Thursday, 9 September 2010

Influence Map

Well, everyone else is doing it, so I'm going to do one too! With a MASSIVE explanation added on. YEAH!

Each row, left to right, starting top left
Noma Bar
His illustrations just blow my mind every time. His work is so reliably awesome, I can't imagine having the kind of mind that just generates such clever imagery and use of negative space on every single project. I've had the pleasure of meeting him several times, at a lecture he did at university, an event in London, and at the private view of his exhibition, and it has been a delight every time. If you ever get the chance to see him speak about his work, be sure to do it, he's every bit as interesting as the images he creates.

I've been an admirer of Job Wouters (aka Letman) work for a couple of years… for once, catching on seemingly before the general design blogging community, who have been mentioning him a lot recently. I love his stunning hand done typography and layering, and really admire his limited use of computers. Be sure to take a look at his website, as his work is incredibly varied, and very prolific, and unlike many designy websites, there's a massive selection to look at.

Jez Burrows
At the university of Brighton, if you get an interview for the Graphic Design or illustration course, as well as being interviewed by three tutors, there's also a second year student in the room. When I had my interview, it was Jez Burrows, and a lovely fellow he is. Besides being lovely, he's also an incredible designer, and his degree show was probably one of my favourites that year. He's gone on to produce much more amazing work since then, and I've got so much respect for his work ethic and design style.

Simon Page's International Year of Astronomy posters, and design blogging in general
One of my favourite sets of work I've seen in the last year or so has been Simon Page's series of posters for the International Year of Astronomy. This crop does it no justice - none of them were easily croppable. Seek them out, they're stunning.
Also represented by this image are the design blogs I regularly look at for inspiration - which are where I found this set of work. Special mentions for It's Nice That, FormFiftyFive, Share Some Candy, Grain Edit, Information About Information…. but, there are many many more.

Reggie Watts
Back in May, Reggie Watts came to Brighton for the Brighton festival. At that time I followed him on Twitter, and was vaguely aware of his work - inimitable voice-loop based comedy and music. At around midnight on his first night in Brighton, he asked Twitter whether anyone fancied coming for some tea with him. It just so happened that I'd recently made a resolution to throw caution to the wind, so I went, and we sat till two in the morning, drinking tea, looking at the sea, and having delightful conversation. He is without doubt one of the most interesting and unlikely people I've ever had the joy of knowing. Next time he was in the UK, I went to his show in London, and afterwards ending up going out for curry with him, Tim Minchin, and Brian Eno. Which is without doubt one of the most awesome evenings I've ever had… But yes, the reason he's here, as an influence, is that meeting him is the direct result of my decision to be braver and take more chances in life. I'm still an enormous wimp, but that encounter and subsequent kind-of-friendship always reminds me that I need to be more adventurous!

Pick Me Up - Contemporary Graphic Fair
This was an exhibition held in Somerset House, which is without doubt the best exhibition I've ever been to. Basically, it featured the work of many amazing illustrators and graphic designers in the UK at the moment. Not only were Letman and Jez Burrows (as part of the collective Evening Tweed) there, but also many many others, including Rob Ryan (not just his work, but his entire studio, complete with army of scalpel artists), No Brow, Peep Show, Print Club London, and oh so much more. It blew my tiny mind, and inspired me more than any other one event ever has.

BIG 2010
This is the logo designed by us to represent all the 2010 graduates from Brighton's Graphic Design and Illustration courses (of which I am one). I put this here, and made it so big, because one of my hugest influences has been the people I've been studying alongside. When I first started at Brighton I felt hugely out of my depth, and looking at the work of people around me made me feel incredibly small and inferior. However over the years I've come to realise that rather than feeling threatened by them, it's actually far better to be inspired and amazed by their work. Many of the people whose work I admire most are people I barely even spoke to during the course, and it's probably creepy if they ever read this to think I've been 'admiring them from afar'… so uh… don't be creeped out? :D
Tom Van De Velde
Lucy Nurnberg
Daniel Clark
Marcel Cowling
Kaye Blegvad
Tom Boswell
This is just six people out of around 70 incredible graphic designers and illustrators who it's been so awesome to work with for the last three years. They've all played their part in influencing my thoughts, ideas and ways of working.

Letterpress (and other traditional techniques)
Since coming to uni I've had the joy of learning various traditional design production techniques including letterpress, printmaking and bookbinding. And somehow… things just look so much better when you've laboured over them for hours… hand setting type, stitching and binding a book and so on… Not to mention how inspiring it is seeing the work produced in the various workshops by previous students and the technicians.

I never thought anywhere could feel like home as much as Brighton does to me. Of course, this was my first experience of living away from home, so I'm sure wherever I'd moved to would have shaped and changed me, but as it is, I came to Brighton, and I still find myself inspired by the place on a daily basis - the people I see, the places I go, tiny little details which make me smile. I chose this particular photo because of the building in the middle, which is the Hilton Hotel… By some extraordinary luck and strangeness, three of my closest friends ended up living in a suite on the very top floor for the last year of uni. We'd sit in front of their floor-to-ceiling-wall-to-wall windows and look out across the sea and across the roof tops. Every time I looked out that window I fell in love with Brighton all over again.

