Friday, 28 August 2015

Mail me Art: A Mail Art Project

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Recently I’ve been trying to find time to indulge in independent, creative projects. Teaching for three institutions and having three young kids doesn’t leave much time for doing my own thing and so I’ve been seeking ways to incentivise me to get things done, I’ve also been discussing with one or more of my students the issue of trying to capitalise on finding time and seeing what one can achieve within a very limited time. I have been extolling the aims of this video by Cy Porter on the theme of Littleing it to Death by which Porter outlines tackling potentially larger projects by approaching them by do a little each day. So now practicing what I’ve been preaching I’m looking to do something each day. This little effort was a entry for a Mail Art project for Mail Me Art which “is a project that has brought together an international community of artists and illustrators, amateur and professional alike, through art in the form of mail.” This took about 2.5 hours and I left it until the day of the deadline. If I’m honest with my own critique, the composition isn’t great, neither is the lettering but I’m pleased with the doodle-like technique that emerged and the some of the mark-making. I really like the concept of mail art and hope to do more of this.

Reference: http://www.mailmeart.com

Thursday, 9 July 2015

The Green Man—A Design Mystery.

13th century foliate faces from the portfolio of Villard de Honnecourt.
13th century foliate faces from the portfolio of Villard de Honnecourt.

A Green Man “a head disgorging vegetation from eyes, nostrils, ears or forehead, or a foliate head where the cheeks are depicted as leaf-like.” Doel & Doel (2010)

For many years I’ve been fascinated by Green Men.  The meaning of these ancient faces made up of leaves remains a mystery in terms of their cultural function and what they truly represent.  There are no known documents made at the time of their creation that help explain or even hint at the meaning of the green man. Contemporary medieval drawings are scarce, with the only drawings that I can find are that of foliate faced men created by 14th century artist Villard de Honnecourt (above). Of course, anyone who can tell you the true meaning of green men is long dead, and anyone proffering explanation now is doing so on a hunch, even if it is an well educated one. And, as such these are just my musings as I’ve looked upon these much studied cultural symbols.

Recently, when leaving St. Dunstan’s church in Cranbrook in Kent, I looked up in the entrance to see the face of a green man facing me (below). I was struck by a thought about why it would have been positioned as such.

Green Man in the Entrance of St. Dunstan's Church, Cranbrook
Green Man in the Entrance of St. Dunstan’s Church, Cranbrook

His head facing the the person leaving. I wondered if its strategic placement was to remind or warn the medieval churchgoer that they were now leaving the orderly safety and protection of the Christian church before going out into what some Christians believe(d) to be the sinful, natural world.  Maybe he/they somehow suggest a bridge or link between the two? Perhaps he was a form of intermediary of God? Maybe a Jesus-like being; enduring suffering and who is humane and capable of both goodness and sin, and who will inevitably live, die and be reborn in some form, like all living things.

There is something of a duality to the green man; on one hand he can take a rather sinister appearance. His face sometimes seems somewhat demonic or tormented in many images, yet on the other he is the peaceful or playful.  The green man spewing leaves, perhaps equates to the breathe of life. He appears to be exhaling, almost showing us the bronchi of his leafy lungs and perhaps quite literally breathing out life into the world. Perhaps the leaf spewer represents the Holy Spirit inhabiting all mankind? It is is possible that such notions made a being with pagan legacies palatable to the medieval church and more accessible to the common folk? The masses might have identified more easily with concept of the green man as an analogy of their own, hard, natural, brief existence, rather than the threats of some fire and brimstone priest speaking at them for hours in Latin, a language the masses would not have understood.

The church obviously accepted the green man for centuries given how frequently he appears. Images of the Green Man in various incarnations go back to Roman times and it is evident that the church adopted the image as an evolving concept which was almost certainly borne of our pagan legacy. His image—and it is almost always a male, although I have seen and woman and also cats or lions—is frequently positioned midst images of Jesus and other religious figures and symbols, and perhaps the green man was the acceptable and succinct parallel for the church to illustrate the concept of life, death and rebirth to parishioners, most of whom would have been poor, illiterate folk. People who would have also been so much more in tune with the natural world than most of us today. Their very dependence upon the land and its cultivation required an intensely intimate understanding of the patterns and intricacies of each season. An ability to read nature. Such intimacy can be seen within the beautiful illustrations of the Luttrell Psalter c. 1325.

Whatever the Green Man once meant, this mysterious being has remained with us and remains open to interpretation only to be re-interpreted and re-imagined by subsequent generations. Most of us can identify with the joy that spring’s arrival brings following a long, hard winter. This was and and still is something to be celebrated, and, given the growing number of May Day celebrations across England it would seem that as one might  expect, the Green Man lives on.

