art directed by the lovely Jenna McRae, who was a treat to work with on this.

Now I've done my fair share of advertorials over the past few years, and I know from first hand experience they can on occasion be incredibly troublesome.

The main reasons being that not unlike a lot advertising work, there can be a lot of middlemen, also the suits at the top, haven't got a clue not only about what they want, but actually even about their brand.. to make things worse they expect you to yield to their every whim, regardless of how bloody stupid!

Which brings us to the drawings above, this was an advertorial feature for Nuts magazine for the DVD release of Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas.

Now I originally turned down this job, because I had too many jobs on and I also had a prior engagement for the weekend, however Si the Art Director of the mag talked me round, as he was able to move some of the deadlines around, so I could fit this in.

The original idea was that we'd draw a Christmas office party scene, with Harold and Kumar and Sean Patrick Harris (think that's his name, fella that played Doogie Howser MD!) and a robot that also appears in the film, the scene would also include some of the Nuts magazine's most well known models... brilliant I thought, sounds right up my street!

I was able to get my other commitments out of the way and sent off my rough (see top drawing) on a Tuesday or Wednesday, and awaited feedback.

On the Friday afternoon I got the all clear, at this point I did think things were running a little too smoothly, and I was proved correct, i've got a sixth sense when it comes to these things... actually that's a lie, in reality a lot of these advertising types are such a pain in the arse, that they've become predictable to me.

Last thing on Friday night I got an urgent email from the lovely Lizzie Hempshall who was overseeing this project on behalf of Nuts, and it turned out the suits at Warner Bros in the US had asked for some significant changes.

They wanted me to remove the likenesses of the actors who appear in the film, so with just the weekend to go (final artwork was due Monday) I was asked to draw generic men with the same ethnicity of the lead characters... I was also asked to remove the marijuana leaf from the tree.. despite there being references to the same thing in the DVD cover.. in effect we took away the very things that made this essentially Harold and Kumar!

Monday came around and I did just that (see second drawing) so that this was a kind of Harold and Kumar themed party drawing.

Then came more changes, now getting to the level of idiocy, I was to change the guy's hair bottom right to brown so he couldn't be confused with the Doogie Howser actor, which was an easy thing to do, then could I also change the person on the left to a blonde, at which point me, Lizzie and Barney the Art Editor are asking which person?

It transpires they want me to give the guy with the Oriental/Far Eastern features blonde hair (?!!) At this point, you've got to shrug your shoulders, as you get the feeling they are just asking for changes for the sake of it, the concept had moved away from the original brief almost completely, in fact it doesn't really make any sense.

I should point out this is not a reflection on Nuts, in fact far from it, as I believe everyone fought their corner on this, The Nuts team I believe wasn't too happy, because from an editorial point it had lost it's way, from my point of view I was sick of re-drawing and re-drawing for the sake of it, and poor Lizzie was stuck in the middle on this, as she had to deal with not only the magazine's concerns but with another two parties, one being a London based company (more middlemen!) and the suits at Warner Bros US, who let's face it have never probably seen a copy of Nuts magazine.

Wednesday came, and first thing in the morning I get an email from Lizzie asking me to phone her, it turns out the final alterations would be probably the stupidest; they wanted every male character's race/ethnicity swapping (see fourth drawing)

The guy with the Far Eastern features became a white man with brown hair, the Asian guy became a bearded ginger man (Scottish?!) and the white guy became a black man.... ridiculous, i'm not sure the suits at Warner Bros US could explain why or how they came to this decision.

Anyway, much to everyone's surprise they gave the greenlight to the final drawing and it went to print, see bottom picture.

I've actually seen this in print this morning, and I have mixed feelings about it, because I think it's actually a very nice clean drawing and it printed really well, it was just a case of it being compromised at every turn by "the suits"... Ha, I imagine these are the same kind of suits that are responsible for book jackets looking so bloody awful at the moment, you know what I mean they all use stock photography, and genre by genre they all look the same, hideous!

A lot of advertorials are super smooth (the Empire one for instance) but every so often you get one like this, anyway it's at this point I should use this space to thank Simon, Barney and Lizzie at Nuts who despite the involvement of the third parties, kept me sane and for the most part level-headed during this particularly tricky job.

