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Gorillaz

The Animated Band Members

The Animated Band Members

Gorillaz is a British ‘virtual’ band who has created an identity for themselves through cool animated characters. The electronica band Gorillaz was formed in 1998 and since then has used animated music videos, album covers, their website, posters and short animations to build their character profiles and imaginary world whilst promoting their music. The characters are completely made up and do not resemble the actual musician Damon Albarn. The illustrator/ comic book artist Jamie Hewlett designed the characters and bought them to life.

The idea of an animated band came to the two creators whilst they were watching MTV and saw no diversity in the music or bands. By creating their virtual musicians they instantly had interest from music lovers looking for something different and exciting.

The band is composed of 4 cartoon members; 2D, Noodle, Murdoc and Russel Hobbs. Each has individual characteristics and personalities. The first album cover works well in introducing the characters and conveying the mood and style of music.

The First Album Cover

The First Album Cover

Instantly one can tell the cool and edgy feel of the characters and assumes that this will suit the style of the music. The drawing is quite graphic in terms of bold, strong lines and block colours. The single illustration on a white background in the middle of the CD cover would make the album stand out on a shelf and be recognised from far away. The muted colours give a grungy feeling to the image.  The graffiti style writing again adds to the cool appearance of the band and goes well with the style of illustration. The Parental Advisory sticker is necessary because although the appearance of the band is cartoon, which could be mistaken as suitable for children, the music contains explicit lyrics.

When it came to performing the live band would stand behind a massive projector screen which covered the whole stage. Various visuals and images that were created by Hewlett were projected onto the screen. This was a clever way of keeping up the bands mysterious animated identity. There were rumours of a Gorillaz film back in 2006. This shows how the illustrated characters have affected the success of the band. Normal bands did not have films and movies made from them.

gorillaz

Gorillaz Figurines

Gorillaz Figurines

I think this collaboration of a musician and an illustrator is brilliant and very original and is exciting to see another application of illustration. I do think that Gorillaz success is down to the animated band members. This had never been done before and the idea created a whole other fan base and reason for people to be fans of the band. The alternative and edgy characters went with the effortlessly cool music and opened up huge varieties of ways to promote the music and band, whilst selling more diverse character merchandise.

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‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

Wes Andersons film ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ (2014) is a visually appealing and artistically considered movie. This film can easily be recognised as one of Wes Andersons works as it demonstrates many of his films trademark qualities such as retro colours, quirky film angles and dark humour. The film tells the adventures of the Hotel Manager, Gustave H, and the Lobby Boy, Zero, who becomes his most trusted friend. The film is set in an imaginary place in the Alps, in the years between the two world wars. The story is told as memories so we see the hotel in two different times, the 1930s and the 1960s. Both periods have very strong design identities which lend themselves well to playful sets and costumes.

Model of the Grand Budapest Hotel.

Model of the Grand Budapest Hotel.

An effect I really love about this film is the use of models. The film makers created a model of the hotel in situation including the quirky cable cars travelling to and from the mountain. This model was then filmed when the characters were arriving and leaving the hotel. This was an appropriate form of filming as it allowed the makers to create the hotel and landscape exactly as they had pictured it as it was a made up place. It also creates an amazing effect where you are not sure if it is an animation or not. The models create a retro feel to the film and this old- school style of film making plays on the theme of nostalgia.

The GBH in the 1920s.

The GBH in the 1920s.

The colours used in the film have a retro fade about them which Anderson uses in the costumes, sets and props. The dominant colours in the hotel in the 30s are reds and pinks, with the staff uniform being a bright purple. These colours add a whimsical feeling and bring a lightness to the dark humour.

The GBH in the 1960s.

The GBH in the 1960s.

In the 60s hotel mustard, orange and brown are used in the interiors, reflecting what was thought to be fashionable at that time and creating an empty, run down and neglected hotel in contrast to the bustling glory days of the Grand Hotel in the 30s. This is a clever use of colour to portray the state in which the hotel is in and set the mood and theme of nostalgia; looking back fondly on the bright and exciting glory days from a dull and empty present.

gbh lift

Anderson also uses block colour in many of the scenes out with the hotel. Often the camera is set up stationary and side onto a scene and does not move or follow the actors. Instead the actors enter the screen from the sides and interact. This is gbh lift 2style of static filming can be seen in the lift scenes. These are two different scenes but the camera angle is exactly the same. This gives the film a very flat appearance and stylized aesthetic. Along with the models this style of filming is reminiscent of a puppet theatre when the characters enter from the sides. This again builds the theme of nostalgia.

Part 1 title.

Part 1 title.

