Shortlisted for AOI Awards 2016

This year I bit the bullet and entered a project I did nearly two years ago into the AOI awards 2016.

A few years ago I posted some of my linocuts on Twitter.  I also blogged about them and shared them on my website, but it was the tweet that was seen by a designer and it got me this job.

Sadly the end result did not emerge as a product, so I really wanted to get something out of it. The visual pack shot was always very popular when I took it around design agencies, so I decided to enter it into the annual competition at the Association of Illustrators. Luckily it was liked there too and I was very honored and delighted to be shortlisted by them.

The exhibition of the winners and the rest of the shortlisted is currently on at the Somerset House.
Details can be found here.

Read more about this project here. 
The linocuts:

London Map for Ottolenghi

Ottolenghi are a company with a series of very successful delis, and restaurants dotted around the centre of London. Their food is "a distinctive mix of Middle Eastern flavours – Syrian, Turkish, Lebanese, Iranian, Israeli and Armenian with a Western twist".

This year the company issued an open competition to design a premises locator summed up within one image for a postcard. And I thought it would be fun to have a go - you never know where these things lead to. So I began work on my own entry.

I have used food such as a gherkin and a cheese grater (two nicknames for some of London's newer buildings) to insert a bit of humour in the map of the capital. Sadly, it was not eventually chosen by the company, but I did see the Ottolenghi owner, Yotam Ottolenhgi's reaction to my entry "that's just brilliant", which is a great compensation.

Here are some details of the map.  

The Belgravia side of London

The East End including Islington and Spitalfields

The West End Including Notting Hill and Nopi in Warwick Street

South London

I planned the image using a map of London as reference

When the drawing was complete I scanned it into the computer

An early colour option.
I very much enjoyed making this map.

Year of the Monkey 2016 - The Royal Mint

These quirky roundel designs for the Royal Mint's Lunar New Year presentation packs are something I've been honoured to illustrate for the past few years. The Graphic device for each animal provides a lavish border for each special issue coin.

Here is the initial sketch developed to the finished doily. It takes me about one day to design and one day to cut the intricate patterns from one piece of paper.

Initial Sketch

Black and white version
The image I piece together on the computer.  

Above is the level of visual that goes to the client for approval.

The final cut out

Below are the little stamps used as detail on the pack. I make these using a scalpel cut into ordinary pencil rubbers.

You can buy this Lunar Year of the Monkey presentation pack from the Royal Mint here 

Graphic Design was by hat-trick. 

These are two previous roundels I have made for the Royal Mint. The blogs for these are here for 2014 Year of the Horse, and here for 2015 Year of the Sheep/Ram. 

Year of the Horse 2014

Year of the Sheep 2015

Animal Wood Blocks

When I take my portfolio to designers they often refer to my handcrafted work as being refreshing and a joy to behold. My guess is it's a relief from graphics and illustrations generated digitally. In truth although much of my work begins as a drawing it nearly always relies on the computer at some stage in its development. So I tend to see it as a tool in the box rather than the source of my creativity. 
This job relies on the combination of both.

In colaboration with Kelvyn Smith at Mr Smith's Rules, a Letterpress workshop, Jim Sutherland had already made some very nice prints. His next idea was to make a book based on animals and the noises they make, but mixing them up, so the elephant goes EEK! Jim asked me to design the animals he'd chosen and we had them laser cut from wood to the depth of standard traditional type. This meant they could be inked and printed alongside the letter type noises. 

When the drawings were finished I traced them in pen and scanned them to make a vector illustration. I do this as it gives me a little more control over the line. With size details the typecutter can then work from a pdf of the images to create the 3D pieces.
When they've been printed several times the animals look like any other piece of type.

Here are a few of the proofs in laid out in the workshop:

Jim's book is still in production.

Lunar Year of the Monkey - Royal Mail Smiler

2016 is lunar new year of the monkey, so this year I've decorated the smiler sheet for Royal Mail with the paper variety. 
Along with the sheets come stickers for the five different elements of earth, fire, metal, water and wood.






Below are enlarged details of some of the monkeys on the sheet. You can see the cuts in the paper that create the patterns.


Smiler sheets for lunar year of the monkey can be purchased from Royal Mail here.

Graphic design was by Laura Bowman, art direction by Gareth Howat and photos by Alice Tosey at hat-trick.

Tall Ales


Neil Watts from brand experts Stocks Taylor Benson contacted me to say they were developing an idea for a range of specialist beers and would I like to do some linocut images for the labels. 

I began with drawings which I developed into digital images. This is an essential part of the process as the client can make changes before I commit to the linocutting process where things cannot be altered.

Each of the 5 beers were based on the character, Alf Aber. He is the sort you might find at the bar telling tales of derring do. And the more he drinks the taller they get. 

Each bottle has a tale

Reverse of the bottles along with the individual tales

All bottle shots are by and with kind permission of Stock Taylor Benson
Alf Aber and an insert for his winking eye, which we dropped in separately
Cutting the lino with a digital print out for reference


Proofing the cuts

Continued proofing lets me see how the cuts are looking
Presentation by Stock Taylor Benson