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.
Everything about our lives and our very existence depends on the milestones of the Cosmic Genesis – the points in the history of the universe since the beginning of time which made life on this planet possible. Each one of those points, the formation of the Earth, the shaping of the Solar System, the origin of the Milky Way, has been crucial and yet has happened due to an ever-continuing ripple (or butterfly) effect. As if reflected in our own scale of being, each thought, decision, action, no matter how seemingly insignificant has the potential to cause unimaginable changes in this world we think is set in stone. On the contrary, it is alive, breathing, growing, evolving, moulded by the forces which influence it, whether that refers to meteorites, the shifting of tectonic plates, natural phenomena or the negligent behaviour of a single one of the Earth’s myriad of species.
Rooted in mythology and stemming from scientific discovery, this project’s aim is to bring the viewer’s attention to a higher perspective and a process of self-reflection, both figurative and literal. Through the observation of this chain of creation, the viewer’s mind is stripped of superficial concerns which are replaced by a sense of understanding and elevated perception. Ultimately I wish to evoke empathy towards our home planet and an awareness of the choices we make, which could sustain or exhaust it.
And here are the final pieces from the Bristol show.
‘UNVEIL‘ is about entering the state of dreaming, becoming your astral self, unveiling the door to that realm of infinite possibility of which the moon is a guardian.
‘EXPLORE‘ is a scene from one of my vivd dreams where the sun was rising over the seaside (the exact moment when the dark of night and the daylight fight for dominion over the dome of the sky) its light gently washing over the massive planet and the mirror-like sea. Even though there were no waves, the surf board moved on its own with my intention, much like everything else happens in dreams.
‘ENCOUNTER‘ is about the person I kept meeting in different scenarios in a number of the dreams (if not all) which inspired this collection of artworks. The geometric forest is a concept I came up with many years ago in a painting i was never pleased with, and now seemed like a good time to revisit it and give it new life.
‘SEE‘ is the attempt to visualise a bit of a dream where that person’s eyes were there, real, on his face, but they also somehow had the scale and gravity of immense planets, and at the same time they had the spiral pull of galaxies, it felt like I was being pulled in and I could float about and observe them from a distance one could fully observe a planet or a galaxy, while I was fully aware that I was looking into a pair of eyes right in front of me. A very surreal and overwhelming part of the dream but completely enthralling and mesmerising.
‘TOUCH‘ refers to the idea that in order to lucid dream, the first challenge (or the first gate of dreaming) is to be able to look at your hands during a dream. It also refers to the strange sensation of touching and experiencing the texture and weight, pull or push, of objects in dreams – enhanced and very real but at the same time… not.
Originally ‘See’ and ‘Touch’ were quarter the size of the rest but because of a misunderstanding at the printer’s I had prints of all of them in both sizes.
That being said, if you like what you see, get in touch and you just might get one of the original prints! :)
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.
Even though most people in the upcoming show in Bristol have decided to exhibit work they’ve been doing on their final uni projects, I decided to do something different, which I’ve been looking an excuse to do for quite a while now.
After having an almost overwhelming number of mad vivid dreams, I thought it would be really interesting to see how they look on paper. What you see below are development images, which I won’t be displaying but which I still find quite captivating.
Trying to portray the magical side of the very action of dreaming was a bit of a mind twisting endeavour so I decided to step away from the dreamer and focus on the dream itself. The sketch below was inspired by the ending bits of a dream I had, where after a mad party everyone went down to the beach, some of us surfing while those who couldn’t were just swimming about and splashing each other. I remember the sea crystal clear, almost mirroring the sky, the sunrise on one side, and the massive planet on the other. I couldn’t tell if it was light or dark because the moment in my mind was in the exact middle between night and day.
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.
Funny thing, to fall ill as soon as you hand in the work which has been sucking your soul for so long… it only makes sense. I went through about 10 days of being in bed, unable to move or focus on much, not even able to create the artwork I’d been craving to do for so long. Stress is a serious issue, and my body had had enough of it – I am only thankful that it happened after I was finished with the dissertation, rather than during.
Even though recovery took me a while, I had ideas whirling in my head for days before I actually started doing anything about them. There were a lot of things to start thinking about – the final degree show, my course project, animation, and the exhibition we’re doing in Bristol around the start of April being just a few of them.
The return to my project after such a long period of focusing on something so different was confusing to say the least. I had to reacquaint myself with my own work – a strange experience. It allowed me a different perspective and I noticed several things which I needed to work on, which I otherwise wouldn’t have. It’s safe to say that things are once again in full motion, even though the project has changed in some ways.
The most important thing is… I’m drawing again. I’m being actively creative, and producing work, which was one of the bigger stress fuels of the several months leading up to the start of February. Since then, I’ve done more than I thought I would have, yet there is still so much to work on.
Dreams have become an ultimate source of inspiration for the artwork I have been doing in the past month. Joseph Campbell once compared myths and dreams and that stuck with me in a way that not many things do.
“Dream is the personalized myth, myth is the depersonalized dream; both myth and dream are symbolic in the same general way of the dynamic of the psyche. But in the dream the forms are quirked by the peculiar troubles of the dreamer, whereas in myth the problems and solutions sown are directly valid for all mankind.”
– Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces
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.
Any comments, feelings, and generally creative criticism of all kinds would be greatly appreciated :)
After the third year degree show our tutors told us if we wished to exhibit any of our work in the space the third-years used, we were free to do so.
I was instantly hyper excited about it as I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance to curate and exhibit my work properly. Or at all.
Another interesting aspect of this is that we had literally just 2 days to choose our space and put up our work. I had no idea what I was going to use but over those couple of days it was like the works just chose themselves and I just put them up at the end. In all honesty I wasn’t sure how to explain most of them, as they didn’t fit in with any of my Subject work, but then after seeing them together I finally fully realised for myself what it was all about.
And here is a photo of my work in the exhibit, accompanied by a short statement/explanation.