Despite it not making too much sense, it's a nice drawing right?! (third one's best though methinks) plus I got to draw some of those gorgeous Nuts models... every cloud has a silver lining and all that!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Courting Controversy- Prince Harry Illos!

Okay, so i'm not one to shy away from controversial themes or subjects, in fact as an illustrator I see it as part of the job, and if you aren't occasionally pushing and poking at what is deemed to be appropriate and in "good taste", then you're probably not doing this illustration malarkey properly!

As you may remember that young scamp Prince Harry was making the headlines a while back for some inspired tomfoolery around a hotel in Las Vegas, seeing an opening for some light-hearted ribbing Nuts magazine acted quickly, and emailed me to see whether i'd fancy doing some very, very last minute illustrations, the idea being that it would be a Prince Harry Kama Sutra special.

Well how do you turn a job like that down... only thing is, I got the briefs on Thursday afternoon and had to get finals in for Friday!!! Now even at this point I was slightly unfazed..  until I actually got the briefs in and it mentions also adding backgrounds like an Apache helicopter, a pool table etc..

This one was right to the wire, and man was I stressed... I worked on these right up until about 12:30/1-ish on the Friday afternoon.. I had blinkers on and wasn't checking my emails, just had to get the drawings done.. little did I realise the Art Director Simon, had sent me 3 or more important emails, basically saying that the legal department had been called in to check the appropriateness of these illos!!

Now this year, it'd be fair to say i've had my run-ins with legal departments, in fact Ha, it seems i've had them with pretty much every major publisher.. usually wanting small things altered, nothing drastic, and the Nuts legal team I know take this side of things more seriously and are far more adept than almost any other magazine at treading the fine lines, because it's a title that by it's very nature pushes boundaries.

Now you know there may be an issue, if the Nuts legal and top brass have to be called in about some saucy drawings, luckily we got away with most of them.

I was only concerned with attempting to make some half way decent images in a short space of time, I don't mind saying this one got me pretty close to breaking point, you can see there not quite as detailed as i'd have liked, if i'd have had a day more, the backgrounds would have been far less simple, and with the top illo he wouldn't be missing toes and the girl wouldn't be missing the ends of her shoes... still these were done extremely quickly, so I can't beat myself up too much.. they're still funny drawings!

There was one illustration that didn't make the cut, and that is the one above, now I suppose if it wasn't a case of me putting my head down and working my backside off, I would have realized that a Nazi saluting Prince Harry with a young lady in a compromising situation may have been a bit on the extreme side, having said that when I get deadlines through like that, I don't ask questions..I draw and I draw..

Strangely enough I think the Nazi one is actually the best drawing, I think with a bit of work it'd make a great poster for a student's bedroom, what do you think?

Btw, I think Prince Harry is a good sport and would have a good chuckle at these if he saw them.

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Prometheus Puzzle!

I should have posted up this job I did for Empire magazine a while back, but alas i've been a little inundated so it's only now getting an airing on this ol' bloggo!
So Chris the AD at the mag got in touch around the time of the Olympics to see whether I fancied another job for Empire, my answer came very quickly; "Er, yeah.. whatever, whenever, however" As we've already established i'm a huge fan of the mag, to say I was keen was probably an understatement.

Chris explained they wanted to combine my stuff with an infographic based feature; "lovely" I thought, i've done bits in this area for both Nuts and to a lesser extent Men's Health, generally I get a list of things to draw and the Art Director put them in to tables, or puts on little arrows with type pointing to bits, that kind of thing.

Little did I know Chris had plans for me to get involved in the design of this thing, from typography, to arrows to... well the design of this feature, usually it's a case of me handing over illos for people to drop into a layout.

The feature was about the life cycle of xenomorphs from Prometheus to Alien, now I haven't seen the Ridley Scott's Prometheus, so initially it was a bit of a head scratcher trying to work out how many drawings would be needed to breakdown this who evolution of a species type diagram.

I was supplied with the main bits of info and went to work on a series of black and white illos of all the major bits, I would then colour these in and add more if necessary and send to Empire, job done easy, I think it was only after the B&W stage (see above) did it dawn on me that Chris wanted a larger involvement from me. Gulp!

