Thursday, 6 May 2010



There's nothing on it yet, but give me until my degree show and it will be up and running

Monday, 3 May 2010


This is a few of my (soon to be) final pieces for my Music is Free major project. They are all based around free music and the idea of taking down the music empire. I'm not going to post all my work because it would take a million years, but here's a few:


By the way, Music is Free doesn't have a website at the moment but if you want to know what they're about just go to their facebook at (that address directs you to the facebook, im not an idiot).


This is just some of my T-shirt designs, something I do in my spare time. Just thought I'd post so you can all have a looky.

The shirts I design and make are not really influenced by any other clothing companies but I do like the shirts by two companies called volcom and element. Their designs are very arty and illustrative rather than type or graphic based and it is this that I can relate to because it coincides more with my own work. Although some of their work looks a bit amateur and unprofessional, their designs are still fun. Some examples are posted below.

Sunday, 2 May 2010


The rise of the authorstrator.
More and more illustrators are becoming more than just illustrators. Back in the day an illustrator would produce work for a client, the way that the client wants it to look and then move onto the next job. These days, many illustrators do more than just editorials. If you go into a shop such as Magma in Manchester you will see hundreds of self published books, toys, badges, games etc. all designed and made by illustrators.
More and more illustrators are becoming more than just illustrators. Back in the day an illustrator would produce work for a client, the way that the client wants it to look and then move onto the next job. These days, many illustrators do more than just editorials. If you go into a shop such as Magma in Manchester you will see hundreds of self published books, toys, badges, games etc. all designed and made by illustrators. Maybe the modern illustration market is too competitive and some people have reversed and had to rethink about what they want to do. Or, maybe due to the fact that most illustrators are freelance, the uncertainty of work and income may push people to looking for a second job on the side, which in this case would be an author or toy designer. Another possibility for illustrators doing their own thing is that often illustration/ graphic design work has to stick to a strict brief and there is not much of a window for you to fully express yourself. Desgning books/ toys etc. on the side gives the artist a way of making a living and also be able to express himself in any way he likes. There is quite a large market at the moment for designer toys and I think that many artists/ illustrators are trying to make the most of that. One of the most well known toy makers is 'Kidrobot', who was started by an artist called Paul Budnitz. As well as his designer toys he has also started to make clothes and still sells art. At the end of the day, if you are an artist and you have spare time, why not do something else on the side? It is extra income, another way of expressing yourself, and because there isn't a direct client, you can work the way you want to without the constraints of a brief.
When Lauren Moriarty came in to give us a talk in college she said it was important when you had done a piece of work to look at it and decide what else you could do with it. What else could it be? If you had a good illustration of buildings for example, why leave it as one image? Why not make it into posters, cushions, t-shirts etc etc. She taught me that I shouldn't just leave something when it has potential and I'm guessing that a lot of illustrators and designers think like that. Going back to the kidrobot toys, they all started as sketches until one day Paul Budnitz decided to do more with them. 
These days everything is expensive, food, travel, clothes, everything. Artists often struggle to make money and if there is a market out there for other things that they can make and sell and they have some spare time on their hands then there is no reason why they wouldn't try doing other things. 
Another reason that there are more illustrators doing their own books and personal work is that a lot of them are probably in the same position that I will be in after I graduate. A lot of people, although they know they want to do art, they dont know what to do or where to go first. Others know what they want to do but it is hard to get into work straight away, especially when we are still dealing with the recession. So, there are thousands of creative minds waiting to start earning a living but without jobs, they are not going to stop making art because that is what they do, and as long as they are making it they may as well sell it.
Although we have lost a lot of cool arty shops to the recession, especially in Manchester, the internet is bigger than it has ever been. This is an opportunity for people to make what they want and sell it over Ebay or their own websites and basically the wider range of things you have, the more attention you are going to attract. Offering people more than one thing is going to improve our chances of making money and also could help you finding work if companies see that you are entrepreneurial and not just a one trick pony. 
There are many reasons as to why illustrators are doing more than purely illustration. I think I am going to be one of these people because there is just so much I want to do. I want to create things and draw things and make things and just keep going and see where I end up. 
All this new creativity in the world can only be a good thing. There is more to see, more things to buy, you can buy almost anything these days that has been created by an illustrator; knives, forks, paperclips, colouring books, everything you can think of. There is always going to be a market for one off's and limited edition items no matter what they are and illustrators are taking advantage of this. I feel Illustration as an art form will become more widely acknowledged and enjoyed because of this 'rise of the authorstrator', and anything that attracts more people towards illustration is a good thing, especially for someone like me who is about to graduate and aims to start doing illustration as a job.
Illustrators and artists have good minds that need to create. And they are never going to change. 


