A.Richard Allen
March 2007
Illoz rocks
My first assignment through the mighty came in on Tuesday  from a US airline magazine. The Design Coordinator was very apologetic about the tight deadline (Friday) but shouldn't have been- three days seems quite a luxury for me. The subject was a quiz testing readers' knowledge of Asia so there was lots of potential for detail. The scene has a couple of characters in the foreground (westerner unsure how to tackle a huge hunk of meat he's being served up just with chopsticks) and various elements from the quiz filling out a kind of Ukiyo-e (well- as interpreted by me) style mural beyond. The whole thing couldn't have gone more smoothly.
Two things...
To make your life more complete. Ok I don't usually get hung up on material possessions but lately I've been obsessing about these. The first is a beautiful light from UK designer homestore, Habitat. It's supposedly designed by Buzz Aldrin and it's a transluscent, resin moon (40cm diameter). I cannot begin to convey how cool I think this is! A miniature moon! (the photo here makes it look like a poppadom but trust me it's a beaut). Unfortunately when I went to collect the thing having put it by I found out that it weighed about as much as the real thing and worried that it might bring the roof down or start affecting tides in my local area I decided against buying it. So that's not exactly an unequivocal recommendation is it?
The second thing could mark me down as being a leetle bit affected (that's what the A stands for, btw). It's a dandyish old style handset for a mobile phone (prototpes were called 'Pokias' but ran into trouble with a certain cellphone company and changed their name to the Hulger ). I like the thinking behind this: cell phones get smaller and smaller and we're all being ushered into a Star Trek type world of ultra functional design. Ok maybe I can't see myself walking down the street looking a right charlie carrying one of these army field telephone type things but I quite fancy one for Skyping. The fellow in the photo is designer Nik Roope (someone I once worked with- interesting, funny guy) who delivers a cogent, witty rationale for the whole concept
You want a crowd? Who you gonna call? The headline was something like, 'It's time for the rich to pay' and once I'd got rid of the pun going round in my head of the 'rich toupee' the best solution seemed to be a modern-day Robin Hood.

As a contrast, here's a marginally less cluttered one. Something to do with elephants buying nuts off mice. Or it might've been a rather overblown metaphor for something about big companies and small suppliers, I forget which.
Kiev Clinch
This assignment was to accompany a short story but I really didn't want to render it in my usual way so opted for pencil and working smaller than print size to retain something of the quality of my roughs. Ever since the middle of last year I've been feeling a bit twitchy about the way that I work- having spent 5 years buffing my inked line and flat colour style I started feeling a bit dissatisfied that it didn't really allow me too much room for manouvre.
1st version- too light
The story's about local government officials visiting a newly independent Kiev in the 1990s and one of the party ending up with a young Ukrainian who may or may not be a call girl.
Final version (black line that I was kind of trying to avoid)
sketchbook page
submitted roughs (LH one- my preferred rejected as gutter would cut through detail)
detail (line in pencil, done smaller than print size)
60s Graphis books
Hans Hillmann poster
I've been steeling myself to go in my local bookshop for some time now and eventually went in last week.

What's been keeping me away is more the meshugah owner than anything else. He rants about the internet being the deathknell for shops such as his, rails against modern society in general and rabbits on about his time as an art student in London in the 60s measuring his failure by his contemporaries' relative success. I'm coming across as heartless here. Look, I'm all for indulging eccentric and slightly bitter nostalgics but the prospect of being regaled by Rodney about his time on the fringes of the Bonzo Dog Doodah band wasn't thrilling me.
Hillmann and others
So I went in and started poking around. Rodney was over the other end of the store, bawling out a slightly soft-in-the-head assistant, launching into a well-worn soliloquy about how kids had no education, no sense of history. He then proceeded to tear someone off a strip for using a mobile phone in his shop only to have to back-pedal when the guy told him he was there to fix the cash register.
George Him posters.
Anyhoo,  I'd found me some ancient Graphis books, a few copies of something from the 60s called Motif and a book of old New Yorker Cartoons. Rodney takes me for a student but is impressed when I flash the illustrator badge and we shoot the breeze about our alma mater (Central Saint Martins College- albeit that we studied 30 years apart), I join in with a lament about kids' lamentable drafting abilities these days, we haggle over the prices and I leave £75 ($150) lighter (am sure I was fleeced) for six interesting books. One of the Graphis annuals was particularly nice- here are some of my fave bits. A feature on post-war Polish illustrator, George Him (I wish there was more colour stuff to show you) and a piece on Euro film posters. The Hans Hillman stuff is just exquisite. Apologies for the shoddy scans
Ordering out
So what shall we get, guys? Thai? chinese? Two kids under 3, new town with limited baby sitting circle means that we've had a few take-aways and deliveries in recent months.

Actually, we went out en famille to a swish noodle bar earlier today. All going pretty well until the boy barfed all over the shop.

Who ordered the swan?
those flocking starlings
'm not sure whether this British tv clip is familiar to US audiences- it's become so iconic over here that it's already losing some of its appeal through overexposure- but I thought I'd share it with you (a Tekkon link that Leo posted brought it to mind). Its a sequence of flocking starlings. Call me sappy but I think it's wonderful. I feel slightly disappointed in myself in that that my immediate points of reference for describing such a scene is CGI imagery In its Youtube format it doesn't have quite the impact as seeing it on tv. Do watch it all the way through. The presenter is a 'twitcher' (UK ornithologist) by the name of Bill Oddie (once a tv comedian back in the 1970s on Monty Python-lite show, 'The Goodies'). Usually his presentation style can be a little grating but his reverence for the scene before him here is great. I'm having difficulty in embedding Youtube clips so I'm afraid- for the moment all I can do you is a link:
What do you reckon?
A potty-training book with an anthropomorphic, singing star. I think I've hit paydirt here...
Happy Purim!
A piece for
the Jewish Chronicle that's allowed me to - ahem- brush up my old testament knowledge. The writer's updated the story of the festival of Purim- setting the tale in the Big Brother reality tv show. A rather contrived premise leading to a rather strained composition.

I will, of course, be marking Purim now that I know that it's all about boozing, eating pastries and twirling a rattle.
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