Thursday, 30 August 2012

Infinity Pool

So, I had to accept my limitations and scale back this work. The original plan had been to utilise a 3D printer and get involved in some metalwork to create a physical version of this. Originally, it was going to be a Moebius Strip, suspended from the ceiling, with a cue ball following a track around ad infinitum.

As it turns out, a Moebius Strip wouldn't look like the infinity symbol without some horrible twists which would have ruined the visual aspect. Also, I couldn't afford the materials.

It's entirely plausible that I could make a version using Scalextric and baize, so that may still happen. In any case, here's the design as it stands, which is available as a t-shirt if you fancy it - BUYBUYBUY

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

More teal and orange goodness

Sorry in advance. The teal and orange thing is getting out of hand in movies, I didn't intend for it to invade my work but it just happened.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Cage / Connery

Okay, before I get onto more important matters, one last portfolio piece. I love The Rock, despite the Michael Bay and Nicolas Cage involvement. It's stupid, but great fun.

Plus, Sean Connery is the toughest pensioner ever. Never mind Gran Torino and Harry Brown, get John Mason on the case.

Now go away

Did you watch A Touch of Cloth?

Well, you should have. It was a superb spoof of the police procedural genre, with jokes coming so fast and so frequently that it made me not mind having not seen anything really very funny on TV all year. I thoroughly recommend you catch up with the two episodes shown so far and make time for the rest. Finally, a comedy has dispensed with the studio format/fake documentary format and understood that the actors being entirely deadpan is what makes it work. The co-writer is one Charlie Brooker, who is something of a personal hero in that he often speaks my mind via TV and print, in an amusing yet eloquent way, without actually knowing what I was going to say. He's not even psychic.

Or maybe he is. After all, I drew his face with my computer. It might not be exactly right, but then neither is the version I carved into my wall, nor the one made out of mashed potato which is currently home to a family of flies.


Sunday, 26 August 2012

Couldn't resist, mate

I've never drawn Captain Jack Sparrow. Only the first movie was any good (and it was good, too) and since then everyone's mental image of pirates comes from his look rather than the previous stripy shirt and eye patch malarkey.

Anyway, I finally drew him.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Mister Perlman

I've spent too long staring at a screen today. Now I have a headache but at least also a picture of Ron Perlman.

Return of the Beard

Hello again. Still working on plenty o' commissions and stuff, but found time to squeeze in this portrait. Quite enjoyed it, actually.

Thursday, 23 August 2012


As a general rule, I don't post my commercial rates online. There's a lot of factors to consider when dealing with usage rights, value to the brand etc. Plus, y'know, it's not always healthy to talk money in a public forum.


I've recently discovered (about a year after everyone else) Bandcamp which is a great, great website allowing recording artists to sell and publicise their stuff directly to the fans. It's a flexible system and I've fallen in love with it. So much so that I decided to put an offer on for the bands who use it:

Single, EP or album illustration - £200

Gig poster illustration and design - £150

T-shirt design - £150

This is lower than my usual rate and to qualify, please include the link to your Bandcamp page in your initial e-mail. I may leave this offer running or change it at any time, so don't wait too long just in case...

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


Today, 2001 struck back.

Chad Kroeger (frontman of every furniture salesman and fifty-something housewife's favourite rock band, Nickelback) and Avril Lavigne (ex Dark Crystal puppet and former wife of that squashed head bloke from Sum 41) have announced their engagement.

It's the first time I've thought of either of them since I last said "Wassssup?" (maybe just the once, when describing the advert), so I thought I'd draw them. Well, one of them. The Kroegster (as he is known to nobody) was all I had time to draw.

Here's a photo of Avril Lavigne, just so you don't feel like I've left her out.

Friday, 17 August 2012

24hr MONSTERS! - development and changes

An update on 24hr MONSTERS! 2012

It was pointed out to me last night that the event would gather more momentum if I had already nominated a charity and provided some structure in the first place. I totally agree. There have a been a few people commit to being involved, a few maybes but a majority of silence. This was entirely my fault, and for the time being I'm going to make some changes to get things moving.

