Thursday, 31 July 2014

The biggest illustration ever I did. 1997


This was enormous. For an illustration drawn in ink. Bigger than Tracy Emin's 'Iconic' unmade bed. Bigger than Shoreham By Sea's aerodrome. Bigger than Shoreham By Sea.  Had an aircraft to itself. In fact this was the aircraft. It glided across the pond to Entertainment Weekly magazine in New York. Across the Atlantic Ocean. Ink and watercolour and a stamp. Non - porno. No commercial value. Protected. Wrapped in layers of stiff cardboard. Strapped with reels of gaffa tape. Sealed with wax. Sealed with glue. Transported to America. A shadow over Greenland. Newfoundland. Bigger than a flying fortress. In 1997. Big. Too big for the studio. Courier couldn't stick it under his arm. Impossible to fold. It took hours just to build an envelope to put it in. Label it Fragile. Before the scanner. Took it to Ron the printer in the high street to photocopy it in twenty six parts. Ron would out moan me for the gold medal. Probably fed the fax machine to show the art editor it's progress in instalments. Two rolls of fax paper. I took a polaroid  of Elton John singing Candle in the wind at Princess Diana's funeral on the television for reference. Didn't get paid as much for it as Tracy Emin's 'Iconic' unmade bed. The original piece now hangs on a wall near Preston in Lancashire. Had to demolish the lobby to get it in position. Diversions on the A59. Had to close the country lanes to traffic to transport it to it's new home. Near The Inn at Whitewell. In the Ribble Valley Lancashire. In England. That was the nineties. Since 2005 when I converted to digital, it's all digital delivery. It's all memory stick, no fragile labels to stick. A59? It's all less than A3. If I had any work. That's history. Bye gone days. Anyone for golf. Anyone live in the East? Fancy a weekly walk, chasing a little white ball with a set of sticks. Putting the little white ball into a hole eighteen times. Handicap? I was  an illustrator.  

5 comments:

  1. "Was"? You're one of the best. I always loved that piece.
    We're all just barely hanging on by the skin of our teeth.
    Not much for golf, but would love a walk and a long chat.

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    1. Joe - a walk across America.............

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  2. On the day in May that Labour leader John Smith died suddenly, was that 1996? The interlude before Tony Blair. The evening of the same day after a long day illuminated by a nuclear bomb of brilliant sun in London in the company of an advertising agency art director I found myself arrested and taken to Stockport Police Station. (the reasons of my arrest is a feature length story on it's own) It was a Thursday night, I remember now, I was released at about 5:30am on the Friday and that was the thirteenth. When the gentlemen of the Stockport constabulary were asking for my belt. Requesting the laces from my shoes. The contents of my pockets. To empty the compartments of my wallet. I produced a neatly folded up page of Today newspaper. At the same time I was being given a series of questions to answer one of which was, Occupation? I replied Illustrator. Coinciding with the squared up scrap of newspaper being unsheathed . The police officer repeated "illustrator?" in a tone suggesting What kind of occupation is that? he hadn't a clue what the word illustrator meant. So I unfurled the neatly folded scrap of that days issue of Today newspaper and handed the offending page to the sergeant. Half the page was taken up by my latest portrait in a weekly series titled Poison Pen. That day's victim was Billy Connolly. Billy Connolly, except it wasn't a particularly impressive piece of work. I didn't think Connolly warranted a savage caricature on the Poison Pen page. My heart hadn't been in it. It was a job. I was a professional. It was half hearted, if only it could've been the one of Jeffrey Archer, the one of Torvill and Dean, even Cliff Richard, it was just a half baked Connolly. The Sergeant scanned the item. The Sergeant looked up. The Sergeant said "You do this?" I confessed with a slightly cocky attitude, but with a hint of modesty ....'Yup....' "You didn't sign it" he retorted. He was right. I didn't. Because it wasn't a masterpiece. It was just a job. But he was right, I should've signed it. Then I was led away by two PCs to have my finger prints taken. Golden days.

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  3. Oh, I remember this one fondly. I think I may even still have the tearsheet in a file somewhere, stapled to those sex in the city ladies for the New Yorker. Bless EW for giving this a page and a half. Reading between the lines here it seem the original was even larger.

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    1. You kept samples of illustrations!? Wow I'm deeply touched.......Did I mention the original was quite large.........

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