It proved to be a very tricky affair for me, i'm hired purely to illustrate on most occasions, sure there may be design elements I have to think about, but generally I leave a lot of the designery/typsetting stuff to the people that do that best; designers and art directors.

So I endeavored to make sense of the whole Prometheus/Alien lifecycle, which in itself was a headache.. turns out that even if you've seen Prometheus, it's a bit of a headscratcher, the above two are early faltering attempts to make sense of it all, these are based on a early layout Chris sent me.. but well it became apparent that the plus and minus signs didn't help make the thing readable at all, on the positive side the blue background (created from a stamp book!) and type got the thumbs up.

I realised, even with me at this point pulling my hair out at this point at my lack of design skills that there had to be a cleaner flow through to the piece for it to be even readable, so above is one where I actually used any kind of design knowledge I have to make something that makes sense.. this took me probably two days to work out! This one would have had the blue background etc..

You see a lot goes into design, at this point your no longer thinking about pictures, but does the thing make sense, can you fit it all in the alotted space, this being a major issue, as it was only a smaller box on the page and with all that in mind, can you make the font readable at such a tiny size, to think nothing of which fonts to use!

At this point my head kind of exploded!

Luckily Chris was a knight in shining armour on this, and took over the design reigns for the final piece.. I think within a day he'd come up with the final layout, it follows my above version, but well brings not only more clarity, detail.. and well the whole thing is just a million times better than I was coming up with at that point..it'd probably have taken 3-5 days to finally have ended up with something akin to what Chris did! I'm just talking same ball-park too, not actually anywhere better.

The first illustration at this top of the post was the final printed version for everyone to compare and contrast Chris's final with my meagre efforts.. it's on jobs like that I scratch my head and am in awe of some of the designers and Art Directors I work with.

I'd like to think that the final is a real 50/50 creation between myself and Chris... and I actually really love the finished piece, but I think it'd be fair to say Chris should take all the credit for actually making it work as a whole.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

50 Greatest Action Stars!

So another full page illustration for Nuts magazine, this one particularly being a job right up my street... well certainly thematically anyway!

I'd been talking to the AD of the mag only the previous week, about should an occasion arise i'd love to take a stab at drawing a big portrait of Chuck Norris; I thought this may be something that'd crop up with the release of Expendables 2, also i'm a big movie, and 80's geek as everyone knows... I think a lot of movie stuff has been going to other illustrators at the mag, while i've looked on with a bit of envy, and of course a fair bit of admiration too for some of the images created.

Anyway only a week later, and this job came up for 50 Greatest Action Heroes, needless to say I almost bit their hand off for this one.

I was asked if I had any ideas for what we could do for this illo, and I suggested a crowd scene very much like the movie poster from the 80's, or even a VHS box cover for that matter, the one I sent over as reference was the poster for the movie 'Warriors'... to my surprise they went for it!

I started this the next morning which was a Saturday, but came up against a bit of a roadblock almost immediately, I thought the best way to get that 80's feel over was not to actually colour it my usual way, but to go for a more painted look.

Now back in the day I was one of the earliest digital painters this side of the Atlantic, however i'd traded in that look down to two main reasons; There wasn't enough work around for that kind of illustration style at the time, and secondly I went back to my roots stylistically with drawing, which is basically what i've been working in for the past 5 years or so, and has obviously proven popular.

I suppose what I did with the above job is come up with an amalgamation of both styles, so there's very much line work on display, but the colouring is less basic and far more modeled.... I did this not necessarily consulting with the AD, so I could have fell flat on my face, in fact for a long time this image was looking pretty ropey, but by the time i'd sent the rough i'd got it looking pretty sharp... luckily Simon the Art Director is open to new stuff, and loved the style for this.

