Friday, 21 June 2013

Nostaliga a.k.a The Vampyre of Time and Memory

About two months ago, I was asked by a wonderful friend from my university course, Steph Singer, if I would like to take part in an exhibition evening that she was organising. Run by a company called BitterSuite ( & who are carrying out events to research the influence of music on different senses and creative processes and the such. From their website -

What happens when you see red colours whilst listening to romantic music? Or if you eat sweet foods whilst listening to joyful music?... Can one sense enhance the experience of the other - and how?

They mostly work with classical music, but it was in May that they decided to curate an evening of artwork inspired by a piece of dance music from the 90's, specifically this track.

Steph asked if I'd like to exhibit some photography for the evening, and if I could document my creative process to help contextualise the work in the theme of the evening.

So I did. And this is it. 

"I was excited and a bit taken back when I opened up the youtube file that contained tonight’s music, because I actually loved this song when I was younger and had forgotten about it completely. It brought to me some very distinct memories. Memories of when, I can only assume, the song was released, which must have been around about the mid to late nineties. I would have been aged somewhere between 7-11. I’m now 24 and nearly 25, so my general recall of that period of my life is a little hazy to say the least, so I was fascinated that this song brought so much back to me so quickly.

It conjured up images in my mind of being driven back home in the early evening after a long day out in the nearest town to our village, or from a relative or friends house. Just about the right time of the evening when the local radio station would be starting to play their saturday-night-out preperation music. Not a fascinating image for most, but an extreme time-warp for me. It was this resounding nostalgic image that I looked towards for inspiration. An image that represented my own personal memories towards this music.

“EASY”, I thought to myself, but tried and tried as I could, I couldn’t sketch out an image that was strong enough to represent this specific distant nostalgic memory.

Which is when it dawned on me that it wasn’t a specific memory I should be trying to encapsulate in this image. I had made that trip to and from town in the passenger seat of my mother’s car hundreds of times.
This wasn’t about the actual trip in the car or the actual times I heard the song on the radio.
It was about the fact that this one song had brought this extremely specific yet at the same time non-specific distant memory to the forefront of my mind. I wanted to create an image that captured that intense distant feeling of nostalgia, not that actual specific nostalgic memory that I’d had.

I, as I’m sure everyone does (and if you don’t, you’re lying), occasionally suffer from severe nostalgia-attacks. Crippling thoughts that transport you back to another time, for better or for worse. Something as simple as a look on someone’s face, the smell of perfume, the colour of someone’s hair, a full moon in the sky, a red coat. Perfectly coincidental, random acts of chance that have that specific meaning to you and no one else.

It reminds me of a quote from a book or a film or song or SOMETHING because I can’t remember what. The author or whoever is referring to a woman who has just walked into a room, and states that “She carelessly wore her perfume.”
That is heavily badly paraphrased as I can find no reference of this quote on the internet and it’s probably from something ridiculous. ANYWAY I always read this with emphasis on her. “She carelessly wore ‘her’ perfume”. As if this new woman was wearing a perfume that reminded the speaker of another woman, an old flame perhaps. “Her”. 

That might not be what was intended but I feel it sums up what I wanted to create perfectly.

The image needed to be something simple, slightly haunting and ethereal but by no means sad. We tried a few test shots with no movement and no light on her face, but the results came out looking slightly creepy, something out of a japanese horror film, but in vivid technicolour rather than in dirty monochrome. By using just one flash head as a spotlight and adding that small bit of movement, we managed to create so many interesting and curious forms and shapes, but it was this image where the light has just caught her face that added that extra element the image needed. The colour of the hair, the look of pure contentedness. All things that you could see on anyone in the street that would still ruin your brain for a split second because you saw that same look on ‘her’ face all those years ago.

In retrospect, this image ended up being nowhere near what I had originally thought it would be. And I like it even more because of that, because that is how the world works.

The final image.
I unfortunately couldn't attend the evening so poor Steph had to read this out on my behalf. She said it went down well, which is more than I could ask for really so yay.

