Friday, 8 May 2009


I rung up Moira Hey as she had agreed to answer a few questions about her work and working practice. I made notes and below is what I found out from our conversation.

I asked Moira what inspires her and she replied sayng that theere is never going to be one particular thing that inspires her, inspiration is there all the time in everything. She spoke about how her partner works as an engineer and she often finds things that inspire her when she is rummiging around in his workshop. Even dirty and old things can inspire you, she said, sometimes in the way that you want to create the complete opposite of it. She told me how she does not have a favourite artist or designder, as she looks to different designers for inspiration on different projects. She told me about the project she is working on at the moment for which the brief requires her to work very paintily, for this project she is looking at the work of Andrew Hem for inspiration as he works in a very paintily illustrative way.

I asked Moira whether she is happier working to a strict or an open brief and she said that it didn't bother her. She is just happy to be working and producing illustrations. She spoke about how it can sometimes be annoying when clients give a very open brief but when they see your work they want to chnge everything and it can be a bit of a hasstle.

We spoke about how she works and it turns out she naturally works in a similar way to me. We both find it more difficult working in a very linear way and recording everything. Moira said how she spends time just thinking and not producing sketches and then further sketches etc, and this way she produces her best work. She told me that she works in a very abstract way, often starting out very abstract focusing on the mood and feeling of the piece and then later on producing the illustration.

After speaking about working in the industry, I found out that it can be difficult to have a constant income cos work can sometimes be hard to find. Moira said that it is harder to make money now than when she started illustrating 30 years ago. She stressed the importance of self promotion and said that although it is the more boring part of the job (visiting companies, showing her portfolio, working on the website etc) it is vital to continue promoting yourself, even when you are an established illustrator. She told me how important this is and said that you just have to keep going if being an illustrator is what you want to do. She often makes calls to buisnesses to promote herself and her work and she told me that when I get jobs, I should stay in touch with everyone because you never know when they might want more work done.
Moira told me that she finds it hard to promote herself sometimes, so she imagines she is a product and talks about herself in the third person, this way she finds it easier to talk about herself and her strengths.
I asked her about how she got started in the industry and she explained that originally she wanted to do a fine art course but did not get accepted, then she got on an illustration course by chance and from there she went freelance. She told me that because it is hard starting out, she had to find other ways to make money until she had enough illustration work coming in to focus purely on that. Moira had sme advice for me on starting out as an illustrator and she said that training to vbe an apprentice would be very helpful as you get a real insight into the working world. Although she was never an apprentice herself, people she knows from her illustrator group (who she meets up with regularly to discuss illustration and ideas) worked as an apprentice at one point in time and found it to be a great learning experience. She also told me how it is good to work with other people at the start so you have a range of people around you with different qualities and from this you learn a lot. She spoke about how scary it can be trying to get into the illustration industry but you just have to do it, "if you are not scraed, you are not alive", she said.

Mira has never worked for an agency because they always rejected her because her work was too versatile. I found this strange because I though companies would hire people with a range oif different skills but aparently they want people who are good at one thing so they can quickly associate them to jobs rather than having to look through their work. Agencies are just lazy really.

I asked about her studio and working space and she said it is messy, but she always knows where everything is. She told me about her friends who also work as illustrators and she was surprised that many of them work in spotless studios with no mess and just 4 white walls. She told me that she would never be able to work this way as she needs a visual stimulus to work and being in a blank room would just drain her of inspiration.

This talk was fun and informative and gave me a lot of information about working as a freelance illustrator. I did ask her for advice but she said she wasn't brave enough to give me any solid advice and just said that whatever happens I just need to keep going for it, and she told me to stick at my degree no matter what because it is a process of learning that I need to go through.

Thursday, 7 May 2009


Grafikprint is a small graphic design company I heard about from a friend. I thought it would be useful talking to someone there and finding out what it is like working for a small company such as this as it is very possibly the way I would start out myself once I graduate. I recently contacted Grafikprint asking a few questions about their work and here are the e-mails I received:

My names James and I am in my second year of an illustration degree at Stockport College. I was just wondering, if you have a spare 5 minutes, if I could ask you a few questions about your company and the work you do. I know you are probably very busy but any help would be appreciated.