Here are a few of my own images of the Green Man that I’ve I taken over time.

References and Further Reading

Doel, Fran & Geoff (2010), The Green Man in Britain, The History Press

Basford, Kathleen. The Green Man, (1998). D.S. Brewer (Cambridge)

Harding, Mike. (1998) A Little Book of The Green Man, Aurum Press

Harrowing in the Luttrell Psalter c.1325 – 1335, The British Library

Tim Bones © 2015

Silvanus the Roman forest deity.
The original Green Man? Silvanus the Roman forest deity. 1st-2nd century AD. British Museum exhibit.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Graphic Design Show 2015 West Kent College (University of Kent)

Another great year for our HE Graphic Design & Illustration students at West Kent College (University of Kent). Well done to all. Here a a few of the works exhibited along with a brochure put together by yours truly.

Brochure Graphics Spread
Click to view document (if using a Flash incompatible device click the PDF version below)

West Kent College offers a range of creative Higher Education courses including Graphic Design validated by the University of Kent (West Kent College):
http://westkent.ac.uk/university-courses-in-kent/he-art-and-design.html
http://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/additional/#!k-college

Images from clockwise:
Hayley Eldridge, Hayley Eldridge, Fred Sirman, Hayley Eldridge, Matt Wyles, Dave Sexton.

 

Friday, 1 May 2015

Pick-me-Up 2015 at Somerset House

Pick me up 1

Once again we took our students to the current offerings of Somerset House’s Pick Me Up, Graphic Arts Festival. I really wanted to see something different, something inspiring, something to amaze me and I came away feeling mostly flat. The ‘festival’ seemed to have lost its buzz and its edgy excitement . There was little of any substance but then that’s partly what Pick Me Up seems to be about. (No, it’s not me getting old, many of my students felt the same way.) Even the exhibitors appeared to have lost their zest for the occasion, looking quite glum and crestfallen. I suspect that there were fewer exhibitors this year and that made it feel emptier.

Pick me Up is a niche happening. It’s a mixture of the zany, the quirky, the colourful and the cheerful. Typically you’ll see cartoons, surreal and abstract prints and alphabets and much of it now looks like a reproduction of each others style and a rehash of much from previous years, only now it’s looking a little like a tired clown. Pick Me Up appears to have become increasingly safe in churning out pseudo-cheerful work with little to say. Imagine a nursery school with a letterpress, good paper stock and plenty of day glo colours only far more strained in its results. Well, with the few exceptions that’s Pick Me Up 2015. There were some noticeable strong participants and their differences in both technical skills and content made them stand out. My favourites by far were the sensitive and lively drawings of Zoë Taylor and wonderful paper-crafted works of Hattie Newman. Both were a real delight to find.

Visual work aside, the range of speakers this year was good and I was lucky enough to hear Lucienne Roberts and Rebecca Wright of ‘pioneering publishing house’ GraphicDesign&  deliver a great talk on graphic design.

In recent years I have genuinely enjoyed much of what has come out of PMU and the associated genre of art that has emerged. I particularly like the way in which many of the PMU creatives are doing things for themselves, on their own terms and in their own way, however, I can’t help yearning for something fresh or perhaps more importantly a more diverse range of styles. Contemporary graphic art is so much more than what PMU has come to represent. A little substance goes a long way.

PMU_2015_2
Lucienne Roberts (L) & educator Rebecca Wright of GraphicDesign&
Out students taking part in using coloured scraperboard at the Blink Art stand
Our FE & HE students taking part in using coloured scraperboard at the Blink Art stand
Hattie Newman
Hattie Newman
Hattie Newman
Hattie Newman
Workbook of Hattie Newman
Workbook of Hattie Newman
The work of Kate Hudson
The work of Kate Hudson
The work of Kate Hudson
The work of Kate Hudson

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Ladybird by Design

Things to Make, 1963, G. Robinson. (c) Ladybird Books Ltd, 1963
Things to Make, 1963, G. Robinson. © Ladybird Books Ltd, 1963

Like the many thousands of British children who, like me, grew up reading Ladybird Books in the 1970s—and the decade either side of this—can doubtless recall a certain fascination with at least one Ladybird title. For me it was the beautifully realistic and slightly unnerving illustrations by Robert Lumley for The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Like many Ladybird titles the illustrations were engrossing. They were images to be pored over, and as such many remain as indelible memories.

Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion is exhibiting  ‘Ladybird by Design’. Containing some 200 original artworks the exhibition is a testament to Ladybird’s commitment to publishing illustrations of the highest quality; images that would help with learning by being both descriptive and well made. They are realistic yet somehow convey so much more than any photograph might. Yes, the content often depicted a somewhat idealised view of the world, and it is easy to criticise some of the content for being being middle class and for having very gender specified roles, but judging by the stream of visitors that I have seen on my visits the exhibition it’s easy to see that these books are held in firm affection by the nation. Of course, I say that with some bias as one of the many who associates these books with part of my childhood. Seeing these illustrations again, and in the context of having trained as an illustrator and now teaching the graphic arts made me appreciate these wonderful books and their images more than ever. It perhaps also suggests that illustration, often viewed as a lower art form, can rival the interest generated by many ‘fine’ art collections. The exhibition runs until May 10th.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Typography e-book

Typography by Tim Bones

In the summer of 2014 I wrote series of blog posts for the Interactive Design Institute (IDI) on the theme of typography and typeface design. The posts are very much aimed at those wanting to gain an insight into the fundamentals of type and some of the approaches to its design. IDI have now collated these writings and put them into a nice little e-book which is available for all to read on Issuu.

spread 2

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The Crystal: A model for sustainability (and exhibition design?)

The Cystal 2

Well, this is something of a hidden gem.  I’m not alone in saying I’d never heard of The Crystal. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to says they’ve not heard of it, even those teaching design in London! Having been there I left impressed and feel like spreading the word particularly given that The Crystal is the “World’s largest exhibition dedicated to urban sustainability.”

Having been tipped off by a student who stumbled across it, my teaching colleague and I decided to organise a visit. This striking building in London’s Royal Victoria Dock in east London contains a permanent exhibition about sustainable development. It is owned and operated by Siemens and is an exemplar of sustainability in architecture. The Crystal “is one of the world’s greenest buildings” and it emits an impressive 65% less carbon dioxide than other comparable office buildings and consumes 50% less energy. But as well as being of interest as a model of sustainability part of our reason to visit The Crystal was to see how had been it is designed as an exhibition space and how it was presented in terms of display graphics. The same student who told us about the building mentioned that the exhibition graphics were good and he was right. Typographically the building contained a real mixture of design that the materials and surfaces must have provided the graphic designers with as much pleasure as they did challenges. (These can be seen below.)

The most important thing was that I took something with me when I left. This was both a mixture of hope and a slight dread for the futures of the coming generations. The exhibition was a great way to drive home the importance for planning and anticipation as well as an acute need to reflect upon our needs and our behaviours.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Lettering Workshop with Sean de Burca

Sean_de_Burca_Artwork

Sean de Burca is a former design student of West Kent College (University of Kent) who completed his graphic design degree with us several years ago. Since then Sean has established himself as a designer with a niche angle. As well as being an accomplished musician, producing the artwork for his own albums, Sean is gaining popularity as a designer with other musicians who are appear to want designs with a personal, more organic look rather than a slick, digital feel.

Sean’s work is meticulously crafted and our students had the pleasure of watching Sean deliver a talk and demonstration, during which the students emulated his approach. As someone who is familiar with a number of lettering techniques I can’t recall seeing an approach like this. The process that Sean has created and honed is one that allows him to work at an impressive speed given its intricacies.

Using this tried and tested method of creating lettering guides Sean then builds up his lettering in pencil adding any embellishments as required, and once satisfied with the drawing this is then taken into Illustrator for digital drawing and refining. Lastly the designs are further worked on within Photoshop where he can try a variety of treatments to obtain the right feel for the musician and their music.

It’s always fascinating to observe the subtle nuances of different lettering artists and once the students got to grips with Sean’s method of creating the lettering guides they soon became immersed in creating their own letters. As well as being interesting, some of the students are already considering how they might utilise this technique in their projects.

Sean’s artwork can be seen here.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Collage: Graphic Play

Collage is a great medium to explore fresh and unexpected compositions and themes.

#collage #collageart #papercollage #creativeplay #wip

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#collage #creativity #collageart #creativeplay #papercollage #fox #glasses

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#collage #collageart #wip #workinprogress #creativity #creativeplay #papercollage

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#digitalcollage #collage #collageart #surreal #creativeplay #art #nonsense

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#collage #montage #surreal #art #collageart #design #graphicart #graphics #creativeplay #digitalcollage   A photo posted by Tim Bones (@mrtimbones) on

#collage #collageart #creativeplay #art #surreal #nonsense

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