The Little Matchgirl & Other Happier Tales

I’ve spent the last fortnight working all hours to create this animated trailer for Shakespear’s Globe Theatre along with my co-creator & animator Greig Johnson. It’s a piece of work we’re both very proud of and so far the reception to it has been fantastic.

A lot of the style here is that of old Victorian etchings. Many etchings from that era are collected in books & online and there are no copyright restrictions on them, so you can use them in commercial work like this.

So I’ve taken a lot of content from such sources. In some cases I just coloured it (originals are mostly black & white), but in many cases I’ve had to chop and change bits, arrange arms and legs, swap one head with that of another, in order to get things how I wanted them to look. And then for a few bits here and there, I drew from scratch. (The opening city & little girl scene is all drawn from scratch).

It’s been a satisfying mix of work: cutting stuff out and collaging, designing & composing the scenes, blowing up patterns and textures, and trying to get everything to have that same vintage ‘storybook world’ aesthetic. One of those times where me being more of a ‘Jack of all…’ type graphic artist is quite advantageous.

I should also say a few words about the amazing work Greig has done in animating here — give it a rewatch and pay attention to how well action is synced to the beats of the music, and how motion has a delightful realistic little ‘bounce’ to it, and how little extra sound effects just help bring it to life. All his fine work – and my visuals would be flat and lifeless without it.

It was a real treat to watch it all for the first time and spot all the little details he’s worked on to give it an extra bit of polish. Very proud to have had him on board for this (it’s the first time we’ve worked together!). Hopefully more animated work from us to come in the future.

This was a daunting amount of work with no time for any back-and-forth. The first time Greig would see the artwork is when I’d send him the finished files for each scene, and the first time I saw it animated was when it was finished(!) – we just had to trust one another but I’m pleased at how our process worked.

Thanks for watching!

British Phonographic Industry Award

A strange text popped up on my phone today, informing me I’d be getting a delivery from ‘Award Framers’. I had no clue what this was about but as predicted, the package arrived and I opened it to find…

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Wow! I was genuinely shocked!  A British Phonographic Industry Silver Record Award.  I don’t tend to put too much stock in awards but I just held it up, staring at it, smiling but completely baffled!

I don’t know how these things work, whether the BPI always sends these out to whoever is credited with the artwork for the record, or whether the band or management create a list of people they felt contributed to the record’s sales, or whether I’ve just been presented with this by mistake…?

All I can say is I’m sincerely flattered to receive such a thing and very pleased that the artwork is considered to have contributed in however small a way to the success of the record.

As I have said before, I’m proud of the work I put into this, especially since it’s an independent release. The Public Service Broadcasting guys are decent, thoughtful people and deserve every success.

Hollywood Cougar

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A few months back, a private client got in touch and commissioned me to create a piece of artwork just for them and their partner.

They were very specific about the colours they wanted, as well as composition and style. The subject matter is a secretive cougar called ‘P22’ which lives in the Hollywood hills and is usually only seen by the scientists that track him. A photographer got some amazing photos a few years back which were the inspiration for the client’s commission.

Anyway, after some back and forth sketches, this was the end result.

Original drawing done in brush, pen & ink and then coloured and arranged digitally.

Printed as a 60x50cm posh digital print, a signed edition of just one, now framed and in their home. A fun piece to create.

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‘RIDE HARD’ new Open Edition

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I’m pleased to announce my popular ‘Ride Hard & Earn the Downhill‘ print (which has been out of print for a while now) has had a fresh lick of ink and is now available in a different format.

Originally, the design was created for the ArtCrank London 2011 exhibition. The first edition sold out, as did the second edition (marked with a small ‘2’ cog motif in the bottom right corner).

I’ve been asked many times if a 3rd edition was planned and after some thinking, I decided to recreate the design as an ‘Open Edition’ print (i.e. one that is not numbered) and will continue to be hand-printed by me as long as there is interest in it.

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The original 2 limited editions of the print are still as limited as they ever were, so I do hope the open edition version is not something which anyone considers to lessen the value of the previous prints.

The original images actually contained a cool little easter egg which only a few people got: the barbed wire fence in the foreground was a tribute to Dutch cyclist Johnny Hoogerland who had a particularly nasty crash into some barbed wire in the 2011 Tour de France but showed amazing toughness (as the pro cyclists often do) and continued on to finish the Tour.

This new and updated version has been refreshed with some subtle changes to the art, but the main difference is (due to popular request) the size of the print, which has been reduced from the previous A2. The print is now a little over A3 in size and should be much easier to frame, as well as to find wall space for.

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This hand-made print is priced at a very affordable £25 and is available from my Etsy shop here.

Also – by popular request – a companion ‘RUN HARD, EARN THE DOWNHILL’ print is on the way… more info soon.

 

Solenoids & Asteroids Pinball print

Pinball Art Prints is a series set up to celebrate the bold and vibrant art of classic pinball machines.

Along with fellow print making artists Luke Drozd and Drew Millward, I was asked to create a design to be made into a silkscreen art print.

