vortex / cover & illustrations

Before the academic year was over I was working on an important side-project. The second book by author Vera Petrova called Vortex, about to come out.

After the success of her first book 6 years ago she wished to collaborate once more to create a second boutique publication, this time with illustrated chapters rather than just a cover. Saying I was excited would be an understatement.

What happened was quite interesting – Vera had had a look through all of my work online and liked several pieces which she thought would fit the esthetic she imagined for her book. I suggested making new work in accordance but she was set on several sketchbook pieces from the beginning days of my final year project ‘Cosmic Genesis’. As they were no longer of any importance to the outcome of the project, I felt they would fit well for the occasion. Thus they became chapter illustrations.

The cover artwork was chosen in a similar manner. Vera wanted her second book to carry on the layout of her first book (‘Instead of a Book’) – a short but wide image which flows from the back cover to the front cover as one long piece. A very fitting image I had done was, again from ‘Cosmic Genesis’, the 3.3m-long animation concept. She felt it was illustrative of her entire idea behind ‘Vortex’ so she had me send it over to her visual editor (Rumen Dimitranov), who shortened it wonderfully so it can fit the format without losing meaning.

You can see the finished cover below, as well as some of the illustrations inside.

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Concept drawings

I’d been doing a lot of concept pieces before and after the exhibition in Bristol and when I came to a final decision about the degree show and what I wanted my project to be, I redrew them all to what I imagined they could look like as finished pieces. In a sense, final concepts.

I was using watercolour, as I wanted a certain density as well as a transparency to the outcome. Knowing that the final images would have to be painted on MDF was a bit worrying because I knew they weren’t going to come out looking the same. I could visualise the changes to an extent but I still couldn’t fully anticipate the outcome.

 

 

Initial concepts 

 At first I wanted to represent the idea that the bubbleverse was in fact all the particles of the body of the primordial creator god. I ended up drawing this guy thinking, I shouldn’t limit myself to a strictly human body shape, even if it’s massively simplified. if it’s an entity of unfathomable dimensions then I can just let my mind go crazy and see what comes out.

I was especially pleased with the watercolours I was using at the time because I was getting bright and vivid colours, even when diluted. I had the thought to add the heart as a transparency to the great emotion which drives this being, out on display like an emblem but also a core part of the being itself.

Unfortunately I drew this being for no reason – I had already decided to discard the rainbow creator and replace it with the mirror creator. The whole idea that god created us in his image, that we are god and god is us… and most importantly- the self-reflection in the context of the universal genesis.

Further on, if I decide to continue my work on the project, I will definitely find a use for this concept drawing. Not just yet though.

Bristol Show / mission

Excitement is upon us!!

Earlier on in the academic year a bunch of us illustrators decided to be proactive and organise our own exhibition, showing the beauty and potential of illustration. We were more or less inspired by a few of our fine artist friends who did a couple of amazing independent shows at the Abacus (a place dearly missed since it had to close down) – Substance and Exposure. Of course, Illustration is different from Fine Art in a lot of ways, so we have decided to bring what we do out to the people.

Even though all of us are based in Cardiff, we felt it would be better for us if we extended our creative input and had the show in Bristol instead. After some months of serious planning and fundraising, things are finally being set in motion.

Last week we had a little trip to go see the venue (Colab & Paper Arts) for a general idea of the space we’d be working with, and how we could potentially place our artwork. I’d never been there before and was very pleasantly surprised to see the shop and cafe as well as the gallery.

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The information about the show with posters and development work will be coming your way very very soon. Expect an exciting start to this April :)

A Lullaby for a Dying Star

Back in January Laowa, a local music artist (and friend) asked if I would make a cover for his new EP of interstellar lullabies. Naturally, I got way too over excited and started working on it almost straight away.

Album artwork and musical illustration are probably at the very top of my list of potential artistic directions, since beginning to work on the Lyric Sketchbook back in first year. I think work that answers to music has a much more interesting feel to it, the idea that you can understand it better by listening to music and the other way around (that you can understand the music better by seeing the cover artwork) is fascinating. Involving two senses rather than one, creates a fusion of experiences which can, in a sense, communicate the intended feeling more thoroughly.

I was listening to the lullabies before bed for a while before I was asked to to the cover. Then I started listening with a purpose other than falling asleep to lovely tunes, seeing if any ideas make their way into my head. One morning I woke up and remembered a clear image from that night which I then decided to illustrate.

The idea of an inverted image is something I’ve been doing for a while now – the results always have a certain dream quality to them and given the EP is made up of space-themed lullabies, I thought it quite fitting. This project has also inspired some of the work for the upcoming Bristol exhibition.

