Editorial mock-up

This is just a bit of practice to see how my style might fit around an article – don’t try to read the text, it’s just made up rubbish to give the piece a bit of realism… I mean you can try if you want, but it might make your brain bleed.

I’ve been looking a lot at the work of Satoshi Hashimoto and Tommy Parker in the hopes that their skill and mastery of this type of work will rub-off on me, while being mindful not to straight-up copy their style. I ‘m trying to simplify the characters, shapes, and colours to make the illustrations striking and easily readable. I’m also focusing on drawing things from everyday life which tends to be a main-stay of these kind of pieces, the downside to this is that if I get too generic I could suffer from appealing everybody, which results in appealing to no one.

Cheers

Matt

Outcomes

The images above demonstrate the vast differences in outcomes that can arise from the same idea. It was pissing it down yesterday and it made me realise that summer is well and truly behind us. I think we’ve all at some point been caught huddling under a broken umbrella in the meagre hope that it will give us some form of protection from the elements, while inwardly cursing the fact that we should have replaced it the last time this happened.

The image on the right is best at illustrating this feeling, I think. We’ve all been there and seen this a thousand times – or at least you have if you live in the UK – it’s the drudgery of heading home after a long day, made infinity more intolerable by the monsoon levels of rain you are about to brave. Of course the forecast was for “light showers in the afternoon, but mostly sunny”, so no need to wear your sturdy shoes or don on the waterproof jacket, at worst it’ll be a bit grey by the time you leave the office. Those wretches at the BBC should be stood in front of a firing squad for dolling out such negligent information. If everybody else was as bad at their job as those cretins at the Met Office we’d still be huddled in caves rubbing sticks together.

Ahem…

The illustration on the left is more in keeping with editorial type work and wouldn’t look out of place accompanying an article about mental health or changing careers.

Cheers

Matt

A Mountain of Books

I’ve struggled to read this year. I’m not entirely sure why this is the case but it seems to have been a trend for the last couple of years. I love reading and would class myself (as those fond of labels tend to do) as “a reader”, which I know sounds a bit elitist and pretentious, but it’s a moniker I wear proudly. I’m also one of those frustrating people who frequently says, “the book is better” when talking about the film (however the exception to this would be ‘Fight Club’ and at a push ‘Moneyball’, and even those books are still excellent).

I read somewhere recently, probably on Reddit, that the pandemic has affected some peoples ability to concentrate and thus has impacted many readers. I don’t know how true this is, and if I’m honest I wouldn’t blame the worlds current situation as the reason for my not reading so much. I think social media and sites like YouTube – where information is ever changing and given to you in bite sized portions – are more to blame for my decline in devoured books.

There was also a time when I didn’t have a TV in my room and I would read before bed, which was a routine I had for years, but now it just seems so much easier to switch on Netflix and watch some dross to help me drop off to sleep. I’m going to try and break this habit, because it really is a massive waste of time.

Anyway, the books above are well worth a read. Emergency (Neil Strauss) and Spillover (David Quammen) were read as a response to the whole Covid fiasco. Spillover, a non-fiction book about zoonotic infections and “The next human pandemic”, was written in 2012 and is scarily prophetic. Emergency, another non-fiction, is about Strauss’s journey to become ready for “when shit hits the fan” and chronicles Strauss learning everything from escaping and evading capture in an urban environment to extreme wilderness survival and earthquake response.

Patrick Ness and Joe Abercrombie are, well, doing Patrick Ness and Joe Abercrombie things. ‘Nuff said.

Paper Lion is about journalist George Plimpton experiencing a preseason training camp as a “last-string quarterback” for the Detroit Lions in the 1960’s – this is before the game became really serious and could afford such frivolities, and even then it was only the Lions that would allow it.

Into Thin Air details Krakauer’s experience in the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, in which eight climbers were killed and several others were stranded by a storm. It also goes on to give the history of the mountain and it’s subsequent overuse.

This Is How You Lose The Time War by Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone was my most recent read and is unlike any science-fiction book I’ve ever read. More like a romance novel, where the two main protagonists (both deep cover secret agents of opposing sides) move backward and forward through the strands of time, leaving covert letters for one another while evading detection from their respective factions. The writing is amazing and almost poetic at times and actually poetic at others.

