Random - Uncut Sheets Magic: the Gathering

When I went to Brighton about a month ago I participated in the Magic: The Gathering Vintage tournament and with the help of my Painter's Remora deck made it to the Finals (thanks for the P8 Chung). As a prize I got four of these uncut foil sheets from the latest sets. Being fascinated as I am in printing and lithography this was truly an amazing present.

They are now hanging on my walls and look really good..


Work in Progress - Anorak Magzine Cover

First sketch for an illustration for Anorak's magazine cover competition. The ideas are to draw a whole audience of penguins watching him play. More on this as the work goes along..

Work in Progress - People (5)

Two portraits I made for my dad's 50th birthday, which is today.
Happy Birthday!


Artist - Johnny Hardstaff

I recently bought a book - Sketchbooks: The hidden art of Designers, Illustrators & Creatives -featuring a couple of sketchbooks from various artists, one of them being Johnny Hardstaff. His illustrations (and mostly his sketchbooks) are probably of the most interesting I've ever seen

"Once finished, once completed, my sketchbooks are worthless. In a way they are themselves filters. They filter away the whimsical, the faddish and the pointless. That way, the only useful sketchbook is the current one, which carries forth with it interesting trains of thought."


Happy Birthday!

I just turned 21, thought it'd be a good time to record my appearance with pencil on paper..

Also, as a present my grandpa gave me one of his old drawings, which I really liked! Glad to see it (kinda) runs in the family.


Music Video - Swallowed in the Sea

I could write a song, a hundred miles long...

Magazine Review - Eye Issue 72

"There's an ever-present temptation to describe the rise of the designer-illustrators and their unapologetic mark-making as 'nostalgia de la boue', a punkish rejection of technological sophistication."

Marian Bantjes
by John L. Walters

"For most work, I envision what I want to do, then start drawing it."

The Graphic Designer as an Illustrator

The article features a lot of different illustrators/graphic designers like Alex Trochut, Airside, IWANT, ... There is a very interesting essay on the subject - Schism and Reunification - written by Adrian Shaughnessy, that thoroughly explores the relationship between Illustration and Graphic Design.

"There was a time when graphic design and illustration used to sleep in the same bed."

"Design was promoted to the front line of commercial life: professionalized and strategized, it took ownership of identity and branding within the corporate world... Illustration, on the other hand, clung into the notion of autonomy of expression and refused to learn the language of strategy and branding."

Artwork and Play (Illustration: Construction Kit Art)
by Robert Hanks

An interesting essay about a relatively obscure kind of Illustration, featuring construction kit art by Brian Knight.

Storytelling Giant: Christoph Niemann
by Steven Heller

Christoph Niemann had a very interesting career path and a very varied portfolio of illustrations, mostly for the New York Times Magazine. Also, his blog is definitely worth checking out!

Drawn into Conversation (Illustration and Brands)
by Steve Hare

"The big brands are making more use of illustration: pastiche, cartoons, caricature - even original ideas. Is this the smarter way to say 'honest', 'natural' and 'popular'?"

The new Stella Artois 4% campaign, with typical 1960's illustrations by Robert McGinnis.

The David Hopkins illustrations for the latest Schweppes campaign, likely my favorite poster campaign this year.

The orderly chaos of James Joyce
by John L. Walters

An article about the rise of a certain designer. I particularly liked his monthly flyer design for the Boogaloo club nights in London:

That was it for Eye magazine. All in all very interesting articles about the role of illustration in today's creative world. Definitely worth reading through.


Meet the Illustrators - Emma Kelly

Second part of Meet the Illustrators, this time the interview questions with Emma Kelly.

1. What is Illustration for you, in the general sense of the term?

Well as with so many specialisms there are different classifications within. So I guess I see illustration as the visualisation of a story/idea/thought whether that be a newspaper article or a self initiated project, it is about trying to communicate in a visual form.

2. How/when did you start illustrating (personally and/or professionally)?

Have always drawn for fun from a young age and professionally the last couple of years.

3. People have always been quite cynical about where the illustrator stands in the creative world. Illustration has never really been classified as fine art nor as graphic design, although the borders seem to be fading little by little. What do you think the role of the illustrator is in the current creative world? Where does he/she stand?

Are they cynical? I think more than ever illustration is booming. Publishers are using far more illustration than they used to, there was a time when it was mostly photographs to illustrate a story. There are new styles emerging that aren't just either using a pen or using a computer, people are more experimental too, so I think contrasted to some creative specialisms it's pushing the boundaries a little.

I think illustrators respond to a brief whether that is one set by another or themselves. I think within the commercial world it is also a quicker discipline, there are very short deadlines whereas in the fine art world it is very much self initiated work and the artist sets those deadlines/timescales.

4. How do you see the future of Illustration?

Like one big tea party with lots of balloons and bunting everywhere (a happy place)


Music Video - That Look You Give That Guy

New song by Eels, beautiful lyrics...


Work in Progress - People (4)

Latest drawing of the People series.


Artist - James White

This must be one of the coolest websites I have ever seen. Quality of the work is good too!