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final piece (EP cover), with additional glitch editing by Laowa

You can find Laowa and his music here:

https://laowa.bandcamp.com

http://laowamusic.tumblr.com

 

3.3m concept

 

For the recent formative assessment I wanted to show concept artwork and a storyboard for the animation I’m working on. Instead, I decided to create a continuous drawing which tells the whole story.

It is a mixture of a number of creation myths and my own interpretation of scientific discovery. The story begins with the bubbles of the multiverse, each one its own universe. We then dive into one and witness, bit by bit and as a whole, the creation and development of what we soon realise is our own world.

The image turned out to be 3,33m which I thought quite intriguing. I used pencils, acrylic, gold, silver and white pen, and a bit of gouache.

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Any comments, feelings, and generally creative criticism of all kinds would be greatly appreciated :)

Constellation Yr 3: Contribution (PDP)

In the context of Constellation the past year has been nothing but pivotal and excruciatingly heavy – stress became a key word and there was no way to truly relax even during breaks and holidays. This time last year we were having our first lectures about what our dissertation is and how we should be starting to think about it. Most of us left those lectures even more confused than when we entered. At least that entire process started early enough to allow us enough panic time before we had to actually sit down and get some work done.

It took me a while to find what I wanted to write about. Not because I had no ideas but because I had too many to choose from. We were instructed to write about something we love and wouldn’t get bored of easily. It was difficult to align that with my idea to write about something I find important or at least inspirational. I could’ve chosen to write about anime and gone on and on and on about Studio Ghibli, Akira and all the rest of my favourites, I could’ve written about comic books and the ways they influence our lives, and gone on to analyse the works of Moebius, Crumb and so many more. I could’ve gone into tarot cards and alchemy and all the illustrated manuscripts, which were the basis for modern scientific practices. I could have written about so much… but I didn’t. I chose to focus on perhaps the one topic, which could never be truly explored in its totality because its subject is infinite in essence.

Once I truly started thinking about it the answer appeared in my mind, as if on its own. Memories started re-emerging of my 12-year-old self tirelessly writing lists upon lists of gods and goddesses and what their powers were and which mythology they were from, grouping them in all sorts of ways. As soon as I remembered my notebooks and attempts at storytelling, I knew that it had to be something to do with all that. I wanted to relate the idea to my practice, I am in art school after all, so perhaps I should look at the visual side of the matter – that made for the initial question: Why do we visualise gods and goddesses the way they do? In essence, I did not agree with the idea that each divinity was meant to look in a specific way – why does Aphrodite have blond hair, why does Zeus have to have a big bushy beard, why are they curly, why aren’t they fat, questions of all sorts, often shallow and not necessarily promising. But every brainstorming session is bound to produce more than several ridiculous bits and pieces. Eventually, the question morphed to Why do we even depict them as human? As being existing in different dimensions, it makes no sense for them to be limited to such a thing as the human body, and surely they can’t be defined by its appearance. So why do we put so much emphasis on the depiction of a form, which is just one of the many shapes a god can take within our world?

God and religion aren’t topics I enjoy talking to people about, mainly because of the endless disagreements on the matter. I don’t particularly enjoy having to put concepts like “GOD” into academic terms and definitions, as it is not only impossible but purely ludicrous to “define” something which is undefinable by definition. People love talking about god, up in the sky, judging form his throne in the clouds; they also love drawing and picturing the old man with his beard and stern face and robes and sandals. Perhaps this is why I never found the appeal of religion – you could be completely in touch with nature, and follow basic moral principles, you could be spiritual and devoted to your faith but why do we have to have someone’s restrictive ideas pushed down our throats since day one? How could we allow for such a limitation to our perspectives of the world?

Of course, we all have our own views on the matter and I don’t want to disrespect anyone’s understanding of this highest power – because that is what it ultimately is – a highest form of power, which we all believe in, under one form or another. For some it’s Buddha, others call it Allah, or God, but no matter where we look, there is always a concept of that which is transcendent of everything else – its name and shape are just the product of cultural differences. This is exactly where I’ve rooted my entire question.

Titled Art and the Divine: Visualising the Unimaginable, it is, in essence, an exploration of how gods and goddesses have been depicted throughout time and in different environments. I won’t talk much about the dissertation itself; but it is a piece of work I am immensely proud of, as I never thought I was capable of writing something so consistent and so lengthy. What surprised me the most was that I ended up going over the word limit by about %50, and that was before writing the introduction and conclusion. My topic was more extensive than I’d imagined, even without being as analytical and explorative as I wished. There was so much I wanted to write about and cover, but 10,000 words is barely enough to even get my point started.

I believe our dissertation group was blessed with one of the best possible tutors – Mahnaz Shah. Without her guidance, commentaries and patience, I believe I would’ve lost faith in both my writing and myself a long time ago. It is truly a wonder, to be inspired by your own studies and trusting your own perspective on matters you wouldn’t imagine to ever view academically.