Another feature that I really enjoy is the use of chapters in the film. The chapters separate the film into smaller parts, allowing the story to jump around in time and place. They also help the viewers to keep track of the fast and quirky story and create a book like format.

‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ was easily my favourite film from last year. I feel that Wes Anderson created a film that is engaging through story, artistic style and themes. Although the film is set in a made up place and a made up time it represent something that was sophistication, civilization and something fine and cultivated which creates a sense of nostalgia and longing for the past.


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Fully Fashioned: The Pringle of Scotland Story

Today I visited the exhibition Fully Fashioned: The Pringle of Scotland Story, celebrating 200 years of Pringle. Pringles of Scotland is an established fashion brand that has specialized in knitwear since 1815. The exhibition included original designs and garments from the 1800s up to present day. The clothing ranged from casual jumpers, to sporting outfits to underwear.

Original woollen underwear and drying board.

Original woollen underwear and drying board.

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Pringle originally produced knitted under garments for men and women, which were breathable, comfortable and warm. The thing that struck me when looking at the undergarments was that they were not at all what one would expect of woollen underwear: itchy, bulky and unflattering. On the contrary, Pringles woollen undergarments were delicate, soft and attractive. The revelation at the time was that Pringles undergarments  featured boning at the waist, knitted lace decorations, as well as having the option of built in ‘filets’ to give the impression of a bigger bust. A drying board was on display which explained after the milling process the garments were laid on it to control the exact size and shape they dried to.

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The exhibition then led you round to later garments, including the classic two pieces. These matching tops and cardigans have become iconic for the 1950s. Other designs from the 1950s included ladies woollen jumpers with diamonte decoration. These designs reminded me of designs from last year seen in highstreet shops. I find it very interesting how fashion comes back around.

Golfing jumper

Golfing jumper

Skiing outfit.

Skiing outfit.

As well as producing fashionable clothing for everyday use Pringle are also well known for their Golfing jumpers which feature the classic golfing diamond pattern. Another sporting outfit that was displayed was a Skiing outfit. The salopettes were made by another designer but the jumper was made by Pringle to be worn specifically with them.

One of my favourite features of the exhibition was the fashion illustrations and advertisments displayed beside the garments. The drawings were elegant and recognisable to the fashion of the time. The illustrations gave an idea of the design process. I really enjoyed seeing the vision of the designers in the illustrations being translated into the finished garments.

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Stuart Beaty, a designer for Pringle, said ‘Classical knitwear is and will be our statement of perfection’ (1971). This has clearly been the standards for Pringle since it was established. Pringles renowned style and quality has allowed the brand to last 200 years and change with the times. The quality is one aspect that has never been jeopardised since Pringles within the woollen designs.


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‘Winnie the what?’ by John Donegan

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The First Issue of Punch Magazine 1841

Punch Magazine Cartoons (1841- 2002) were notorious for covering political, social and current topics in interesting and persuasive ways. They published many talented Illustrators and introduced the term ‘cartoon’. The Punch cartoon archive is fascinating and acts as an important document of the years in which they were published. A common feature in all the Punch Cartoons is the humour. The Illustrator relays the message in a funny and subtle way, which relies on the viewer having a basic prior knowledge on the topic. This makes the cartoons very enjoyable to read as the humour takes a while to develop as the subtle joke becomes apparent. An exciting way to discover these illustrations is the Punch Cartoons greetings cards. This is how I have come across my personal favourite Punch Cartoon.

The Cartoon, ‘Winnie the what?’ by John Donegan, was published in 1987. The Illustration shows a family of huge grizzly bears lounging against a tree in a forest. The bear cub is talking to a small teddy bear exclaiming ‘Winnie the what?’. It is now you look at the little white bear more closely and make the connection that he is actually Winnie the Pooh. This cartoon is poking fun at the funny name of A.A Milnes bear, and requires the reader to have that knowledge.

WINNIE

The drawing is done in ink and pencil and has a very quiet mood. This is created by using no colours, and the sleepy positions of the bears. There is very little movement in the illustration which adds to the awkward humour of Winnie being questioned about his name.

The composition and tone also reads well, left to right. You first look at the dark grizzly bears on the left, then to the text. Once reading the question you then look at the small pale bear, and making the connection of Winnie the Pooh, laugh. The use of light and dark to portray the characters is done cleverly. The big grizzly bears being dark and scratchy make them seem wild and rough. On the other hand Winnie the Pooh looks angelic and innocent as he is small and pale in comparison. The curving shape of the frame leads the viewer’s eye around the illustration in the correct order too.

This is a very successful cartoon which makes a very funny and sweet greetings card. The pacing of the humour is crucial to this cartoons charm and the illustration sets this pace perfectly.