Thursday, December 17, 2009

In the belly of the beast...

Many years ago I had a Civil Service job and worked inside the belly of a giant building known as Quarry House -- it is memorable to most denizens of Leeds as it cuts quite a swarthy silhouette on the horizon. There are many rumours about the building, my favourite being that, had he won the war, Hitler planned to use it as his base, no doubt tying up his zeppelin on the giant protruding spike.

Anyway, I still keep in touch with a couple of people I worked with and a few weeks ago I was contacted, in hushed and conspiratal tones, regarding a fiendish idea... The head of the department I formerly worked for was leaving and they wanted to commission some sort of ART as a leaving gift, something which would provide a memorable snapshot of time spent working there.

Quick as a flash, we established a budget, timescales, and a plan of action.

My idea was actually sparked off the poster I did for The Hold Steady, where I tried to fit in as many references to the band's songs as I could. A meeting in a pub provided the perfect starting point, and a few sketches later the idea was taking shape. The plan was for me to create the scenery backdrop and a couple of characters to provide scale within the week, while the client came up with all the ideas for things each character could be doing. We would meet again in a week's time, and then I would have a further week to populate the backdrop with all the little folks doing various things.

Half way through the second week I thought to myself, "This is actually quite weird -- I'm being paid to draw pictures of everyone I used to work with."

Thankfully, everything was completed before "CRUNCH TIME", the A2 Giclee print arrived on time (which looks gorgeous), and my old work colleagues are all very happy with the final illustration:

Click here to slightly bigginize.

This was painted digitally, using my Wacom, and I managed to take snapshots of the piece as it took shape. These I will duly post at some point soon.

Overall, a unique and enjoyable project.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

D4 Print process, Coke, No Ice.

The printing went well. Here are some pictures depicting the wellness:

Thanks to those that followed the live printing process on Twitter - hope you enjoyed it.

I would love to say that these are available from Dillinger Four on their current UK tour but unfortunately I understand the band have sold them all.

I still have a small stack of these left and hope to have some with me at the (now sold out) Leeds gig of their tour.

If you're wanting one and not going to be at Leeds, I will be selling them through the usual online means after the tour - drop me an email ( if you're interested but move quick, these won't be around for long!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Feels just like summer in October...

So! Dillinger Four are touring the UK and it has been years and years since they were here last. I recall the Leeds gig with fond memories only slightly tarnished by the nudity that ensued...

I'm involved with putting on the Leeds gig this time around, and through my contact with the band - lo and behold - if I haven't wound up designing a tour poster for them to sell at each stop along their jaunty UK journey.

Here she be!

I will be printing this on Friday. As with the last time I printed a poster, I will be Tweeeeeting the live printing action-progress via my Twitter feed which you can follow here:

Look out for further updates once these things exist on live, actual paper.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Mug Mug Mug

I was about to start this entry with a caveat about how I have yet to use this blog for shameless gig promotion... but then I realised that I essentially do this each and every time I post a gig-poster design. So you are no doubt EXCITED to hear about this latest musical event, yes? I knew! OK!

While I don't play in a 'regular' band anymore like I did back in the day, I do continue to make musical appearances here and there. Here is something which I am excited about:

As the name implies, DESCENDAGE is a Descendents covers band; we first played together around 10 years ago and only play every few years, when the planets and stars are aligned. That glorious time is once again upon us.

In case you are not familiar with the Descendents, they are an American punk band often credited as pioneering the early US Pop-Punk sound. They are abrasive, vulgar and sometimes juvenile but also have many melodic, uplifting, sensitive, and just downright GREAT pop songs. They have a career spanning the entire length of time I have been alive and, for a punk band, they're actually pretty outstanding musicians.

Though they're still around, they don't play all that often, so it's a real treat for my comrades and I to be able to play tribute to one of our all time favourite bands.

We will be playing THIS SATURDAY the 5th December as part of a Punk Rock Stars in Their Eyes night at The Portland Arms, Cambridge, CB4 3BA 01223 357268

If you're in the area, please come along! The setlist promises to be allular...

We will have a few other appearances in the New Year, most certainly something a little closer to home... Watch this space.

"Believe and you shall achieve... ALL!"

Visit the Descendents online home here: and you can also buy their stuff on iTunes and the like.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Busyness Cards & Record Collecties

Here's a nice bit of work I just completed for a client from the good old US of A. The Folkman Brothers -- it's not just a snappy name, they are actually brothers!