Firstly, the nominated charity. I've had a small number of suggestions, for which I'm grateful. I wanted the decision to be a democratic process, and after announcing that, I can't very well now pluck a charity out of thin air and say "We're raising money for 'xyz'". It's a sensitive subject and I'd like to be able to resolve it quickly, so we can get the charity in place very soon. So, if you nominated a charity or charities... I don't want to dismiss any of your suggestions, but maybe between us we can agree on one and then announce that one?

Secondly, the date. I'm now thinking that anybody getting involved would prefer a decent notice period. So, the date is Saturday, October 27th.

Thirdly, the structure of contributions. I'm using Kickstarter's tiered pledge system as a basis, so the tiers are as follows:

  • HATCHLING - shares on social media sites, spreading the word and referring sponsors to the site (when it's up and running)
  • STOMPER - a donation of monster art, any media. The art will be auctioned (or sold) online on Oct 27th. A mention on the artist's site would also help
  • FIRE BREATHER - Same as STOMPER, except with the creation of the art occurring on October 27th, streamed live online. Please give advance notice of the time you intend to stream the process
  • ZILLA - attendance of the event to be held in Manchester on Oct 27th, helping to run workshops, providing entertainment or live drawing. This tier would also include anyone who would want to go above and beyond the call of duty and hold their own event
  • MATTHEW BRODERICK - anybody who opposes this event

More ideas and suggestions have been made recently:

Monster Picture Consequences (Exquisite Corpse), Monster Prints on Demand, Monster Molding, Monster Mask Making, Monster Movie Screening (maybe a double-bill), Monster Cake Making, live band in the evening, Monster Mural, Monster Puppet Making.

I'd also like to apologise to the artists I e-mailed out of the blue with a standard and impersonal invitation. I would have dearly loved to make a personal appeal to each of you, and now that there's an extra month to set up, I hope to do just that. There was just so many of you! So yeah, I'm gonna bug you all again, be prepared...

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The woman in white

Suddenly, I've been swamped with work and that means I will probably have less art to show here for a short while, but here's the latest of my works based on public domain photographs. I half-finished another based on a starch factory in Maine, but there's something I don't like about it. If I figure it out, I'll post it.

In any case, this is based on a photo of a female Naval trainee from 1939. In the original, she's operating a cutting machine, but there was something about it that made me want to turn it all 'evil scientisty'. Hope you like.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Dandy under threat

Let's get the story out of the way, first:

£1.99 - will make your kid laugh
There appears to be two distinct camps set up on the back of this news. There are those who immediately want to save The Dandy from closure, such as most of the people I follow on Twitter, traditionalists, sentimental types and kids; then there are those who, as you'll see in the comments of the Guardian article, are apathetic towards the comic and either weren't aware of its continued existence or are outraged at the price point (£1.99, which apparently is extortionate, despite being cheaper than a pre-packed sandwich or... well... most things).

£2.09 - will make your kid fat
Most people are missing the point. It's a real shame that The Dandy is in danger because there are thousands of kids who'd love it if it were on their radar. It's funny, lovingly-crafted, beautiful to look at... The reason it isn't on the radar? I couldn't say. What I can say is that the children of the generation The Dandy would regard as its target market now seem to own iPhones, iPads, XBoxes and PS3s and drink coffee from Starbucks. The expense isn't the issue, so much as the rush to grow up. Kids under 10, owning iPhones? What, was a Mini Cooper too expensive? There must be some kind of stigma attached to kids who are allowed to be kids, playing with toys, reading comics and pretending to be a magic owl in the middle of Tesco. Adulthood is difficult and adolescence can be mortifying, so why the hurry to get there?

