When the film adaptation of J. G. Ballard's High-Rise came out I was really keen to do an alternate book cover. It can be challenging to decide on a visual style and look for something that has been adapted onto screen because there are obvious influences that will be different from the original book – but in this case I wanted it to reflect both and to be as much a High Rise movie poster as a book cover.
Having studied architecture at university I have a bit of a soft spot for the brutalist architecture of the 50s and 60s. With this in mind I made this image more of a blueprint or architect's visualisation than a photographic reproduction. It's still very detailed – the high rise itself is stark and imposing but with a much looser graphic flow to the city which almost fades into a cubist pattern.
I wanted the title to accentuate the perspective adding to the feeling of height and power.
Here's my illustration for the cover of POLITICO. The article was and editorial questioning the way Hungarian politicians in Brussels are viewed by their compatriots in the European Commission, and the effect of their outspoken Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's hardline views on the EU's open border policies.
I wanted to put across the feeling of discord and isolation as not everything in the Union is in unison. There is an unease amongst the representatives in the European Parliament. Is it getting harder to ignore the different ways in which each country wants the Union to work and whether certain countries are being ostracised for what the politicians back home are saying and doing?
It will be interesting to see how the article is received in Budapest and Brussels and if this editorial has a prophetic narrative for the future of the European Union.
Here's another book cover illustration I've been working on in my series of re-imagined novel covers, The Confectioners Tale by Laura Madeleine.
I really liked the idea I had when I saw this book, it was a chance to create some really beautiful food imagery – I think this was probably partly influenced by BBC's Bake Off Creme de la Creme!
I thought about how to create a really fresh and tantalising cover that would really bring out the sweet tooth in everyone who saw it. It had to reflect the quality and craftsmanship that the artisan patisserie in the book would have created, but also nod to the story – there are a few clues on there.
Set in Paris across two time periods – the early and late 1900's, it is a tale of forbidden love and the betrayal. A mysterious clue draws Petra to uncover the secrets of her Grandfather's forbidden love, with a thrilling story divided between two very different decades.
I illustrated the title typography to fit the cover as I feel this so important. As well as doing a lot of research, mainly eating cakes and watching a lot of baking, cookery, and general foodie shows on The Food Network! This did allow me to work out how each patisserie was constructed and how the finish should look. The colour scheme, is as fresh and enticing as possible - pistachio, lime, apple, vanilla, raspberry, chocolate, cherry, rose and of course lilac macarons.
Apple Dômes, vanilla slices, rose macarons, pistachio gateau, lime tart, lilac macarons, all this talk of cake is making me hungry so I'm going to have to leave it at that!
I've recently been working on reworking a bunch of book covers to see what could have been if they were completely illustrated.
My first one up here is for Suzanne Rindell's The Other Typist, a dangerous tale of 1920's prohibition New York and it's inhabitants. What starts out as a seemingly glamorous Gatsby-esque adventure unravels as the lies of the characters fall apart to reveal darkly twisting truths.
I wanted to represent as much of the feel of the story as I could without giving anything away, which is why I took the start point of the book, the 1920s typewriter, and pulled it apart with a suggestion of everything not being quite as it had at first seemed – to get behind the scenes and expose the working of it all as it were.
I had a lot of fun working out how the different types of typewriters of this period worked and how I could show enough without filling an A3 page with exploded, levers, push-rods, springs, screws and countless other components! So there I did use a bit of creative license to keep parts together to get the balance right.
As I'm sure you know I love hands so whilst I almost felt I shouldn't go down that route it felt so right for this cover, elegant and seductive, really suggesting the entanglement and topsy-turvy nature of the story and it's two main roles.
There's also been talk that The Other Typist is going to be made as feature film with Kiera Knightly in one of the starring roles, so that would be interesting to see what the film posters look like when it comes out.
I don't go in for massive showy gifts for Valentines day, it used to be a handmade card and some flowers, but nowadays I generally don't even get time to make anything!
But I had a little idea pop into my head this year and so I went with it and created a Lovebug in a entomology style, I loved it so much that I just had to do a second – the well-known Horny Lovebug!
