For the third time in a few months, I’m drawing in someone else’s style.
It just suddenly struck me… I couldn’t avoid the absolutely horrible thought that maybe I’m not seen as having a particular style. The other side of that coin is that I’m a great counterfeiter which can be useful.
I guess it comes with the ’24 styles’ territory.
Robert Hichens’ style
A few months ago, the much loved illustrator Robert Hichens passed away, and one of his clients asked me to carry on with the job he’d been busy with, for schoolbooks in Namibia. That was a very poignant job. Some of the roughs were already done, and I had to bring them to the final stage. I investigated his facebook page to get a deeper understanding of how he drew and what was typical of his style.
I guess we all have definitive characteristics of our style which even in my case goes across all the styles I use. In Robert’s case, he would sometimes airbrush shaved heads with a tint of black, so there was a suggestion of hair. (Didn’t do it on this pic.) And he had a knobbly sort of stroke in his line, and whatever the figures were doing, the poses were easily readable and as simple as possible. I mentally asked his departed self* how on earth he did that knobbly line, and immediately the answer came – ‘scattered mode in Photoshop brush presets’. So I went there and it was all easy from there. He has a simple style for children’s educational books, easily ‘read’ by kids who are newly visually literate. It was strange and interesting, like visiting a new country and experiencing their language, going into their homes…
*Well what would you have done?
Tasia Rosser’s style
Another job involved three posters based upon book illies by Tasia Rosser, who was mentioned one or two blogs ago. Here the proportions of the kids were so utterly cute, and again I saw echoes of Robert’s style, in the simplicity and playfulness of the treatment. I had to keep telling myself not to get too realistic and formal which would move too far away from the cuteness…
Unknown artist; Art Deco style
Finally, the last example: a rework for a new client who’s developing work for a food and beverage label. For reasons of discretion, I will post only a detail at this stage. The background had started out as a pastel drawing. It then progressed through a simplification and flattening process using CorelDRAW by a second artist. Finally it arrived on my screen for ‘posterisation’. In this case that meant some hard edges in the Art Deco style popular on posters from the Thirties. I loved every minute of this. It’s not too far removed from my icon stylebut of course the subject was very sophisticated and specific to that time. After I’d completed the entire first picture in this style, the background was changed back to what it was, and only the figures stayed hard-edged. This worked better – it brought them forward and knocked the background back to where it belonged.
Having generated original work and reinterpreted the work of others, I cannot really say which I prefer more. Working out an original composition takes time and effort, but it’s also fun and one has a degree of creative decision-making and control. Fortunately, (so far) I’ve been lucky and really enjoyed what my cohorts have come up with.
It’s been an honour to complete/enlarge/reinterpret their work and their styles.
These ECD (Early Childhood Development) posters are actually a re-draw.
The original artist was Tasia Rosser, and the three pics appeared as book illustrations. The publishers had permission from her for this to be done. So the pictures had to be enlarged to A2 poster size. It is always fun to more-or-less copy another artist’s style for a project, and in many cases it does take you right out of your comfort zone.
I loved the joy and exuberance in these ECD posters. Early Childhood Development is a subject close to my heart.
There hasn’t been work in the pencil crayon style for some time. So I was happy when a brand-new client approached me to do something in the style of ‘Themba’s Day’. It involved two girls and their mother picking a mango, a pear and a bunch of grapes for a fruit salad at the end of the tale.
Here’s the result. Pencil crayons allow one to produce a soft, sensitive style well suited to this subject of two little girls and their mother.
She’s ‘The Mermaid who Came in on The Tide’. The author of this book is Lisa Suhay, journalist and author based in Norfolk, Virginia in the States. Read more about her here. The book is to be sold with proceeds going to ForKids, Norfolk, which provides kids in need with transitional housing. Lisa has two previous books involving mermaids:
There Goes a Mermaid! A NorFolktale (The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Virginia 2003)
The Mermaids and Yellow Jack, A NorFolktale (Bon Secours Foundation 2006)
The third one in this vein is ‘The Mermaid who Came In With The Tide’ which is where I came in. I ‘met’ Lisa via one of her other stories, ‘Heaven’s Dust’, which charmed me and inspired me to contact her with the idea of animating it. So we became FB friends. And when she mentioned the new book in a post, I elbowed my way in there… The result is shown in the slideshow above.
