Modest Avatar For Your Inner Deity

Recent Commissions

Just finished another portrait avatar image, my but they’re popular this time of year. This one was a bit different though so I thought it deserved a mention. I’ve done some interesting ones over the years and this is now one of them. The brief was pretty simple, make me into a God. I’ve had Victorians, I’ve had zombies, I’ve had fairies – but this is the first request for deification.

It was rather more tongue in cheek than an indication of any serious delusions of God-hood, so no cause for alarm. We had a chat about what she was looking for exactly, thought about how to go about it and what kind of God she wanted to be. There are after all, a large number of Gods available to choose from. She wanted more Old Testament traditional, something that would go with the strapline “Thou shalt have no other Gods before me”.

She sent me photos of herself and a couple of religious reference photos to get her ideas across and then it was over to me to turn her into something angelic and divine. I used a number of layers in Paintshop to get the different effects of clouds, translucency and light. Then I also added oil on water shimmers to the edge of her dress, just to give that ethereal quality. She said she needed it done by Christmas, so I pulled out the stops and did it for her in less than a day, which gave her enough time to send it to a printer’s and have it put onto canvas. That’s going to be one heck of an interesting portrait for the wall, although saying that, she does have kids so I guess it kind of fits.

Nickie Goddess


Krakatoa Foam Taste Test

Recent Commissions

In 2011 I was hired by a little Scottish sweetshop in Fife called Ally Bally Bees to being new life to some antiquated packaging and this year they hired me again to design the images for the advertising of their newest flavour, cola. This was for a Scottish childhood favourite from several decades ago called Creamola Foam. It was popular between the 1950’s and was discontinued in the 90’s, apparently with a certain amount of customer protest; they certainly missed it and wanted it back. I imagine it was rather like the Scottish equivalent of the American Twinkie shortage.

Retro sweetshops were inundated with requests to figure out the recipe and bring back their favourite fizz. What is this thing though? I hear you cry. Well I wondered the same thing, particularly since I was designing the packaging for it, so I waited until everything was done and dusted and they started rolling out the brand new “Krakatoa Foam” and I got myself some, partly for the benefit of my portfolio of work, but partly because I really wanted to try this unheard of Scottish delicacy.

How it works is, you can buy it in a wee can or in a packet, its form is coloured crystals that resemble sugar. You get a big spoonful, put it in a glass, top up with water and give it a stir. It froths and foams and becomes a sweet tasting coloured drink. I think in its day it was like an early form of Soda Stream. It’s not bad either, although I don’t have the same childhood associations with it which I’m certain will add something to the experience.

Scottish people were quick to start buying the new stuff and eager to find out if it was how they remembered it from their youth. Some people even made videos about it! I’ve had a look at them, reactions tend to be mixed. Young people aren’t sure if they like the foam, older people tend to be quite keen for it (again, probably something to do with childhood memories for them).

Here’s one video that’s two thirds positive towards Creamola foam…

Lichtenstein, Bounder and Cad!

Rants, Recent Commissions

Lichtenstein, Bounder and Cad!

My latest project is taking me on an exciting mission to investigate the world of Roy Lichtenstein. I’m not compelled to do it in depth, but for this commission I need to get a feel for his style and the word that he’s done. It was whilst doing this research I discovered a startling revelation, something which may have already been apparent to some of you but for me it’s news.

Roy Lichtenstein was a no good plagiarist! This is just terrible news. Not that I particularly hold any affection for the guy, although I am a huge fan of graphic novels and comic book art I’d always like the fact he’d championed their style…but wait, no he didn’t. That’s why it’s terrible news. In actual fact, what Lichtenstein did do was wholesale take art from comic books, copy them out again in with much less skill and then go on to make a mint off it whilst the original artist faded into obscurity. The high toned and fancy critics in the art world back then and to this day, continue to look down their noses at comic book art. When compelled to review comic books they usually take a long suffering stance that begrudgingly admits that this particular comic book “isn’t for kids” and is therefore almost worthy of their notice.

But I digress. Lichtenstein was popular. Critics were gushing and fawning at him over their chilled champagne and at the same time they were all still belittling comic book art. He could have said something, spoken up for them. Maybe he was too scared someone would look into it and out him as being the massive plagiarist that he was.

As far as I’m aware, nobody outed him for being a bounder and a cad until relatively recently. A bloke called David Barsalou spent something like 25 years going through old comic books one panel at a time, comparing them with Lichtenstein’s work until he managed to find all the pieces he’d ripped off. It’s a real life’s work, this guy obviously feels very strongly on the struggling comic book artists getting their credit where credit is due. Good for him. These artists could have been you or me, trying to earn a living doing what they loved, putting their heart and soul in getting the right pose, the right look and for what, for their names to be forgotten whilst Lichtenstein’s name is actually programmed into Spellcheck.