There's not the full 50 on the images above, but somewhere around the 25 mark, once the artwork was done I was asked if I could make the text more cohesive with the artwork, which I did by a bit of light digital painting.. Si had already provided the text with flames.. Ha, although I was worried there when I heard the dreaded words "can you handle the text as well"

I saw the artwork in print yesterday (bottom pic) and while there's things i'd maybe have improved with a bit more time (some of the crowd centrally at the back) I think it came out very well indeed to say that I have painted in this way for a very long time, in fact I wouldn't rule out a change in how I do certain if not all illustrations in the future, i'm not saying they'll all be like this, but I certainly think I may colour my illustrations with a bit more variation, and of course every now and then do a full-blown digital painting with no linework at all should a job arise.

I'm hoping to do something again very soon in this style, most probably for Nuts as I know they were very happy with the appearance of this... who know's maybe a full page portrait of Chuck Norris!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Women's Health Illos!

Here's some new illos that hit the newsstands  a little while ago for Women's Health UK. This rather cool job came courtesy of the acting AD of the mag Will Fox, who was on caretaker duties for the title.

Having received a copy of Kaleidoscope through the post, he took a shine to my Kama Sutra illos and thought that something along those lines would be suitable for a sex feature they had in the mag, concept was a great one, can you draw these six celebrities; Russell Brand, Rob Pattison, Frankie Cocozza, Alex Reid, Ashton Kutcher and Mark Zuckerberg as dolls in packaging.

I was supplied with a list of quotes and headlines to fit on the boxes, the second set of illos would show the dolls looking like they've been..er..overplayed with shall we say.

Absolutely brilliant idea for a set of images, and I was on familiar ground with the half-naked celebs, to top it off Will was a real pleasure to work with.

I should point out not all was plain sailing though, I soon realized I was going to have to put my design hat on, and work out how each box was going to represent the character of the celeb, to say nothing of all that dreaded typography... which always gives me a headache.

The pluses on this was a long deadline, and a superb AD nudging me along in the right direction, also finally got to do more work for a women's title, something i've been lacking these past few years, I suppose my work has had a tendency to be very masculine of recent times, so always nice to do something different, and for such a great mag too.

Above is the artwork in context, I think they looked really all big on the page, it was a really great job to be onboard for, and i'd love a relationship with the title to match the one i've had with it's big brother Men's Health, who I must have done over 50 drawings for over the years.

The bottom pic is of yours truly for the contributors section of the title, I was honored to be asked.. it's something i've done this a few times before for titles like Men's Health & Mojo, i'd like to think that sales may have gone up with the introduction of my illos... this will no doubt be counterbalanced by the fall in sales after people have seen my mug in the magazine.. these things balance themselves out.

If you can't be bother to click the pic above to see what it says, here you go: 'Portraying celebrities in compromising positions is a bit of a speciality for Bill', well ain't that the truth.. it goes on "Drawing Frankie Cocozza with bum-flashing action was a dream job!", well ain't that.. hang on what?! I can't remember saying that... i've been misquoted there surely?!

If you haven't picked up the magazine yet, all i'm saying is this; it's got Mollie from girlband The Saturday's on the front, which seems enough reason to me for anyone to buy the title.

Friday, 3 August 2012

EMPIRE- Ten years in the making!

Okay so even the most casual of readers of this blog have probably got that i'm a massive film fan, this may even be an understatement, a 'movie geek' may be better description.

Next January will mark a decade for me making pictures, for about the same time i've been doing this illustration malarkey, the one magazine i've read month in and month out is British film bible EMPIRE... it just simply is my favourite title to read, like I say i'm a movie geek.

Over the past 10 years i've often tried and failed to get my stuff in to the magazine, I should also point out that almost one by one i've ticked off every other magazine and publisher not only on my 'wish list' but on any British illustrator's 'wish list'... the one always to elude me was my favourite EMPIRE.. that is until now!

I think anyone can see that myself and EMPIRE are a good match, both in terms of my style and love for the subject matter, under the stewardship of the previous Art Director, who there's no doubt did an amazing job over a such long period, particularly with various redesigns, but it would also be fair to say that illustration was not on his radar, for such a big magazine, that is ripe for illustration, it's barely had any over the past 5 years if not longer, not since it was using the great Mick Brownfield, and even then the mag was using just the one drawing.