That was a rare long blog post, wasn’t it?

Cheers

Don’t Overwater Your Plants

I was watering the one plant that I have in my room today and I may have overdone it a tad. The most difficult part of this piece was working out the colours – I tried a few different approaches with this one which included using different shades of blue for everything as well as going heavy on the line work. Ultimately I settled for something in between. I feel like I’m gaining confidence with this style but it still takes a lot of playing around to get it right, however I don’t mind this because it means I’m pushing myself.

K2

This was originally just a study of K2 but that seemed a little uninteresting, so I decided to make it a bit more informative. This actually took quite a while to complete because I had to constantly reign in the detail, and in the end I feel like the graphic-y quality lends itself well to the piece.

French Girl

This was originally going to be a quick study of a cafe scene, but is now instead a prep piece for an actual traditional acrylic painting I’m going to do. I’m not super good at using traditional media so I wanted to do something that would be relatively simple to execute. I’ll post up the acrylic piece when I’ve done it (hopefully on Friday). Enjoy!

Reading Light

I’m attempting to transition the new style I’ve been using into some character work. This piece is somewhat influenced by Riccardo Guasco, an Italian artist who lives in Wales; “he researches the lightness of form and color of the heat and he does it with a few colors and simple lines. He loves old posters of the 30s, Picasso, Depero, Feininger, Russian suprematism, cubism and heroic cycling of old times.” – https://www.clermont-filmfest.org/en/the-international-jury-welcomes-great-painter-riccardo-guasco/ – I’ve only just discovered this guy and I’m blown away by his skill, his work output is prolific as well.

The cubed style of the illustration above reminds me of the old Hanna Barbera cartoons that I watched so much as a kid, and is perhaps why it fills me with nostalgia. Who didn’t love The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Top Cat, and Yogi Bear?

Under the Rug

I’m not sure why, but this one took ages to get right. Above is the final version, and funnily enough it was also the first idea I had. However, as is often typical when planning pieces, I go through a series of roughs first in order to find something that is perhaps more well thought out or clever. I tried a version where the tower is on fire in an attempt at irony, but it didn’t sit well compositionally (I’m not even sure if that’s a word). I tried adding an FBI undercover van and entitling the piece “Who Watches the Watchtowers?”, but I wasn’t sure without the title whether people would get it. I tried adding a pile of used fire extinguishers – nope, then a caveman trying to make fire – also nope. I almost settled on someone carving Easter Island heads (they’re called Moai, so wikipedia tells me) from the rocks, but I thought people would try to read into the connection between the fire watchtower and the heads (there isn’t one by the way), so I scrapped the idea. I eventually settle on my first rough because it fit the series of illustrations I’d done previously. The best ideas I have usually come fully formed, but every now and again I really have to try and try, and it can be incredibly frustrating, and I just have to settle on a piece because if I don’t it’ll never get finished and I’ll never draw anything ever again… ever. A tad melodramatic perhaps. Anyway, I settled on this idea and I’m not sure what I think of it yet. I hope you enjoy it.

Cheers

Matt

In Case You Hadn’t Noticed…

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been sticking to a certain style recently. I’ve found that in the past the work that I post on social media and on here is “all over the shop”, for lack of a better term. If you came to my website I think you would be hard pressed to say what my area of expertise is… maybe expertise is the wrong word, perhaps “aesthetic” is better? These last few posts have been an attempt at creating a unified and recognisable brand for my online presence. Not all of my work will include the Handyman that’s been making an appearance so far, but I will at least attempt to keep the style the same. I think with all my previous work I’ve been experimenting and testing what works and what doesn’t – some are hits and some are misses, that’s just how it’s been. I think I’m finally working towards something now that is uniquely mine, and I think this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how refined the work is. I don’t doubt that you’ve seen very similar work elsewhere – Ty Carter, Szymon Biernacki, Scott Wills, and Brian Edward Miller are all hugely influential, and I feel like I borrow little bits from all of them. I’m committed to staying on course for the time being, building up a body of work, and seeing how far I can push these pieces. Anyway, I hope you’ve had a great day, and thanks for reading!

Cheers

Matt