The initial brief was to produce a design which was mirrored, each side containing the contact details of one of the brothers. After the first draft of thumbnail ideas, we decided to go with all contact info on one side, and a nice bold design on the other.

This was an enjoyable project and I'm pleased with the end result.

Here's something else I recently produced for a friend's site. The site is currently a work in progress but the idea is that it will be a resource for record collectors. The banner image is supposed to convey this idea that even when our civilisation comes crashing down in a broken heap, record collectors will still be detirmined to track down that rare first pressing of the 'Chalky and the Smash-Hammers' EP on beef coloured vinyl!

I'll be sure to give a head's up when the site is live.

I'm working on a couple of projects; updates soon...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Update Drei

So. Euro-Flatstock 4.

I sort of think there should be an addendum to the the definition of Flatstock from the API site, with a seperate description for Flatstock Europe.

In theory they are both very similar creatures (and to be fair, since I haven't attended a US Flatstock, who am I to suggest they are different at all?) but after numerous chats with some of my US poster-comrades, I am reliably informed that what the Euro event lacks in commercial returns, it makes up for in camaraderie and, most important of all, mayhem.

Over in the States, Flatstock draws a crowd of actual gigposter collectors and enthusiasts: people who's most highly regarded passion is the collection of screenprinted gigposters. They often buy 2 copies of posters they like -- one to line their nest with and the other to be archived away in the hopes that it one day be worth a million in US Sterling. Some artists actually make so much money from selling posters they suffer from "Fiscal-Flu", literally an illness brought on by an overdose of cash.

Flatstock Europe, on the other hand is a loose cannon. A wild card. A Thunderdome. A potential death-trap.

About half way through a three day event where you sit at a stall surrounded by your own work, in the middle of Hamburg's red light district, you are hit by the "Flatstock Malaise". You start to tire of having bemused passers by ask you "What is a Melvin? What do these posters mean? Why are you doing this?" and you start to question the legitimacy of your very existance. I mean really, is this behaviour becoming of a gentleman? Why are these lovely German folk buying armfuls of posters from some artists and completely ignoring others? Is it time to start drinking yet??

At this point it is vital that the Euro'Stock Artist put aside every shred of negativity and doubt. It is essential that the fundamentals of the event are understood: You might make some money, you might not make some money; but you WILL have a lot of fun.

I was lucky enough to make a few sales and come away with a very small profit; but of far greater importance was the camaraderie and good times. It was great to meet up with old friends and make new ones. Everything from the 5am drinking to the Sunday Boat-ride to the constant in-jokes were tackled with aplomb, and that for me is the real success.

I took plenty of photos and there are numerous others doing the rounds online but in all honesty it's hard to choose even a handful which will adequately sum up the experience. Here's a shot taken by Dina Howard of myself and boothmate Cameron Two Ducks Disco, whose pleasant company and tolerance of my nonsense was much appreciated!

A billion thanks to everyone involved in this year's Flatstock Europe -- from all the other artists, to the Reeperbahn Fest people, to the API (and the real API), to the boat-driver, and to the punters who bought stuff (and even those who didn't).

See you next year.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Update Zwei

The next exciting addition to the Flatstock Europe parade of goodness was the Beatles themed print exhibition which took place at the newly opened Beatlemania Museum.

The brief was to produce a print inspired by a Beatles song of the artist's choice but without using any obvious Beatles imagery, song lyrics, or anything otherwise held tighly within the giant blue fists of copyright control. The last thing we would want is Paul McCartney turning up with his flamethrower and torching the place (as we all know he is want to do)...

Being a fan of winged and beaked beasts, I chose the song Blackbird. The song isn't bad either.

The printing process went incredibly smoothly and this is one of the rare occasions where, at least to me, the final print is actually far better than the Photoshop file I worked from.

I actually photo-Tweeted the process while I was printing this, something which I hope my Twitter followers enjoyed. This is probably something I'll do again, so if following hot print action, live as is performed, is your kind of thing you could do worse than follow my Twittery goodness.

Anyway, here are some snaps of the print process (mostly using Drying-Rack-Cam):

and the final print, signed and numbered:

4 colour screenprint, signed/numbered and limited to 50.
£22 including postage within the UK -- drop me an email if you are interested in purchasing one.

The exhibition opening was a lot of fun and very well put together. There was a free bar and a two-piece Beatles tribute band played which Luke Drozd and I very much enjoyed heckling. An additional, and very welcome, surprise was that the exhibition space also contained a selection of photography work by contemporary music photographers -- some of which were by none other than my old mate Danny North! Small world and all that.