Anyway a new Art Director came on board recently, a Mr Chris Lupton, who along with some overhauling and classy redesigning seems far more open to the use of illustration in the title, i'll be honest with you, even though i'm biased, the reality is I don't think you can be classed as a great magazine, or certainly a well designed and art directed one unless you are using illustration throughout the title; the past few years the best designed titles in my opinion in this country have been; Wired, Esquire, GQ, Men's Health, all have at their best moments been littered with great art. Fact.

Okay enough ranting and back to the EMPIRE commission, so I got an email from Elliot Webb the Art Editor at the mag, to see whether I'd be interested in drawing 25 Matthew McConaughey illos, for a tongue in cheek feature about how much time he spends topless on film, as you can imagine I almost bit  his hand off for the gig.

It was a job that plays to my strengths: figure work, likeness driven, and humorous.

The above drawings I think I did over the space of a weekend pretty much, there was a lot of research to do on his outfits and haircuts in various films, and apart from some of his more obscures movies proving tricky to get the right reference for ( Big thanks to Elliot with help on those) this was a very smooth job.

I've just completed a second job for the magazine, which was a far more trickier affair, but the offshoot from this is Chris the AD at the mag has opened my eyes to new exciting opportunities for the use of my work, I can't go into too much detail here, but over the next twelve months I think i'll be retooling some of the stuff I do for different markets, also hopefully i'll get to work with EMPIRE on even more exciting jobs in future issues.

I'm not sure this is going ahead, but the magazine were talking about doing a one off poster of the McConaughey illustrations as a giveaway on the title's podcast, which if it does happens will probably be signed by yours truly, so if you're a fan of the mag, a fan of my work, or a fan of Matthew McConaughey without a shirt then check out their website for further details.

Next up: A lovely job for Women's Health; which also shows celebrities in various states of undress.. fast becoming my speciality this!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Make your own Usain Bolt!

So here's another illo for this week's Nuts, I should probably point out at this stage there a few magazines on the stands at the moment sporting my artwork, so if you've seen one of my illos in one of these mags and wonder why there's nothing posted, suffice to say i'll get around to them all (well the best ones) in good time.

Anyway back to this Nuts illo, I got the email pretty early on Monday to see whether I fancied drawing "The World's Fastest Man" Mr Usain Bolt for a feature in the mag, now at the time I was still awaiting feedback on a set of drawings i'd sent to another client, and to be fair I didn't know what the outcome on that job was going to be, so I was left with a dilemma; do I take the job and hope I can squeeze it in, or do I pass on it.

These decisions generally speaking need to be made quickly, certainly did in this case; things that swayed me was I loved the idea of drawing Bolt in kit form, secondly Barney who commissioned me on this had mocked up the exact kind of thing he wanted... I just had to draw it!

So as you can see from the above I took on this job, starting from the Monday lunchtime I had until Wednesday to complete the illo, not only that but also provide the illustrated type/headline.

The original plan was to start the drawing on the Tuesday, as it happens though the other client I was working with weren't in any hurry to get back to me, so rather than twiddle my thumbs I worked up a rough and sent to Barney in the afternoon.

I was maybe expecting an email back saying "Wow, that was quick.. that looks great colour it" the actual email went more like this "Wow, that was quick.. but it's kind of wrong" in order to save time instead of making each piece of Usain very much 'kit like' with a plastic front and separate plastic back, what I actually did is make each arm and leg more fully-formed and rounded, more like a deconstructed action figure.... Barney was right, this didn't look correct.

Back to the drawing board, next morning (Tuesday) I redrew the image with fronts and backs very much as above and sent for approval, it got the thumbs up and I coloured in for that afternoon, and sent away... right just the type to go... at about 4:30 I got an email asking whether I could change the keyline it was a bit too thick, now I draw my final work in Photoshop, not Illustrator so I had to go back through and redraw all the black linework... again Barney was right, it became a much tidier drawing with a smaller keyline.

Wednesday, just the type to do.... I'm going to say it now, I try and steer clear of typographic stuff, it's simply something i'm not confident with, I kind of have a working knowledge, which has certainly got better over the years, but I try and avoid where possible, this one was relatively easy though, Barney supplied the headline as a .ai file, I was asked to create a plastic frame and a Jamaican flag paint job.. even though this was one of the easier type things i've done, it still didn't stop it from having it's tricky moments, like I say it's not one of my strong suits, unfortunately I seem to get more and more along these lines.

