It’s taken 24 days of 2019 to write my first blog post, but only because I have been busy finishing off the jobs that started just before Christmas. It was the usual - some DVD work and some book covers, one of which was huge fun (dinosaurs and samurai swords - give me that brief any day of the week) and more on what will be my biggest, most exciting commission of my ten-year career. I still can’t talk about it, but I’m hoping they announce soon (the product itself won’t be out until late Autumn). A dream come true.
So on to what to blog about. How about an aimless ramble? No? Well.. maybe just a collection of various musings of a random nature…
Make stuff for yourself (and try to earn from it)
First thing that has been on my mind in these first fresh weeks of the year is that I need to give my personal work some more fiscal viability. I am a huge proponent of personal work as an illustrator - I am always shouting from the rooftops that it is an essential use of your time as a pro (or burgeoning pro) and it has always opened more doors for me than anything else. And it’s come to my immediate attention that I need to do even more of it, between experimenting with art or making music as Our Wanderer or anything else I might find interesting. I need to do more of it to keep myself sane. Time being creative for myself as opposed to following a brief (while I enjoy that challenge) is of upmost importance for my head. But, I have to earn a crust and at the moment I will always sacrifice time on my own stuff for pro jobs. I know this is a ‘poor-me’ scenario - I realise I am lucky to have the pro jobs. But what if I could make the personal work more viable by earning a little from it? So, I have the print shop.
Me and my print shop have always had a difficult relationship. For one, it’s giclee rather than screen print, and the latter is by far the favourite of collectors. For another, I found the printing & shipping aspect hard to manage - but I’ve solved that by going with a great new Irish fulfilment company called Print Beast. And, so far, I’m not sure I’ve made art that is appealing enough to sell more than a couple of copies. It’s important to me to make the prints for myself, expressively, and not cow-tow to trends or second guess potential customers. But I need to find a balance. So my idea is this - I’m going to make a load of personal work to sell as prints, try to make it appealing to people (ie not all vintage sci-fi) while still enjoying, and expressing myself. Some of it might be crap, one or two might be cool but I am going to make sure I enjoy making all of it. Like this blog, it’ll be my little corner of the internet to do whatever the f*** I want. Bliss.
So with that in mind, I thought I might start doing mock gig posters. A little bit like I did for Whelans all those years ago. That job was so much fun - no brief, make anything I want, combine typography and art.. Perfect, really. Here’s the first one, and wouldn’t you know - it’s vintage sci-fi. I promise it won’t all be.
Making time to make crap
Leading on from this, I’ve also decided to spend way more time making crap. By that I mean, make stuff free of worrying about other people seeing it - full experimentation. Sitting at the drawing desk with whatever materials are close by and just seeing what happens. I tend to go through periods of this and then let it lapse. But it’s so important. The amazing Jeffrey Alan Love wrote a great Twitter thread about it here.
I am not one of those artists with amazing-looking sketchbooks. Mine are awful. And I think they’re awful because I try to make them good, and then get annoyed when they aren’t. So I am determined to abandon any notions of making something great and just make.. crap. Very constructive, enjoyable crap though.
Being honest. I’m quite bored of how I draw. Certainly with characters. I’d like to play around and see if I can some up with something new.
Speaking of constructive mistakes, I found this article about the Uruguayan artist Guido Iafigliola (aka Glitchdo) , courtesy of WeTransfer, really interesting and am delighted to have discovered his work. Really, really inspiring.
I mentioned in my last post that I wanted my work & career to evolve a little this year. One path that’s opening up is actually one I’ve been dipping my toe in since I started freelancing - story development for films. Being able to dream up stories, and make art, is a good combination for this. Over the years I’ve been in and around it, became friends with people who produce/direct for real and had one or two of my ideas touted as possibilities. But now things are actually moving up a gear - I’ve learned about whats needed (from screenplay-construction to pitch decks) and I’m ambling my way into those new waters, especially, hopefully, with Voidonauts. Watch this space (but bear in mind these things move glacially-slow).
I think that’s about it. Maybe one last mention of music and films currently floating my boat:
Music - I am obsessed with Go Go Penguin. A piano, a double bass and a drum kit make this? Holy moly.
Film - Last night I watched Don’t Breath. I liked it - great tension, great character arcs (it plays with your sympathies). It struck me that Stephen Lang would have made a great Old Man Logan.
Books - Currently reading Dune Messiah. Dune is one of my favourite books but shamefully I had never read the sequels - righting that wrong now. Next up, Children of Dune and then on to Ursula le Guin - Left Hand of Darkness & The Dispossessed (another two I should have read years ago but never did).