Sunday, 13 June 2010

New work - Pistol Gang Ideas

Having been working on the sketchbook for a little while (see earlier posts), I have finally made some progress with the illustration style I have been experimenting with. Drawing on influences from artists such as Frank Miller, Chris Ofili and Haluk Akakce, I have experimented with layering, shading and decoration.

I now have to start applying this to a few more subjects and see how the style develops and would then like to reproduce the images on canvas, using paints and perhaps a little bit of colour...

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Chris Ofili @ Tate Modern

I had never really considered a future in art or design throughout most of my school life and if I'm honest, I saw it as another subject I HAD to do. However, this all changed as soon as I was introduced to the works of Chris Ofili, when my teacher noticed my penchant for bright colours, psychadelic patterns, the human form and collage.

Ofili had just won the 1998 Turner Prize for his best-known pieces that featured elephant dung among the many different materials applied to the canvas.

He had been shortlisted for the inventiveness, exuberance, humour and technical richness of his painting, but it was his vibrant and dynamic use of colour that had me hooked, adding a real energy and complexity to his work, emphasised by his multilayered use of media referencing blaxploitation and gangsta rap.

Twelve years later, the Tate Britain had a three month exhibition both of these works and those created since taking up residence in Trinidad in 2005.

Having not seen the originals paintings of the elephant dung series, it was enlightening to finally see the pieces that have had such an influence on my work throughout both my education and professional career.

The political and social messages behind each piece were lost on me as a teenager, but to see pieces such as No Woman, No Cry (Ofili's portrait of the mother of murdered London teenager, Stephen Lawrence) up close was both breathtaking and emotive. To be able to see the detail behind each piece - the layers of collage, spraypaint, oil, varnish, lacquer - and the seemingly random background patterns reminded me of the hours and effort that go into creating real art.

However, the thing that shocked me most was the subconscious influence this artist has had on my work as an artist and as a designer. I have always been fond of colour, layering and collage and it dawned on me as I gazed deeply into Captain Shit and the Legend of the Black Stars, that despite not having thought about these pieces in years (probably since those days at Westcliff High), it was being introduced to Ofili that started it all.

Refreshingly, Ofili has grown as an artist and found a new voice. He appears to have entered a 'blue period' of his own as he attempts to illustrate the dark history of the Carribean in The Blue Riders and Iscariot Blues.

There is no dung and no glitter. No collage, no psychadelic patterns. Instead the images are heavy and difficult to read and rely on texture to tell their mystical story.

Whilst I may prefer the earlier pieces that earned him his fame, I admire Ofili for this. He has continued to grow as an artist and has not allowed himself to be stuck on techniques that he knows work so well. Instead he has allowed the environment in which he lives to continue to influence his work. Gone are the urban influences from his days in Kings Cross, replaced by a more spiritual caribbean influence.

I for one can't wait for the next chapter in the journey from elephant art to nature's son.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Sketchbook: In the Style of Frank Miller (update)

I've been working with a few different images and think I have found one that gives me the most to build on. I'm thinking of introducing some Ofili-style background patterns into the mix and seeing where it takes me.

I'll also be looking to re-draw the image over the next week or so using a new WACOM pad.

I think the subtle, yet dramatic use of colour is working really well here, and would like to start brining in some new textures and layers to start making a style that is more unique and a little less Miller-based.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Sketchbook: In the Style of Frank Miller

There hasn't been much in the way of free time recently, so when I found myself with an hour to waste, I got around to doing something I have been meaning to do for a while now.

Having been to a couple of truly inspiring galleries recently (more of that later), I have been itching to get the sketchbook, pencils, paints and canvas out at some point. I have also been fascinated by the work Frank Miller for some time now, and have been wanting to produce a couple of images in his style, to influence later projects.

With a coupe of images left over from previous projects like "Katie" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart", I produced the above image.

Traditionally, I would approach images such as this with a smooth hand using smooth lines and as few points as possible, to give a sensual feel to the piece. But Miller is a lot rougher with his imagery. The smooth shapes are actually made of angled lines that give a more masculine feel to the image, which in the context of Miller's work, works perfectly to illustrate a more violent way of life in his novels (think Sin City and his Gotham City in The Dark Knight Returns).

This simple approach has certainly given me something to think about, whilst also reminding me the value one can get simply studying somebody like Miller and making the time to really look at things in this way.

New Work - Guilty Pleasures Website

It's been a while (too long) since my last blog, but there has been a lot going on at Blonde (more of that soon).

Here is one of the reasons why... the new Guilty Pleasures site!

Playing on the 'naughty but nice' theme, the site has a peep hole style that really adds to the sultry element of the brand.

It's been great fun working closely with Geoff, developing a brand that we can both be proud of, and one that hopefully has a lot more to offer.

Have a look, and let me know what you think...

Monday, 15 March 2010