A.Richard Allen
One year on
A spot for a Financial Times magazine about- you guessed it- flourishing Post Communist economies
When Leo invited me along to Drawger last February I really didn't have that much of an idea about the place and my knowledge of big name US illustrators was limited so I didn't really know what sort of (stellar) company I was keeping. Then again a willful ignorance/ lack of decent research has been a hallmark of my career to date.

Looking back I marvel and wince at the tantric stamina, the verbal diarrhea I had as a Drawger Pup! 17 posts in that first month!

It really has been a very interesting time for me (I won't ask how it was for you, gentle reader). Drawger's been instrumental in making me take a look at my work and it's given added impetus to the experimenting I was doing when I arrived. It's also made me a bit less blinkered and locked into a particular aesthetic and keen to try new ways of working. I guess it's something like doing another MFA as a correspondence course and this time actually bothering to turn up to crits (as I managed to avoid throughout pretty much the whole of my undergraduate and postgraduate years). The warmth of the welcome I've had from Drawgerites has been touching and I feel as though I've made some genuine, lasting friendships with fellow artists. I'll be over for the SoI show in late March and will be hooking up with E Coast Drawgers when I'm in NYC. Whether they like it or not.

Oh, and here are a few recent offerings since this is an illustration blog.

Thanks again, Leo, The Great and All Powerful Zimm and all in the Drawgerverse.
Does the world need another Hokusai 'Wave' pastiche? Maybe not but I quite liked doing it. It's for a piece about Risk Management
For the WSJ on the subject of Austrian Wines (it seems they've been rehabilitated after the antifreeze scares of the 80s). Not too heavy on the concept but quite pretty anyhow
The wines piece went through the mill at the roughs stage. Most of the neat conceptual bits (restaurant tables as symbolic alps, wine bottle as red-white-red Austrian flag) didn't make the final edit. Then again nor did some of my cheesier devices (Tyrolean hats)
60s Graphis books
Hans Hillmann poster
I've been steeling myself to go in my local bookshop for some time now and eventually went in last week.

What's been keeping me away is more the meshugah owner than anything else. He rants about the internet being the deathknell for shops such as his, rails against modern society in general and rabbits on about his time as an art student in London in the 60s measuring his failure by his contemporaries' relative success. I'm coming across as heartless here. Look, I'm all for indulging eccentric and slightly bitter nostalgics but the prospect of being regaled by Rodney about his time on the fringes of the Bonzo Dog Doodah band wasn't thrilling me.
Hillmann and others
So I went in and started poking around. Rodney was over the other end of the store, bawling out a slightly soft-in-the-head assistant, launching into a well-worn soliloquy about how kids had no education, no sense of history. He then proceeded to tear someone off a strip for using a mobile phone in his shop only to have to back-pedal when the guy told him he was there to fix the cash register.
George Him posters.
Anyhoo,  I'd found me some ancient Graphis books, a few copies of something from the 60s called Motif and a book of old New Yorker Cartoons. Rodney takes me for a student but is impressed when I flash the illustrator badge and we shoot the breeze about our alma mater (Central Saint Martins College- albeit that we studied 30 years apart), I join in with a lament about kids' lamentable drafting abilities these days, we haggle over the prices and I leave £75 ($150) lighter (am sure I was fleeced) for six interesting books. One of the Graphis annuals was particularly nice- here are some of my fave bits. A feature on post-war Polish illustrator, George Him (I wish there was more colour stuff to show you) and a piece on Euro film posters. The Hans Hillman stuff is just exquisite. Apologies for the shoddy scans
those flocking starlings
'm not sure whether this British tv clip is familiar to US audiences- it's become so iconic over here that it's already losing some of its appeal through overexposure- but I thought I'd share it with you (a Tekkon link that Leo posted brought it to mind). Its a sequence of flocking starlings. Call me sappy but I think it's wonderful. I feel slightly disappointed in myself in that that my immediate points of reference for describing such a scene is CGI imagery In its Youtube format it doesn't have quite the impact as seeing it on tv. Do watch it all the way through. The presenter is a 'twitcher' (UK ornithologist) by the name of Bill Oddie (once a tv comedian back in the 1970s on Monty Python-lite show, 'The Goodies'). Usually his presentation style can be a little grating but his reverence for the scene before him here is great. I'm having difficulty in embedding Youtube clips so I'm afraid- for the moment all I can do you is a link:
Marie-Hélène Jeeves
MH Jeeves- Xmas light cat's cradle
Marie-Helene Jeeves is someone whose work I adore. For me her work's a deft distillation of all that's best about Searle, Steadman and Quentin Blake. Calligraphic, and seemingly effortless linework with a collage-y twist. And she's an expert at extracting beautiful and unexpected symbolism from mundane editorial copy. She's also a very urbane yet (sometimes maddeningly) self-effacing person.

Here's her website
Hearty Polish fare
Jedrysik stamps
Some meaty Polish illos for your delectation: warming Mitteleuropan stuff on this cold morning. When working in the international student office of a London Art School I abused my position of authority (I didn’t have any- I was a penpusher pure and simple) and got a Polish BFA applicant to send me this set of stamps. Zodiac series can be pure tack but I love these. Props to M. Jedrysik- hope s/he’s cool with me posting them (no pun intended). The other’s a packaging design for wooden clothes pegs- I’ll assume it’s Polish too. The big peg on the side’s my favourite touch.

Thought I’d keep things nice and frothy today after yesterday’s shenanigans.
Polish (rustless) spring
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