Artist - Greg Ferris

Came across those pretty nice collages by Greg Ferris on Design is Kinky.


Meet the Illustrators - Renato Alarcão

As part of the research I'm doing for this project I thought it'd be positive to actually come in contact with some of the current leading minds in the world of illustration, so I sent an email to a couple of people I had previously researched for the project asking for their cooperation. Here is the first mini-interview of the series!

1. What is Illustration for you, in the general sense of the term?

I believe that illustrations are at their best essentially a narrative art form, a universal language in which we communicate our stories, ideas, moods, feelings.

Of course there are other venues, such as illustrative patterns, or this new trend of multilayered and highly ornamented images with overlapping spirals and excess of ornamentality. To me those are more ornamentation than illustration, a fashion trend which will look passé in a few years.

2. How/when did you start illustrating (personally and/or professionally)?

My graduation thesis was a series of illustration on brazilian street kids (there so many of these wandering the streets here in Rio...). I put my portfolio under my arm and went to see some art directors at a important newspaper in my city. They published my illustrations as a 4-page essay in their weekly magazine. I never stopped ever since.

3. People have always been quite cynical about where the illustrator stands in the creative world. Illustration has never really been classified as fine art nor as graphic design, although the borders seem to be fading little by little. What do you think the role of the illustrator is in the current creative world? Where does he stand?

A friend of mine once said: "there are star artists and starving artists. I chose to be a working artist". To me, most of the knowledge accumulated by thousands of years of image making has been inherited - and currently put into practice - by illustrators. On a daily basis we have to deal with composition, perspective, color theories, light and dark, narrative etc. We proudly carry that torch.

I believe nowadays the illustrator is not seen as the poor cousin in the visual arts any longer. But only a few years ago we used to be regarded that way. Maybe that happened because of the nature of our work: we have to create art under certain constraints such as deadlines, a client who needs to be satisfied, targets and some specific communication goals need to be addressed... Most of all, our work is meant to reach a great number of people through technical reproduction.

To some, these characteristics belittles our importance. To me, the "great" fine arts world has become to a great extend money laundry.

4. How do you see the future of Illustration?
The future is now!

Exhibition - Art Trek 2009

I was walking around Antwerp with my best mate when we decided to go and check out the comic book store. I was happy to see there was an Illustration exhibition going on in the attic, so I checked it out. The exhibition, Art Trek 2009, is the 6th edition of the annual show curated by Ephameron (a Belgian artist). Here are a couple of the highlights:

Artist: Ephameron (Belgium)

"Her art is about moments, thoughts and feelings. Her world feels quieter than real life and is like an intimate place between here and elsewhere, between the past and now."

Artist: Brecht Vandenbroucke (Belgium)

"He makes up quotes and scribbles about a variety of subjects, among which death, the individual versus society, exclusion, (media) power, sadism and incomprehension, and translates them in absurd and surrealistic imagery."

Artist: Ward Zwart (Belgium)

"Ward Zwart draws on a daily basis and the everyday forms his source of inspiration."

Artist: Escif (Spain)

"The visual language Escif uses is influenced by conceptual art and contemporary wall painting. After more than ten years of exposure by street interventions, he became a welcome guest at some of the most significant street art happenings in Europe."

Artist: Sammy Stein (France)

"Stein understands the art of suggesting a story in a few simple, well-placed black lines on white paper."

*All text taken from the catalogue*


Game - Donkey Kong Country 2

I'm still in that silly retro-gaming nostalgic mood. I basically grew up with my Megadrive and Super Nintendo, with Sonic and Donkey Kong Country. Thinking back, this soundtrack must have been one of the most relaxing tunes I've ever heard in a platform game, ironically in the most stressful stages the game had to offer. Aaah the good old times...

Work in Progress - Festivalitis

Finally put my mind to it. Since I went to Rock Werchter earlier this summer I had an idea for a poster that would sum up what the festivals are all about. I wanted the image to represent it all, so I was thinking of all the possibilities. The obvious things are the music, the camping/tents, ... the less obvious ones are the people, the festival-stands, the actual festival grounds, ... Probably also in the obvious category would be the alcohol. Now, because I think that really symbolizes it perfectly I was thinking of a way to represent the beer (that's what you drink at festivals) in a 'Festival' way, when it hit me.

There is this silly thing people do at festivals: when your cup of beer is almost empty to throw it into the crowd as far as possible... That's it! A flying glass of beer with the drink flying out of it. I had the image in my head and now I had to find a way to take the picture, so my dad and I set up a small 'studio' in our back garden.

We first tried with water as to not to waste too much beer and getting the focus for the camera right.

And finally, a couple of shots with the beer.

These are just the pictures, which I'll have to Photoshop and eventually screen print (I want to do this 4-color process) and add some text. I reckon the background will be white, but I'm not sure yet...

Music Video - The Fear

Her accent is just amazing... Really nice songs on the new album


Artist - Jarreau Wimberley

I went to the M10 Day today and was lucky enough to end up in the top 8. All of us who made it this far received a very pretty promo card:

For those who are wondering, this card is from the Magic: the Gathering card-game, which I've been playing for about 10 years... The artist is pretty new in the Magic-scene, more of his work can be found on his deviant page.