£7.99 on Amazon - 5 years old and cack
And yet, look at the signs. Kids want stuff all of the time, right? They nag all the way around the supermarket for things. That's why Lego produce Mini Figures, blind-packed toys in a bag for anywhere between £1 and £5. They're an impulse buy. A way to stop the nagging. £1 to stop your kid moaning and give them something to play with for a while. A while. As much as I love Lego (and ye gods, I love Lego), one figure doesn't hold your interest for long. So how does £2 to placate your little terror for at least an hour sound? Oh, and hey! They'll laugh. They will learn new words. They might want to keep reading. They might be inspired to draw. Oh, and if you have more than one kid, they can share.

Comics inspire. The Dandy inspires. Fruit Shoots do not inspire. Magnum Infinity does not inspire.

Parents. Do me a favour. Do yourselves and your kids a favour. Buy The Dandy and risk inspiring your children.

I dun a Dan

Monday, 13 August 2012

Utah, 1970s

Always wanted to illustrate rock formations in Canyonland.

Carquinez Bridge, Oregon

Having spent the past few years using vectors to make portraits of superheroes, it's very liberating to apply the style to other subjects. I've been browsing through public domain photographs to find inspiration, hence the last two posts. This is another, based on a photo of the Carquinez Bridge. The original was obviously a black and white photo, later coloured by hand, a technique I love. Done right, it romanticises the setting, ramping up the colour and dramatic lighting. I've tried to re-create that sense here.

I dropped the complex bridge framework and many of the finer details, as that's not really what I'm trying to achieve with these images. I think it still looks okay.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Norwegian mountains circa 1910

Another exercise in line economy, colour and simplicity, this time applied to a landscape rather than a person. This is based on a 1910 photograph of a scene in Norway.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

James Clerk Maxwell

Vector illustration based on a photograph of astronomer James Clerk Maxwell.

Non-art post

Hello. This is a bit different to what I normally post, but I wanted to address something.
You may or may not know that I’m British. Now you know in any case. And in Britain at the moment, a debate has started regarding national optimism, pride in our citizens and an attitude considered atypical of the Brits being made quite obvious to the world. Of course, this is tied into the London 2012 Olympics and our undeniably impressive haul of medals.
The debaters, by and large, are the media. The media got their hopes up about the games in 2005 (when London won the bid) and are now facing a huge comedown and they’ve only got themselves to blame. Fine, seven years ago, we weren’t in a recession and didn’t have a cartoon bad guy with a Tefal forehead in charge, but still, a lot of Brits looked to the Olympics as a massive watershed moment. Now the games have just about ended, how do they react?
Why, they say things like “Now that Britons are facing the stark reality of life once again, can they keep this can-do attitude up indefinitely in the face of the worst financial crisis in decades?”
Well, let me explain my position:
I’m a Briton by default, as I was born in Yorkshire in a little town called Bridlington. I am, by some people’s definitions, a Briton, an Englishman, a Yorkshireman and a Bridlingtonian (seriously, they call themselves that). But this does not define me. It actually perplexes me that man’s instinctual need to guard his territory has resulted in man-made borders and walls, separation of peoples, war and political spaghetti.
As a person who was born and therefore has to abide by the protocols set decades or centuries past in ‘my’ country, I have been conditioned. Sometimes it can be a good thing - despite my apathy towards national pride and sport in general, I found it hard to deny the entertainment value and outpouring of goodwill and positivity created by the success of the Olympics and athletes such as Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Sir Chris Hoy - but as a rule, it means that I constantly have to check myself to see whether who I am is a product of stereotyping, bad advice and a bottlenecking of opportunities owing to some faceless individual or group’s rules. This sounds dramatic, but that doesn’t mean I’m going through an identity crisis. It means that when all the whooping and hollering about BRITAIN IS HOSTING THE OLYMPICS started, I was ambivalent at best (for one thing, London is not Britain - it’s London).
If any population are to remain upbeat, optimistic and ‘can-do’ about their lives, they need a few things.
  • The ability to look beyond their bubble and be inspired by the wider world. Olympics examples: Usain Bolt, Oscar Pistorius and Sarah Attar. Not British, but important for their personality, courage and determination and hugely deserving of the ovations they received in the stadium.
  • The strength to ignore negativity. Much as I dislike the concept of division into countries (beyond the obvious geographical borders, like… the ocean), I have to admit that I hear so much negativity in Britain, more than seems to be apparent in many other nations. ‘We’ love to complain. So much so that it’s part of this false identity, but it can be changed around if people push on through it. You think Pistorius and Attar listened to the negativity around them?
  • An ability to find pleasure in the everyday. You’re not going to have an event every day of your life which makes you want to start running, learn tennis, take up swimming or write the Great _____ Novel, so don’t let the average days be average. Every day could be the best day of your life.
So, in answer to the media, we can remain un-British and optimistic, but - and here’s the thing - you vapid arseholes aren’t going to let us. You’ll go back to your stories about the worst of humanity. Scandals about which we can do nothing other than rage. Crimes which make us fearful of neighbours. Scares about superbugs and actual front page stories about when it rains quite a lot.
Stop it.
You expect us to be happy when the Queen has an anniversary, or when her grandson gets married. You expect us to be proud when ‘our’ athletes perform well. So assume that we are capable of being happy, proud and inspired and give us the chance by telling us about good things.
People can be amazing.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The talk of the City and the Bourse