Final artwork and type was with Nuts for Wednesday, having seen the artwork in print I think it looks great, it has a nice clean look about it, and in this case I can see why I was brought on board to do the type as it brings the design together (I'm just glad I didn't ruin it!) this is one of those images that I can only take partial credit for, certainly this is 50% Barney's illustration too, he laid out what he wanted, how he wanted it... so the success of this image is certainly credited as much to the Art Director as to anything I did.

Oh with regards to the other job I was working on at the same time, I didn't hear back from that until Thursday, you learn from being around as long as I have, that in this game, you have windows of opportunity, I guessed the other client would be slower in getting back to me, so that allowed me the necessary few days to tackle this commission... these things you learn as an illustrator with experience, Ha, occasionally though I still get it wrong, that's what keeps us on our toes!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

McConkey Week at Nuts!

Wow, have I been busy... I know I always say that, but this time it's been monumental, in reality I can't show you the majority of what i've been up to as it hasn't seen print yet, but i'll share those with you at a later date.. there's lots to make their way here in the upcoming few weeks/months.

So got an email from Barney at Nuts, asking me if I fancied doing a biggie, now i've been turning down the last few gigs due to my hectic schedule or jobs not being right for me, a lot of typography stuff for lots of clients has been put my way, most of it i've been turning down, as it's simply is not something I feel that strong at.

But when Barney suggested the image above, with a deadline of less than a week.. and me with very little on my schedule, well things fell into place and I started the mini epic above.

Now as anyone that reads this blog will know, the Sgt Pepper homage is something i've done before, my original foray is an Apple themed one I drew for Mac Format over a year ago, and it's one of those in my portfolio that always gets a good reaction, generally speaking i'm not one for repeating myself, but on this occasion I didn't feel this was a job I could turn down, also who else could draw fifty portraits in such a short space of time... I decided I couldn't let the guys at Nuts down and just went for it.

With the Olympics just around the corner, this was a feature about the 50 Great British Sportsmen as voted for by Nuts readers, brief was simple, draw all the sports stars in their peak of fame in the above homage, now believe it or not I drew this thing in about 4 days, with the 5th day left to make alterations to the type and significantly resizing the drum for the purpose of type legibility.

This image proved a tiring affair as you can imagine, i've saved it extra big here, so you can see in greater detail the work that went into it.... however I wasn't finished there.. I still had more drawings for Nuts to complete.

This drawing was completed probably within an hour flat, I had to be extra quick on this, as my time was being taken up finishing the Greatest Sportsmen illo, this is a drawing of Gaz from hit MTV UK show Geordie Shore for the regular section Celebrity Kama Sutra.

Having completed the top two images, I thought I was done for the week..great, time to put my feet up and have a cup of tea I thought..er.. I was wrong, Simon at the mag got in touch and asked if I could do the above instructional illo about Richard Hammond setting himself on fire, I think this was a last minute addition to the mag, so they held back on printing an extra day, again super quick turnaround on this as I got the brief about 4-ish on Thursday, and I emailed in on the Friday at lunchtime, probably 12 on the dot.

All these can be found in this week's mag on shelves now, it was a hectic week, but a great one work wise... expect more images here soon, including some new stuff for some very big names in the magazine world!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Incisive Illustrations!

So here are some recent illustrations done for two magazines at Incisive Media... I say recent, but these were done a while back and i've only just posted them up, still as you all know by now i'm rather tardy at this kind of thing.

The top one was done for a supplement fold-out cover for Law Week (I think that's the title!) anyway I was asked by the Art Director to draw a portrait scene of some of Law's high flyers, I was provided with reference for each person and went about creating the drawing, sometimes trickier than they look these jobs... luckily I was working with a great AD on this, and someone who i've worked with on various titles at Incisive, so things ran pretty smoothly, just had to rearrange a few of the figures in the alterations department.

Bottom illustration was for the cover of Insurance Age, idea was to draw a carnival style shooting range, with selected items referring to bits in an article, again really enjoyable, as you can see I didn't hold back on the colours and went full-on technicolour on this.

