Monday, 30 April 2012

Black Flies

Back in February I was approached by a man named Kevin King, who had a project called Secret 7, which was linked to the annual event of Record Store Day and Teenage Cancer Trust.

The project was to feature 700 unique 7" record sleeves, interpreted by 700 artist's with an aim to 'rekindle some of the excitement for vinyl sleeve art in the digital era'. These were then to be exhibited at the Idea Generation Gallery in London and sold with 100% of the profits given to the TCT charity.

From the list of tracks available I picked 'Black Flies' by Ben Howard, whose debut album 'Every Kingdom' gets played quite a bit in my office.

Since the purpose of this project was create a one-off artwork, I decided to take a different approach to the design process. I selected various elements from previous designs I had created, not knowing if they would work together as a single composition. I did of course, resize them all to fit on a 7" sleeve, so I wasn't going in totally blind.

I decided to create an environment for the design, using screen-printing and here are the transparencies for the print.

A layer of light sensitive emulsion is applied to the screen and then the images are transferred to the screen using UV light. Here are all four layers of the print on one screen.

Here is the first colour, having been pulled through the screen.

The print on the sleeve - as you can see I've used masking tape to create a white frame around the print.

A close-up, showing that the sky is made up of halftone dots.

Printing the second colour.

A pink sun...

The third colour down, orange bricks.

Using the same orange, I printed the titles on the reverse of the sleeve.

Now here comes the tricky part. I wanted to create a 3D layered artwork, so I cut out a window frame shape from a piece of mount board. I then used my trusty Pentel pocket brush to illustrate a wood effect for the frame.

I then painted the window frame using a selection of acrylics, and never applying the paint too thick, so as to allow the illustrated wood effect to show through. I also printed a few flies onto acetate, which were affixed to the frame.

Here is a picture of the screen-printed sleeve, awaiting the frame to be put in place.

Here is the final cover, with the frame attached to the sleeve using double-sided tape.

A close up of the finished sleeve.

All in all, this was a fun project to work on; going into production of a final piece and not really knowing how it would turn out was a pretty daunting experience but I'm really happy with the results.

It was also fun to combine my love of screen-printing with a different, crafty approach. Hopefully the owner of the sleeve is enjoying it as much as I did putting it together.

You can buy the remaining sleeves from Teenage Cancer Trust's eBay page.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Ink & Paper

May is looking like a busy month for the UK poster community with three exhibitions taking place across consecutive weekends.

The first of which being Poster Roast as part of Camden Crawl.

With a bit of a twist this year, Poster Roast will be host alongside Alternative Press and Lexington Record Fair, making it quite a DIY day out in the heart of Camden.

It's all free to get in and more information on the three day event can be found here and it promises to be an exciting venture.

The following week comes the debut UK poster show by the UKPA, which will feature both UK and US artists, again taking place in London.

This event will act as more of a gallery show than an expo, with posters having their own space and will be available to purchase at the event.

There will also be a series of discussions, debates and a Q&A on the Sunday from 4pm featuring ramblings from a bunch of talented friends including Graham 'Army of Cats' Pilling, Drew Millward, John Howard and Lil Tuffy. There are plans in place for these talks to be filmed, to further spread the knowledge of these illustration disciples.

The following week will see the return of Screenadelica as part of the huge annual event, Liverpool Sound City.

LSC is an international music, media and technology conference and live arts and music festival, which started life in SXSW a few years back.

This will be my first year exhibiting my wares at Screenadelica and I hope to make it over there for the Saturday. More information on this year's event can be found on their website.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Scottish Winds

I was recently asked by Frightened Rabbit to design a tour poster for their Highlands Tour, in which they played intimate venues in small Scottish towns.

I love the thought of a band on a major label making such an effort to play to their fans who might not be able to get to their shows, which often take place in the major cities of Scotland.

People who know me will know that I'm quite fond of FR; I consider their second album 'The Midnight Organ Fight' to be a genuine modern classic. So when it came to inspiration, I had a lot of ideas at the ready.