About 5 years ago I went for a day trip to Liverpool, and I saw an interactive exhibit at a museum there… I don't remember it much, I just remember thinking it was awesome, and I bought a souvenir set of postcards, and have had them on my wall ever since… at home, in halls, and now in my flat. And over the years I've become aware of the multidisciplinary studio behind that exhibit, and many other projects which I've massively admired - Airside. I still love them, and the dream would be to work for them one day - although I certainly wouldn't be ready for it yet! (Trivia - one of the directors of Airside is also the man behind the excellent Lemon Jelly

And one library in particular, the university of Brighton's Arts and humanities library, where I've worked part time for the last three years alongside my uni studies. It's been without doubt the best job I've ever had, and of course as well at tidying at putting books away, there's been much browsing and reading and learning done there too. And not just in my main areas of interest, art and design, but also in philosophy, psychology, history, geography, film, music… I don't by any means claim to have a vast amount of knowledge of any of these other areas, but without that library job I know I'd have missed out on so much of what I know now. That background knowledge constantly proves valuable to me on a day to day basis.

I may claim Brighton to be more like home than anywhere else I've ever lived, but there's no denying that I spent the first 19 years of my life living here. Drop a pin in the middle of that picture… that's where my house is. I don't know whether I'll ever live there again, but there's no denying the place and the people I know there have played their part in shaping me into the person I am today.

Beaver and Steve
This is a webcomic I read for some years, and still look back on fondly. The illustration style is lovely, and the humour is right up my street… of course I read it back then purely as a comic, but now I appreciate that I was also absorbing the illustration style, colour combinations, and overall look and feel of them. Clearly, I haven't turned into a comic artist, but I still view them as a big influence.

Storm Thorgerson… aaaand… music.
Well, this is kind of representing two things in one image. Firstly, Storm Thorgerson, whose work fascinates and inspires me… I even wrote my foundation year essay on his work! Also, coincidentally, George Hardie was one of our tutors in uni, and he was part of Hipgnosis with Thorgerson - the team behind the iconic Pink Floyd prism artwork.
Secondly, this image represents music, as this is part of the artwork from the Mars Volta's DeLoused in the Comatorium album. Now, I didn't make this image bigger, because I can't really claim that music influences my artwork. I'm not a musical person, I don't create my own music, and neither do I create many visuals based on music. That said, I feel it influences me as a person enormously. Music plays a huge part in my life, and I spend many hours a day listening to it and seeking out new things to hear. This particular album was one I first heard quite a few years back, and it blew my tiny mind. A proper 'headphones' album.

Josef Albers
At A level Art I based my final project around some of his ideas. 4 years later, when I got the brief for my final exam project in my degree, there was an incredible Josef Albers quote, which I based my whole exam project around.
I know very little about him, but what I have studied he seems like a fascinating individual, and through pure chance played a fairly big role in two very important stages of my art education!

Urban Exploration and 99 Rooms
For a long time I've had a fascination with the concept of 'urban exploration', which is entering abandoned, crumbling buildings, exploring, photographing, and then leaving them as you found them. Due to my fundamental fear of law breaking, I've actually done very little of it myself, but what I have done has been amazing, and I love seeing other's photographs of places that sometimes even no longer exist. The 99 Rooms project admittedly breaks one of the fundamental rules of urban exploration… they certainly don't leave the buildings as they were found. But it's completely worth it.

Art Foundation
I'm sure most degree level art students would cite their foundation course as a massive influence. My work has changed so much since then, and retrospectively I picked up a lot of bad habits while I was there, but I learnt so much, and still look on most of my work there with pride.

The Underground, and public transport in general
Ok, I'll come right out and say it, I'm a massive public transport nerd, trains and buses in particular. Ever since I was little I've been fascinated by the underground, it's complexity and planning, and I actually wrote my dissertation about London Transport's incredible use of design over the years. Frank Pick is the man who started it all, and he's one of my design heroes of all time. The particular image I've chosen here is the incredible mosaicing in Tottenham Court Road Station, which was created by Paolozzi. Ever since I was little I've loved it.

Dave Silltoe
When I was trying to think about people who have influenced me, I started looking at DeviantArt. I joined dA when I was about 15, and it's definitely played a major part in my artistic upbringing. So I started looking at the many people whose art I follow on there, and there are so many people on there who have influenced me, but I thought it would be nice to pick someone who I know in real life. (Even if he's no longer active on dA) I've got so much respect for him, he's an amazing illustrator, and against all advice didn't do a foundation, or A-level art, he just went and did exactly the degree he wanted to do, and he has now proceeded to go and get exactly the job he wants. We have dramatically different styles, but I've got so much respect for what he does. (Not to mention the technical nature of his game art design work!) So this panel represents both him, and Deviantart as a whole.

I can pinpoint the moment I found out about tessellation. I was six years old, at school, and I remember being sat at our little yellow table, and being handed a series of shapes, and having the concept of tessellation explained to us. And even back then, I knew it was AWESOME, and we were all given graph paper, and I spent ages drawing different patterns. To this day I still have the same fascination with repeat patterns, and it's an area I want to investigate more in my work.

Craig Robinson
I've looked at Craig's website for years, probably since my mid teens. It didn't even occur to me what an influence his work has been on me till quite recently… But even if his style is nothing like my own, I've got so much admiration for his constant and varied creativity, quirky random ideas and lovely sense of humour.

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