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.