Thursday 29 January 2015

New Website!

Guys, I have something big to tell you...I have a brand new website!

It's great to have a bit of a fresh start for 2015, and this is something I've been thinking of doing for a while. I designed my old website myself and built it up from scratch, and don't get me wrong - I loved it - but I had a brief flash of realisation when I wanted to put new work on my website and had an overwhelming feeling of 'Urgghh...I can't be bothered! I'd rather be drawing!". My old website wasn't the easiest to update: I was using a coded slideshow and had to manually adjust the sizes of my illustrations and thumbnails before adding them in one by one. It wasn't horrendous, but definitely enough to keep it on your to do list for a few days too long.

With my new website I'm using Behance Prosite as a base with some custom coding here and there to make it a little more personal. The main clincher for me is that I can upload my work to Behance (which I've been getting into recently!) and push those projects straight to my website - a million times quicker and easier than I was dealing with before. This means a lot more new work, up to date portfolio and the ability to include a few more illustrations, photos and details in each project.

Social media is far more integrated with this new format, with options to share each illustration on every project page. I think that was really lacking from my other websites, and being such a social media butterfly myself - I think it's a really important way to raise your profile. There are a few things that I would have liked to carry over from my old website style, but honestly the benefits far outweigh the negatives and I'm excited to share my work in this new way.  

I've stripped down my portfolio a little, added a few never-before-seen projects and I'll be rearranging it over the coming weeks; but I do love that you get an instant hit of my style, which should hopefully appease those oh-so-impatient internet goers who give a website a second or two to impress. The internet is a harsh place, and you need to make a solid impact as quickly as possible - so sometimes slideshows can only really hold the attention of the very patient, and we all know how busy clients, agents and art directors can be.

I've included a new tab on the navigation which leads to my freelance advice articles on Medium, definitely something I'm going to be beefing up over the next year, so keep an eye out for those!

I do have to say that it's a real shame that Behance Prosite isn't responsive (how?! It's 2015!), and that's been one of the first things that people have commented on when I've promoted the new site. If I was more confident with coding I would definitely attempt to wrangle some responsiveness in there, but I'm more of a code editor than a start-from-scratch-er, and I'm very concious of breaking it. Behance have been saying for years that an update is just around the corner, and I seriously hope it is - come on guys!

So if you've read this far, you're probably one of those more patient interneters I just mentioned - so if you could take the time to have a little look through the new site, and let me know what you think, I'd really appreciate it. Hopefully everyone feels as excited about it as I do!

Wednesday 28 January 2015

'Investing In Stockport' Animation Design

Towards the end of last year I was asked to work on my very first animation for a client! Chog Zoo Animation wanted me on board for a commission to work on an animation for Stockport Council - and I jumped at the chance to work as part of a team, and see my characters in motion!

The animation was based around the not-so-nice proposed budget cuts, and the idea of working with the local community to hear their opinion on moving forwards.

I worked closely with Chog Zoo in creating early concept art, character design and storyboarding before taking the floor and illustrating the assets before they worked their animation wizardry. 

I first illustrated the main character Pippi, and steadily brought in a whole cast of characters to represent the Stockport community and support the narrative. We included backgrounds and buildings showing key locations in Stockport and the surrounding Greater Manchester area; and represented the issues and that Stockport is facing, as well as the progress that is being made.

We were lucky enough to have the oh-so-talented actress Josie Cerise on board for the audio, and I'm very much hoping to work with Chog Zoo and Josie again in the future (maybe on a slightly more fictional piece!). It was fantastic to branch out into moving image, and they're a seriously great bunch of people!

The final video faced some severe editing and script-changes, but it's great to see councils engaging their communities through artistic animation. You can see the full video below!

Wednesday 21 January 2015

National Hugging Day 2015

This is a bit of an old illustration, but it's that day again - National Hugging Day! So grab your buddies and show them you care.

Monday 12 January 2015

Illustrated Advent

Following on from my Inktober challenge a few months ago, I decided to grab that motivation by the horns and take part in 'Illustrated Advent', that is, to create one festive illustration per day in the run up to Christmas.

Sorry, you're probably sick of snowy scenes and Christmas jumpers - but this year I allowed myself some time off and thought this was definitely worth a share post-December.

In a way Illustrated Advent was a little more work than Inktober in that I was creating full colour illustrations each day (rather than a relatively quick ink painting). But, having a festive theme definitely made it easier to snap ideas to life. I did find that there's a fair bit of pressure with the festive theme, just in terms of trying to create something original, there's so so so many Christmas illustrations out there and it can be hard to create something with your stamp on it.

I played around with different formats of illustration: some sweet spot illustrations of snuggly animals, Wintery landscapes, characters, an animated gif for Christmas Day and these collection illustrations of festive knits, treats and foliage! I re-purposed a few of my recent Christmas card illustrations for some of the days, which allowed me to tackle some hefty deadlines I was facing with commissioned work (it's not cheating is it? Nah!).  It's been great to allow myself some introspection over my work, I think it's clear from looking at the full collection that I'm very into my coral, raspberry and teal colour palettes at the moment.  It's one of those things that really makes you evaluate how you're working.

I really love some of the work I came out with through Illustrated Advent (and Inktober), so I do think it's worth taking on challenges like this, if only to force yourself to use your time productively rather than procrastinating.  

These drawing-a-day challenges aren't something I'm going to do all the time, it's hard to maintain a certain level of quality without burning out, and I never like the feeling of something so creative becoming a chore.  But I've had a really great response to them, and you can see the full collection on Pinterest and Behance!
So here we are in 2015, and I've been making a lot of plans.  I have a great couple of commissions on the go (which I should be able to tell you about soon, they're bloomin' exciting!) and some serious creative goals for the coming months. Have a great start of the year!

Friday 9 January 2015

Draw North West Poster Illustration

As a great little warm up project for the start of 2015, I was asked to illustrate this month's Draw North West poster. You may have seen my post about DNW a few months ago, and hopefully you've popped down to one yourself, but in the simplest form: Draw North West is a Manchester meet up for creatives to chat, drink and scribble silly things.

I've been going to DNW since the first meet a good few years ago, and I've met so many brilliant people so far.  It's definitely worth dragging yourself away from the ol' desk and heading to these sorts of creative gatherings - at least you'll be spending time disconnected from the internet, and you might well just come back with a bucketful of inspiration!

The next meetup is 27th January, 7:30pm in the Kosmonaut Bar basement (Tariff Street, Manchester NQ). Hopefully see you there!