This is an illustration I’ve had in my mind for years – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Being both a book and a movie, and a movie again it is a story that has been imagined and re-imagined so many times. I wanted to see what my representation of it would be, so whilst based on Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth, I wanted to take it further and create a new version of her with my style.
It was really about the tattoo, so that was where I started. I first remember drawing dragons like this as child, it’s obviously from all the Chinese dragons I’d seen growing up and especially every year in china town. I think my first proper ones though were a giant silk wall hanging I painted for my uncle in Singapore when I was bout 12. To be honest the design of the dragon hasn’t changed much over the years although this is much more aggressive in it’s posture and expression – a proper bad ass. It’s also a whole lot more detailed and I can draw scales a bit better now, all in all I’d say it’s a lot better than my 12 year-old self’s attempt – as you’d hope!
Whilst it took a long time drawing Lisbeth and her tattoo, I spent almost as much time on the lettering as I did on the rest of the drawing. I really wanted to make the typography an integral part of the illustration, not just an addition slapped on at the end. So various incarnations of the smoke and how it became the lettering as well as under and over ‘punking’ the letter forms until I felt it was the perfect balance!
As usual it’s the little additions of the lighting that really make it come to life and make the colours work.
Check out some details below and if you’d like to see a video of the tattoo check out my instagram here
At the end of last month I was approached by Closer Artists to help out with some urgent artwork they needed for Irit – an amazing singer who was releasing a new album and embarking on a tour.
Originally from Haifa, Irit grew up on a diet of jazz, classical, radio pop and the amazing rhythms of Ladino and in 2013 she released an album of jazz standards reinterpreted, winning critical acclaim and allowing her to tour Europe for the first time.
Whilst in London she met Jonathan Quarmby, fresh from producing the Mercury winning Benjamin Clementine album, and the two set to work crafting an album of 12 rhythmic, bright, colourful pop-influenced songs. I would call it up-tempo summer-time jazz with a latin underscore – and fits very well with Caro Emerald who she supporting on her current tour.
The album ‘Hello’ is driven by accordion, Latin guitar, trumpets and Irit’s effortless vocals. It’s an album that will sit comfortably between Astrid Gilberto, Beuna Vista Social Club and Christine and The Queens, be prepared to to be won over and say “hello” to Irit! She will also be in Brighton on the 14th April when Caro Emerald plays at the Brighton Centre.
Lady Death – ensnaring you with voodoo, beguiling you with her enchanting sweet poison and if all else fails she has the bite of a viper, death comes for us all. The final print in the Folklore series for the time being.
I was inspired to do this piece after hearing Valerie June on the radio and then googling her and finding that she has possibly the most incredible hair I've ever seen. It's so cool I had to try and draw it – and this lended itself to my idea for a Lady Death illustration that I had in mind. It changed quite a lot along the way, originally it was going to be much more disgusting with rot and maggots, worms and centipedes in the hair – all things of death, but after coming across Valerie's dreads I decided to take it in a much cleaner snake like direction. Not quite medusa, this lady kills you with kindness, bringing death with a sweet embrace, before you know it, it's too late.
Here are some close ups
Royalty, dominant and vital, she's unique in her hive, her perfume bewitching admirers who swarm around her, she's the Queen. (Bee)
Continuing my folklore series of prints, here's Queen Bee. The spirit of the hive she reigns with her pheromones which control the drones and worker bees to feed, care and mate. Until, that is her purpose is fulfilled and she is replaced by a younger more reproductive female.
This one has a bit of a message behind it – I am very interested in conservation issues and so like a few of my illustrations has another point of inspiration. Bees are essential to the survival of our planet and faced with so many challenges it is more important than ever that they are encouraged and protected. The Varroa destructor parasitic mite is destroying colonies across the globe. That along with the threats faced by bees from the increasingly unpredictable weather systems and habitat loss causing an alarming rate of Colony Collapse Disorder. Many native and wild bee species are more specialist when it comes to which plants they can feed from and so are really feeling the effect of habitat loss, with many species in decline or even disappearing all together.
Here are some close ups
Leaves turn and start to fall, the light gets warm and low, as cold winds start to blow, nature prepares for the finalé of another year, Autumn is here.
This is the first in my folklore series of prints, inspired by spirits, superstitions and myths – stories of wisps in the forest and the queen of the bees. This one tells the tale of Autumn's Song, changing the season and moving the year to it's end, with a chill in the air the wild world prepares to face the harsh winter that approaches.
It was really nice to hear BBC 6Music's Mary Anne Hobbs mention it on her show one weekend – she called it a gorgeous, absolutely exquisite illustration! Thanks Mary Anne.
This will be available as a limited run giclée print when I finish setting up my web store. Check back soon or follow me on twitter/instagram to be updated as to when it's available. In the mean time here are some detail shots...