I needed to design a logo for my Music is Free project so I did some research into existing logos from major record companies. Initially I wanted to design something that looked original, fun and anti-corporate to get across the ideas of Music is Free. After trying out a few ideas I came across an old Columbia records logo, see above. I decided to basically rip off this logo and redesign it to use for Music is Free. Music is Free is anti-corporate and about taking down the big music companies so I felt that using a stolen corporate logo would be ironic and also reinforce the ideas behind Music is Free. Below are the two final logos I am going to use on my posters.


After looking at different types and models of guitar amps I produced a series of amp images for my major project. As the title of my project is 'music is free', I used all found materials, old card and paper etc to construct these images which has given them a really vintage and recycled appearance. I am thinking of using some of these amps on promotional postcards or business cards that I can hand out at my degree show to promote my work.

Saturday, 1 May 2010


I came a cross this guy as he had done some illustrations for New Scientist magazine. At first I didn't think the illustrations were that great but I went on the internet to have a nosey at his work anyway, and now I really like it. His typographical work is especially good. The above picture was one that I had already seen in a gallery but at the time I did not know who Andy Smith was. Some of his work is slightly cartoony but the rest is all very nice. Andy's strengths lie in his sense of composition and his ability to simplify and stylize shapes and images to produce eye catching and interesting images. Check out his website if you're interested:


I was just trying to finalize an idea for my business cards when I came across this website:

There are so many ridiculously cool way of producing business cards that I hadn't even thought about, metal cards, scratchcard type cards, weird materials and shapes, all things that would catch peoples attention and make you stand out. I will have some cards ready by my degree show and I am seriously gonna think about how I want them made. But check out this website it's realy good.

Sunday, 25 April 2010


I found this guy in a book I picked up from Kemistry gallery when we were down in London. He is almost a contemporary Max Ernst, using similar techniques and with a similar sense of humour in his work. Although it is hard to make sense of what his images say or mean, they are still nice to just look at and enjoy. Duboe has a nice sense of composition and colour and his work is always fun. Here are a few examples of his work:

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


In my final project I am trying to show the music industry as a huge empire on its last legs. I have been to places like Lyme hall and Chatsworth to look at the architecture of the buildings and get some ideas for producing very regal, almost over the top buildings. Many of the buildings in Requiem for Detroit have inspired me aswell, especially the old factories. I have posted about that programme previously- it's well worth a watch. But anyway here are a couple of the buildings I have put together for my project.