But what do you think? Has his work improved upon the originals by cleaning them up a bit? Is he in some way inspired or he just a low down rat? What’s your opinion?

Picture on left – original piece by artist Tony Abruzzo. Picture on right, one by Lichtenstein.

A Job Well Done

Recent Commissions

In the words of that guy from that show I’ve never actually watched “I love it when a plan comes together.”

I’ve been really putting the hours in over the last fortnight or so, it’s been great fun as usual, but the best part is getting a good reaction from the clients. Recently, I’ve been working on some display artwork for an insurance company, that’s still being finalised so more on that later.

Also just done a cute little avatar for a “Mommy Blogger” called Kari who writes the blog “Mommy to Elodie” and I’m running a little competition for her followers. Basically I’ll make a note of all of her followers who like my Facebook page and follow my Twitter account and at the end of the month I’ll have a prize draw! The winner will get a cute avatar of them, and their little bundle of joy, for free! Kari really liked hers, she wrote a pageful of praise on her blog, which made me chuffed to bits.

Finally, I just finished a zombie portrait for a very cool mum who got in touch to commission a zombie version of her son, for his upcoming birthday. She said she wanted him and his dog, zombified, planting a Union Jack into the peak of a hill. It’s not the strangest request I’ve ever had, so, sure thing!

I started it on Sunday and sent it to her on Monday night and this is her reaction:

“you’re a genius!!! It’s totally brilliant, Jack, thanks so much! It’ll take pride of place in a room that does, itself, resemble a zombie apocolypse!! Thanks a million. ”

I’m glowing with happiness. When my clients are happy, I’m happy!

So! Who’s next for the zombification treatment? That’s the question.

Zombie Portrait

The Satisfaction Of A Job Well Done.

Recent Commissions

Ah, bliss. I’ve ticked off another job from my noticeboard, I’m dividing my time now between making relevant amendments to the job I’ve got in progress (as and when the client requires it) and also the same-old, same-old work hunting type of thing I normally do.

The job I’ve just completed was for HeatCool, which is a Chicago based air conditioning company. You don’t really get that over here, air conditioning. I mean, obviously it must exist, I’m sure I’ve been in some shops and felt blasts of cold air that weren’t coming from the front entrance. It’s just not as prevalent over in this country as it is in the states.

It’s almost like a strange reverse world, or at least it was when I was over there. I was in a hot southern state and everywhere was fitted with a/c units, you’d walk past the open doorway of a shop and be suddenly struck by an Arctic blast, it was bliss, temporarily providing respite in the blazing heat of the American day. It’s exactly the same in England, but in reverse! In this country you walk past an open shop doorway and they blast heat out at you, compelling you to stand still and attempt to thaw out your bones for long enough to perhaps be tempted inside. In America you actually catch yourself saying, “shut the door quickly, you’ll let the heat in!”

Well, I’m glad that HeatCool like their new advertising postcard, I certainly enjoyed putting it together. Although it was a long and interesting road, I’ve saved all the variations of it so I can watch it evolve. I shan’t bore you with the minutia of each variation in between the first draft and the final draft but suffice to say, it changed a lot from beginning to end.

First Draft
Final Draft

The brief initially was “pop-art” themed, hence why the first draft is very much in the pop art style. As I worked with the client and made amendments based on their requests the overall image changed somewhat until it ended with the final draft you see above. I think they’re both equally pleasing in their own way and now I know more about air conditioning units, pop art, Roy Liechtenstein and the city of Chicago.

Sweet Bles’sed Work!

Recent Commissions

It’s not all doom and gloom here at Knight Time Creation towers, no indeed. There are those beautiful moments when the scores of sent emails and the handfuls of potential replies turn into a sprinkling of actual jobs and oh what a feeling. It’s incomparably wonderful, the high is so glorious it makes it worth all of the desperately disappointing lows one has to go through to get to this point.

At the moment I’ve got a couple of jobs on, which is indescribably fantabulous, one of these jobs I’ve actually just completed and I’m really rather pleased with it. It’s for Appliances Online, who are bringing out a range (pardon the pun) of ovens (see…range…ovens…get it? Oh never mind.) Anyway, these oven people’s lovely new cookers are in a variety of colours, they’re called the Newworld Colour Collection and they’re pretty spiffy. Why do they need an illustrator, I pretend to hear you cry, well they’re putting together a Rainbow Cook Book, using the talents of 7 food writers and 7 illustrators each pair are given a colour of the rainbow and must write a recipe and illustrate that recipe between them.  Well, it was amazing fun. I stayed up most of the night working on the lovely Mango Lassi recipe I’d been given and the following day, it was complete and I’m very pleased.

Ahhh. *blissful sigh*

See, I don’t just complain and rant on here do I? No. So there.