Reindeer Illustration

The Next Big Thing

Good morning ladies and gents!

So, apparently winter has arrived in full force as I sit for long hours at my desk with 5 layers of clothing on with my new best friend, the kettle. Thanks to my father I’m largely anti-central heating, so in true British style I can sit and moan about the weather safe in the knowledge that at least I’m not spending any more money on heating than I need to. Living the dream! On the plus side, when the colour DOES return to my fingers I can continue working on.. -drum roll-.. The Next Big Thing!

Now, as I mentioned a while ago, even though I normally love to keep projects secret until the grand reveal, I’ve decided to do things a little differently this time. The Next Big Thing is a comic I’m creating for my Final Major Project (FMP) at University, which generally has to be to some level of completion by mid-late March, though I will most likely have it finished and to print in May-June ready for my degree show (Ahhh! Panic!). The grand scheme for this project started back in August when I travelled around Scandinavia with my other half. The spectacular views and crisp air left me with many ideas, but after gathering together rather a lot of information I decided that I wanted to create a story around the Sámi.

Norway in August
Norway in August

In a nutshell, the Sámi (also: Sami, Saami) are the indigenous people of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, who first settled at least 5’000 years ago, with ancestral rock carvings dating back to around dating back to around 4’200 BC. Mind-blowing, right? Even more amazing is how the Sámi culture is still present and celebrated today, even after years of heavy exploitative taxation from both Sweden and Norway, the taking of land and many more various types of oppression. Since shuffling around the museums of Norway and Sweden and learning what I could out there, I came home to start exploring the Sámi in more depth with books, documentaries and websites. Although cultural appropriation is a key topic at the moment and something to be wary of, I’ve been doing everything I can to be as respectful and clued-up as possible, because I think it’s important to inform people about other cultures.. Plus, it’s interesting! I should’ve been an anthropologist.. Anyway, I finally finished writing and scripting my story last week so here’s some of the sketchbook work I’ve been doing…

I have the story at 36-pages long, though I’m going to try and trim it down by 1-2 pages to make it 34, so that gives me the covers and 4 extra pages making the book a nice even I-will-feel-this-age-by-the-time-I’ve-finished 40. So, a bit of a challenge! On the bright side, I’m making good progress to have the mock-up done by Christmas and that gives me more time for character development before drawing up 40 pages of wonderfulness. There isn’t anything I’d rather be doing! Well, maybe sitting on an sunny beach having a massage, but apart from that.. There isn’t anything else I’d rather be doing!

In other news, I’ve been busy working on a couple of commissions this past week too. As you may remember I mentioned designing a t-shirt for a local band, which is all going through nicely! The band, Jagged Little Thrills are releasing their album in February next year, so the design will compliment their social media campaign nicely, and hopefully get them a whole load of t-shirt sales on the launch night! I’m drawing up the final design this week, along with an illustration for a local charity newsletter that is going out in time for a Christmas appeal. Here’s a peek at both, t-shirt design on the left, close up progress of the charity illustration on the right!

Anyway, that’s about it for now. My first layer of paint on the charity commission is now dry and I’m on deadline for that, so back to it! I shall be back next week as always with the final images on these two commissions, and hopefully some more progress everywhere else.. Until next time, peace out.

x

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The Art of a Good Sketchbook

So, after a very long summer since I finished up my first year at University, the second year is finally looming. ‘Back to School’ signs are popping up everywhere, and I get that sinking feeling once more as I realise in a months time life is going to get stressful again for 7-or-so months. Don’t get me wrong, I love to learn; Going back into education has been the best decision I’ve ever made, and I am so glad I didn’t listen to all the naysayers when I decided to apply two years ago. However, yeah.. Juggling studies, part time work, a long distance relationship and a social life is quite the challenge, but I’ve never liked to make things too easy for myself. Where’s the fun in an easy life?

Sketchbookz r 4 cool kidz. Random doodle.
Sketchbookz r 4 cool kidz. Random doodle.

Back to business. One of the many things my course has taught me so far is the art of having a good sketchbook. Back in college all those years ago, up until the last year or so, I absolutely detested using a sketchbook; I couldn’t think of anything worse. I’d much rather try and draw something from start to finish in one go. If it looked alright, great. If it looked terrible, I’d get annoyed and brood over how terrible an artist I thought I was. Then feel so down I’d eat a whole sharing bag of Doritos (Cool Original, of course) with mild salsa dip, proceed to feel rather ill and then regret every cool, salsa-y moment of my comfort eating whilst laying in the fetal position. Productive, right? When it came to starting my course at university, they expected all this sketchbook work to support my ideas and show progression. Ughhhhhh, honestly, such a pain. It felt like I was taking 2 weeks to do something I could come up with in 2 days, but all this sketchbook work actually proved valuable. I paid £9’000 for my first year to learn how to use a sketchbook – bargain! But in all seriousness, it has become a staple tool of mine. One huge deciding factor has been on using proper paper sketchbooks. We’re talking Seawhite of Brighton’s extra-strength when wet kind of proper sketchbook. I’ve found even Moleskine’s sketchbooks and the ones you can pick up in the art section of WHSmith’s lack quality. Nowadays, like with my Lost and Found comic, I’ll draw all the artwork in my sketchbook and scan it in from there, I don’t even use ‘final paper’ anymore. But yes, I have learnt that forcing myself to work in a sketchbook first, although may take extra time, actually makes the final pieces look surprisingly better. Still, for some work I’ll just go in all-guns-blazing and completely a piece start to finish with no planning (Boba Fett, for example), and my recent comic-endeavours have been extremely quick turn-around for deadlines so sketchbook work has been limited. But as I approach my last 5 weeks of ‘freedom’ before uni starts up again, I have been utilising my sketchbook for my last three projects of the summer. I’m not quite sure why I keep piling on work for myself, I guess it makes sense to keep a consistent flow so that uni’s 5-projects-at-once doesn’t cause me to have a breakdown.

Currently I’ve been using my sketchbook to work on ideas and scripting for a children’s book commission I’ve been asked to do. I love children’s books, I have no shame in admitting that. Oliver Jeffers is probably one of my favourites, along with Jon Klassen coming in close second. Even better, this book I’ve been asked to do is a Christmas book! So I get to be completely over the top and make it as magical and Christmassy as my imaginations will allow. My preliminary character development and sketchbook work is pretty much complete, so now it’s time to get it drawn up, yay! Here are some snippets of my sketchbook and the characters so far, to keep you all interested;

So, there you have it. The elusive sketchbook. Not a huge amount to update this week as I’ve been super busy with other boring adult things, but hopefully I’ll have more for you all next week. (Yes, if you notice the French translations, I’ve also been using my sketchbook to aid my learning Français. J’ai améliore (I hope)!) For now, I hope you all have a lovely weekend whatever you may be doing. Over and out!

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