James Richardson


Hi James,
Yeh thats fine id love to help, just reply with whatever questions you have and il do my best to help you.


Sam Hobson

After e-mailing a questionnaire I received this response:


Here you go James,

The work you do, do you find it hard working to deadlines, like does having to rush something effect how good the design is?

Our main area of work is signwriting, mainly vehicle wraps and motorcycle graphics, although we do also supply banners and signs and any graphic design people require.
Keeping to deadlines can be hard because the people who want the products generally don't understand the whole process of designing something, being in a rush definitely does effect how good the design is, although sometimes i find that if i have too long to spend on a design i can never decide on a final design! but thats just me!

How do you promote your company and how hard is it finding work?

We promote with all sorts of advertising. We take flyers and stickers to most large motocross and motorcycle events and also have stands at most trade shows with giveaways ect.
Also the internet and websites are vital for out business. Working with some large companies gives our company a high profile and we try to include our logo and contact number on any work we complete. At the moment even with the current financial state we have a large amount of work and are not finding it difficult to get work, this may be because instead of buying new vehicles, people are trying to make the best out of what they have, wanting new designs and fresh looking graphics.

Where do you get your inspiration from for your designs? Are there any artists/ designers that you often look at?

We try to take inspiration from all areas of art and design. As the field we work in typically has never been cutting edge as far as design is concerned, we try to stand out from the crowd as a young and different company offering the the same quality service. Some companies we use for inspiration are One Industries, who are the leading producer of motocross graphics, 123 Klan and other design companies. Its important to visit the races as you see everything thats going on with the bikes and its also vital to network with all the customers to hear what they want from us. As for the vehicle wrapping side of things we look at all sorts of design magazines and websites and are always looking for new ideas.

Do you work in a team on projects or does everybody work individually?

We do both, for small routine jobs we tend to work individually just to get the job done and out of the door. As for large projects and vehicle wraps we tend to all work together and bring as many ideas to the table as possible and hopefully produce a stunning product.

What do you feel are your strengths/ weaknesses?

I think our strengths are the new ideas and young attitude we bring to a market typically ruled by older people with the same old designs. Our weaknesses can be finding it hard to keep to deadlines and sometimes our organization of late as we have had such a large volume of work.

Do you find it hard to come up with original designs? And is there anything you do to help you when you are stuck?

Sometimes it is really difficult to come up with a new idea or design as you probably find yourself, usually i find browsing some websites or magazines and having a break to just do something else like hoover up! although some days i find i cant think of anything i like and i think that everyone must have days like this!

When you are given a brief, do they let you design whatever you want or do you have to follow guidelines? And do you feel you work better when you are left to design whatever you want or when you are told what to do?

Our briefs tend to be very different, some people can be really exacting in what they want giving us exact pantone references to colours and some people also draw out or design what they want and pretty much ask us to copy what they have done. Whereas others for just give us for example a van or motorbike as a blank canvas and the name and logo of their company and let us go crazy with what we want. Most people give us a few ideas as to what they want and colours etc but then leave most of the design up to us. One problem with this can be people wanting lots of changes made after we show them the first design, and they don't want to pay for the time it takes to do additional design.

Hope thats helped, any more questions just drop me an email and il try and help!



(Not finished yet)

Just another canvas that I've been working on at home really. Not too much reason behind it, mainly an aesthetic piece with the intention of practicing using acrylics again as I feel I have ignored this way of working somewhat. I wanted to produce a nice image that showed some kind of confusion. The rectangle on the wall will be a plug socket and the bird will be picking a wire out of a plug thinking it is a worm. The carpet is painted to look a bit like grass and the wallpaper to look like leaves. Sounds rubbish I know, but I've done some sketches and its going to be immense :)

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


I think  I connect with Florence's because we both rely heavily on the use of line. Her work is all hand drawn and even the sections of block colour have been filled in with either lines or dots. I like the obvious effort that goes into her work, and although her aims are purely aesthetic, it is clear that she really wants to make something look beautiful and puts a lot of time and effort into her work. Florence works as both an  illustrator and textile artist producing soft, flowing pictures and patterns both for her personal work and for comissions. Despite not being any real meaning behind the work, I love it because it is pure and beautiful. I don't think there is enough beautiful art work out there anymore so it is nice when you see some.

