Sneak peek

Have a cheeky look at some Tales of the Spiffing: Vol.2 bits I've been working on...


If you missed out on the MoBro Morph and happen to be in London...

Why not go support MoBro James and his team, "The Seatbelts" when they hold a Movember Pub quiz/raffle/auction? You may even come away with a Movember Purple and Brown! (As sculpted by Rich Webber...creator of Purple and Brown)

They'll be available as part of (what I'm sure will be) a great night, so if you happen to be in London and looking for a MOnumentous time here are (some) details.



The Dead Squirrels

While I think it's painfully obvious that I'm doing Movember, I am just one of a team known as "The Dead Squirrels". Catch up with the the other AardMo's over on the team blog.



For those not in the know, now is the month when you grow your mo. That's correct ladies and gents...it's Movember. I'm not going to lie. I'd like your sponsorship. And as proof that I am developing my top lip, I'll be posting my ugly mug on here daily so you can follow the growth. My hope is that once you have seen that I am actually growing a mo and not just saying I am, you might be convinced to throw a couple quid to the cause.

Day 8

And here is something like an advent calendar to chart the progress...except with less chocolate and no christmas at the end of it. It lasts 30 days instead of 24 though! Bonus!

And in case you don't feel like giving to me personally, how about you support Aardman? There are 30 of us going through Movember - check out the team and donate (to me or the whole) at our MOVEMBER TEAM PAGE or the AARDMAN TEAM BLOG.

And if none of that takes your fancy, we also made a Morph with a massive Mo, just for the Movember charity. We donated him to them last week and auctioned him on eBay! He fetched £370!!


The Animation Art Auction

So now it's common knowledge that Aardman is having an auction of artwork to help raise funds for The Children's Hospital here in Bristol. And, rather bizarrely, they asked me if I'd like to donate a piece of work (which I did. Three signed original ink and wash panels from my Tales of the Spiffing comic, "Tommy", all framed to look as they appear in the book). I say rather bizarrely because when you look at the line up of other artists involved...well, they're all legends of the animation world. Of course there is Nick Park who has donated an original W&G painting, and then Pete Lord who has drawn a Morph. I suppose it's a given that those two would be involved. It wouldn't Aardman without them. But then the list extends. Ray Harryhausen (LEGEND); Dick Williams (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?); John Lasseter (Head honcho at Pixar); Pete Docter (Pixar's Monsters Inc. and Up!); Steve Box; Art Leonardi; Brian Cosgrove; Terry Brain; Rich Webber; Tomm Moore; Golly...

It's very odd to see my own name on that list...an incredible honour but still very odd.

For anyone who wants to know a bit more about the auction and what's available, here is a link to the CATALOGUE, or you could go to the GRAND APPEAL site.


I ran out of ink is not a valid argument...

A few sketches from the book. Bit of everywhere really...most sat at a drinking establishment of some kind.

Been busy recently, hence lack of attention to ye olde blog!


How did we do that?

So those lovely people over at Skwigly Online Magazine (an animation orientated news site...bit like the brew) interviewed us a while back about the "Tales of the Spiffing". I just got an email to tell me it's online! So stop reading this and go and read that instead!


This happens FAR too often.

In the last 3 months I have seen this happen 3 times. It's also happened to me once...so that would be 4 times total -

I live just off Whiteladies road. It's a busy road. One of the most heavily used in Bristol. Every morning I wait at the same junction...trying to get on.

I inch my way out, to see around the trees and parked cars.
Once in a while you get a driver who gives way otherwise I'd be there forever.

Too bad not all drivers think the same.

Hopefully there'll be a break in the traffic. Eventually...
And then it happened.

I was hit by a cyclist.

He'd done some fair damage to both my front and rear drivers side doors. Not to mention the rear window. They'll need replacing.

I had planned on asking if he had insurance...

But I couldn't get a word in edgeways.

Cyclists don't have insurance anyway...

Looks like this is coming out of my pocket.