Here's some pics of the museum entrance, as well as the exhibition space. I'm particularly proud that they translated my daft artist biog into German:

The work by the other artists involved was superb, I'm sure much of it is floating round the web for your viewing pleasure. A hearty well-done to everyone involved and a big and sincere thank-you to Dan McAdams for his sterling work in liaising with the right folks to get this off the ground, and of course Monika and everyone at Beatlemania Museum Hamburg.

Thanks for reading. In my next update, we will journey into the booze-breathed maw of the Flatstock 4 beast itself!

Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Update Eins

I think I'm now sufficiently recovered from my Hamburg trip to be able to regale you, dear readers, with some tales...

Of course, the main reason for being there was to take part in Flatstock Europe 4 but a welcome addition to the activities for this year was a couple of extra exhibitions organised to work in partnership with the 'Stock, and with the Reeperbahnfest as a whole.

The first event which took place was the Squeegeedragger exhibition at the Galerie auf Halb Acht.

Organised by good Northern lad Nick Rhodes - Switch Open, the brief was sent out to various poster designers and print makers to paint, decorate or otherwise customise a squeegee handle -- the wooden fella that is used to pull ink through the mesh during the screenprinting process.

Now, confession time. I found this a bit of a struggle. I haven't physically painted anything in quite a while, and my current style of quite crisp shapes with plenty of texture is not one easily replicated in paint. But after a few false starts, I'm pleased (read: no longer horrified) with the end results.

The most important thing is that it challenged my otherwise normal creative process and that I got to contribute to a worthwhile endeavour. And that there was plenty of beer at the opening.

Without further ado, here's some snaps of the exhibition opening as well as the piece I contributed:

These photos were taken by Nick Rhodes, (you should check out his workhere) and you can see more pics of the exhibition and opening night on this Flickr page hither.

Mega-thanks to everyone involved in the show!

More Germany updates to come...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Auf Wiedersehen

I'll be back in a week with tales of Euro Flatstock 2009, taking place at the Reeperbahn Fest in Hamburg, as well as an exhibition at the Halb Acht Gallery, and to top it off another exhibition at the Beatlemania Museum.

See you in a bit. x

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I recently did a spot of work for local singer-songwriter Daniel Pearson. Daniel commissioned me to come up with a logo and cover for his soon-to-be-released record, entitled Satellites.

Once budget and deadlines were all agreed I got to work on some ideas for the logo. I also produced some very quick thumbnails of possible directions the cover might take -- at this very rough stage, this was just to see if anything jumped off the page in terms of concept, colour or composition.

Daniel had given me some insight into the themes of the record, mentioning that 'communication' was a strong one. For me personally, I liked the idea of the circular telephone motif, as it was indicative of an orbiting satellite without taking the too-obvious route of actually using an illustration of a satellite.

As luck would have it, Daniel liked this design also, so I set about refining the idea:

While I would have been happy with moving forward with any of these designs, as soon as I had mocked up the black on red version I knew I'd found my favourite. More and more, I'm finding myself attracted to the idea of refining something by removing the elements which don't contribute to the overall idea -- leaving only the idea or concept behind, with no distractions.

Knowing that the record was being released digitally, it made even more to sense to have a bold but simple, almost iconic, cover which would really stand out at the sizes it would be displayed in the iTunes store.

I always try to be as sensitive and diplomatic as possible when outlining my own opinions to a client. Obviously I want to create work that I'm happy with but at the same time ensure that the client is happy and that the choices are made as a partnership rather than me dictating the direction of any particular project.

I think that when the right design is there, however, there is no need for discussion! Once again, I was chuffed to have Daniel share my preferences and give me the go ahead to produce the final cover design:

In terms of the process from initial ideas through to final design, this was almost a model project from start to finish -- delivered on-time and to-cost!

Daniel was a pleasure to work with and you can check out some tracks from the record on his MySpace page:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Kane, Ku, Lono, Akua!

Night Marchers posters are printed!

Here are some photos of the process in all its hot printing glory:

Taking a quick iventory of my inks.

Your most humble host for this session!

This is a closeup shot of the wall inside the washroom room, which is almost entirely splattered with ink (and a good example of why I could never run a screenprinting setup in my own home!)

Pretty loose and dirty registration -- just how I like it.

A chunk of these will be winging their way to the band and the rest of them will be for sale just as soon as I can sign & number them.

More work very soon!