images, blog, work etc:


Jason Munn is an American poster designer and also one of my favourite designers at this moment in time. He does illustrations for magazines and also lot of poster work for shops and bands I like such as death cab for cutie and modest mouse. His designs are all bold, simple and striking, and there is just something really sweet about his work. Munn has an awesome imagination and his magazine illustrations are always very clever as well as being visually beautiful. It is the simplicity of his work that makes it beautiful, along with a really good sense of composition. Sticking to a muted calm pastel colour scheme throughout, Munn produces really nice, relaxing artwork, often using creams instead of whites to make the image softer and easier on the eye. 

Jason Munn is someone I constantly refer to, for my poster project, my Secret History project and basically if I just need to brush up on simple i.e. what colours work well together. I have a lot of his work in a book at home and it is a book that is almost never closed.

His work is available below


Damian Gascoigne v Otto Dettmer

I chose to compare these two designers as I feel that they are the most exciting of the speakers that we have had lectures from.
Both are illustrators/ graphic artists but from their talks it is clear that they have some differences as well as similarities. From a visual point of view, Ottos work is more print based, involving a lot of block colours, simple shapes, designs and some photography. Damian works more with line and his work involves a lot of sketching, drawing, and animation. Damian talked about how he works in a team and always has people to help and people that help him. He spoke about how the people around him, and people in general have quite a large impact and influence on his work. He enjoys working on projects with other people with different skills because the end result is always something exciting and something you could not have done individually. Otto on the other hand prefers to work alone, he told us how he didn't like the idea of people copying his work and he liked the space and the freedom of being alone to come up with original ideas and do exactly what he wanted.
Both artists are very much involved in recording everything that is going on around them because they both believe that ideas can come from anywhere and at any time. Damian spoke about how he never leaves the house without either a camera or a sketchbook and Otto explained how he just draws everything.
Both Damian and Otto spend a lot of time on their own personal work. Otto creates his own compositions and images which he puts into books whereas Damian creates sketchbooks of drawings, characters and other ideas with the intention of possibly turning them into animations. They both believe that you should be creating things all the time as an artist, this always comes in handy when you get a commission because you will have a lot of past work and ideas that you can look to for inspiration.
Damian and Otto have two very different personalities, and this comes across in the work they produce. Damian's animations are fast moving, funny, modern, cool and when he gave his talk he was loud, funny and someone who was openly excited by design. Otto was much more quiet and restrained, and the images that he creates are well thought out, sensible and planned.
Otto spoke about the fact that being an illustrator can be tough, sometimes not having any commissions or work and having to think of other ways to make money. He keeps all his previous illustrations on a website where he allows people to buy and reuse his old images at a reduced price as a way of making extra money. He told us that this idea is working out well for him as some companies do not have much money to spend on paying for illustrations or time to wait and so they can choose from his array of past work and use it immediately and cheaply. He spent a while telling us how much he could earn from his work and he also brought up the fact that art is a hard thing to put a price on so he often had to get in touch with the AOI to discuss pricing before he could give a quote for a piece of work. Damian did not say much about his commissions, although the did mention that he is a lot happier when he is given a very wide brief which allows him to work how he wants rather than being restrained by the criteria of a strict brief. He also mentioned though, that unluckily, this does not happen very often. Both designers are happiest when producing work that they enjoy and are interested in, Otto spoke about how quite often his briefs do not give him space to experiment and sometimes everything is set out and he simply has to put the pieces together. He said that this is very easy money but he doesn't feel like he is able to put any of himself into the work.
Otto stressed how important self-promotion is and even though he has been working as an illustrator for years, he still spends a lot of his spare time promoting his work through books and posters which he sends to companies that could possibly commission him to do work. Damian, in the past, has promoted his work through shows and gallery displays. One piece of work that he spoke about in quite some detail was 'the love books'. These sketchbooks/ diaries were turned into an animation which he projected onto an enormous book in an art gallery.
After listening to both talks, I have started to think about whether I would prefer to work in a team with other illustrators, or on my own as a freelance designer. Both have their advantages,  working freelance would give me more freedom to produce and promote the work I like but working as a team in a company would mean a steady income as well as having help there whenever you needed it. I thought that if you worked for a company you wouldn't get as much individual recognition but Damian Gascoigne is fairly well known and he started out working for a company. I guess it doesn't matter as much who you work with as long as the work you produce is good and you make sure to promote yourself well, I now know how important that is. Both talkers made me realise a lot about working in the industry. Beforehand I thought it was all easy and that the work would come to me but if you really want to make it as a designer or illustrator you have to work hard, keep producing your own work and promoting yourself and just live it rather than thinking about it as a nine to five job. 


