All said and done a format is a means to an end. A medium that works for a period of time until it is replaced by a more relevant medium as progress dictates. Print is a format that news had been struggling with for years and announced today in a letter to staff Evgeny Lebedev, owner of the independent & independent on Sunday has announced that both titles will fold in printed format at the end of March.
I know the circulation of the inde has been in free fall for years now as readers migrate to online and although no surprise it's a real shock to see this actually happen. No more independent. One of my first covers was for the inde on Sunday, commissioned by Janet Street Porter and featuring an acid yellow flat colour cover with a lone fantasy rapper called 'Speare for an article on Hip Hop and literature. I Later illustrated the Deborah Ross column for a year or so and schooled my chops on 2 hours deadlines for the national papers.
Another national outlet for the images we create as illustrators and cartoonists is about to fold. In a world of easy, free access to news and current affairs, Lebedev is about to rebrand the online experience of the inde brand and call it the indy100.com. I hope readers are offered the opportunity to pitstop on the information superhighway and take a moment in front of some art. Illustration is as relevant, if not more relevant now than ever, a digital home is just another format. I hope the inde retains it's current love of imagery, please.
Released today is my second collection for Modify Watches, 'Dia De Los Muertos'. It seemed a fitting theme for the autumn/winter collection as colours come about and the cold begins to bite as we head towards the end of October and on to Winter.
Themes of life and death, past & present coming together without boundaries referencing the traditional Mexican imagery of the celebrations and a sprinking of tattoo styling. It's inevitable that the theme of good & evil surfaces when decorating skulls with colourful flowers and hearts. I like this narrative running alongside, it maybe provokes a little reflection on the grander themes of our lives.
And when done reflecting on the grander themes of your life, you can also tell the time with them so you'll never miss your favourite TV show.
I designed these on a wet train journey home from London. I made about 30 thumbs of ideas and worked up the best 4 in ink and wash when I got back to dry land.
Modify make modular watches so once the main face is purchased you can collect coloured straps and mix and match the faces and straps. The faces pop in and out of the straps in the blink of an eye.
Below is my summer collection for them, 'Hawaiian Flora'. I strayed out of the boundary and used the 1.5 inches of face space in a differnt way for those.
I hope you enjoy them.
It's 10 years this year since I began working with Spanish fashion label Custo Barcelona, a few pieces below from the current SS 2015 collection and below them some favourites from the last 10 years.
Back In 2005 when I started working with Custo the digital print revolution was in it's infancy and brands were beginning to experiment with the possibilities of printing onto an ever increasing array of materials. Illustration was beginning to push it's way forward into new territories and Custo had embraced these new opportunities with gusto, commissioning illustration as art for apparel. All over garment printing, faithful reproductions of detailed illustrations as wearable art was not a common thing back then so to be working with a company charting new territory was an exciting place to be.
Custo were expanding rapidly in the mid 2000s and were pushing hard with shows and opening new stores around the world. I got to see my work at the catwalk shows and go to a few of the after show parties too, good times. My work was taken beyond the apparel and I began designing flyers and invites for the shows, and then on to accessories, footwear, jewellery, soft toys, and customising an aeroplane at one point for a collaboration with MTV. I remember customising a catamaran too, and an interior for a cruise ship but I never saw them in service, not sure if they made it.
By nature, fashion must continue to offer up new and different material, my work went through endless development over the years with Custo as I pushed for new ways of stylising my ideas to keep the new seasons pitches fresh.
Pitching work blind each season is also high risk with a lot of rejection. I have piles of rejected ideas, from which the frustration inspires harder work the next time around.
Deadlines can be very tight too, the custom aeroplane above was a 48 hour turnaround and meant dealing with multiple clients as MTV, Vueling & Custo all had brand interest and limited space. Working the fire exits, windows, wing shapes into the design too, I think the plans for the plane from the airline came in around half way through the job with only a few hours to deadline. It was also rendered in illustrator to allow for the decals to be blown up, which I'd never used before and had to buy and learn through youtube tutorials while the job was live. But I got to design a plane!
Dissecting my style, breaking it down into individual components and pushing each component in separate directions allowed me to create spin off styles that were still satisfying and rooted in my overall style. I pushed the cartoon element of my work, the figurative element, the naive element, the subversive element and created a different series of work based on each element. The figurative work allowed me to draw more elegant women that wouldn't have worked in another style, the cartoon element became more Japanese, Kawaii and cute. The naive element broke down my style to marks, simple and abstract at times, and the subversive element came up with a few rock and roll slogans.
The SUKI character I created for Custo was based on my first daughter Frenchie and appeared in the first collection I worked on with Custo, SS 2006.
Suki’s development as a character ran somewhat parallel to Frenchie's development as a child and I drew on her experiences when working with Suki. The infatuation kids have with growing up, being bigger, and the speed at which they achieve this rubbed off on me in my keenness to see Suki grow too. I found it hard working on old themes, ones I felt the character had grown out of because running parallel to my ideas were the real desires of the real child who was the inspiration for Suki. They must grow together. It’s a fascinating, exciting experience witnessing kids grow up and as we all grow as creatives too, other than a quick glance over the shoulder to remind ourselves of who we really are there’s no looking back. That’s my attempt at a link to introducing my chosen title for the film below which was ‘Keep On Growing’... commissioned by Custo back in 2011 to launch their kids line 'Custo Growing'.
Some stills from the film below too in case your device isn't Flash happy.
This may be the last season my work appears with Custo, fashion moves on as brands continuously remodel their image. The digital print revolution has happened and the processes Custo was developing 10 years ago are now common place. High street stores are full of all over digitally printed garments, and I'm happy to say illustration is much more widespread than it was 10 years ago. It's been a great ride!
Below are a few rejected ideas from the hard drive of broken dreams. Thanks for reading!
It feels good to be breathing new life into a piece of work that's been really good to me. My Animals Of Africa chart, produced for fashion label Custo Barcelona back in 2005 had a hedonistic but brief life for a natural history chart, appearing on dresses, skirts & tee shirts, burning out around 2007. The animals then gained new life and the piece became a series for a second label featuring on leather accessories producing handbags, wristlets, purses and keyrings. Since 2012 I had had them sitting in my old web store selling occasional prints but I've always felt a little sad to see them locked up in the store and felt that now their licenses were back with me I should do more with them.
The original Animals Of Africa chart, and now as giftwrap & greetings cards
I moved studio a couple of months ago, shook up my routine and looked over the series afresh. Over the period of a night and day I sketched out the groundwork for a greetings card line and worked out an MO for a brand. I’ve taken the Animals Of Africa beyond their formal chart designs into a series of message greetings from get well cards and good luck cards through to birthday and retirement cards.
The animals now feel liberated, out there serving a purpose and doing a job. Relaying their mindful messages! They now form part of the Flora & Fauna collection of Andy Ward Studio. I’m so happy to find a project that allows me to combine my illustrative style, humour, love of design & natural history all in one product. I can’t remember the last time I worked so furiously. I have so many ideas for this project that’s it’s become a refreshing reminder of just why I love the plain and simple act of drawing, studying a subject.
The back of each card offers information on each animal
The Flora & Fauna collection seen in their natural habitat
Sometimes it takes a long time for a piece of work to find it’s purpose and I feel as though I’ve got a grip of Animals Of Africa now as it becomes a starting point, a point of departure, the most exciting place to be as a creative.