Minimalist 1980s magazine advert.

No way would Zorin have taken out a full page ad without just plastering his face on it.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Doing a good thing!

Remember last year? Sure you do! It was the year Michael Bay ruined Laserbeak. There ya go, I knew you'd get it eventually. Well, there was a charity event last March which I set up in aid of Comic Relief. 24hr MONSTERS! was an art auction and online live drawing marathon, with a monster theme (obviously). It raised enough money that it was worth doing, but kinda fell down on the organisational side of things. Mea culpa.

But a good thing is a good thing and you can't keep a fun time confined for long (seriously, these phrases are becoming more and more nonsensical). So here's the deal:

2012 is also 24hr MONSTERS!, but with a different approach. This time, we pick a date and from midnight to midnight (or if that's crazy, then we'll re-arrange the time) in whichever timezone of that day, we hold art events. Everywhere. And although monsters can be the theme, it doesn't have to be. Let's say that we're the monsters, raising a monstrous amount of money for a good cause! (Monsters will be abundant, though!)

Also, to some degree I'm relinquishing control of the event and removing the previous restrictions of how to contribute. I'm open to ideas from interested parties.


Firstly, I'm taking suggestions for a nominated charity for whom we are to raise the money. If there's a charity close to your heart, by all means let me know and send a link to their site (if applicable). I'll put all of the suggestions up for a public vote so it's a fair process.


Right. Here it is. 24hr MONSTERS! 2012 is going to be a multi-disciplinary event, so artists from all walks of life are wanted, nay, needed.
  • Traditional
  • Digital
  • Photography
  • Sculpture
  • Textiles
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Performance
You want to stream creation of a piece (or pieces) of art online, that's cool! If you want to write a song and put it online for download, great! You're holding a street art workshop? Woohoo! Just make sure there's a way of collecting donations, and document it with photos, video, whatever!


While it would be a lovely spike in views for me, I don't think my art site is the best place to use as a hub for the event. What we need is a proper site, however basic, with all of the following:
  • Information on the event as a whole and the various separate events which are taking place as a part of it.
  • Contact info/press packs.
  • Links to contributing artists.
  • A donation button (or link to a justgiving page or similar - this is subject to a check on the ethics of using a donation button).
  • Preferably an integrated Twitter feed, Facebook 'Like' and maybe comment thread.
This isn't an exhaustive list. I'm sure there are other major things to be added. Anyone willing to help with the website must understand that there's no pay involved (as with all of the contributions) so simple is good, as long as it works and looks awesome.


This is something anybody can help with and it would be the greatest help! We need:
  • Tweets, Likes, Shares, blog posts, shouting from rooftops, flash mobs (once we get the site set up, of course).
  • Interviews with contributors (so if you can get us in the media, go for it!)
  • I'd like to do a Kickstarter-style video promo to kick things off, all flashy-like and with a crazy edge. So, video editors/artists... yeah?
  • Ideas! Seriously, if you have an idea to promote the event, I'm all ears!