This film is directed, scripted, composed and set in the most amazing way. Every shot is well  considered and the imagery in this film is stunning. This film makes me realise that you can find beauty in the most simple things and the most obvious places. It honestly has made me open my eyes more wherever I am and I now seem to find things wherever I go that visually appeal to me and that I can use for ideas for my work, both personal and college.

"..and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life".

Monday, 4 May 2009


When I started this project I had no real idea what direction it was going to go in so I began by building up research on planes, aircraft and birds. After collecting, photographing and drawing I came up with the idea of basically taking 'flight' and removing the flight from it. For example, the photos below show some of my work after I had photographed planes, extracted information and reproduced that information to create new images which no longer visibly resembled anything to do with flight.

These next images show me taking my work completely out of context. I used the images I had made by extracting aeroplane information and photographed them in scenarios that had nothing to do with flight,  removing almost all obvious meaning from my work. The photos below are my favourites out of the ones I took. I tried to take a leaf out of Charlie Whites book and produce photos that were bright and colourful and i used objects that looked odd and slightly out of place.


Here are the e-mails from a conversation I had with Illustrator John Howe:

> Message: Hi, my name is James Richardson and I am currently
> studying for an Illustration degree in England. Not meaning to take
> up much of your time I was wondering if it would be possible for me
> to ask you a few questions about your work, both to help with my
> degree, and because I find your work enchanting and beautiful.
> Please get back to me if you have five minutes spare.
> Thank you very much

Reply> Hi James,

I'd be happy to help if I can. A few questions would be fine.

Best wishes,


(It is looking like I wont get a response before my deadline but at least when John replies it will give me some insight into the methods of a practitioner)


Paolozzi is an artist that I often look to for inspiration. Recognised as one of the founders of Pop-art, he creates busy pieces of work often from found images and materials. His compositions were, at the time, frowned upon and not viewed as fine art. I remember reading about him once and someone had said that nobody is going to want a piece of art that has been stuck together with sellotape. Paolozzi continued working his own way ignoring the views of people around him and questioned what fine art really is. I like Paolozzi's work, the fact he doesnt try to hide anytheing, i.e. he leaves in the sellotape and glue to become part of the work and I like the way his work tells me that I do not have to work in any certain way to produce 'real art'.
My favourite piece of his is called Aeschesuss and although it contains hundreds of objects and pieces of visual information, you can tell that every piece he put down was considered and he spent a long time deciding how to make his composition perfect. 



This is always a band I tend to listen to when I'm stuck and need inspiration. I wouldn't say they were one of my favourite bands but they always make me think and look at things differently. When this band came out they were completely new, nobody had heard anything like it before and even now they are still original and inspirational. Music in general is a big inspiration for me and I always use it to help spark off new ideas and think of new directions to take my work in. 


I collect too much crap. Everything I see that I think I could use in a piece of art, I pick up, and now I have no space in my room. 
Train tickets for example, I thought if I collected enough of them I would be able to do something amazing with them but I still haven't had an idea. I just have a whole shelf covered in over 200 train tickets. I like the pattern, colour and the type on them and I am thinking eventually something has to come up that they would be useful for.

Train tickets: Future Illustration


I decided to post this purely because I cannot walk past anything made by kidrobot without stopping to look at it. I have lots of these toys at home and I just like the simplicity of the characters really. Kidrobot often gets graffiti artists and graphic designers to design some of his limited edition toys. I like having these around because they are just little works of art as well as being fun.


