TW: some graphic language & imagery
Just over a week ago, my cousin and I had planned to attend the Southbank Centre's WOW Festival but were unable to get tickets on time. It was a lovely (and rare) sunny Saturday and we still wanted to take the opportunity to use that day productively. After searching online for a little while, we decided to visit two exhibitions; 'Human Rights Human Wrongs' at The Photographers' Gallery and 'Staying Power' at the V&A. As usual, I relied on capturing the day with my little iPhone.
Approximately 10 minutes after entering the 'Human Rights Human Wrongs' exhibition, which was already surprisingly crowded, a curator from the gallery entered with many more people to give a detailed tour on what was on display. Initially, my cousin and I found this to be quite inconvenient, until we realised that her group was not exclusive and we were also able to join. Our arrival was actually very well timed because we got the unexpected chance to learn far more information about the images on display, the concept of the exhibition and why it was curated in such a way.
The exhibition focuses on several different inhumane acts that had occurred between 1945 and the early 1990s; including wars, jail breaks, conflicts, racism and colonisation. It forces the viewer to face how cruel humankind has been and also continues to be. We ended up being there for several hours and decided to visit both floors of the exhibition again once the tour was over, as we didn't get to see all the remarkable (albeit occasionally upsetting) photographs in detail, due to the tour group being so large. While doing so, we discussed the many privileges we take for granted today and the many aspects of life we still lack freedom. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to visit the V&A but now we have another exciting and potentially inspiring exhibition to look forward to.
Happy [Belated] New Year! As a mini celebration for me starting a brand new (and slightly provocative) mixed-media, self-portrait series, I have reduced the price of my current Mixed Media Maidens set AND offered a great promotional deal by giving an extra print for FREE with every Maiden that is purchased. To claim your free print with your order, all you have to do is visit my online shop, place at least two prints in your basket and enter the code 'MY241' at the checkout. AND it's still free shipping for all UK orders. It's never been so easy to add some colour to your walls!
I will be the first to admit that when it comes to producing artwork without a deadline, I'm not the fastest at completing the job. With a general combination of client work, life and a little bit of procrastination too, it feels as though I have been working on this collaborative project with photographer, Scott A. Woodward, for half of my life. Having said that though, I'm very happy to say that it is so close to completion, I can almost taste it now. However, another significant reason why this has taken so long to finish is because I have included more digital elements into this work than I have ever done before. As an illustrator who primarily uses pens and paper, this has been an important development for me as well as a steep learning curve. So I wanted to share just a little bit of how I got on with the digital process.
ABOVE: MYTHOS | AIR
For those who don't know the history of this collaboration, I was contacted by Scott in 2012, regarding whether I was interested in producing artwork for his photography, as he had seen and liked my mixed-media illustrations. The set of images he wanted us to use inspired me to create a series themed around the classical elements, which Scott later titled 'MYTHOS'. After a few starts, stops and do-overs, I completed the accompanying artwork by hand in 2013, which you can view here. After scanning in the art, it struck me that it would be rather interesting if the final pieces had hints of tiered layers within the background as opposed to them being flat, 2D environments. I quickly shot this suggestion over to Scott and asked for his preference, half hoping that he'd tell me not to bother. He didn't. In fact, he loved the concept. A sweeping "oh crap" feeling passed through me at that point as I felt pretty certain that I would be unable to fully deliver on this idea.
ABOVE: MYTHOS | EARTH
My skills in digital art are extremely basic and minimal because I don't really need much for the work that I create. The moment I realised this idea was going ahead, I could of kicked myself for not thinking of it sooner. If we were going to have several digital layers, I should have drawn on several sheets of paper. I didn't. This meant I needed to cut out multiple layers from the artwork digitally. As 'Earth' was the easiest of the four pieces to cut and layer, I started with that one to test whether I had the technique (and patience) to follow through. I then continued onto the other more tricky illustrations but because of how I had drawn the elements, this meticulous job took me a fair bit of time.
ABOVE: MYTHOS | FIRE
For every illustration, I always do a routine cleanup and colour correction once I scan them in and this can already be quite time-consuming enough depending on its complexity. However, this project also involved a heavy amount of trial and error too. Layering the background for 'Earth' was fairly easy as the pattern in that piece is the most uniformed but 'Fire', 'Water' and especially 'Air' are more fluid and have very little structure. For this reason, I used the Brush Tool to either draw thick red lines or place large black dots as general guides. Next, I would follow these guides by cutting out layers very roughly before redoing them more precisely. Sometimes I would redrew these guides meaning that I ended up cutting out multiple layers over and over again. Once I was satisfied with the tiers, I would then focus on shadowing them; another stage I also ended up doing repeatedly. This did get quite arduous and I'm pretty sure that easier methods exists compared to how I did it but thankfully, I got there in the end.
ABOVE: MYTHOS | WATER
So at this moment, there's only a little bit more to do before this project is finally complete and ready to be shared. It has been a long journey but it has also been a lot of fun and I've learned many lessons. Taking my artwork in a new direction has encouraged me to continue experimenting as an artist and that is probably the best lesson of them all. Scott and I are very much looking forward to showcasing our collaboration, so please stay tuned as all shall be revealed soon.
Considering how much I love art, I really ought to be more proactive when it comes to visiting galleries and exhibitions. However, I only seem to end up going when a friend has found an awesome one for us to attend. Being self-employed (and therefore glued to my desk on most days), I end up satisfying my avidity for art via the wonderful internet. Glossing over how embarrassing and shameful that is, I want to start a series for my blog called 'Art I've Seen', to share the art I've actually ventured out of the house to see. The last exhibition I visited was 'Pumpkins' by Yayoi Kusama at Victoria Miro in September. It's no secret that I adore abstract and patterned artwork so her meticulous and laborious attention to detail in her art really fascinates me. My hasty instagram photos really do not do her work much justice. You can browse my instagram account for exhibitions that I have previously visited; including artists such as Kara Walker and Kehinde Wiley, and stay tuned for more random blog posts in the future.