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.
I’m very pleased to announce my Anorexic Unicorn poster illustration from the University Of California’s summer 2013 mental health campaign has been awarded this years AOI Award for Advertising & Design. I posted this project on Drawger as it went live last summer and I'm so happy to see the campaign result in this award. A big thank you to the AOI and everyone at UCSC, JWT New York, and my agents Gerald & Cullen Rapp for making the project happen for me.
Professional or not, I cried when I received notification of this award. It meant that much. The AOI have published an online interview and some background information on the project to accompany the award which can be found here
Below are a few more recent jobs, thanks for reading!
Over the Easter period Morrisons, a major UK supermarket chain commissioned me to produce a clan of 'Cel-EGG'rity' hand painted eggs as part of an interactive Twitter campaign. Members of the public tweeted suggestions for their favourite 'Cel-EGG-rity' pun and I would respond and paint them the same day, documenting the process and providing video footage and photos to post on Twitter. I painted three eggs per day over a 6 day period then photographed and re-touched them in the studio for delivery by 5pm each day.
There was a tight learning curve on this project as I work digitally and I've never painted an egg. Pressure clears the head and working to a tight deadline meant mistakes were quickly weeded out and not made twice. The technical issues with this job threw up some interesting challenges. Blown eggs tended to explode when heat drying paint to maintain the process at speed. Long boiled eggs would often leak moisture droplets at heat too as porous holes opened. I tried ceramic eggs, goose eggs, bantam eggs, duck eggs & chicken eggs of all colours and shapes. I found the most success with white duck eggs as the surface is less porous and much smoother with a little extra size to accomodate the artwork.
Next issue was getting my flat sketched celebrity portraits translated onto an egg shaped sphere. All eggs are a different shape so a universal template for sketching onto was useless. I reverse pin cushioned my sketches in photoshop and then projected the sketches onto each egg with a digital video projector. The reverse pin cushion effect was to counteract the bulging caused by projecting a flat image onto a sphere. This only gave a very rough image for me to mark out the key areas/measurements on the eggs in pencil very lightly. The most part was done by eye. There is no command Z in the real world, no undo so I take my hat off to every illustrator out there who works treaditionally. The pressure to perform without mistake over several days with no hard drive back up and no undo option gave me a completely new perspective on many of the illustrators work I admire. You are truly in another league!
I was commissioned initially on a friday to do a 3 egg project trial over the weekend before the Twitter launch which was to include all photography as well as producing the eggs. I took a gamble and spent hundreds of pounds on photographic studio equipment along with everyting I needed to produce the eggs. As much as it is important to always be upfront and honest with clients about what is creatively possible there must also be moments of complete abandon in the decision to take on a job. These moments are some of the most exciting I ever feel in my work, a commission that scares the hell out of me and the challenge to deliver. The initial thrill of agreeing a budget and getting the green flag are an incredible feeling but I much prefer the shear hell two days later when the fear kicks in. This is the best motivator and I've found this much more productive than inspiration.
Eggy Stardust and Stephen Fried sketches with Fr-EGGy Mercury being painted
Yolko Ono is at the top. The bottom two are Stephen Fried and Fr-EGGY Mercury. John Hen-non was the first egg I painted.
I am currently producing an ongoing series of covers for the Penguin books Women Of Our Time series. I have been making cover portraits of some truly incredible women, two of whom are Rachel Carson and Amelia Earhart who are below. I will post more on this series as it evolves. I especially enjoyed working on Amelia's portrait as that's the exact pose I too retain for several minutes each time I am briefed.
Last year I was invited to be a part of Do The Green Thing's poster campaign in support of WWF Earth Hour. DGT have teamed up with WWF this year for a larger campaign and I was invited back to contribute again.
Do The Green Thing is the brainchild of the creative force of partners at Pentagram who seek to promote green awareness through creativity. This year DGT/WWF have commissioned 29 posters from illustrators, designers, fashion designers, & photographers to highlight issues ranging from eating less meat through to walking more. The posters are being released one by one through March leading up to WWF Earth Hour on the 29th.
This years 29 contributors have been pretty exciting and have included creative talents such as Sir Quentin Blake, Neville Brody, Vaughan Oliver, Sir Paul Smith, David Shrigley, Marion Deuchars, Rankin & Josh Higgins.
Each contributors poster is being sold in a limited run to support Do The Green Thing. Posters avialable through the DGT blog.
Please pass these messages on, they will hopefully inspire a few more people to Do The Green Thing and switch off for Earth Hour on the 29th. That's tomorrow... light's out.
Each poster presentiation has a little write up and artist comment on the DGT site, my write up is here -
Don’t Ruin by Andy Ward 11/29
Illustrator Andy Ward has created a vintage poster for a vintage climate change tip - drive less and walk more. His dynamic and provocative poster contrasts the rage and rush of driving with the peace and happiness of going by foot.
“My poster is an invitation to slow down and smell the flowers,” says Andy. “To break the habit of needing to be everywhere at once and instead letting your feet take you there instead. They evolved for that very reason, to take us places. Enjoy planet earth from the beauty of your own two feet, ‘Walk Don’t Ruin’.”
Cars are responsible for nearly 15% of the world’s CO2 emissions. They’ve made us lazier, our cities hazier, and they have drowned out the sounds of the street with their revs and roars. Instead of driving, go by foot and feel on top of the world.
If a journey is more than a stones-throw but less than a mile then you can walk it.
Posters by Marion Deuchars & Sir Quentin Blake
Posters by Sue Timney & David Shrigley
Posters by Neville Brody & David Shrigley
The campaign was launched with a show in Pentagram's london office. The posters were shown on long dinner tables lit by candlelight as a nod to Earth Hour. On a personal note I was very pleased to see my poster shown next to Sir Quentin Blakes. The little kid in me who grew up with his work was squeaking with joy.
Thanks for reading. Now DO THE GREEN THING! Earth hour this saturday 29th March 2014. Turn those lights out and continue to WALK DON'T RUIN!