Thursday, 24 December 2009

Best of 2009 - The Records

The albums.

1. Samandtheplants - The Eft
2. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
3. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

A couple of outstanding and lovingly assembled reissues courtesy of Finders Keepers and Honest Jon's.

The Sound of Wonder - various
Sprigs of Time - various
The singles.

1. Special Benny - Air Filter

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Sunday, 20 December 2009

'Toys' - Take Two

This was the second attempt at the Special Benny cover - it didn't work for a few reasons but I think the biggest problem is the scale. There's too many figures and too much detail and given the actual size of a cd cover by the time it's reduced in size it doesn't have a huge impact.

Friday, 18 December 2009

'Strictly for the Birds'

'Strictly for the Birds' (aka 'no time to do new artwork and hope no-one notices the lack of ornithological themed songs') was my last minute contribution to the esteemed Very Good Plus annual Christmas mix swap. It's messy and all-over-the-shop starting off with a fuzz-driven pots and pans bashing Bollywood number before moving swiftly into the hippy-baiting pyschedelics then onto some filthy prog, before detouring through Kraut-lite rock, scratchy surf, beat, French prog-fuzz nonsense, whistley soundtracks, a touch of funk and soul, the obligatory spooked out Beatles cover before collapsing in a sweaty pool of slightly more contemporary stuff. Like I said it's a fucking mess. Ideally I would have had time to draw a cover that wasn't already destined for greater things and screen-print them but I was on the subs bench and only given the go-ahead in the dying stages.

Click on the pic to read the tracklisting.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

'My Home is the Sea' alternative design

I just dug this up during a big mac clean up - it never saw the light of day as I decided to print each character separately but I'm still considering a small run of these. I can't make up my mind if I like it or not...

Friday, 11 December 2009

Cardboard snails, paints, inks and a straight razor. That's my dream, it's my nightmare.

I had the fantastical idea of cutting out hundreds of wee toys and hanging them on tiny thread in a miniature cardboard set for the Special Benny cover. Unfortunately it took forever and when I scanned the initial figures the light watercolour wash I gave them got lost in the process. Then I realised I'd need proper lighting and a decent studio for it not to look hokey and shit.

It was basically my Apocalypse Now - "I was in my studio, there were too many ideas floating around my head, I had access to too much booze, too much card, too many sweets and little by little I went insane."

Part two didn't go a great deal better but more of that to come!

Monday, 30 November 2009

Cornershop - Free Love

In a thinly veiled attempt to seem slightly more productive this month I'm sneaking the forthcoming Cornershop single into my blog for two reasons - it's great and the video is aces too.

I've always had a soft spot for Cornershop (dodgy big beat remixes aside) and still think 'Born for the Seventh Time' is a [well] good record so it was a nice surprise to hear this on the radio today - they're still more than capable of putting out records that are as catchy as they are unclassifiable. In their own words 'psychedelic extrapolation of Punjabi folk'. The gloriously hand-crafted video is animated by Chris Hemming - have a peek by clicking here.

I'm still knee deep in Special Benny artwork that has had me fretting for what is beginning to seem like forever...

Friday, 27 November 2009

Stuart Kolakovic

I chanced upon Stuart Kolakovic earlier this year when I was in Edinburgh and spotted one of his fine prints in Analogue Books all framed and ready to go for a paltry £10. Fast forward a couple of months and Mitch from OMG Posters decided to shine a light on Stuart highlighting some of the delightful ware in his shop including a rad (!) screen-printed slalom skate-board. The only problem now I'm forty notes lighter is whether to hang it on the wall or ring up my old catamaran buddy Damon and find a fuck-off big hill...

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Special Benny's 'Air Filter' out now!

If anyone can tell me a better way to spend 69p I'll send them a free limited edition screen-print of the cover* but I certainly can't think of one. Click here to buy one - all nepotism aside it's my favourite single of 2009.

* when I do it in January.

Friday, 20 November 2009

'Watch This Space' Charity Art Auction

Watch This Space’ is putting on a Charity Art auction of young and emerging artists on December the 8th and as I'm desperately young and known to occasionally emerge I have offered one of my 'Epic Octopus Attack' pieces up for auction. I'm told the guest host might be Noel Fielding of The Mighty Boosh. Hopefully fellow young artist Lee 'Scratch' Perry will be in attendance and we can spend the evening together walking backwards and worshipping bananas. Contact Lee or Bakul (email details below) for tickets to the event.