I may have suffered creatively (in Subject and personal projects), but I have to say, every bit of it was worth it – my mind has expanded exponentially and is ready to be filled with even more wondrous ideas.

Here’s the visual cover I did for the dissertation (a test-collage from last year’s Constellation lectures, when we were asked to depict our reality), followed by a short excerpt, which in my opinion manages to sum up the entire piece.

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“Perhaps the infinity of depictions of god is symbolic of the infinity which is god. “

lyric sketchbook / new

 

And here are the new pieces I did for the Lyric Sketchbook. I’ve been swallowed by a wave of black and white recently. “My work is becoming darker and more sensual”, I said one time as a joke but now when I think about it, it does make sense.

I haven’t done work like this before and it was so exciting to do. Even though I was forcing myself to do one more, and one more and another one just to make a habit out of it, at one point I’d zone in and just do it for four hours straight until my housemate asks me if I’ve had food at which point I look up at him with a look of confusion because I have no idea what he’s on about.

It’s great to be working on a project like this because it consists of a series of mini-themes that don’t require research or development – just an idea.

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‘you can’t survive on ice cream’ Cheap and Cheerful by The Kills

 

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‘and when she needs to shelter from reality she takes a dip in my daydreams…’ Arabella by Arctic Monkeys

 

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‘hard to control when it begins’ Young Blood by The Naked And Famous

 

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‘dark paradise’ by Lana Del Rey

 

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‘locked away in permanent slumber’ This Is Gospel by Panic! At The Disco

 

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‘supermassive black hole’ by Muse

 

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‘divisible invisible’ Splitting The Atom by Massive Attack ft. Horace Andy

 

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‘I’m taking it slow, feeding my flame’ Eyes On Fire by Blue Foundation

 

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‘to see her smile and her eyes unending’ Kiss Kiss Bang Bang by The Subways

 

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‘you’re crying lightning’ Crying Lightning by Arctic Monkeys

lyric sketchbook / updates

I went back to the Lyric sketchbook I made at the start of second year (I might be mistaken, it was in 2013) sometime round mid September. I’ve been doing periodical updates, but I recently did a few big ones to pieces I’d already been updating and ones that I’ve finished before this summer.

A note on the Lyric Book – I wrote a lyric on each double page spread from random songs that I thought particularly interesting at the time. I thought it would be a good idea to try and illustrate bits of songs without being influenced by the song itself. It’s an curious process with surprising outcomes most of the time.

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‘I thought of angels, choking on their halos, get them drunk on rose water’ Just One Yesterday by Fall Out Boy

 

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‘up in the air, out of my head’ Up In The Air by 30 Seconds To Mars

 

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‘assembling their philosophies from pieces of broken memories’ This Is Gospel by Panic! At The Disco

 

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‘our blood is gold, nothing to fear’ Splitting The Atom by Massive Attack ft. Horace Andy

 

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‘uncover our heads and reveal our souls’ Keep The Streets Empty For Me by Fever Ray

 

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ARCTIC MONKEYS

 

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‘your pastimes consisted of the strange, and twisted, and deranged ‘ Crying Lightning by Arctic Monkeys

Sea Dreams and Other Curiosities Part II

 This summer I decided to fill up a sketchbook with curious thoughts, mind-twisters and interesting ideas. (One of which was the realization that the word ‘sketchbook’ contains my initials S.Ch.) I was actually trying to not imagine anything forcefully, so in a sense I was drawing with no particular direction. After adding detail after detail, after detail, I never stop to wonder what  to do next – I try to employ the concept of ‘it will come on its own‘, and it works in a weird way. Once the little abstract shapes start forming a pattern which I recognize, I continue to recreate the same pattern, it becomes more distinct. I continue to build on the image until it looks like a coherent portrayal of the idea/state of mind that I’m drawing from.

Creating these images allows me to use them in further projects, or build new artwork based on them. I have already started recreating some of the images from the sketchbook (not posted here) on a larger scale, with more precision and thought.

Note on theme: I noticed after a few drawings that the sea-life pattern was recurring. I associated that to the fact that for the first time ever in the summer I haven’t gone to the seaside for more than a day. (By that I mean the gorgeous, hot, Bulgarian seaside, rather than my chilly surrounding) So… I can’t wait to go swimming…
Another theme that occurred and recurred, from which the shell idea grew from can best be seen in the first piece below,

‘horn-like ingredients and the falling star’
‘an arrangement of imagined beached shells’
‘gravity/magnetism/………..’
‘undiscovered characters of the blue depths’
‘sea portrait, gold tentacle frame’
‘likeness’
‘fine endings’