Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Beatrice & Virgil / Man or Monkey

A wee while ago I was commissioned by the LA Times to do an illustration for a review of the new Yann Martel book 'Beatrice & Virgil'. As the two namesakes from the title of the book are a donkey and a monkey I was asked specifically to draw the head of a donkey and the head of a monkey. Normally when an art director asks you to draw something specific it can be somewhat frustrating as it's much more preferable to come up with your own idea. But this isn't the case when asked to draw a donkey head and monkey head. In that case it's usually ''How many do you want?'' As you can see from the following roughs I got pretty carried away with drawing these heads and so numbered them up so one of each animal could be chosen.

Even then I ended up handing in 2 versions of each. In the end they went for the more 'donkey looking' Beatrice rather 'horse -looking' Beatrice and the not so sad Virgil.

A couple of months later I was approached by Anorak the foremost kids magazine to contribute a game or puzzle for their upcoming activity book. I decided to make a classic game of 'Man or Monkey' whereby I could draw some more monkeys and some men too.

Although my spread won't be in the first Anorak activity book it will be in the second one which is coming out shortly.

I then thought ''Yeah that game of Man or Monkey would make a sweet limited edition screen print, printed in various colours on A3 paper and sold at the reasonable price of £10!'' So that is what I am doing and here is what it will look like in yellow. I'll let you and everyone else know when it's up for sale. Yeah.

Monday, 6 September 2010


I recently did this illo for the LA Times for a review of 'Baked' by Mark Haskell Smith. The book is about cannabis, a special kind of cannabis called 'Elephant Crush' and gangsters. Hence the gun, the cannabis leaf and the elephants in suits. (Wow I am clever.) For a more thorough review head over to the LA Times.

It made me think as to whether this was really the first time I had drawn a cannabis leaf. Surely I must have drawn one with tippex on my school bag as a 14 year old boy? Or if I told the 14 year old version of myself that in the future - you / I would get paid money to draw a cannabis leaf coming out of a gun would I believe the future me? Would I be impressed? Should I be impressed? I suppose I'm having these thoughts as it is a ridiculous thing to draw. Isn't it?

All I know is that the 10 year old me would probably be slightly impressed with the gun at least. Though perhaps would recognise that it's not even a proper hand gun but an air pistol. Not that I was obsessed with guns as a child but when my brother and I first joined the library next to Safeways in cheltenham the first books we got out were two giant books about guns that contained hundreds of pictures of guns. We then took these books home where our mum was hugely unimpressed with our dad for allowing us said books while we snuck off and carefully reproduced these guns in pencil in our sketchpads. I think I cockily started to copy a large, meticulously detailed photo of the insides of a hand gun and then subsequently gave up when I realised I hadn't left enough space for the trigger or something. So in actual fact I think Rich and I were only obsessed with guns for a weekend at the most and probably went back to copying super heroes from Marvel comics. My mum was even less impressed when she had to take the mostly unread books back to the library where she was greeted with substantial late fines.