Here are a handful of other images from the shoot. Words can't really describe how appreciative I am of my excellent friend Elisha for being so damn helpful and patient with me all the time. With pretty much anything I've ever asked her to give me a hand with. How much helpful is she? Too much helpful. That's how I'd describe her, in my terrible terrible words. This shoot was incredibly fun, I came out feeling really happy about the whole thing, and it was great to be playing around with one light to such a creative effect. And a seagull landed on my head at some point of the day, so it was a memorable day all round.

And then the twirling stopped.

I also used this shoot as the source material to create some artwork for the Kent-based band One Day Elliott. It's for a specific song on their new album, and it looked like this.

One Day Elliott - This Thing of Darkness

 So yeah. Buy that when that happens. Nice one.

Friday, 14 June 2013

...and then there were more posters.

Hello internet. Regular website updates re-begin now.

Just typing that is tempting fate. The ironic thing is that I've been so busy doing creative type things that I don't have the time to type it all up. So I'll tell you a little story that made me happy.

Before I went away on my trip abroad that was slightly accounted in my last post (of which there are actually photos to come...sometime), I took a late night trip to the Duke of York's cinema to pick up one of my posters that had been used to advertise one of their screenings. It was David Cronenburg's "The Fly", which was a touchy subject. Mainly because I had this idea for a design that I thought would look really damn cool, and I don't think I really achieved what I had set out to do. Which is a major issue for me.

A quote from Saul Bass - I'm afraid I don't know who created this graphic though
 This quote kind of summarises my feelings towards the whole creative process. Of course, I love it when people DO care about my work, photography or graphics or whatever, but if I'm not happy with it then I can't appreciate that other people might like it. I don't think that's special to me, I think every single person I know who puts themselves out there with their creative endeavours, painting, music, filmaking, has the same feeling.

Which brings me onto The Fly poster.

The font is meh, the placement is meh.

And really, I was worried that the design looked like a penis instead of a fly's proboscis.. Of course, if you've seen The Fly you know it's all to do with body horror and reproduction and the such, so ACTUALLY, as Toby from the Duke's pointed out to me, it fits it quite well with the themes of the film. But it's not what I wanted it to look like. And it was made aware to me by a lot of people, in real life and on the internet, that it didn't look like what I wanted it to.

Anyway, I sidetracked myself.

I went to go and pick up this poster, spoke to a few people there and left. As I was leaving, one of the lovely staff members said "nice poster." And obviously, because I'm me, I was all like "HUH? PARDON?" and went over to him. He said it again, I said thanks and launched into a brief summary of what I didn't like about it, because that's obviously what you do when someone compliments your work.

He then replied that it was "obviously a proboscis" and that he was "a big fan" of my work. This is hands down one of the nicest things a stranger has probably ever said about my work, ever. And it made me so very happy. And that's the end of that story.

And now, here are some more pretty things I have made for the cinema recently.

She Wore Blue Velvet
Take my love, take my land, take me where I cannot stand

These two prints were the first prints I've ever made extra copies of to sell, which hopefully might become a regular thing at the Duke's screenings. I sold about half of what I printed up, which was amazingly better than I had ever conceived of happening. So thanks to anyone reading this that bought one, and to anyone who gave me their e-mail addresses about getting larger copies of the Serenity poster, I am currently doing some research on it and will get back to you soon.

Tasty noms?
This is a menu cover I designed for the Duke's at Komedia, where they serve some damn tasty food. The menu makes it tastier, I believe.

These next two are for upcoming screenings at the Duke's at Komedia, y'all should go because again, it's a fine choice of late night films.

Thank God for the rain which has helped wash away the garbage and trash off the sidewalks
What is your damage, Heather?
I had a really good time making these final posters actually, in research and in process. Mainly Heathers though, as the research involved a lot of drinking and good times.

To round off yet another post of LOOK AT ME LOOK AT WHAT I'VE BEEN DOINGness, I have made my first venture into creating title sequence animations. I have made animations before using more traditional frame by frame programs like Flash, but this was made with After Effects and was beyond fun to actually do, "fun" being a word I don't often attribute to Flash.

It's Firefly related, so it's already awesome from the get go.

Mine is an evil laugh.

Speak soon. Much love. xx