Before I start people should know this. I'm a cyclist. I'm also a motor biker and I drive a car. This isn't "having a go" at those who cycle. It's more trying to figure out what makes the rules different for them. Are they road users or pavement users? Personally, I see myself as a road user when I'm on a bicycle and there is a £60 fine for cycling on a pavement, so we'll go with CYCLISTS ARE ROAD USERS. If this is the case why does this type of accident happen so often? I think it comes down to what we look for when we're on the road. When we drive a car we're pretty much conditioned (through driving lessons and tests) to recognise things about other vehicles...such as brake lights. When I'm driving my car and I see brake lights, I apply my brakes. When I'm riding my motorbike and I see brake lights, I apply my brakes. When a cyclist sees brake lights they just seem to ignore them and skit down the side. There doesn't seem to be any comprehension as to why the brake lights on the car ahead of you have come on. Which is where the problem arises. When this happened to me the cyclist happened to be flying down the middle of the road (not the pavement side where drivers look for them...and we do look for them because hitting someone isn't something you go out with the intention of doing) and must've passed about four stationary cars, all with their brake lights on before he collided into the side of me...where I had been stationary for at least fifteen seconds. When I witnessed this a couple of days ago, I had my brakes on; the car in front had his brakes on and the car was clearly visible in the middle of our lane where it had been waiting for about ten seconds. A cyclist came at speed, passed my car on the pavement side (no helmet I might add...which a whole other issue) and then past the car in front before applying his brakes far to late, locking his wheels and sliding into the bonnet of the turning vehicle. He went over the bonnet and landed on the opposite side of the road in front of oncoming traffic. The accident could've got a lot worse at this point, but thankfully it didn't. Anyway, he then proceeded to get up and start screaming his head off at the (quite frankly, terrified) woman behind the wheel of the hit car. He was 'effing and blinding about women drivers and how cars are always pulling out on cyclists etc. I wanted to get out of the car and smack some sense into the guy. In his head she'd pulled out on him. If that was the case why wasn't there a four car pile up? If he'd opened his eyes he might realise that he had passed several cars with the brakes on. It eventually took some pedestrians who had seen the whole thing to talk the guy down. And then he hopped back on his bike, carried on down the road and probably into another car which had "pulled out" on him.

So who is at fault? In both these situations, I would place the fault firmly in the court of the cyclist. Going too fast when other vehicles are giving a clear warning of a need to slow down. Who is the one who gets punished? In both situation the cyclists were able to get back on their bikes and cycle off. No damage. The drivers, on the other hand, have to pay out to get their vehicles fixed. And two new doors and a window ain't cheap. And you are shaken. And you've just had someone try to make you feel small and guilty about doing nothing wrong.

I supposes what I'm arguing for is for cyclists to use a bit of common sense and read what is going on around them. If a car has brake lights on (the big red ones on the back) then it's a safe bet that its slowing for a reason, so look out.


And for those who want to know, yes, this is how my boards at work look...in fact it's probably a bit neater.


Summer in the city

I'm part of a communal blog with a load of old college friends. Nothing much, just a bit of fun where a new topic is posted every fortnight and you're supposed to draw something relating to said topic. Supposed to being the operative word. I usually trawl through the sketchbooks to see if I have something relevant and then I post that. I know...I know...don't shout at me for being lazy.

Anyway, this fortnight the topic is summer, so seeing as I'd just been on a summer holiday I figured I'd post a picture of a surfer from Venice beach...which I found in my sketchbook...so I did just that. And then I felt bad because I'd done the same thing I always do and avoided taking part properly. So I sat down at my desk which had a copy of "Lifestyle Illustration of the 60's" lying on it (great book, highly recommend it...it's by Rian Hughes) so I decided to try a little homage to some old school illustration. (I recommend clicking to make it bigger...I don't usually, but this time I do)

I also tried to apply something which was told to me when I was over in the US...try to get some kind of story into the image. Originally, I had the girl lying back on the recliner, glasses on and not really doing anything apart from getting rid of those tan lines. There was a story there but the relationship between the two felt cold...like an unhappy marriage. This couple is rich enough to own a private roof top pool, but money can't fix everything. That isn't the type of thing you see in the old 60's stuff. For the most part it has some great positive engagement between the characters. So (in a nod to Playboy) I made them both naked (c'mon...if I had a roof top pool I would DEFINITELY skinny dip) and had her look over the top of her glasses and check out the guys tush...made me laugh and instantly puts a different (positive) take on what is going on between these two. Horny little minx.

So that is my own explanation. There is a big sway towards Chris Ware's New Yorker covers (the isometric ones he did for thanks giving a while back) which is why I put the spoof title cover on it.

In other news, scientists have discovered how to turn human excrement into beef substitute! Can we find another form of fuel besides petrol? No. Can we take our own poo and turn it into burgers? Yes. I'm never eating a McDonald's again.


Long Overdue Holiday: Part Deux

So after a full week in LA, I rented a car and headed out onto California Highway 1, a.k.a the Pacific Coast Highway. It is the All-American-Road stretching from the beaches of Los Angeles to the Golden Gate and beyond.

Click to embiggen

For the whole length of the drive I took a picture every fifteen minutes(ish). I wanted to put them together kind of like a colour script. The LA early morning light would've become a San Francisco dusk. The more acute among you may have notice the words "wanted to" and "would've". Unfortunately a land slide foiled my attempt about an hour past Hearst Castle...which meant I had to back track and ended up being very late into the Bay Area...although coming in through Oakland I got to see San Francisco and the iconic spire of the Trans-America Tower set against a backdrop of the dusk sky. Next time I'll do the whole road...on a crotch rocket.

