The most stimulating and refreshing part of the creative process of illustration for me is the never knowing what challenge the next assignment will bring.Most of the jobs i receive are pretty straight forward requests in that what is required of me tends to be based on what I’ve previously produced. A client wants to employ my style or way of thinking to their assignment. Every now and again though something comes in that’s a little different to that approach. For whatever reason a client requests something that i’m not sure i do. This happened when i was
first asked to work for a fashion client. I didn’t see how my work could be applied to that area in any way but the client did. Something was pulled from my work that hadn’t been pulled on before.It has happened with animation too, and jewellery, and toys. It’s a very liberating experience when your eyes are opened up to the new possibilities of your own style of working. It’s quite a recent thing for me. It may be that people are more aware of my work, it may be a part of the new way in which illustration is being commissioned, it may be due to the new global commissioning, or the new print processes leading to new ways of using work, or just luck. The subject for this post though is touching on cartoon. I started cartooning as a child. I started my own comic book at primary school around 8 or 9 years old and had it printed by a local printer. I then sold it to children and parents in my village. So this way my first experience of the whole process of putting together a commercial art project. I soon grew out of cartooning and went to art college to study fine art. After that i started illustrating. A couple
of years ago i had another of those ‘I don’t know whether i do this’ jobs. I was commissioned to do a weekly slot for a columnist in a UK weekly newspaper. It was to be in either colour or black & white, every wednesday, brief came in around 2-3pm final artwork 6pm.(Which wasn’t always stuck to,
some weeks i was given as little as 45 minutes).The piece was around 8 inches x 5 inches so some space to fill. I needed to develop a quick take on my style, something that i could turn round quickly and reliably every week. I took my style of drawing apart and decided to base the style on the sketches i would normally send in for a job. A loosely worked up
sketch relying on textures, marks, mess etc. to take the place of the more time consuming refined line and colour.
As the narratives were often complex and very specific to the article i decided to add some speech bubbles to take a little weight off the concept of the piece and let me explore the humour in my work a little too.
It turned out to be loose in it’s thinking and loose in it’s style due to the timing, and fitted in well with the writers style. It wasn’t through a conscious decision but a result of the breaking down of my style, the complexity of the writing, and the timing that meant i’d more or less ended up with a gag cartoon.What goes around comes around and for this slot i have been finding myself drawing on the cartooning techniques i used as a child. One of
those corners turned with a new client who had brought something out of my work that i hadn’t previously
pursued. I’ve been doing a weekly slot with the same writer now for around 2 years. There are a few of examples of the slot above and i will be putting up a gallery of a few more shortly. I don’t think it’s by any means the work i do best or enjoy most but it’s been a great exercise in adapting ideas and style to fit a very different kind of assignment and to maintain that on a weekly basis.