Friday, 16 April 2010


Lauren Moriarty vs Rick Nichols

Although Lauren and Rick work in different areas of design, their aims are quite similar; To make a living through art and design. 
Both Lauren and Rick work as individuals. From hearing both of them speak it sounds like Lauren is far more at home working on collaborations as she said she loves hearing other peoples ideas and points of view and it is always enjoyable working with new people. However, she went into quite some detail about doing a job in which there are a large group of people who all have a say in each stage of the design process. She explained that this can sometimes mean that the final outcome is nothing like what you would have done yourself and it can be quite frustrating. A particular project she did for Camden council started out with her having brilliant ideas but then after everyone in the council had picked her design apart and made it into exactly what they wanted there was nothing left but the very simplest form of her initial idea. Rick also spoke about working in groups and working with a group of clients on one project. He, like Lauren explained how your design can start as something you are very happy with but throughout the creative process and taking into account what the clients want and don't want, all the good things seem to vanish and at the end you are left with a very simplified, dumbed down version of what you initially had in your head. Rick is currently working on a collaboration with some other designers which he seems happy about but from the way he spoke it seems that he is happy when he is left to do his own thing. Lauren enjoys working alone but I feel she would be happy in a collaboration because she seems to like working with others as long as the group size isn't too large.
Both practitioners, unless working with others on a project, do everything by themselves. Lauren explained how she liked being able to do things herself as it is quicker, cheaper (eventually) and because you get the chance to play and experiment. She likes to own all the machinery she will need so that when she needs to use something, like a photocopier or vinyl cutter for example, she can do tryouts and experiment without being charged extra for it. Also, by having the equipment at home it means you don't have to put the effort in travelling to use somebody else's machine. Rick doesn't use as much equipment in his work but says it always helps to have friends with equipment just incase you need to use it.
Both designers are very self motivated, both work for themselves and do what they want to do and both take great pride in their work. From their talks it is obvious that they are both very professional in their approach towards work. They both self promote, although Lauren went into more detail on this subject talking about how keeping your clients happy is the most important thing. She told us how it is vital to always be organised and have clear pictures of everything you do so that if somebody shows an interest and asks for a sample of your work you can get it to them in a matter of minutes. Lauren told us to always keep our website up to date and always make sure to be polite and friendly to our clients. Rick, I feel does not promote himself as best he could. Purely from searching for him and his website on the internet and finding nothing at all shows that he could be doing more to put himself and his work out there. Lauren however, has a range of images and information that come up when you type her name into Google. Lauren has many contacts with shops and companies that sell her art and products which points me to the conclusion that she has put more effort into promoting her work and getting her work sold. Rick on the other hand doesn't seem to have these kind of contacts and sells his design work personally. This though, may just be due to the fact that both people are from different pathways and Lauren's work and products are easier to sell in shops. 
Both practitioners spoke to us about how difficult it can be to get started and get noticed in the industry. Rick, as far as I could gather, seems to rely on contacts he knows to get work and doesn't seem to do many things that would get his work noticed. Lauren on the other hand does a lot of work to promote herself such as going to shows like new blood etc., doing interviews whenever she can, keeping in contact with magazines that print articles about her and by contacting shops to get her work seen by a wider range of people. In the design world now there are a lot of artists, illustrators etc. all trying to get noticed and it is generally the people who put the most effort into promotion that do the best. Lauren, although not the most amazing designer I have ever seen, seems to have got herself completely organised and seems prepared for anything that comes her way. She spends her spare time doing the work she likes and also trying to sell her work in different ways such as contacting new shops and also by setting up websites to sell her work from home. Rick did not speak about how he sells his work/ gets his clients but I do not doubt that he has his ways. Overall I feel that if I had to follow in the footsteps of one of these designers it would be Lauren Moriarty. This is because she does something that she loves, she is organised, motivated, has the right attitude, knows exactly how to promote herself and how to treat clients and customers, and also she seems like the kind of designer that will do very well doing what she does. Rick, who I feel is the better artist and possibly the better creative brain out of the two, does not seem to try as hard which seems like it would be a problem as a freelance designer without an agent. If you are going to do everything for yourself you must get out there and do it because nobody else is going to do it for you. I like Ricks work and I do feel like he is intelligent and knows exactly what he is doing when it comes to design but as a freelance you have to do more than be good at art, you have to be the whole company, designer, advertiser, promoter etc.

Both practitioners are extremely talented at what they do and have taught me that I must be organised and most importantly, motivated if I want to get somewhere with my design work. I know I need to do something I enjoy in order for me to do the best job I can and I am prepared for clients to not always think my work is perfect and I need to be more open minded and able to accept changes that clients put forward. If you think about working for a client you are never working alone, and this may be something I need to get used to.

I'd like to thank both practitioners for giving up some of their time to talk to us.


For the start of my MUSIC IS FREE project I have begun to make images and collages out of found materials, old and recycled imagery. Due to the 
fact I am working with collage I felt it was necessary to reference Max Ernst as he is almost the founding father of collage. Although the German artist is generally more well known for his paitntings, it is his collages that I have been looking at and have been inspired by. His collages look very similar to some contemporary collages today even though he was producing these images more than 50 years ago. I am blogging about him to show that I am aware of his work and his inspiration on the art world. Many people today create collages and similar work to Ernst without knowing anything about the origins of collage as an art form.

Ernst went through a stage in his life where he produced nothing but incredible collages. What makes them more amazing is the fact that he produced all of his work by hand, without the aids of computers or photoshop to  cut and paste things together. His images are so skilfully and seamlessly pieced together that they look like one flat image and it is hard to tell that they even are made by collage. The craftmanship and care that went into his work far outweighs anything produced today by any modern illustrators/artists. The invention of computers and photoshopping software means that people do not have to spend time, or even be very skilled to create work like Ernst, but there is always going to be an honesty and a deepness in Ernst's work that noone could ever achieve using modern techniques. There is also a feeling of fun and humour in his work that you do not see as much these days. You can tell the guy had a sense of humour.

I have posted a selection of my favourite pieces below, look at them, they're dead good :)


This is a band I found about 2 years ago, everything is instrumental and it is the best music to listen to when you are working or trying to think of ideas. Have a listen.

Saturday, 10 April 2010


I found this designers work when I was looking for inspiration to help me with my Music is Free buildings. I don't know anything about the designer but I just saw these images and fell in love with them. As far as I can tell they are all screenprinted although they could be done digitally. Whatever the method, the images are relaxing and gentle even though the subject matter is huge dominating buildings and city scapes. I love the way that although they show cities, skyscrapers and busy cosmopolitan environments, you do not see or feel any noise, any sense of urgency, rushing and crowds. They are almost ghost cities, silent and beautiful. 