Here’s what I came up with:

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And here’s some blurb about what I hoped the piece would capture:

 

“There’s something really compelling about the space under the glass on a pinball table. Like a miniature theme park or haunted house, full of lights and trapdoors and moving parts, waiting to be explored. I wanted to reference the feeling of that sealed, otherworldly environment and decided depicting it as a space scene would be a good way to go. Initially I started sketching out designs as if they were to be used as an actual table layout but they seemed too flat to me, like they weren’t adequately conveying the space that I wanted them to. So I came up with a more lively space battle scene in a style that might have been used as cabinet or scoreboard graphics, and the vibe seemed to click. As a designer I often have to be rather restrained with colour and composition, so it was actually a lot of fun to pile on all the elements to give it that really frenetic ‘multiball’ feel. I really enjoyed creating this piece of art and I hope it goes some way to capturing part of what makes pinball tables so enticing.”

 

This print is limited to a regular edition of 100, a foil variant edition of 20, and includes a signed Certificate of Authenticity.

18″ x 24″ 5-color print on archival, acid-free paper.

These are available in my Etsy shop now: www.etsy.com/shop/ArmyOfCatsPrints

Yorkshire Three Peaks Prints

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I recently illustrated and screenprinted a set of prints depicting the Yorkshire Three Peaks: Pen Y Ghent, Whernside, and Ingleborough.

I’ve hiked and run around this area of the Yorkshire Dales many times, and have even done the Three Peaks Fell Race a couple of times also.

I’ve been up them when it’s been clear enough to see all three from one spot, and I’ve also been up when they’ve been covered in snow – whatever the conditions there’s always something special about these peaks and I wanted to commemorate that with these pieces of art.

You can see some more process photos over here. They are available to purchase on my Shop.

Giclée Prints Now Available!

I’ve been overwhelmed with the kind words about my ‘Work Hard & Be Humble‘ screenprint. I’ve also had quite a few inquiries as to whether I have smaller versions of the design, as the original is a fairly large print at A2 size.

I am now happy to announce I have a few Giclée prints of this design. These are printed on 255gsm Somerset Velvet Enhanced lightly textured paper to a Fine Art Trade Guide approved standard, and at A4 size they’re easier to frame and a little more affordable for those on a budget.

Obviously this doesn’t quite have the unique, hand-crafted aspect of a screenprint – and it’s actually taken me a while to find a fine art printer able to produce the quality I wanted  – but it’s a different item and as such I think these came out beautifully.

They are priced at a very reasonable £15+postage and are available on my Etsy shop now.

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Work Hard & Be Humble

I’m very pleased to be able to show my latest print, entitled ‘Work Hard & Be Humble’.

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This is an A2 sized, 3 colour hand-printed screenprint, in an edition of 45.  I’ll write a little more about the idea behind the print and share some of the process when this goes live on the shop on Monday.

Fantastic Mr Fox – sold out

Both versions of my Fantastic Mr Fox print are now officially* sold out.  A huge thank you to everyone who picked up a print either from myself or from Galerie F in Chicago, or from Outre Gallery in Australia, as well as for the very kind words – it’s genuinely appreciated.

People have been asking if there will be a second edition of this print. I generally don’t like to do this but in this instance there has been so much interest I am considering a small extra run. If printed, the 2nd edition design will differ slightly in some way to the 1st edition.

* I may have a couple of each print remaining in my archives. If so these will go up on the shop at a random day and time on a first-come-first-served basis! Sorry I can’t reserve anything or do special, secret deals – I have to try to be as fair as possible!

Thanks so much once again for the support.

Stay Fantastic!

Fantastic Mr. Fox Print

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My Fantastic Mr. Fox print is done! This was one of those projects where I felt like I had to discard a lot of ideas and start down a lot of dead-end paths before ending up with the right idea in the end. It can sometimes be hard work but I’m really pleased with the final result so it was worth it.

Some thoughts on the decisions I took during the process: I knew I wanted the print to feature the famous tree which has graced the illustrations of both Donald Chaffin and Quentin Blake. Mr Fox under his tree is just one of those enduring images which rather beautifully crosses over from the book into the Wes Anderson film adaptation — it was also a real tree near where Dahl wrote his books, so I knew it had to feature prominantly in my illustration.

My initial composition sketches were just a bit too stiff and ‘designy’ – I really wanted to capture some of the looseness and painterly style of Quentin Blake’s fantastic watercolour work. I also came across a rather wonderful bit of writing by Dahl himself on what makes a good children’s book and I wanted this ethos to apply to my own illustration. Essentially, it had to bright, colourful and engaging.

I initially had the title text on there as part of the design itself but removed this as I wanted the image to be less like a poster and more like a page from a picture book. This approach also informed my decision to make these prints smaller than my usual A2 poster size – I’ve noticed people are drawn to smaller prints more frequently these days as they are easier to frame. At A3 size, I also feel like these are more ‘child friendly’ in order to be framed in a kids’ room.

This is an A3-sized, 4 colour screenprint; signed, numbered, and titled, and available in two variants: 40 in warm tones (as above) and 20 in a cooler colourway.

These will be available from Galerie F in Chicago when the exhibition launches on the 18th July, and also from my Etsy shop.

You can also see more sketches and process images on my Flickr set here.

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