Wednesday, 23 May 2012

George Wyllie

Just read in this morning's Guardian Obituary page the death of George Wyllie last week. I remember seeing his work for the first time at Manchester's Whitworth Art Gallery sometime in the late 80's early 90's and being seduced and inspired by the wit, artistry, ambition and ideas. 
Also noticed in the birthday column the great photographer Martin Parr is 60 today.

Sebastian Walker

Tuesday already. I'm a gardener. With a bad back. 6:45pm. The emptying of grass cuttings is interrupted by a phone call from Brian.  He enquires if I'm scribbling. Am I working on some marvellous commission. No just mowing the lawn. Cutting a hedge that borders insanity. During the conversations he mentions a programme he'd listened to earlier on BBC Radio 4 about the life of Sebastian Walker founder of Walker Books. In my opinion the radio broadcast didn't give enough credit to co founder Art Director Amelia Edwards, well at least Maurice Sendak mentioned Amelia which prompted Sebastian Walker's sister to. Walker had complete faith in Amelia's choice of illustrator, as was the case with Strat & Chatto not to mention Bully. I met the man on several occasions usually in Walker Books canteen. I got the impression that he wasn't really interested in what I was doing as long as Amelia had faith in my work, fine. But as the programme suggested Sebastian Walker changed the face of childrens books in this country and valued the illustrator. For once the illustrator wasn't treated as an after thought.
Illustrations from Strat & Chatto by Jan Mark. pub 1989. It won The Mother Goose Award the following year. And as I predicted in my acceptance 'speech' well you could hardly call it a speech more a resigned grumbled monologue...."is this it?"... As I clasped  an oversized metal egg coated in imitation  gold leaf sat on a olive-green velvet cushion... "It's the kiss of death." Sebastian Walker winced in the background.  

P E N T A G R A M 40:

Went to Pentagram's 40 birthday bash last night. It was a toss up between that and staying in to watch Chelsea. Ben Casey invites me. Notting Hill. West London. Near enough to Chelsea, not so close to Munich. The sketch is all I can muster, dredge up summon . It falls short. I'm through security. We are greeted by John Rushworth. Preston. Ben says this is David. Shakes my hand. He hasn't a clue who I am. A brass button on a length of red cord is hung round each guest's necks by a tall glamourous girl and we all say the same. Ooh just like an Olympic Medal. A Pentagram Brass Button. A tsunami of faces and shoulders gin and campari champagne martini cocktails with floating flowers. This drink is not camp enough. A ringing in the ears. It's hard at the coal-face. How's the dog? We met once in Manchester at a bar. Gums. You looked at me and said 'Gums'. You remember that? In fact I've been to your house.....I was at your exhibition here Dexter was with you. Pentagram Award. Pentagram Pentagram Pentagram. Can you hear me at the back?Pentagram Pentagram Pentagram. Theo Crosby was there looking down Alan Fletcher was there...looking up. Ken Grange needs to improve his microphone technique. He politely nodded at me. Who is this? I know you from somewhere? I stayed at your house once. You gave me an original Milward Courier Cordless Electric Shaver. Winner of the Duke of Edinburgh's Prize for Elegant Design 1963. I did another drawing. It's been in a drawer ever since. Just a simple portrait. I took a million photographs that day. Send it to me. Promise. Taiwanese crab. Do I know you from somewhere? I am from Milano. I work in Paris. I've come with my boss. Like the artist Raffaello-Raphael. Do I know you from somewhere? We worked together once? One-one. Extra Time. Pub? 3 Halves of lager times three. Corner pub heaving. Spilling. Drogba clinches it. Legend. In West London. Outside in the air she says to Ben where you from? Preston. She's from Burnley. Ray Pointer . John Connelly. Adam Blacklaw. Ben has a word with a drinker in a West Ham shirt. Burnley's colours. He can't forgive West Ham for beating PNE in the 1964 FA Cup Final. Return to Pentagram. Fail to reach the pizza on offer. What am I doing here? What you doing here? Do you work here? I'm a gatecrasher. I've had my eyebrows done today. Edinburgh. Full works. Underarm hair the lot. Follow me. Nova Scotia. Newcastle. We're all here. David Pocknell's here. Mrs.Pocknell is here. In 1984 David Pocknell told me he sensed I was holding back. Kenneth Grange is here. Spirits. And the interior designer who remembered Dexter is here. An architect from Croydon who resembled Einstein was there. We tried to engage in conversation. Work picked up since the riots then? What was I doing there? Gin and Campari. Lager. Chips. Cheesy dip. The chips were delicious.

