BiccyBlog

A window into my world


If my portfolio is a tangible demonstration of my skills and experiences as an illustrator, then my blog - this blog - is a chance to explain my interests, influences and motives. This is my covering letter to the world...

Traditionally a reclusive person with a natural aversion to social media; I often endeavour to limit my exposure to the vast wilderness of the Internet. Couple this with an on-going poor relationship with the written word and it becomes quite clear why this blog has taken so long to materialise.

Not intended as a manual of practice, nor to speak on behalf of any of my peers, this blog is simply a vehicle to provide some insight into my work. Here I will provided regular posts ranging from case studies, recent interests, and artistic development to better understand the inner workings of a freelance life.



Fuck You Internet

Late Night

It may have gone unnoticed as the weeks and months have peeled by, but this is to be my first addition to the BiccyBlog in some time.

I wish I could excuse my prolonged absence by recounting some intriguing adventure in distant lands. This would not be true. Nor have I been engaged in a deep introspective endeavour; tackling the grand existential questions and reconnecting with one’s ever-elusive inner child. This also would be a work of fiction as I still have yet to discover my spirit animal…

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 The monotony of existence

Chosen for comfort as opposed to any pretense of an ensemble. Tracksuit bottoms and an old ragged t-shirt. Four walls, looming ominously like sentinels – guards that watch over the only resident within. The constant hum of a computer fan battles a droll of music to combine into white-noise that becomes a dull ache focused deep between the eyeballs. Shackled to a daily endeavour that has long lost any significance. Life has become a routine, time broken only by sleep. Sustenance, shower, sleep. What is it all for? Every day is the same…

Sometimes I loose track. Maybe this is my own life. Maybe it is a fabrication.

Sitting alone at my drawing board I find it difficult to articulate my feelings. Focusing on a blank canvas, I put pressure on myself to conceive something original to express my frustrations. At once I am both exhausted and inactive.

Naturally, I start to think of a character, endowing them with these emotions. Boredom, fear, lethargy. Soon a form starts to follow, with a personality beginning to develop. A creature of the night for which time has lost all meaning, the reference points long since removed by a prolonged sense of solitude.

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Exploring character Rigging

Set around a tree-dwelling community of squirrels, ‘Trouble Up Top’ is a concept idea I had for a children’s story some time ago. Based on a hierarchical structure (in both a literal distribution of real estate within the tree and also within the leadership organization of the gang) the story arch unfolds in a series of misfortunate events, set-up by subordinates and subsequently passed along the chain of command for a resolution. With our protagonist in a position of power as ‘the Boss’, the moral focus of the story is the responsibility of leadership as we see the hardship he endures to keep ‘the family’ functioning.

In the wise words of Uncle Ben (from Spider-Man, not the guy who makes the rice) – ‘…with great power. Comes great responsibility’

For some time, I endeavored to develop a solid draft for the story, but eventually the project found its way to the back burner – having been shelved in my thoughts by other pressing matters with the full intention of picking it up somewhere down the line. Rich with potential; the project still holds plenty of promise with the emerging of a visual aesthetic and the glimmer of a core idea that simply needs time to explore. Like digging into a vein of cookie within a tub of ice cream.

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What I want to be when I grow up…

When I grow up, I want to be... a Solider

When I grow up, I want to be… a Solider

It’s a question that everyone faces at some point in their life. Perhaps in school by a curious teacher, or may be an internal monologue as you try and figure out your place in the world. At its simplest it can be an innocent query to help inform a child’s interest during early development – ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’.

For me, I never really had a clear idea of this. At one point as a primary school pupil – with my academic strengths in maths and numeracy – I once asserted that I wanted to be an Accountant (of all things). As I grew older into my teens I became less certain and bounced around from one fad to another with no lasting commitment. Even now; mature by an account of my many years, I do not feel like a ‘grown up’. I mean; is this really it for me? From now to the grave!

To recapture the promise of youth and endeavour to defy the complacency of adulthood, I set out to utilise the magic of the question and ask myself ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’.

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Ownership, Licensing and Creative Control

Picasso in the Park

Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.

“It’s you, Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.”

So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the woman his work of art.

“It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?”

“Five thousand dollars*” the artist replied.

“B-b-but, what?” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!”

Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”**

I’m not quite sure where I first heard this – nor am I sure if this incident actually ever occurred – but as a parable it serves an important purpose to illustrate a few key points about commissioning creative content, whether dealing with artists, writers, actors, or musicians. As an illustrator, I will not profess to speak for other professions in which I am not qualified, but this tale indicates that the fee for a commission should reflect its value, and this is not solely based on the working time of a project. In this blog entry, I will discuss intellectual property and licensing, as these are often subjects I have to tackle with first-time commissioners or people who are unaware of the position of an artist.

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From digital to tangible

Digital drawing software can be a great tool, allowing an artist to produce and edit work in a way that has transformed the capabilities of a freelance creative.

But it’s not all gravy…

Working digitally has taken away the tactile interaction with one’s work, acting as a buffer between hand and art. This can be frustrating and create a sense of disassociation. Bits of kit are available that help to reduce this boundary, allowing the user to manipulate pixels and vectors with a tablet by mimicking the motions of hand drawing but it’s not that same as the intimate process of getting down-and-dirty with a clump of clay or paintbrush. Regardless of the cuts, grazes and splinters, there is something that is missing from digital techniques that can be quite rewarding when working with your hands.

In this blog post, I will briefly document the production of my ‘Monkey Balls’ illustration (on display in the ‘Monkey Room’ at the Mile End Climbing Wall – London) as a way to engage with a piece that was exclusively conceived in the computer.

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Finding expression in the language of the line

Emerging from beneath my rock I decided to take a respite from my solitude and re-engage with the outside world. In no way was this to be in any physical sense for that would involve a clean shave and fresh underwear; this was purely going to be an exercise to participate with the online community by contributing to Friday Illustration.

A simple concept, Friday Illustration is a weekly art activity with no obligation and very little restrictions. The premise is simple, each week members of the community suggest a single word theme and the chosen proposal is used as an open brief for those who participate. This week the topic was ‘Stuffed‘ and there were already plenty of submissions early doors. People stuffed into boxes, strange taxidermy experiments, and (of course) characters who have over indulged.

This would be a chance for me to play with a casual brief and take the opportunity to work on a few things. In this blog post, I will discuss this project, and use it to demonstrate a key part of my aesthetic: the attention to line expression.

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Digging through piles of the past

Visiting with my dearest mother, I decided to have a rummage through the attic and dig out some boxes of old drawings. With a healthy measure of curiosity, I endeavoured through itchy fibreglass insulation and cobwebs in the hope of discovering some forgotten treasure – kinda like in The Goonies. Retrieving my bounty was no easy feat, relocating to the kitchen to assess my finds in the hope of uncovering something that would help reflect upon my early years of work. Going through old sketchbooks, piles of loose papers and notes, I was a little bit disappointed with my past self. To my eyes, there was a lot of crap.

Sure there was plenty to be nostalgic about, but much of what I had once created with pride was now viewed with negativity. Sketches I had made with the firmest of convictions now seemed to be infantile and poorly executed. Self-deprecating doodles seemed trivial and predictable while experiments with medium appeared clumsy.

‘I thought I was good at drawing’ – I breathed under my breath as I systematically flicked through the old notebooks and loose papers.

‘You have to start somewhere’ – came a voice over my shoulder.

Consumed by the indignation of my former self, I had forgotten to consider how all of these angry scrawlings and random doodles had built over the years to inform the illustrator I am today. In this blog, I will look through a few of my old drawings and discuss the evolving process of one’s artistic approach.

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