Firstly I wanted to have references to their lyrics and themes tackled across their albums; the sea, isolation, faith and lack thereof and combine it with the idea of the band heading up into the unknown wilderness to play these shows.

Here is a quick printing process of the day I spent screen-printing them.

Firstly, the screens are coated with a chemical called Azocol.

Here are the transparencies, which will make up the two layers / colours of the poster.

They are transferred to the screens, using UV light.

The screen is then clamped into the bed place and the first colour has been pulled through with a squeegee.

Hanging out on the drying racks.

The second screen in place, with the imminent brown to complete the print.

Here is the final cropped version of the poster, which I think came out pretty well.

I printed 130 in total, 100 for the band and 30 for me. They're now available in my online shop and if you want one, then get to it, as I understand they were pretty popular on the tour. Also, for one week only I'm offering free p&p within the UK.

Big thanks to the band and their management for letting me do these and also to Alice Munks, who helped get the ball rolling with the band about 18 months ago...

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Flatstock 33

About a month ago I was privileged enough to travel to Austin, Texas to exhibit at Flatstock 33, which runs alongside the world famous music festival, SXSW.

Flatstock is a gig poster event run by the API, as a means of showcasing the work of the gig poster artist in a series of exhibitions.

As a little promotional item for FS33, I designed an A5-sized postcard with a parrot on.

These were printed by Manchester-based Marc the Printers on their spot colour risograph. The process of which is not too dis-similar from screen-printing, where each colour is printed separately but using an actual printer.

Also, before heading out for the event, I was requested by the UK Trade & Investment to produce a poster design for a UK-based show taking place as part of SXSW and presented by Huw Stevens.

Of course since Huw is Welsh I had to include a dragon and since SXSW is in Texas a BBQ was the next logical step. I bumped into Huw whilst out there and he approved and that was all I wanted...

I also got to visit the venue where Huw's showcase was going down and saw that my design had been adapted for a giant wall poster, which was nice.

So, onto the main event and here is a picture of me at the UKPA booth, standing before my wears.

And here is a picture of the threads that the UKPA had for sale too, featuring the old family favourite 'Cat Beard'.

And here is a long animated GIF of nearly all the artists who exhibited at Flatstock 33.

FS33 Animation

The whole experience was a real eye-opener for me, as a gig poster artist and a freelance illustrator. I was able to meet a lot of like-minded designers and hopefully managed to leave a little twoducksdisco shaped stamp on the world poster scene.

Huge thanks to the UKPA and the UK Trade & Investment teams who helped provide me with funding for the event. Cheers to all the Brits for the support, whilst being out there. The Americans, Europeans (and one Canuck) who were very welcoming and kind. And finally a massive thanks to everybody who bought a poster / print / t-shirt from me - I know a few of you read this.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Woods

Upon returning from Flatstock 33, Austin a few weeks ago, I had an email from a band called Daughter, requesting a screen-printed poster for their sold out show at the Islington Assembly Hall in London. After studying their output, I decided to base the poster on the song 'The Woods', which sets the scene of St. Christopher, searching for someone's sister in the woods. It was also important to create an environment which evoked the sparse textures used in Daughter's music. Oh, and they requested an exploding sun too!

So, after the design was approved I quickly had to book a session at WYPW to get the posters printed in time for the show and here's how the day went.

Here are the separations on acetate for the printing process.

Here is the first screen with the image burnt on (using a variety of chemicals and UV light) and you can see the cream paint on the screen, which is being pulled through the mesh of the screen to print onto the paper underneath.

Here are the sheets of paper with the first colour printed, drying on the rack.

The second screen, with the image burned onto it and ready to be locked into the screen bed.

The second colour (which was described to me as the start of a 'coral revival') being printed.

How did they turn out? Let's see...

The posters drying on the rack. Next they will be cropped on a heavy-duty paper cutter.

And here is the final poster, cropped and signed & numbered in an edition of 100.

A close-up of St. Christopher.

These posters are now available from my online store.

Thanks for reading. I hope this has given you an insight into how the posters were printed.