Thursday 28 April 2011

Introducing the Word Map of the British Isles

I'm so happy to finally reveal the collaboration I recently did with Angus Mcarthur at Snowhome.
The Word Map is a print of the British Isles which is created using selected text that has a certain relationship to its particular geographic location. Regional specialities, historical fact, local celebrities, indigenous species, stereotypes, cliches and typecasts all make up the map of the British Isles using hand crafted type. No lines or borders are used - just type.
The map was the fantastic design idea of Angus and he spent many months researching and finalising the words before coming to me with the proposition of commissioning me to hand render the words to form the British Isles. Knowing how much I love both maps and hand crafted type he knew I couldn't resist! It was definitely guaranteed to be my kind of project.
Throw in the fact also that it was the kind of work which is slow and involves meticulously building up word after word and seeing it evolve and you have my perfect combination.

Working directly onto a very large piece of paper with a pot of Indian ink and a 01 paintbrush I started in the Shetlands and worked my way down........ and down and down.......! I kept photographing the map at intervals - to keep Angus up to date with my progress, to get a sense of how it was progressing and also as a way of documenting this slow but very satisfying journey.
So many many hours and roughly 318 sets of hand painted words later and it was finished and amazingly I stood back and there was The British Isles!
I was really rather pleased with the finished result.

I do love a bit of hand created type (obviously - as it forms such a lot of my work) and this has re-affirmed my love for it. A beautiful piece of hand painted type can add to a word and make it into something other than just a word. One thing I've noticed is how everyone who has seen the map has a favourite word/s on it because of the aesthetics of that particular one and how it is created or relates to and weaves around the words around it. This wouldn't happen if the words were just typed.

So here are some images of the finished map in all it's litho printed glory. I've also included some of the process so you can see how it built up over time to form the finished piece is has now become.

The map is available as a rolled lithographic print which is printed on uncoated 190gsm paper stock and packed in a tube.

There are two sizes available; 60x80cm and 70x100cm.

The 60x80cm is available in grey, green and blue-black, the 70x100cm version in blue-black only. (The print fits standard ready-made frames).

It will be launched at the Grand Designs Live exhibition at Excel in London this week and is available to buy from the Snowhome website.

All in all it's been a fantastic project to work on and my geography and knowledge of the British Isles has improved immensely!

Friday 15 April 2011

Working music

I don't get out much these days!
I had a rare night out on Wednesday to see Beth Orton play at our local Arts Centre in Pocklington (a really valuable part of our small town as it's a cinema/music/comedy/theatre venue - somewhere I visit more and more lately.) Beth Orton was great and reminded me to listen back to my albums. She was supported by a slightly crazy-seeming guy called Sam Amidon who played his guitar and/or banjo interspersed with the odd comment and surreal story. However I was intrigued by his music and have just downloaded his album 'I See The Sign'. It's just what I wanted right now while I'm trying to busy away and concentrate on new designs - folky and subdued and good to work to. I recommend it.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Right Royal Memorabilia

I've been quite surprised by how much creative Royal memorabilia has appeared on blogs and websites over the past few months. With a Royal wedding looming you expect the usual plates, bowls, tea-towels and mugs and Royal wedding memorabilia is not famed for being the most stylish or fashionable but a huge number of designers have embraced the opportunity to design their own creative takes on these traditionally fairly dull mass-produced commemorative pieces. Of course there will still be the dull mass-produced 'tat' which accompanies such an occasion but there's also some witty, hand printed and limited edition pieces.
I'm not particularly Royalist or anti-Royalist but the collector in me loves the whole idea of memorabilia and how that can be a little piece of history to be kept over time. I also love the way that while the big companies see it as a way to make money, the small designers are making well-designed alternatives for the reason that memorabilia was made in the first place - to commemorate a special day with a lasting piece. I also like it if that's done with a keen design eye and a small touch of humour.
So my 'William and Kate' mug arrived yesterday from designer Fifi Howard. It will go on the shelves in the kitchen as a little piece of history. I've bought it for our daughter Martha as the 29th April will be her 2nd birthday so we'll be having a small party- not necessarily for the wedding - though I will watch it - but to celebrate our little girls birthday (2 years already - how did that happen?!)

Mug - Fifi Howard, gloves - Donna Wilson, Print - Glyn West Design , Tea Towel - Charlotte Lucie Farmer