A while back I started a book club and I didn’t want to be a loner with no friends so I made a poster to promote it. (That’s how you get friends right?) People actually came so I was pretty chuffed. We read The Tiger’s Wife which was excellent.
Here was a sketch in pen of the original layout.
this image was made by layering photos, vector images and text in Photoshop.
Is there are place in space for YOU? Recently I started looking into jobs in space.
(Can you believe there is no such thing as a space illustrator? I know.) We all know about astronauts, but they’re just the cool kids the space world. If you don’t happen to be a superhuman with 2020 vision, a pilot’s licence, a PhD and a hot bod, you can still help chip away at the final frontier. I created some illustrations to help you begin your quest…to infinity and beyond!
In my work, I focus on using image and text to aid understanding of and engagement with complex topics. That means packing a lot of meaning into everything. A great deal of thought goes into creating a punchy ideas, clever text, and challenging visuals, but what with deadlines, client input and branding restrictions, colour choices are often low on my list of priorities. I am the first to admit that this approach to colour is craptastic and must be remedied. So regular explorations of new colour palettes are now on the cards. This started recently with two great artistic traditions – messing around with a colour wheel and mercilessly nicking ideas from other people….
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Borrowing and stealing from: Mark Rothko, philatelists, House of Holland & Evelyn Ackerman and Mowgli Omarito name but a few.
I was asked by Friends of the Earth International to create a set of images to accompany a recent report they produced about the ‘Financialization of Nature’. It was very much a collaborative process, with much input from their side, as they were keen that the final result should be immediately visually impactful, and move people to read further and engage with the topic. The pallet used was bright and the imagery bold, to match the overall look and feel of their campaign design.
‘Financialization of Nature’ is a very scary thing. We are assured that governments are restricting the damage that corporations can do to the environment through a ‘biodiversity offsetting’ system. This essentially means that if one area of the nature is destroyed, another area of the same size must be established elsewhere. Sounds OK on paper, but in reality this practice is pretty much meaningless. Ancient forest, rich in biodiversity, habitat for infinite species of animal, plant, fungus and bacteria can, under this system, be destroyed and replaced by grassland or young trees – the rich, old land replaced by young land that can support little life. Not to mention that there can be huge gaps in time and place. The new land need not be created immediately, nor does it have to be close to the old. What happens to the life that lives on the land that is destroyed? There is no half-way house for it to dwell in while it waits for a new habitat. It dies, long before the new habitat is created – a habitat that is too distant and too simple to support it anyway. And in many cases, with very few organisations policing the system, the new land is never created at all.
Because the wheels of Capitalism spin on and on faster and faster, brilliant minds have concluded that the natural world will only be saved if we treat nature as a commodity, just like everything else. Forests, rivers, wetlands etc are rebranded ‘Ecosystem Services’ to be bought and traded. Nature is carved up into pieces in order to give it ‘worth’ to corporations who might otherwise destroy it. But nature is one system, a synergy, each element depending on another. Some easily tangible elements are given value – carbon, water, peat, whilst other more nebulous ones are not. A company can destroy 1000 trees in one area and replant them in another, but what happens to the millions of lives, the indigenous peoples, the delicate, intricate ecosystems what lived surrounding those trees?The company washes its hands and walks away with ‘clean conscience’.
We must attempt to change things for the better – but we must also recognise a scam when we see one. This system does little to prevent biodiversity loss. For those who feel guilt, it helps alleviate it and for those who feel none, it turns nature into two things: commodities to be bought and irrelevancies to be ignored.
As a species we are used to using our surroundings for our own ends. We see short term comfort and ignore long term ruin. As our world becomes more difficult to live in, will be change our ways? Will we change in time? After so long at the top, perhaps it is not possible to think differently. Perhaps success relies on appealing to our inner capitalist, but it also relies on us telling the truth about what works and what doesn’t, facing our guilt and pushing to find a real solution.
This illustration was to help the UNHCR spread the word about the upcoming Nansen Awards that honour extraordinary service to the forcibly displaced.
Fridtjof Nansen was an extraordinary polymath, the founding father of the UNHCR and basically a dude in all respects. Reading about him for this project has left me a bit in awe. Here’s a quote that gives you an idea of the sort of man he was. So bleak and so magnificent
“Here I sit in the still winter night on the drifting ice-floe, and see only stars above me. Far off I see the threads of life twisting themselves into the intricate web which stretches unbroken from life’s sweet morning dawn to the eternal death-stillness of ice. Thought follows thought—you pick the whole to pieces, and it seems so small—but high above all towers one form … Why did you take this voyage? … Could I do otherwise? Can the river arrest its course and run up hill? My plan has come to nothing. That palace of theory which I reared, in pride and self-confidence, high above all silly objections has fallen like a house of cards at the first breath of wind. Build up the most ingenious theories and you may be sure of one thing—that fact will defy them all. Was I so very sure? Yes, at times; but that was self-deception, intoxication. A secret doubt lurked behind all the reasoning. It seemed as though the longer I defended my theory, the nearer I came to doubting it. But no, there is not getting over the evidence of that Siberian drift-wood. But if, after all, we are on the wrong track, what then? Only disappointed human hopes, nothing more. And even if we perish, what will it matter in the endless cycles of eternity?”
NB: It is a bit naughty to put penguins in here as they only live in the South Pole and Nansen never got there…apologies to strict ornithologists.
‘…the world commemorates the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees. ‘
I was asked by the UNHCR to produce an illustration for World Refugee Day 2015 – what an honour! I illustrated a recipe for people to make in honour of the occasion – a recipe with a very lovely story behind it.
Here is an illustration I did to celebrate the partnership of the UNHCR and UNIQLO and the benefits for refugees. What a cool company!
Ali Mohammad, 32, comes from Hama, the fourth-largest city in war-torn Syria. He fled with his wife and their four small children (two boys, two girls).
Since they had to leave quite suddenly, they escaped with little more than the clothes on their backs. They walked for days to reach the border, crossing rugged and dangerous terrain along the way. Without jackets or jumpers, it was very cold.
Now the young family are safe in Jordan’s Azraq refugee camp, where they received clothes donated by our long-standing partner, UNIQLO.
Ali and his wife, and their four young children, look forward to the day when they can return to Syria – and make use of their washing line back home.