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


This video is just something that I saw and I still don't know how they managed to do it. It is a video of a city but somehow they have made everything look miniature. It looks like a toy city and although doesn't have anything to do with my current work, it is still interesting and cool. Definitely worth a look.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010


I emailed Will Fox at the Daily Mail to hopefully get some feedback and/ or to arrange a visit while I was in London but was unsuccessful.

Hi James,

Thank you for your email. I'm afraid I'm not around next week
as I'm on holiday but I will happily look at any examples of your work that
you send through.

Many thanks

Will Fox
Weekend Magazine
020 7938 6000 (x3336)
07956 665 149
(Embedded image moved to file: pic30971.jpg)


jimbo jones

03/03/10 14:46

Hi, my name is James Richardson and I am in my final year of an
illustration degree in Manchester. I am coming to London between the 9th
and 11th of March and was wondering if you would have 5 minutes to look at
my illustration work. I have a few different styles of working and think my
work could be right for your magazine. I have enclosed a few pieces of work
so you can see my styles of working. If it would be possible to make an
appointment to see you, or if you would rather I send you some more work
via email then please get back to me.

Thanks for your time,

James Richardson

I also contacted the following people with the same intentions but with no success:

Hi James

Thanks for your email. Because we’re constantly busy, we don’t have time to see people independently but welcome you to email in samples and I will put your website on my system.

Ped Millichamp
Deputy Art Editor
Radio Times
020 8433 3128

The following did not reply at all:

Sunday, 4 April 2010


We visited the Welcome Gallery during our trip to London. They had an exhibition on at the time called 'Medicine now' which i found pretty fascinating. Although not illustration, many of the pieces were really interesting. My favourite one (shown below) was a map of the world made entirely out of dead mosquitos. From more than a metre away it looks like the map has just been stitched or made out of string and it is only when you get up close that you actually see how it's made.

 Other sections of the gallery showed collections of medical tools, utensils etc, many of which were antique, unique and unlike anything else I have ever seen. Things like this are always good to look at for inspiration and I have always had a weird kind of interest in medicine and the history behind it so this exhibition was exciting to me. 

I also spent some time in the Science museum down in London, the history of medicine exhibition being my favourite out of all the exhibits. 

Thursday, 1 April 2010


Needing inspiration for my Music Is Free project and knowing I was working with the idea of 'taking down the music industry', I had a look into the work of This organisation mocks corporations and products by producing funny and truthful adverts about them. For example, they produced a set of posters about Absolut vodka, imitating the brand styling and the advertising style. Instead of the typical vodka adverts showing people having a good time with alcohol and everything being fine, the adbuster campaign talked about the opposite effects of alcohol such as alcohol related deaths, impotence, addiction etc. Although these are serious issues, adbusters create their work in a light hearted and humerous way intending to make the companies seem stupid rather than just talking about serious issues. Other adverts they produced include a set of perfume and aftershave posters, one showing a fat, hairy man instead of models that show you 'the way you should look'.

Adbusters is about taking down the big companies and ridiculing them. They use corporate brands and styles, like the ones we see every day in magazines and on television, and interfere with them so they work against the companies. 

If I was studying for a graphic design degree I would probably be interested in the compostion and the overall look of the adbusters camplaigns but as an illustrator I am purely blogging about adbusters because it has given me ideas on how to use existing work against the company it is made to promote. The work they produce is clever and because they use material and imagery that people are already familiar with, it is easier for a wider audience to relate to the messages they are sending out.


After visiting DDB Advertising Agency in London, I came out quite happy with the work I have been producing. Although we had been told that it is quite hard getting into the high end of the industry, I was excited when I saw that the work the agency used was not of a quality that I feel is unreachable for me. All I need to do is keep creating work, get a little bit more organised, and publicise myself. We were told how important it is to have a quick, fully functional website, which doesn't take time to load and is simple to navigate. It made me realise how busy these types of agency are, and they never have time to sit and wait for your website to load when they are trying to scout new illustrators. The world of illustration is fast paced and you need to know, and make sure you let people know you are aware of this. Having work on the internet that agencies can see within seconds is going to boost your chances of being seen and getting work. It is our responsibility to publicise and organise ourselves and it is only when we have got this sorted, that people are going to take an interest. You could have the best work in the world, but if people never see it, then, well, people never see it.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010


I came across this guy in new scientist magazine when he did the illustration for an article on 'Cosmic lighthouses'. I still don't know what cosmic lighthouses are because when i saw the illustration I went to find out more about the artist who did it rather than reading the article.
Anyway, I checked this guys website out and found out his work on there is way better than the one image I had seen. He uses a lot of collage, photoshop and illustrator, whilst also incorporating other media such as line drawing and screenprinting to give his pieces a lot of different levels.