Work in Progress - What Am I?

Time to write a little bit about my thoughts on the project up to now I guess... Since I started doing research for this project I've quite literally been on a journey. I explored and researched various media, artists, visited places I hadn't been to, talked to people I never spoke to and much more. The only conclusion I can make at the moment about what I am, what Illustration is for me, is the following:

Illustration is a vague subject. No one really knows what it is, no one can perfectly define it (I guess there is no right or wrong in this project, I'm just sharing my personal thoughts). While some use it as a mean of entertainment (children books, playground art, ...), advertising, information or any combination of all the possible reasons, illustration basically tells a story. Now, a story can be told in a lot of different ways and I think that is where each illustrator finds his own calling. For me the calling is simple: it's all about people. People are stories. Countless times I've just wandered around looking at everyone around me wondering, "What is their life like? How does their head work? What is their story?". If I was to tell stories, it'd be the stories people tell, people lived......

More on this to come.

Comic - Batman R.I.P.

Another comic I picked up at the store the other day. The comic features a fresh look on Batman's story, quite interesting really. To say anything about this comic would be a major spoiler so I'll keep it to this: a must read comic! The title should be enough to make you want to read it...

Comic - Magneto: Testament

I went to the comic book store the other day and found this one. Being very interested in World War II history I just had to buy it. The comic follows Max Eisenhardt's (Magneto's real name) youth as he grows up through the Holocaust. The comic was very interesting for different reasons. Firstly, you understand Magneto's character development through the series a lot better, his hatred and lack of trust towards mankind. Secondly, the story really proves how interesting a comic can be. I thought I already knew quite a lot about the Holocaust, having studied it for years, but there were still quite a few things I learned from reading this.

On a more personal basis, there is an additional comic in the book I found very interesting: Dina Babbitt's story. Born Dina Gottliebova in Poland (I couldn't help feeling some kind of relationship), she was eventually taken to Auschwitz and found herself painting portraits for no one less than the Angel of Death, Dr. Mengele. When the Germans saw the end coming and forced the Jews to follow them on the 'death march' she fled with her mother and survived. It's only years later that she found out that her portraits, of Nazi's and of Gypsy families, were being kept in a museum in Poland. No matter how hard she tried, the museum refuses to give her her own paintings back. Hearing from this, a huge group of comic book artists, writers and actors started various petitions and actions to try and do something about, to this day still to no avail... The comic featuring in this book is one of them...

Work in Progress - People (3)

My newest drawing in the 'People' category.


Anime - Ergo Proxy

Probably my favorite anime of all times, Ergo Proxy is a cyber punk anime with a very heavy story-line and interesting character development. Also, I can't seem to get over how amazing this intro is....

Artist - Yoshitaka Amano

I couldn't post something about the Final Fantasy series without posting something about their Illustration Director, japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano. Since I've been playing the Final Fantasy games I've been a really big fan of his work. It has a Klimt feel to it, even though it's more oriental.

Game - Final Fantasy IX

I've been feeling pretty nostalgic lately regarding video games. Besides wiring up my old Megadrive or Super Nintendo, I've been playing some old RPG classics on my PS One.. and I've just beat one of my favorite games (story-line and character development wise) of all times, Final Fantasy IX. Necron, the final boss of the game, has one of the coolest villain design ever.


Artist - John Picacio

It was while I was looking up Dave McKean that I came across John Picacio. Picacio has a peculiar style in all his work I really like. It has been brought to light to me by the artist himself that the information I had previously written was wrong (I need to double check when information comes from a suspicious source), so first of all I really do apologize. Contrary to what I had previously written, the artist has been active lately and his current activities can be followed on his blog (link at the bottom of the entry).

Artist - Dave McKean

I've been reading books and comics by Neil Gaiman for a while now (you should definitely check out Signal to Noise and some of his books like Neverwhere and Smoke and Mirrors) and most of his book covers or even the artwork inside have been made by a certain Dave McKean. Because the art quite appealed to me I looked him up and, being in a period where I especially like collages, I was really impressed. He has an impressive portfolio using a wide range of media to create covers and more. Worth navigating through his site to get a good look.


Exhibition - Magritte

It'd obviously be a massive hole in my culture if, during my stay in Belgium, I didn't go to Brussels to check out the new Magritte exhibition. I felt that I was required to learn more about the surrealist belgian artist. The exhibition was really good. Even though it didn't feature the most famous pieces like Ceci n'est pas une pipe, you got a really nice idea of the concept of Magritte as an artist. With works ranging from his impressionist period to posters he used to design when right out of college, the exhibition has some impressive relics from the artist (even a few interesting sketchbook pages). The exhibition is definitely worth checking out.


Artist - Niklas Lundberg

Pretty amazing digital collage work by artist Niklas Lundberg. On a sidenote, I think his website is extremely stylish, fits the genre well...

Artist - Desktopopgraphy

Amazing website I came across on Design is Kinky.
You should definitely check it out and pimp your desktop.