Friday, 18 May 2012


Twenty One ways to thrive as an artist? Sex alcohol and drugs. Blake makes it look easy? Does he? I didn't really watch. Well I guess he's been practising long enough. I can't remember when I last used a light box. Maybe it might be a good idea to dust it down and and try it again. 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Quentin - How I Draw.

Dear Mister Blake, Jaw dropping. Eye popping. Organised. Christ come round and sort my junk out. Speedy too. The musical sound track is just not my cup of Earl Grey. Anyway I must get on and try and draw these nine illustrations. 3 months and counting. Counting down the days. Blood letting.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


The apprentice. Trying too hard.
A commission from The Partners Design Group 1985. for the 3i Annual Report. These are directors of The Frazer Nash Company. I remember visiting their HQ with the designer and stepping into a very sterile, clean, environment - so I guess that's why I got chosen to be the illustrator. A feeble attempt at humour infiltrates the drawing. We were being shown round by one of the directors and he was showing signs of agitation and impatience with me and the designer, whose name escapes me, (Bill someone?) as we kept falling behind and being distracted by god knows what and Alan (his name) was constantly ushering us to and fro hence I split Alan's portrait in two. It was all very top secret and hush hush. The chaps are standing around a missile launcher...And the little floating yellow square is my nod towards Grattan's or a Littlewoods catalogue in homage to their crisp shirts and neatly pressed suits.

Some clean hands for another Annual Report (1986) also commissioned from The Partners. My Albrecht Durer period...........

A couple of pieces for the Radio Times circa 1985/86 commissioned by Tim Walmsley after the so-called 'golden age' of Radio Times illustrations the Eric Fraser, Robin Jacques, Leonard Rosomann, Ronald Searle, Ralph Steadman, Peter Brookes Tony Meeuwissen years, see designer Mike Dempsey's excellent Graphic Journey blog
For a while I was Eric Fraser's postman 1975-77. His was a very fancy letter box.

From the vaults. The museum archive. 1985-1986. Miles Davis a bit later, a hint of free- form? 1989/90. for The Observer Newspaper, before my stint at a Doctor Writes 1990-1992 for the Magazine. Still that was then, all part of the learning process. All very tight. All very methodical.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

S E N D A K:

2.10pm: Tues. Just seen the sad news that Maurice Sendak has died.

Who The Fuck's That?

I'm tying my shoelaces. One foot to go. The telephone. The landline as it is known by these days -rarely rings now. If it does, it is usually someone telling me that my computer has a fault. Has it? The telephone rings. I swear under my breath. Why I don't swear out loud, I don't know I am alone I won't offend anybody. It is such a monumental effort to answer the telephone. "Hello." "Hello." the voice answers back. Pause. I don't know if you can help me. I got your name from the internet.......Do you do technical drawing? I answered, that No I didn't. Not to worry he said and hung up. He sounded crest fallen. The conversation was aborted before the first paragraph was delivered. I placed the receiver back on it's perch. I did worry. I completed tying up the right shoelace. Vans. Black and white to wear for work. Bit conservative. Bit M & S. Technical Drawing? But I do. Don't I? I measure things. I put numbers in. I sort of do perspective. I draw in line. I draw freehand. I use a ruler. A set square. I keep my pencil sharp. When I draw with a pencil. Today I am attempting to use a pen. How come the landline number is on the internet? Bloody Yellow Pages I bet. Listings . Technical Draughtsman see Local artist. Art shops. Greeting cards designer. Portraits. Caricatures. Your horse painted in oils. Be-Spoke Framing Service.
Out early. Sodden brown landscape. Extra green hedgerows. Two fields. Fifteen telegraph poles. Three hares. Two Skylarks jousting tumbling soaring falling deep in conflict. Deep in communication. Making a pretty racket. (I give up on exhausting more cliches). Blackbirds conflicting. Mud caking the soles of my boots. One wagtail. Wagging. There was a point to this but my head has turned to mush. Maybe it's just putting off the moment.I have work to do. Lets get technical.
The featured illustration has been excavated from the garage. From the Ark. A commission from The Partners Design group. 1986. An illustration in charcoal and pencil with a ruler to illustrate a page in a company report. It was the eighties. My youthful pretentious effort was just one among a bouquet of the talented and great illustrators of the day - I think I recall efforts from Gary Powell and Sue Huntley and Donna Muir and maybe Brian Grimwood.