"Over the past 3 years, The Special Yoga centre has hosted charity art auctions of artworks by some of the country’s most celebrated contemporary Artists including; Damien Hirst, Sam Taylor-Wood, Peter Blake, Marc Quinn, Ollly & Suzi and Natasha Law. The last auction, introduced by Samantha Cameron, and hosted by Gabbi Roslin, raised a staggering £100,000, even more amazing since this event took place in the midst of an economic downturn. A Christie’s auctioneer auctioned off some exquisite pieces, including a spot painting and etchings by Hirst.

The success of these auctions was the catalyst for an auction that champions the next generation of YBA’s. On November 26, arts organisation ‘Watch This Space’, who curate exhibitions of talented emerging Artists, will organise the first Special Yoga Centre auction of young artists. This will not only give collectors a chance to discover some hot new artists, and support their practice by purchasing their work, it will also raise much needed funds for the Special Yoga Centre.

Yoga expert and co-author of ‘The Spiritual Teachings of Yoga’ Jo Manuel founded the Special Yoga Centre in 2004 as a charitable organization supporting children with a variety of conditions, which can be aided by the practice of yoga. Children with Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, ADD, ADHD and other physical and developmental difficulties all benefit from the expert teaching offered at the Special Yoga Centre, whose policy is to offer yoga to all without regard to financial or cultural constraints. Children from all walks of life, including the late son of shadow Prime Minister David Cameron, have benefited from the care and teaching of the Special Yoga Centre.

Artists featuring in the auction will include; Andrew Campbell, Ann-Marie James, Arran Gregory, Ben Jenkins, Best One, Cereinyn Ord, Daisy de Villeneuve, Elliott Young, Epoh Beech, Eugene Wood, Graham Hudson, Harry Malt, Ilaria Conte, Izzie Klingels, Jim Cooper, Julie Umerle, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Konrad Wyrebek, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry & Peter Harris, Lee Jones, Louise Richardson, Mat Pringle, Matilda Temperley, Max Parsons, Monkey Punch III, Niall O’Brien, Nick Cunard, Nick Jensen, Peter Edwards, Ricky Adam, Robin Clare, Sam Szulc, Sarah Cooney, Sarah Kate Wilson, Sara le Roy, Sky Sharrock, Sohrab and Suzie Wright.

An Auctioneer from one of the leading Auction Houses will take the auction, with a special celebrity host getting the crowd going. Therefore this event provides an excellent opportunity for collectors to discover exciting young Artists. It will also aid the career of these young Artists (who will receive a percentage of the proceeds), and allow the Special Yoga Centre to continue it’s invaluable practice with the aid of the auction proceeds

Committee members are; Damian Barr – The Times; Jonni Fitzgerald – Fashion Stylist; Lucy Meakin – All Visual Arts; Meritaten Mance – Mance & Rose PR; Tiger Savage – Creative Director, M&C Saatchi; Iram Qurashi – Cultural Consultant; Irshaard Ibrahim – Director of Sleep Clinic; Paddy Barstow – ART MOSH; Rachael Barratt – Kultureflash Art Editor; Sydney Levinson – Rhodes & Rhodes.

The last auction at the Special Yoga Centre was featured in the Evening Standard, London Paper, Daily Express and Daily Mail. Watch This Space will curate the auction and take care of the PR. Watch This Space have already been featured by BBC News, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Evening Standard, Amelia’s Magazine, MySpace, Art Daily and The London Paper.

For further information go to or contact Lee Johnson on or Bakul Patki on bakul@watch-this"

Friday, 13 November 2009

Big Antidote

At this summers Print Club poster show by chance I met up with James of Cure Studios who mentioned an ambitious illustration/comic project he was about to embark on. He's not shy of a little hard work when he gets an idea and that was evident from the 'Power in Numbers' show but his new brain-child 'Big Antidote' is something else again.

The basic premise is one illustrator draws a section of the comic then the baton is passed on to someone else to continue the story. Repeat ten times. Then do ten different stories in the same way. After which all the stories are screen-printed for an exhibition sometime in 2014 if he has to deal with people like me for the remainder of the project...

I obviously jumped at the opportunity as I love comics and I think the concept is brilliant. I didn't count on the amount of work involved in producing one tiny eight panel strip. I sketched everything out separately thinking it'd be easier to layout, colour and add text at the end. It was not easier. Very much not easier. It was fucking painful truth be told.

Anyway here's some taster sketches for now - check out the website to get involved and follow it as it progresses.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Zine C

Fellow Print Club member, illustrator and all round nice fella Jake Blanchard asked me to contribute something for his next zine 'C' released through Tor Press. Past issues have included work by fantastic illustrators like Stuart Kolakovic and Tom Fewings so I was more than happy to submit work for him despite my intense schedule of late. Plus he put outs brilliant compilations of drone and freak folk featuring the likes Voice of the Seven Woods and Hush Arbors. How could I possibly refuse.