The little mermaid who comes in with the tide (a play on words because The Tide is also the name of the local transit system.) is found on the beach by local children. She is lost with no way of getting home.
So in a sense, the story gently points out parallels between the fantasy and the reality. This lost little mermaid is cared for by the children until she’s able to return home.
ForKids.Inc assists children in need who are in situations not of their choosing. ForKids does great work to assist them and it’s a very worthy recipient of the help the sales of these books will bring. Mermaids are a Thing in Norfolk. This latest story also weaves a tale of how they came to be there.
15/11/2015 update: The book was launched on the 31/10/2015. More details and pics can be seen on Facebook here.
An odd thing has happened to me today. I’m contemplating starting something really big. But just the size of the project overwhelms me and makes me want to run screaming into a dark sanctuary where I could perhaps start doing something safe and small like taking in typing work (the way women used to ‘take in sewing’)…
How did that tortoise reach such heights? He did not act alone.
But then teamwork raised its Hydra head.
During this day, two different women popped into my office on different missions, and each contributed something large to what I was doing. One improved the drawing, the other encouraged my flagging spirits.
While browsing through Skillpages, I found a link: Where Good Ideas Come From, by Steven Johnson, dealing with the power of interconnections and teamwork, of working with and ‘off’ other people and how Facebook can be a very valuable thing in the direction of bring along and bringing about the Big Idea. Have a look at it – pure genius.
Then, an email arrived from a cartoonist I admire, Hugh McLeod of GapingVoid Art, and to whose blog I subscribe. It included this cartoon, stating ‘All creation is co-creation.‘ The last sentence reads: So, when looking for true innovation remember that whatever you may have developed working alone, it could be made much richer by working with others. Sounds like teamwork to me…
Then finally to really rub it in – (I know, I know – by now it’s the magic of 5 and not 3) I get this in my mail as well – ‘How to work on projects as a team.’, by Lauren Gray. All this is stuff I don’t like to hear, though. I like teamwork if the rest of the people are at somewhat of a distance. I used to work very happily in ad agencies etc as long as the office politics were kept to a furtive whisper. But even more, I’ve enjoyed working alone. Until now, when it’s been brought very sharply to my attention that other people can be a huge help and maybe – a lot of fun.
I shall cautiously investigate a few options. Maybe teamwork can begin to acquire a positive tinge.
Recently I’ve taken up doing work for greeting cards and I cannot think why I didn’t try that before. Suddenly my head is roaring and popping with hundreds of ideas and techniques… one of them being embroidery and handcrafted items, scanned and used as textures to add richness or to form a new image.
And so a new style is born.
Possibilities leap from every corner. I remember the comforting presence of my mother and grandmother embroidering, knitting, crocheting or doing other handcrafts in the lamplight. During those during long evenings TV was something seen only in American comics.
Of course as always, what one is currently transmitting mentally and emotionally soon finds an echo out there. Louise Saxton’s work as featured on thedesignfiles.net arrived in my inbox this morning via my brother in Oz. He knew nothing of my current train of thought. Strange, huh?
Enjoy the beauty of this style and be inspired as I was!
Stipple not only enables information associated with an image to travel with it across the Web, but it also enables users to access additional content, such as a YouTube video or links to a Facebook page or Twitter account, by simply rolling their mouse over the image. Click through to the Stipple-enabled picture of Rihanna and do the mouse-over…. very interesting. Would be curious to know how much this will be taken up… or not.
A while back, QR codes were going to be all the rage and now… not so much, hey? Someone somewhere recently wrote that QR codes are the Crocs of design. What will the next big thing be? My bet is on 3D printing.
Enjoy, good people. Okay – and bad people then, pull your chairs a little closer as well. Oh I see some of you are on inflatabe Pilates balls. I know, it’s so hard to leave the computer. One has to get one’s exercise wherever one can find it.