Charlie White is a photographer that one of my friends introduced me to. I like the idea of fantasy in his photos, as well as the way his pictures look like slides out of a film. He has a way of making his sets look fake, even though they are often just real houses or rooms that have been lit or photographed strangely. He also uses a lot of photoshop in his work, often getting real models to pose and then photoshopping them into strange characters or beasts. Everything in his photos looks clean, colourful and oddly perfect giving an eerie feeling to his already strange pictures.

"Charlie White doesn't take photographs. He constructs them. Like a Hollywood director, he orchestrates scenes, commissions sets, hires actors, and employs a visual effects team. Then he oversees a grueling postproduction process in which each element of the shoot is digitized, scrutinized, and perfected down to the pixel. In essence, he captures an entire f/x film in one frame". -Jenn Shreve-

You can find all his photographs and work on his website-


> To: 
> Subject: Regarding your work
> Hi my name is James Richardson and I'm currently studying for my illustration
> degree. Not meaning to take up much of your time i was wondering if there is
> any chance I could ask you a few questions about your work, both to help with
> my degree and because I find your work beautiful and intriguing.
> Please get back to me if you have five minutes spare.
> Thank you very much,
> James Richardson

Hello James,
Thanks for your kind words - 'beautiful' and 'intriguing' did indeed press
the right buttons! Though it's a marvel to me that output from someone of my
age does seem to have appeal for the student age-group. Very heartening.
Generally I'm happy to assist art&design students, though I'd like a bit
more info about you first. In particular, where are you studying? This year
I've already acted as mentor/sounding-board for a couple of students in my
general locality and I'm aware that you could all finish up repeating the
same 'lines', which might make your course tutors lift a quizzical eyebrow.
Because of that, I'd prefer not to conduct a Q&A session via email. Would
you be prepared to do this over the phone, (or even a visit if that's
logistically possible for you), and then present any useful info from me, in
your own words?
Let me know if you're comfortable with that and contact me again to make any
All best,

> To: 
> Subject: RE: Regarding your work
> Hi Moira,I was just wondering if you have the spare time for a chat over the
> phone. I would love to have a talk about your work and interests and studio
> etc if you are not too busy, and possibly talk about visiting over summer to
> see where and how you work.I am snowed under with work at the moment and I am
> hoping that talking to a professional like yourself will give me some
> inspiration.
> Thanks again,
> James

Hi James,
Yes, of course - my apologies for overlooking you! In your last email you
let me know you were based at Manchester; when I suggested an
'interview-style' visit I was thinking in more 'local' terms. I've had
recent contact from a couple of students at Cardiff, and one at Carmarthen
which made it somewhat easier to conduct their questioning face-to-face. I
live/work in a very rural area with only intermittent bus service accessible
1mile away, so it would be much more appropriate to try and assist you over
the phone. Whether I can be 'inspirational' is another matter - keep an open

No doubt you have my phone no from the website? (01570 470075). No point
giving you a mobile no as we have no signal here. Particular days or times
of day probably won't matter too much though I tend to walk the dogs
mid-morning and am likely to be preparing/eating the evening meal between

Below however, is when I'm definitely NOT available:
Most Tuesday evenings from 6pm
Monday 4th May - morning&afternoon
Thursday 7th May - afternoon&evening
Weds 13th May - all day
Friday 15th May - all day

Look forward to speaking with you,


Moira Hay is a Welsh illustrator whose drawing style I just fell in love with. She has a very delicate use of line and an amazing eye for detail. Her limited distribution of colour and detail gives the drawings a certain secretive feeling to them and force you to use your imagination to fill in the blank space. I have contacted Moira regarding her work.


Saul Bass is a world recognised graphic designer, famous for his cut-outs and simplified imagery and animations. His work is always simple, using block colours and cut out shapes to form his compositions. My favourite animation of his is one I came across on the internet and the link is below. I love the way he keeps everything so simple yet still manages to make things exciting and interesting. His silhouettes are simplified to the point that there is nothing other than the basic shape of what he is trying to portray. This kind of imagery comes across well in posters because what he is representing is bold and instantly recognisable. I looked to Saul Bass for inspiration when I started my Computer Apps animation project. I was required to animate a 2D flat character and knowing that Saul Bass always works with flat shapes I thought watching some of his work would help me with mine. I kept my animation quite simple and avoided overcomplicating things in an attempt to produce a more striking and composed piece of animation.