I came up with some latin names to accompany them - Scarabaeidae Amare and Dynastini Eupatorus Lubido and tried to encapsulate the appropriate feel for how each beetle's attributes would create it's appearance.
Here's the Horny Lovebug and some more detail shots of both:
As you know, I love to draw animals! So I was really happy when BBC's Wildlife Magazine got in touch at the end of last year and asked me to do some illustrations to accompany a feature on conservation.
The essay was about how it's not always best to cordon of huge tracts of land and call them reserves or parks, as often this has seen an increase in poaching and deforestation, due to the lack of funding for the protection needed. Also what of the indigenous people that are forced off of their own land – some statistics show that often these very people are the best at protecting the land that they hold dear.
Obviously it is a really hard topic to discuss and there is no hard and fast answer for all instances, and I didn't want to take anything away from the park rangers who do an amazing job to protect wildlife. For the first illustration, a full plate I decided to do an amazon habitat with a Kayapo tribesman acting as guardian of his piece of jungle, surrounded by relevant wildlife – at the bottom an arapaima which has faced real problems from over fishing, a threat that is still being dealt with through education of the local inhabitants. Next is the quintessential icon of the amazon, the jaguar, and at the top a real success story, the Red Siskin, after a new colony was found after being feared to be on the brink of extinction.
For the second illustration I wanted to show the rangers of the African National Parks, who put their lives on the line every day in defence of wildlife. Although they are doing all they can, they cannot be everywhere at once, and often this can mean that whilst one thing is being protected, others are not, which is why it's so hard to get a definitive solution. I wanted to show this with poachers fires behind the rangers back.
Finally I wanted a bit of lightness so I drew a cute asian elephant, based on some pictures I took in Borneo, although I had to edit it a bit so that it wasn't a pygmy elephant! It featured in the January 2016 issue of Wildlife Magazine.
Here are all the illustrations and some detail shots:
Here's the second in the new canned line – Dark Star Revelation, which I was really happy about it was one of the brews that I'd designed the pump clip for a few years back. With this came it's own challenges, namely that apparently people love the clip so much that they didn't want to move too far away from it at first. But when showed the guys and gals at Dark Star my concept for reinventing Revelation in cans with nods back to the clip graphics, they were really happy to embrace the new art direction.
So we've still got stained glass but with a lot more detail and hop-worshipping! I've really tried to get across the feeling of the light coming through the clouds and bursting out of the stained glass. The inscription across the central panel of the stained glass window is 'Pro amore humulus' which, as I'm sure you've worked out, is about as close as you can get to 'For the love of hops'. Continuing the ecclesiastical theme round the back we've got a couple of cute little cherubs helping out with the brew, based of course on my own little angels(more like devils actually!)
Hopefully number three is coming later this year, and I've already done concepts for a couple of them so it'll be a case of waiting to see which brew Dark Star choose to release for their next run.
Here are some close ups:
My new mailers have arrived! A big thanks to Steve over at inky solutions for sorting out the printing of these, a really great job. I did a couple of new illustrations for this and tweaked some old ones – Endangered Invertebrates on one side and some animals I love(jellyfish, hammerhead sharks, King of Saxony bird of Paradise and a Golden Frog) on the back along with my all time hero - Sir David Attenborough.
Here are some close ups:
It's official after months of secrecy I can finally reveal the artwork for the new Dark Star American Pale Ale (APA) in cans! Dark Star came to me and asked if I could create something extra special for their new adventure into the world of canned beers – I know that some fans will recoil at talk of artisan beer in a can, but Dark Star assure me that there is good reason for canned beers – no light gets in to spoil the beer, they are safer to take out on picnics and of course they look awesome!
My idea was to bring in all the classic american imagery that we've grown to love, and then turn it on it's head Dark Star style! So it's all about the hops!
This was the first can artwork I'v done and the print process is crazy complex with reverse trapping all over the place so I had to dial down the detail that I'm used to working with but we think we've pushed the limits of the process to get the best out of the can, hope you all like it too.
This is just the first of three so watch this space for more
Here are some close ups: