Posted on July 4, 2012 by Rob // 0 comment(s)
Andrew Park is an artist and illustrator. He is also the director of Cognitive Media. Read on to hear his thoughts about the book he illustrated for Damian Hughes, the author of The Liquid Thinking Survival Guide to Change in 2008.
I met Damian via a scribing job, when he was a HR Manager at Unilever. We got talking in the bar post event and when he said he was writing his first book, Liquid Thinking, I was intrigued and offered to lay it out for him and do some illustrations free of charge. I said “it sounds like a good book, lets do it”, but it was one of those conversations where you think it’s never going to come of anything. Low and behold he actually sent me a copy the following week!
The graphic designer Mark Calderbank (Reason Design) worked on the layout and I made a load of illustrations for chapter headings. This first set of illustrations used ink splats to represent liquid, within those splats were portraits of people and illustrations of concepts. We literally threw ink around and scanned it in, then worked into them with photoshop. That book was quite successful and the first edition sold out.
Through that process Damian and I became friends. It was also during that time that Damian left his job at Unilever and struck out on his own, as an author and giving talks derived from the concepts he wrote about. We fostered a working relationship and I supported Damian as a Scribe at lots of his speaking engagements. At this time Damian was developing his ideas and it was no surprise that he had a lot more content for another book.
When we talked about doing another book together I said yes, but wanted to try something different. So, for me, this next book was trying to find a new style of illustration. He was self-publishing, which meant we were in charge and this gave us a lot of freedom. The only constraints were the usual suspects of time and money.
I looked through the rough manuscripts and pulled out bits that I thought would make good illustrations. I went through it as I would do as a scribe. Concentrating on the core messages and also what would be an interesting image for the audience. The book, although universal in a lot of its themes, was being originally marketed in the U.K. With this in mind, I decided to use British cultural reference points for the illustrations. This is a trend that I have continued in my work, including the RSA Animate series.
I made a load of thumbnail sketches, lots of these were one shots. The transition from sketch to final piece was really only one step. From the thumbnails I worked straight into Illustrator, editing the images as I went. There wasn’t any editorial guidance and it was pretty open to me to decide what the book looked like. I worked with Mark Calderbank from Reason again, who laid it out at the end, we gave him a load of illustrations and he just worked around those. The nice thing was it was pretty much an illustration lead graphics project. It’s interesting being both the client and the illustrator at the same time. The graphic design was in service to the drawings, which hopefully were in service to the content.
The style came out of necessity. I was working on it over the summer, on a laptop with a little tiny Wacom tablet, from the kitchen table at home. My wife and I had just had our daughter and she was still a very young baby, so it was all a bit hectic! I can’t remember how many illustrations I had to produce but I remember it was a lot, so the style had to be computer based to contain everything. I chose Illustrator because all the colours were in there, no mess. Quick and really iterative, so there was no need for ink or photographs or pens. Also, because it was vector based it meant that they were scalable and more flexible. The style is really quite rough, I was essentially scribing in Illustrator. The illustrations incorporate photographic textures, the reason being that this cut down stuff I had to draw. It was a bit of a choice between what looks colourful, and punchy and what is quick to do and send. Really it was a mix of practical decisions as well the aesthetics.
As I mentioned, the book sold mostly in the UK and most of the references are from British Culture so I had quite a lot of fun doing that. John Cleese and Jim Bowen, are quite funny and they speak to Damian’s audience as well. He’s down to earth, appreciates humour, uses a lot of cultural reference points in his talks and pulls a lot of examples from YouTube and popular culture, so the style was a good fit.
I didn’t have a particular favourite illustration while I was working on them, it is nice looking back in hindsight but at the time it was hard work and a bit of a slog to get things done. I was averaging about 4 illustrations a day. You can see that there are three types of illustration throughout the book, there are straight caricatures, there are diagrams that have various things going on to explain concepts, then there is the hybrid between those two.
I really like the ‘Success is 99% Failure’ diagram, just because it is a visual explanation in one image. It has an explosion too, which is always good. It’s more akin to scribing than to a straight spot illustration. It has information embedded within it that could possibly lead to more thinking. On second thoughts, maybe the explosion sells it really!
The Nixon-Kennedy is also one of my favourites. I like Kennedy’s hair, I used a texture for this from a glossy magazine photo. Kennedy looks tanned and confident and Nixon looks pale and worried. There are beads of sweat on Nixon. This illustration was to explain the concept that people make snap judgments. Kennedy, in the TV presidential debate with Nixon, used make-up. Nixon declined make-up and sweated profusely under the hot studio lights which lead some members of the audience to conclude Nixon was untrustworthy. I hope the illustration captures that essence.
I think the John Cleese caricature is a reasonable attempt, but if you were to make me choose only one, I would go for Del Boy because it’s just funny. I like the layout, I like the smile and I like the rubbish van. It’s just great to draw Del Boy and people instantly recognise him! It doesn’t have a particular meaning to me, it’s just quite a nice little illustration. I could have drawn him falling through a bar hatch but that would be unfair.
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This post was tagged with The Liquid Thinking Survival Guide to Change, Damian Hughes, Andrew Park, Cognitive Media, Folkestone, Creative Quarter, illustration, RSA Animates, TED-Ed, Folkestone animation, Folkestone illustration, Del Boy, Mark Calderbank, John Cleese, Jim Bowen, Nixon-Kennedy, design, greetings cards, animation blog