I remember looking at first person shooter games for reference in this, like Call of Duty etc, and originally I had the gun less central, what you find in games like that is that the hands/gun are usually placed off centre, which is something you don't even realise when you are playing them, anyway for compositions sake I moved the thing in a more direct position, something i've learned over the years is a 'must' for covers.

Again with this I had the benefit of a great AD, a different fella from the one above, but again somone who knows his stuff and when and where to use my work... so there you go two separate covers, two separate magazines, two great Art Directors and one lovely publisher in Incisive, hopefully i'll continue to do some more stuff for these guys soon.

As an illustrator you find over time that it is actually publishers like this, who have to make somewhat dry material shine that offer some of the greatest briefs, and are some of the finest people you'll ever get to work with to boot.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Last Supper Prints Now Available!

Okay so I said my next post would be up in a few days and that it would be about images that didn't make the cut for my booklet, it appears i've lied on both accounts... reality is I got really busy there for a while, and the reason I haven't put up the posting about images that didn't make the cut is that i'm saving one or two of the images for something else.

As i've said before here on this blog, undoubtedly my most popular image (on the web anyhoos!) is my 80's Movie Classics Last Supper illustration, which seem to have blown up on the internet over this past 3 month or so, I think a big website got a hold of it and it's gone pretty crazy from there, with it ending up on facebook, twitter, a million pinterest pages, blogs, it's all over the place, as such I now get a lot of messages regarding the artwork, and recently most recently acquiring a print of the artwork.

I've been a bit slow on the uptake, but I have just recently sold the first print of the artwork to someone that got in touch via email, the print (see pic) is now on it's Transatlantic journey to it's new home in California.

As an illustrator working mainly for magazines, i've never put too much thought into selling prints of my artwork, however due to the popularity of the image, the buyer in this case being a patient fella while I arrange how to actually print, post and receive funds in the best and safest ways, I will from now on be selling prints, not only of this Last Supper image, but of anything else here or on the website that people may want.

Here's a quick rundown on the cost of the Last Supper image; the print can be produced in two separate ways;

The first one being the cheapest is a high quality digital print, this will be produced on either a semi gloss card or more flimsy high quality paper (if you want this as a poster) and will be handled by a printing firm that tackles all my booklets, postcards etc... I will vouch for the quality of the print, certainly up anything you would see in commercial printing like a magazine or something like that, and is something I wouldn't hesitate to either framed up for the living room or pinned up like a poster for a dorm room/man cave or whatever.

The price of this (regardless of paper or card) would be a very reasonable £8.50, however that isn't including postage and packaging, this will be dependent on where you are in the world, and i'll just pass this costing on to you, the one I sent to California for instance was around the £11.50 mark, so that would bring the total up to £20, however I will always try and find the fairest price and safest posting of your item, so each case would probably vary a little.

The second print I offer is for the one's of you out there that demand that extra little quality, and this would be a high quality giclee print on fine art paper, which is how the above print was done, up close this print is sensational, and is about as good a print as you can buy... as you can imagine this extra quality comes at a price; the price for this is £40 plus, again i'll be charging you for the postage and packaging, again this will be reliant on where you are and the best way of getting it to you, in most cases I don't think it'll ever come to much more than the price I used as my for instance (£11.50) so this would be rounded up to £50 or less if I can mail it cheaper.

Sizes of the Last Supper print are as follows; digital print; 260mm x 430mm (roughly) and the giclee print comes in the bigger size of 297mm x 450mm (the size the original was created)

Artworks are mailed via a postal tube, unless you are the UK, then I may be able to send the artwork flat, also the price of postage would probably be significantly cheaper as i'll be posting inland.

Think that about covers everything, if you are interested in a print then feel free to email me, you can find my address on my website, just click on the link on the top right.

Right, back to making pictures... i'll see if I can post something up again at the end of the week with regards to recent jobs.

Sunday, 20 May 2012


So here it is finally, the second volume of Kaleidoscope, the first so many will be hitting the mailboxes of Art Director's up and down the land and further afield next week, the second batch which I think i'm going to keep a closer eye on, as I think in hindsight they need a bit of further trimming at the printers so there's less deadspace (these things happen) will be sent out over the upcoming weeks and months, apart from said niggle i'm generally speaking happy with the quality of print, selection of images etc.