I set about doing an epic horror 'C is for...' illustration which featured crucifixes, corpses and crows all piled up on top of each other but it was all a bit much so I ended up focusing on the crow in more detail. So whilst it's not particularly high-concept (anyone spot a trend?) I'm very happy with it although I'll be the first to admit it loses something without colour which is a shame. Hopefully when I get back to Print Club in December (assuming they'll have me again) I'll do a huge colour screen-print of it.

Apologies again for the lack of posting - still juggling Special Benny album artwork and the Big Antidote project (not to mention making my No Face costume from Spirited Away for Halloween) so I haven't had a minute to spare.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

California pt.III - The Other Shit

I was hoping to write a lot more about my adventures in California but I'm struggling with all kinds of deadlines at the moment so I'm going to have to keep it brief but what follows is the 'other shit' what I did...

My main illustration time was concentrated on the Special Benny album cover but occasionally I felt the urge to get all ornithological and draw birds. Interestingly I discovered that referencing birds in real life made for very dull illustrations whereas the next couple what I did from my mind's eye are much more pleasing to the eye if not very technically accurate.

For example this here Crow has all kinds of issues - his wing is positioned very poorly but I still like him. I picked up some cheap water colours out in the US to add a little more colour and depth to my ink sketches but as you can see I didn't exactly go nu-rave. Still the black is more forgiving for washes than my inks...

Here's a bird in flight. Not really sure what's with the birds - more opportunity to over-detail probably. We went to a few open studios and I noticed a lot of people have obviosuly heard the word too.

I also draw this sorry looking bear. He would go out tonight but he hasn't got a stitch to wear.

Erm - right I'm rambling a bit. Other highlights included;

* Reestablishing my love of John Steinback - I managed to pick up a battered old copy of 'Tortilla Flat' with illustrations for a dollar in Berkley which is a firm favourite of mine along with Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday. I'm seriously considering doing some illustrations inspired by 'Tortilla Flat' - the ones in the book are a little flat considering how wonderfully Steinback paints Danny and his laid back wine-thirsty buddies with words. Another one for the ever-expanding 'to-do' list...

* Bought Michael Sieben's 'There's Nothing Wrong With You (hopefully)' book in Upper Playground which is a beauty - one day I'll get a print. I also need to get hold of the Sieben and Travis Millard's collaborated zine - two of the finest (and funniest) illustrators in the US.

* Went to Mike Giant's studio and drunk future Mexican beer whilst watching some incredible drumming guy who only had a couple of pots to hit. Sounds megadog-whirlygig-crusty hell right? Wrong. The. Nuts. Plus Annie got to meet Mike whom she loves. And I got to sneak a peek at his studio.

* Saw this hairy bastard. He was gone the next day poor fella.

* Fell off bar stools from drinking too many shots of tequila. We went from the bar with the best juke box in SF (three entire Pavement albums) to the bar with the worst juke box in SF (you know you're in trouble when you have to pick a Smashing Pumpkins song) but it was okay because I was introduced to a fella from Philedelphia who would give Michael Caine a run for his money in talking Cockernese.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

California pt.II - The Records

Apologies once again for the pathetic amount of updates - got so much illustrative work on the go at the moment not to mention my proper job, countless punctures to fix and noisy neighbors keeping me from my precious sleep amongst other things I've just not had a moment spare. More about the illustrative projects later but for now here are the records I bought home from California.

I managed to grab some Bollywood staples for a few dollars a-piece - they're battered to fuck (I left the Gumnaam soundtrack out of the photo as it has no cover but features the incredible 'Jan Pechechan Ho' as featured in Ghost World) but they all play fine saving me a lot of money. Highlights include RD Burman's 'Caravan' featuring whacked out cabaret song 'Piya Tu Ab To Aja', his squelchy sonic Bond overhaul from the soundtrack to 'Shaan', the epic disco fuckery of 'Pyar Karne Wale' from the same film and pick of the bunch 'Aankhen Meri Maikhana' from the film Sawan Badon featuring more drum-heavy bonkers surf guitar and Asha Bhosle's irrestible vocals. Now will someone hook me up with the 'Shalimar' and 'Dharmatma' lps please?

The exchange rate favoured me once more so a quick stop off at Ameoba Records got me up to speed on some more recent records I hadn't had the money to pick up in the UK; Jim O'Rourke, Arthur Russell, Obits (Rick Froberg of Drive Like Jehu's new band), Cougar Den (with screenprinted Aaron Horkey sleeve), Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver. I also managed to bag some cheapie lps round Santa Cruz like Soft Machine, King Crimson, The Strawbs, Sweetwater, Fleetwood Mac and Donovan. And a good few 7"s too including Bettye Swann's fantastic 'Closed for the Season'. Twice. One copies just not enough.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

California pt.I - The Prints

Jet-lag has me in it's draining and unpredictable clutches so this is going to be brief. I thought I'd shrugged it off having slept soundly my first night back in England and managed a whole day of work with minimal yawnage but I sprang to life at four o'clock this morning for no apparent reason. I ventured into the kitchen to do some night-time sketches but needless to say today's been a slog.