Pacific Coast Highlights

San Francisco
After one epic drive from LA to SFO, the first thing I decided to do (after a night out) was make another epic drive! The aim was to get to Bodie, an old mining town in the Sierra's. Accompanied by Mr. Jones, we set off to go and explore this old ghost town. Unfortunately I was again foiled in my plans by mother nature. You just don't expect 8 foot snow drifts by the side of you car in early May...apparently you should.

Not being able to make it to Bodie, we opted to tour around Yosemite instead, taking in all the vast scenery...whilst dragging a steak along behind the car. I wanted to see a bear!

Back in SFO I toured around the sights (interspersed with evening drinks and early morning bacon sarnies), did some sketching...

There is something strange attached to my face in this photo...but not a bear

...and took in the city. Personally I got on with it better than LA...for a start you don't need a car to get around.

Alcatraz was a great day out. I grabbed an early morning ferry and stayed the whole day, wandering around all the different areas of the island. There is a lot more to it than just the prison.
And being in Animation, I couldn't not visit really big household objects world! (Pixar...they have a giant lamp outside...)

American Odessey in a nutshell!


Long Overdue Holiday

Back at the end of April I took a holiday. For two reasons mainly-

1. It had been over a year since my last holiday and...
2. ...the Royal Wedding was on.

The latter earned us Brit's an extra bank holiday (public holiday to the rest of the world) which when combined with Good Friday, Easter Monday and May Day, equaled eleven paid days off for the price of three. Bit of a no brainer really. Go on holiday.

So where did I go?

The west coast of the US of A. I landed and was immediately shocked by the friendliness of the passport control officer. Observe:

New York JFK, 2009
And now compare:

Los Angeles LAX, 2011
Anyways, after that I was greeted by KP, who (along with the family) played host for the week I spent in LA. Kris is, without a doubt, one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. Him and his family showed me the sights of LA, took me to a couple of hockey games and even managed to fit in a desert trip to Red Rock Canyon!

Now as fun as my holiday snaps are, I'm guessing most people are probably here to see some drawing...so it's a good job we went out sketching too...


Venice Beach: Skaters and bums...
Santa Monica Beach: Boobs and bums...
Disneyland: No bums...lots of kids though.
Inside the Getty: Gustav Klimt bums...
Outside the Getty: Sculptured bums...

After touring around LA for a week I hit the Pacific Coast Highway and headed north toward the Bay Area!

Next post: The PCH and San Francisco.

The London Film and Comic Con 2011

On the 9th/10th of July I shall be behind a desk (accompanied by the lovely Emilie Timmermans) selling "Tales of the Spiffing" and doing drawings...because I am a drawerer.

See you there!



Hello blog. I've been ignoring you...at least the you that people see. Your draft box is full of words that need editing. But that does little to satisfy the masses. I don't know what to say to rectify this rift I've caused with you blog...I was on holiday sounds like a cheap excuse BUT it's true...I've been away. Here's a picture as proof!

Venice Beach

And I probably shouldn't tell you this (it's like a dirty little secret) but I toyed with the idea of moving over to Tumblr. They have an app, you know. But now I've come back. Will you accept me back blog?





Also to help Japan, the comic anthology by Aardman Artists will be available with a limited bookplate in the front. There are only a small number of these available and they are at a suggested donation price. All proceeds will go to the relief effort. Update later with a link.




After seeing the atrocities and the aftermath, Gav Strange got the ball rolling and a few of us here at Aardman are trying to put a postcard pack together to raise a small amount for Japan...nothing too expensive, but something to help.


Figure Drawing - 10.03.2011

Just realised I havent posted any figure drawing for a while. Quick one from last night.

Faber-Castell Polychromos - 10 Minutes


Prairie Life

So in my 'Happy New Year' post, one of my resolutions was to learn/use colour. I suppose this would fall into that bracket. I did a quick block colour thing of the American prairie lands...not a clue where that came from or why. Oh the woes of ones subconsciousness. Maybe, in a past life, I had a little house there...

Then I decided to screw with it in photoshop and ended up with these:

"Little Barn on the Prairie"

"Little Barn on the Prairie...at night"

"Little Barn on the Prairie...under threat of invasion"

"Little Barn on the Prairie...by Saul Bass"
 As a side note...Adobe Kuler is the shit...it is the single most amazing thing I have ever seen for making colourings. That is what I learned.


Apple Store Shenanigans

So my optical not-so-superdrive on my macbook started playing up and not reading DVD's; then not accepting them when you popped them in the drive; then refusing to release them when eject was pressed...general tom foolery which is fun once but then just down right annoying.

Actually it wasn't fun the first time come to think of it.

Anyway, it ended up with me making a visit to the local Apple store to get a diagnosis. The following is a true story.

For those interested, Aardman uber designer Gav Strange can be found here. And yes...I do know Gav.