Guess what? I'm not a lawyer. Nor an accountant. Nor am I a blunderbuss, but that's another story. Look, I don't forsee any legal problems, but it would be very handy for someone with legal knowledge to be around for advice on tax, shipping costs, PayPal fees etc.


Like I said, I'm relinquishing some control, but some stuff has to stay with me. I want this to work like the Olympics BBC TV coverage (timely reference, yet loaded with pretention!) in that ideally, I'd like to have the website work as a central hub with a schedule for the day set out (with links and info as to whether an event is in your area). For example, if somebody is running a monster masks workshop in London, the site would have a link to the organiser's site and the time/location of the workshop. Think of it like a What's On.

I want artists to have fun! I want viewers, customers, players, listeners and everyone involved to have fun, too. Above all, I want to raise a crapload of money for a worthy cause. It wouldn't hurt if we could nab some big names and publicity along the way. I'm thinking thousands rather than hundreds.

Ground rules may have to be set, but we'll cross that bridge if we come to it.

Obviously, there'll be a logistical maze to navigate to make sure that all the donations go to the correct place, all art purchased gets to the buyer, etc. I'll take on that task, but I would certainly appreciate assistance!


E-mail and title it '24hr MONSTERS!' (Oh god, the spam I've just invited...) to register your interest and let me know what kind of thing you'd like to do to help out.

You can nominate a charity we'll be representing in the comments below. I'll collate the results and create a poll by the end of August.

Friday, 3 August 2012

You blinked

Contest entry for Cult Cinema Sunday.

If it doesn't get picked, I may make it into a print anyway.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Illustration Friday: Lonely

I finally decided to start contributing to Illustration Friday, a cool art blog which suggests a different theme every week and is then inundated with a huge variety of artwork. This week, the theme is 'Lonely'.

For my part, I'm going to use this weekly exercise as a chance to stretch my conceptual muscle and do some experimental work. This first one is a relatively simple one, well within my comfort zone, but the work involved was the thought process and the fight against my urge to make something more of it.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Ultra-Bionic Wonder Sheep

Currently in the hands of the Phoenix Comic's submissions people, my comic strip The Ultra-Bionic Wonder Sheep is something pretty close to my heart. I'm not going to show the  strip I submitted in case that breaks some rules but I'll give you a little glimpse into how it all came together.

Back in the days when I didn't judge myself with every pencil line and brush stroke, I used to draw comic strips for fun. Very quick jobs, with minimal attention but always with a view to showing somebody and making them laugh. My sister once suggested the name Ultra-Bionic Wonder Sheep and I drew this.

The dialogue makes no sense... Ah, well.

This super-heroic sheep developed a bit as I found myself wanting to tell more stories (most of which ended up unfinished, but I was nine years old).

At one stage, I had artistic and writing assistance from my friends and family, who contributed to the world of UBWS, as it became known, adding amusing characters and great jokes. For my part, I believe I got into Marvel Comics at the time and as a result, most of my newly created characters were very thinly veiled pastiches of Marvel's superheroes. Take a look at 'Juggersheep' and 'Sandsheep' from the UBWS Photo Album below...

Somehow, I never made it a priority to develop as an adult. Part of that it that, clearly, he didn't look like a sheep and the design would need to be changed, which could have removed the charm. It also had something to do with the later strips being purely 90s-style dark and gritty action, which was as far from the original premise as I am from being a nun.

Recently, I figured it needed a makeover and a new approach. Gone are the one-eyed, pincer-handed rip-offs of old, replaced by non-litigious characters called Chops Hauser and Lambdalf (original names: Superstrongsheep and Sheep Wizard). Hopefully, it'll be a success. It would literally make my childhood dreams come true!

Oh, go on then, here's the Ultra-Bionic Wonder Sheep's redesign...