Thought i'd kick off the post with the cover image, see above. I wanted to do something more iconic on the cover with this one, and I wanted to do something again wholly personal to me, I suppose the image
above could be classed as a double portrait, one of me as a boy with his nose in a book (although that was more usually a comic book) drawing paper and Star Wars toys nearby.
The second portrait it could be argued is the demented clapping monkey with a carousel head, i'll let you read into that as you will, surrounding these portraits are references to things that have influenced me; kitsch bits of pop culture, video-games, comic books, animation etc..

The illustrations i've posted up on this blog are generally new images that haven't seen print anywhere else, in reality the actual booklet is made up far more of my more well known printed images that have already been displayed on this blog, the booklet is kind of a 'best of' with a few new things... a greatest hits, with new material if you like.

Above is an illo of the Arctic Monkeys, nice to be a bit more subtle with the colouring for once, also serves as a companion piece to the John Grant illustration I did for Mojo which this runs opposite to.

As a boy growing up in the 80's, there was a time there when bad taste to a certain extent was enjoyed for what it is and for a period became a cultural phenomenon, as anyone that used to collect the Garbage Pail Kids will attest, which I've said here before has been a long time influence on my work... the above image I think owes something to those sensibilities; Stephen Hawkings: P.I.M.P!

For a period in my career, the majority of my editorial jobs came from magazines with a decidedly female demographic, this to a large extent changed because of a couple of things; Women's magazine which were for a period a hotbed of illustration stopped using quite as much, and secondly my work, after I took a brief sabbatical (to use an Americanism!) a few years ago became a lot more personal, as a result I swapped what was then a more "flowery" approach to my work in favour of my current style.

The above images I hope go about resetting the balance, because i'd love to be working as much for women's titles as I do for the boys mags, and tech mags and business mags I now work with.

So as people already know that have read this blog before, I love drawing things from my own childhood, pop culture stuff from the 80's and 90's regularly shows up in my personal work, the above series came from an idea spawned by an actual paying job that was commissioned by Men's Health.

It was a series of exercise illos that featured the Terminator (see top three images) which have already been posted here before, anyway I got to thinking; why couldn't we draw other characters from the 80's working out, an Alternative Guide to Exercise if you will.

Above you have Johny 5, Sloth, Hulk Hogan, Chuck Norris and Mr T showing you how to keep fit... if i'm being honest, I hope a book publisher sees these, and we get to do a book on this, imagine a Robocop guide to bench pressing, star jumps with Gremlins, squat exercises with Beetlejuice, I could go on, that'd be a book people would buy right?

The above illustration is one of the central images in volume 2, and is also printed as an A3 poster and given away with booklet, this one took a long time to put together, which if you click on the image above you'll be able to see the level of detail I went to.

I wanted to do a companion piece to the image that I did for Kaleidoscope volume 1's cover, which can be seen elsewhere on this blog, which I suppose is a toy box of visual influences, and things from my childhood.

With this, the original idea was to draw robots from TV and film, only about halfway through an art director quite randomly sent me a piece from the internet that was while not visually the same, was in fact the same idea... D'oh! Thanks Rob Milton formerly of Men's Health for that!

So I quickly changed the theme from just Robots to 'Robots and Aliens' which is the title of this piece.

Now certainly the most popular image that i've done of recent years is my 80's Movie Last Supper scene, which this past month seems to have spread like wildfire on the ol' interwebby, i'm not sure why it's just taken off, but it's one I get emails about pretty much every week.

I'm hoping the above will be equally successful in it's own way, it's lovely to think that my work has reached a large audience that share my more geeky sensibilties.

Okay that's it for now. If you're an Art Director and you want the booklet and poster mailing out then get in touch, next few hundred will be hitting the letterboxes of clients over the upcoming weeks, months (I think it'll take me an age to send them all out!)

Next post coming up probably in the next few days will be a collection of the images that didn't make the cut for the booklet, some of which were really quite nice, just was a case of being a bit ruthless about what made the final selection.