Sam creates and builds a lot of illustrator based landscapes, as well as producing band artwork and editorial work. This kind of work is not my favourite type of illustration, but for some reason it is the kind of thing i cannot get bored of. I really like his use of different textures and shapes and although he uses quite a few that I would never dream of using, his pieces as a whole are still really nice


Apologies to Chris Madden for blatently stealing this off his blog. It is just an amazingly well put together and clever short animation. This is well worth taking 10 minutes to watch.


It is not usually the main image or character that I find the most pleasing in these illustrations, it is everything else going on around it. There are always tiny little bits of detail or interesting things to find if you look properly, and the more you look at his work the more attached to it you become. Johan Potman always adds in charmng little details like the wings on the back of the monster in the first image that you dont see straight away but when you do notice these little subtleties then you begin to like the work more. Other nice bits such as the line drawing of mountains, the text, stamps and found materials make the image more pleasing. On first inspection of these images they appear to be averagely drawn, slightly weird illustrations (which would have appealed to me a few years ago) but when you spend longer looking at these images and you notice little sketches or bit of text that the artist has put in the background, or little layers of texture or secret shapes drawn in and it adds a whole other level to the illustration. This work has something cute about it, something weird, something interesting, and the guy knows how to use different surfaces and textures. This is the kind of work that you might not like the first time you see it, but you will like some of the things you find when you look closer.


Tuesday, 30 March 2010

BBC Philharmonic

This an illustration I saw for the BBC Philharmonic family concert, sorry for the worst quality image ever, it is just a nice design and a way of showing music in illustration like I'm doing in my major project.

Saturday, 27 March 2010


Lauren is a 3D/textiles designer who came to Stockport in March to talk to us about her work. She studied for a degree in textiles in Loughborough and now she designs products such as lamps (see below) and cushions which she has been able to sell to stores like habitat and various independent design stores. Her degree show at Loughborough was based around her study of textiles where she created 3D pieces that were made up of layers and layers of lazer cut vinyl. After exhibiting this work she got a lot of interest in her idea although it didnt have an actual use. Renault bought her design an used it as a parcel shel in one of their concept cars, and Lauren went on to make the structures into cushions which she hand made one by one and sold off.
Laurens work is often simple looking, but with a great deal of though behind it. Many of her designs are initially built up of simple, sometimes repeated patterns which as a whole make a really interesting piece of work.
After her degree, Lauren started a Masters with the intention of learning how to use her work and push herself towards creating final products which she could manufacture and sell.
She spoke about how she likes working on collaborative pieces with other artists and designers as it is always a good way of coming up with new ideas, or making your own ideas that you previously thought wouldn't work, work.

Lauren spoke about the work she creates and told us to, overall, make sure that we do something we like. She spoke about how important it is to make sure we create things that we are happy with because in the past she has done things which she hated, and then felt guilty for hating her own work. She spoke about how sometimes she had to reproduce the same work over and over again and explained that this can be boring therefore you should make sure that you are making something that makes you happy because the last thing you want to do is get bored of your own work.
Lauren spoke about the industry and told us that it is important for us to ask ourselves questions about our own work such as: 'What is your work?', 'Why would people buy it?', 'What would they do with it?' etc. otherwise you can spend a long time creating something that could turn out to be useless in the real world.
She spoke from experience about the fact that working with companies and other people means you will have to compromise- a lot. She said that often you have to simplify and simplify your work down to fit in with what other people want. A project she undertook with Camden council to designs some lamps for a main street showed her that, when working with other people, the final design is never going to be exactly how you imagine it because of so many limitations and other peoples opinions and ideas.

Lauren told us that it is important to build up a relationship with the press, to be quick, efficient and polite, and it will work in our favour. She told us that it was important to have decent images of our own work, and be organised so that if somebody shows an interest in you, you can send them work quickly and it makes you seem more reliable and professional
She also said that customer feedback is very important as these are 'your' customers and the people that will be buying your work.
She spoke about buying our own equipment, (photocopiers, vinyl cutters for example) as it saves a lot of hastle and you don't have to pay to use someone else's machinery. Also it gives you the opportunity to play and experiment, which, in an art related job is always necessary.

Thanks to Lauren for coming in and speaking to us, she has been an inspiration in the way that she has done everything for herself and works for herself creating what she wants to create.