I've got a few Californian posts to follow including the obligatory record haul (including a battered Bollywood cache), a few doodles (mostly ornithological - nautical was so 2008) and exhibitions etc but for now here's some of the prints awaiting my arrival in San Francisco. I'd been stockpiling records and prints at Annie's parents (thanks again!) for the last few months and was shocked at how many I'd amassed. Here are the best of them;

First up Drew Millward's jaw-droppingly good Mogwai poster which is without doubt the most technically incredible screenprint I own. Nice to see a UK fella holding his own against the heavyweights. For me the best print of 2009 unless something mad-silly-stoopid good comes out in the next two months...

Next up are two of a seven part Letterpress series called 'Hovels and Hideaways' featuring several different illustrators and released via The Cloudy Collection. Dirt cheap and with a two tone brown/pink palette that plants it stylistically in a fuzzy nostalgic Seventies illustrative vein I was unable to resist.

Speaking of Letterpress aceness 'The Enamored Whale' by Alberto Cerriteno is the fucking nuts.

Cheapo Daniel Danger prints are always a winner with me especially when combined with a band as consistently good n' noisy as Sonic Youth. I also picked up my DD Royal Tenebaums print as well which I posted before but looks even better in the flesh.

And finally another Drew Millward beastie again this time for the drum-heavy Deerhoof.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Special Benny - 'Air Filter' artwork

Here is the finished the artwork for the digital release of Special Benny's fantastic new single 'Air Filter'. Uncharacteristically of me it's a pretty simple illustration but I think it works all the better for it - there's a very good chance it'll end up as screen print too so watch this space. There was some furrowed brows and much heated discussion as to whether the couple should have mouths but I tried it and I prefer them without. There was also a skull option and a few other variants but as you can see below it looks a bit morbid and distracts.

Final artwork:

Horror variant:

Friday, 18 September 2009

Ella Doran presents 'There's No Place Like Home' exhibition

As from tomorrow Ella Doran's Cheshire Street shop in East London will be hosting the 'There's No Place Like Home' exhibition. The basic premise is for a wide array of designers, illustrators and photographers to create their own collection of placemats which will be displayed for two weeks in which time people can make a silent bid on their favourites. All profits from the exhibition will go to the charity organisation Shelter. Being as I work for Ella I've had the privilege of making all the mats this week - my favourites are Paul Bommer, Peter McDonald and the Sparks Studio but come along and decide for yourself. The opening tea party begins at 2.00pm.

I was asked to contribute but have been so desperately busy this month couldn't get anything sorted. I'm gutted I missed out.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Pavement reunion!

So who else is coming to New York with me next year?

I'm still reeling from yesterdays Kollywood musical gem but this is something else altogether. I need a beer to calm myself. Click on the most fantastic band of all time for more information.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Oh. My. Gosh.

I've just played this about seven times over. Just absolutely incredible. Frantic shuffly drums. Sick bassline. Awesome sax. Nice little calypso excursion. Ace synth breakdown. Fuzzy surf guitars. High pitched disco vocals. More awesome sax. And the way it gains momentum at the end with all those handclaps. And then there's the video...

I swear I've never wanted a record more in my life than this. Thanks to Rich Hero for making everything right.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

LV - Don't Judge sleeve

This has been long time coming but here's some work in progress shots of the LV 'Don't Judge' sleeve and label sticker for 2nd Drop Records.  I illustrated it a while ago but for various reasons I only finished screen-printing them (a run of 500) last night - it's been exhausting but rewarding none-the-less.  To be fair I'm not quite Aaron Horkey famous so it's not like a screen-printed sleeve is going to sway the dubstep record buying public one way or another but I'm very happy with the finished result and 2nd Drop have made a point of supporting decent artists for all of their releases.  Mark of 2nd Drop is a thoroughly decent fella too so big up to him and to everyone involved - it's been a pleasure and I'm going to take this opportunity to apologize to Mark and their graphic designer Ralph for being a fussy bugger. 

Further apologies for the shit photos - my official photographer fucked off to California...  

Colour matching (ahem.... 80 odd limited edition aqua sleeves anyone?)
Fizzy cherry cola bottles - essential screen-printing equipment.
The blue was spot on when spread over the screen.  Not sure what happened...