In 2021 I was was really lucky to be introduced to singer/songwriter Jackie Bristow who had recently collaborated with young Kiwi kids two write and record original songs during lockdown as Jackie B and the Mini Band. The group had written songs about saving the environment, space and time travel. Jackie asked if I’d be interested in creating an animated music video full of pirates and deep-sea mysteries. The song was Davy Jones’ Locker.
After listening to the songs I turned verses into scenes and developed a story about a misunderstood pirate king who just wanted new friends to come to his birthday party. I developed this into a storyboard with notes on movement and how each shot would line up with the lyrics.
After the storyboards were approved I moved to the character design stage and developed three very different versions of Davy Jones and an example of one of the pirates. This was my favourite part of the process and felt like the characters were coming to life. We landed on the seahorse-bottomed design and added some long white deadlocks.
I also had to give the characters a place to live, so started developing backgrounds. I loved the moody melancholy vibe of the song and wanted the deep bluish sea tones to match that. I’ve always been a fan of Maurice Noble’s background designs in Looney Tunes cartoons and I hope you can see some of that inspiration creep into the squiggly bushes, tall jagged cliffs and splattered stars.
With all the elements sketched up and approved I worked with my mate and excellent editor/animator Brad Goosen to bring the flat illustrated elements to life and pair with the musical track to take you below the surface and into Davy Jones Locker.
I loved working with Jackie. Even though we were communicating via email and zoom, separated by the Tasman Sea and strict covid restrictions, sharing every element of this process with her was exciting and rewarding. I’ve always wanted to work on a music video. I’m glad this was my first one.
My illustration, storyboard and background work has been nominated for a Stanley Award in this years Australian Cartoonists Association annual awards night. Fingers crossed I can bring home some treasure.
The My Heart Mate app is now live. Working for Flying Bark Productions, I supplied the character and world design and layout for the app that is used by people hoping to strengthen their heart health. The app has you adopt a heart character that you name and keep healthy via brain challenging games as well as real world activities that are designed to maintain good heart health like; exercise, relaxation and a healthy diet.
The character design process saw a few shaped and coloured hearts until we hit one that was appropriate enough and cute enough. The process of creating different versions of the same character and refining down in to the right one was really enjoyable.
Once my job was done my designs were used to render and animate the little guy and now it lives in the app, providing people with an entertaining way to recover and keep their health in check.
Last week I did some work with BMF to create a whiteboard animation for The Full Stop Foundation. A foundation that supports victims of sexual and domestic violence.
It was International Women’s Day this week and as well as celebrating the achievements of women worldwide the day also exists to bring awareness to the trials and persecutions women still face today. I know survivors of domestic violence and realise that services like Full Stop’s 1800RESPECT can be truly valuable in being the first step in leading women to a more positive future.
I’ve always wanted to take part in a whiteboard animation as I feel it is a very powerful way to communicate information and statistics. Using simple cartoons to illustrate such a serious topic is a delicate process especially when depicting scenes that may be triggers for some people. Cartoons, which are commonly used to lampoon people and situations, can conversely be used to describe things in a simpler way that is easier to digest while still being engaging. I’m very happy that my introduction to this style was for such a vital service. You can make a donation to the foundation here. Please do.
If you or anyone you know has or is currently suffering from domestic or sexual violence please reach out to 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
Dad was a builder, and while I was a kid living in the family house that was slowly built around us I was Dad’s apprentice on Sundays. I was really good at handing Dad what he needed and learnt all the names of the tools (Stanley, Dumpy, Phillips). I still know the recipe for concrete and have developed immense respect for plasterers who can attach cornice to the ceiling.
I was never a great apprentice, I wasn’t (and still am not) strong, I hit my thumb more times than the actual nail and I spent most of the time daydreaming, interested in the lines of the grain of the wood or thinking about Jim Maxwell’s obsession with telling us exactly how many seagulls were on the pitch at any given time during the cricket on the radio.
Those Sundays are very fond memories of mine. I saw my Dad being creative, problem solving and I got to experience his wealth of knowledge… and I always remember it being hot… like disgustingly hot in the massive tin roofed shed, which drove Dad to drink a pint of cold Ribena at tea like a man finally out of the desert.
As an illustrator and designer my days as cheap child labor Dad’s apprentice don’t have too many parallels. It has taught me to draw objects and people while keeping in mind shapes and forms that lay beneath the surface. It gave me a greater appreciation for allocating planning time in order to make a more solid artwork and for some reason I picked up the habit of keeping my pencil behind my ear and only using a chisel or knife to sharpen that pencil.
And here’s the thing about those pencils… Those pencils that could well be Dad’s pencils. At their tip they all have a unique shape. As they are all whittled down to a sharp edge, they all look a bit cartoonish and hold a shape that is abstracted from the very familiar image of a pencil sharpened with your run-of-the-mill sharpener. They each hold shapes that are never the same as the last, which means that even before I’ve started literally putting pencil to paper I have unconsciously sculpted the pencil to hold a new original line and form. The tip of the object I’m using is subconsciously helping me think outside the norm and create something new… and even though Dad is kilometres away and my habit to carve my pencils was founded decades ago, Dad is also subconsciously helping me construct the next artwork that is just about to pour from that unique scrappy looking pencil.
When I grow up I want to be a cartoonist or a train driver. This was my aspiration when I was a kid. I don’t drive trains, I didn’t grow up and that is probably why I’m now still drawing cartoons every day.
This week I picked up a great gig to translate the the hopes and dreams of a class of 7-8 year olds into a big colourful poster.
I was given 28 drawings the kids had done and each image was converted into a cartoon. I still wanted to keep an element of their original drawing so I cropped out a segment of their colouring in and trimmed in into a circle. This became the body for each of the little cartoons and a good reference point for the legend at the bottom of the page which also included what they wrote on their drawing, complete with verbatim spelling.
The final product was a lovely snapshot of what this full class hoped to be in about 20 years time. I hope some of them get as lucky as I did. (Especially for the ninja)
And here is the final 100 x 700cm poster ready to be auctioned off to raise money for the school.
In a past life I think I was a possum. I have always been intrigued by other peoples garbage. In fact I pretty much furnished my university share-house with solid gold finds from council clean-ups.
People throw away so many things that still function. I have an entire garden of of ditched plants that I’ve brought back to life, a bamboo tiki bar and once I found the complete discography of Culture Club on vinyl… which would be great if I liked Culture Club.
Yesterday, on a coffee run, I passed a junk pile that is perpetually replenished in Surry Hills. I often have a snoop as I pass by and yesterday I found a fully functioning drawing desk complete with a straightedge.
There was nothing wrong with it, it was merely dusty from years of disuse.
I cracked out the spray and wipe and set it up in my studio for a test run. The desk has new life and will hopefully facilitate some excellent ergonomic drawing sessions.
EDIT: And the next day I found this book in a junk pile in Surry Hills.
Was it sitting in a junk pile or in a gold mine?… it was a junkpile, but there was a book in it.
Once a month at work we have a themed afternoon of activities and beer to celebrate the achievements of the past month. The theme yesterday was Chinese New Year. We had Chinese snacks and I drew a cartoon of everyone’s Chinese Zodiac and element. It was really fun. And now everyone at work owns one of my cartoons. I also discovered how fun weirdo goats are to draw.