A lot of his work is available to see on this site-

Sunday, 3 May 2009


Here is some of my sketchbook work for the 6x6 brief. I had to do two illustrations for the short story "Under the bridge". This story was about a boy living in a poor scruffy neighbourhood who had been kicked out of his house and had to spend the night fending for himself. The story is gloomy and unfriendly and I wanted to get this across in my work. I used a lot of greys and muted colours in my sketchbook to echo the cold and unfeeling world in the story. The 'brid
ge' in the story is the one place where the boy was safe, and the only place he could stay. This became a focal point in my illustration as it was one of the most significant places in the story. I tried out many ways of drawing and representing the bridge, some more successful than others. I tried using the idea of a hand acting as a bridge to show the comfort and safety that it brought to the boy. A hand covering something shows protection and warmth and I used this idea in one of my final illustrations. The drawing with the rainbow is one of my favourite illustrations although I didn't use it for my final piece. I like the way the rainbow above the boy represents the bridge as being something warm and happy in an otherwise dark and unfeeling place. I used the blood on the boys face to give the impression that the story is a bit dark otherwise the mood of the illustration might have been too happy. Even though I did not use this illustration for my final piece, I kept
 the idea of the rainbow which I did use. I wanted to make the main illustration bold and dark and I tried a few ways of showing the mood of the story rather than picking out and drawing images. I used a lot of paint, textures and dull colours to get cross the overall mood of the story.
My two final pieces are below:


We were told to design and make a character out of wood. So here is mine:

The idea came from vinyl toy design, japanese character design, and Illustrator based character design. I wanted to make something that was a bit cute and a bit weird and I think I have succeeded with that. I used a scalpel to carve the shape out of a block of pine and then sanded, primed and painted the character on. 


David Carson is a graphic designer who I happened to stumble across by accident. The thing that made him stand out for me was that his work isn't all perfect, simplified and boring like I find a lot of graphic design is. Carson uses a lot of typography but he plays with the text and comes up with unusual compositions and ways of getting his message across. He also uses a lot of found material, photography and drawing to make his work exciting, busy and interesting.
The link below is to a video of a talk given by David Carson where he talks about his work and about graphic design as a whole. He is very funny when you watch him in real life and his humour also comes through in his work, especially when he fully explains everything. He speaks about good and bad graphic design and uses the quote "don't mistake legibility for communication", saying that just because something is legible doesn't mean it communicates anything properly. This is true and when I heard this it made me want to listen to him carefully. He also said that the only way to be original is to take inspiration from yourself and your upbringing because you are the only person that has lived your life and there will be things there that nobody else would think to do.
Carson is one of the best graphic designers I have come across in the past few years because his work does not feel like steriotypical graphic design. His collages remind me almost of the work of Eduardo Paolozzi in the way that both designers make busy, crowded compositions with lots of things going on and with a lot of energy. Carson though focusses mainly on type though whereas Paolozzi focussed more on the illustrative side of design.

This video of David Carson is well worth watching if you have any interest in graphic design at all. It is very interesting and informative as well as being very funny.


For my concept studies elective I chose to do a self portrait project. I wanted to find a way of showing myself as truthfully as possible and rather than painting or photographing myself, I decided to keep a journal with me for about a month and a half. This journal built up quickly as I used it to record my thoughts, feelings, things I saw, things I found, conversations I heard and things from places I had been. It is interesting what you see and hear from day to day. I recorded everything. All the little things that I would normally forget about a minute after they happened were written or stuck down in my book and all the tiny things I would usually overlook became art. This journal became very personal to me and there were some things that I would have to write in code to keep them secret, although most things I did write out in full. When I had filled my journal I identified pictures and words that I liked and used them to produce 4 large canvasses which turned out to look quite striking. The thing I enjoyed most about this project was the journey I took. I even learnt some things about myself that I didn't realise were true. 
My final pieces make more sense when viewed with my journal but I like the idea of making people think and letting them make their own mind up about my work and what it means. I feel this project is much more honest than a self portrait painting or even a photograph because it shows much more about me. 

I would post pictures of my final pieces but it seems like somebody has thrown them away :/