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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.

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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.


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Basic and Sumberac’s ‘Snow White’.

Zdenko Basic and Manuel Sumberac, originally animators, make up the illustration duo that create fantastically striking picture books that are dark and stylised. Their background in animation can be seen through their use of 3D looking characters and sets, as well as the dramatic sense of motion and atmosphere in their illustrations.

IMG_0317Stella Gurneys ‘Snow White’ is illustrated by Basic and Sumberac. For this classic fairytale they created wonderful illustrations full of detail and strong narrative. They have a very distinct style, particularly in their character designs. All the people are very long and tall, with spindly limbs and large heads. With their pale skin and hollow eyes there is a feel of Tim Burtons’ unmistakable style to them. Basic and Sumberac use colour very cleverly in this book as they use it to set the mood and atmosphere of the story. During the more sinister parts of the story they use dark and moody colours to create a sense of danger, and in the happier parts of the tale like the ending they use softer pastel colours to show that all is well.

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Basic and Sumberac make use of texture and collage in all of their illustrations. Throughout the book they use subtle paint splatters and old looking parchment to create a textured antiquey surface. Collage is used a lot but also very subtly. Some real animals, food and objects are collaged into the illustrations, but because of their 3D and serial nature it is not very obvious.

IMG_0329IMG_0322I feel this a good example of a post modern picture book, as it includes quirky extras to the story. Such features are the framed character profiles at the beginning of the book and small books you can flick through within the story, like the dwarves family photo album and the evil queens spell book. There is also a precious gem to be found in every scene.

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Final Pop Up Scene

This engaging book also includes flaps to open, wheels to spin and a fantastic pop- up scene on the final page. These interactive elements are very appealing to children and make them enjoy the story on another level. Basic and Sumberac are obviously very good at digital work too, as I believe they use it in all of their illustrations to adjust the colours, lighting, depth and textures.

Their enchanting and impressive illustrations make this version of the classic tale of Snow White edgy and modern. This picture book I feel is aimed at older children as the story is lengthy but mostly because there is a maturity to the illustrations with underlying darker tones.  I love their stylistic designs and envy their subtle use of texture and collage.


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‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ illustrations by John Burningham

I adore children’s picture books but I have not had much experience with children’s novel illustrations. One brilliant example of this genre is ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the Magical Car’ by Ian Flemming and illustrated by John  Burningham. Childrens novels are aimed at children aged between 9 and 12, so the illustrations have to be mature enough to appeal to the older children but at the same time still be exciting enough to engage them. John Burningham does this extremely well through his interesting and expressive illustrations.ChittyChittyBangBang

The cover of the book reminds me of modernist poster with the bright, bold colours and asymmetrical compostition. The typography and layout is also very modernist and simple. I love the wrap around illustration and how the car continues round onto the back.This stylized illustrations is true throughout the book.

spot 1spot 2Throughout the novel Burningham uses both spot illustrations and double page spreads where appropriate in relation to the text. The main media used is ink which he applies very freely yet still with consideration. He uses different mark making to create texture and atmosphere.

ill 2The majority of the spot illustrations are in black and white, but Burningham uses colour in various ways in the double spreads. In some illustrations he uses spot colour and applies it is different ways. This can clearly be seen in the illustration here. The tone of the green changes as well as how the colour is applied; flat or textured. This creates a very dynamic and textural image that works well with the subject if the garage.

chittyCollage is also a technique that is very prominent in Burninghams work. He uses tinted black and white photographs to build on top off with drawings and paint. I think the collage is really effective and interesting and adds another dimension to the illustrations. The inclusion of the photographs makes the illustrations more grown up which would appeal to the audience of older children.

There is one page where there is no text and the open page is a double spread illustration. These variations in the size and format of the illustrations make it an engaging book to read as every page is different so keeps the young reader interested. I really like John Burninghams illustrations and think they are very appropriate for the story and audience. His combination of photos and drawings is very interesting and he manages to bridge the gap between the two very subtly and with great style.


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Astrid Jaekels’ Meadow Murals

Astrid Jaekels public art can be found scattered throughout Edinburgh, her most recent being the 5 murals on the meadows. With these pieces she transformed a tired, graffitied wall into interesting and eye- catching pieces of art.Taking inspiration from the history of the meadows Astrid collaborated with the poet Rachel Woolf to create these murals which reflect on the folklore of the time. The 5 illustrated murals work all together as a collection but are also very strong when viewed individually.mural 3

Each mural makes use of organic flowing lines and art- nouveau like shapes. It is clear that paper cutting is the primary technique used for these murals. As a result the shapes and lines are clean and strong and the negatives spaces are very important in two muralscreating detail. Text and typography also plays an important part in each illustration. The path names and titles of the panels are written in the frames of each mural, separate from the illustrations. Whereas the words of the poem are intertwined with the characters in the designs but are still clear to read. A limited palette of fresh colours is used in interesting combinations, varying on each mural. The backgrounds are all a light blue, like that seen on a hazy spring day in Edinburgh. On top of the blue each mural has one or two spot colours on certain characters or aspects the artist wished to emphasize.  A dark brown is used for many of the illustrations and all the text. I like the use of a brown rather than black as it makes the lines less harsh and gives the pieces a more natural feel. The white spaces play an important part in these murals as they provide calm block shapes within the busy line work and bright colours.

I find the dimensions of the murals very appealing, as they are large enough to get passer- bys attention but at the same time are not too big that they look out of place. The long landscape canvas allows the story to flow from left to right smoothly. This makes the murals very easy to read as your eye follows the illustrations and words across the space. The animated characters and descriptive poem make the narrative very apparent in the murals.

300470-meadows-mural-astrid-jaekelI am very fond of Astrid Jaekels’ murals on the meadows and enjoy spotting something new every time I pass them. I think that these murals would appeal to a wide range of the public: children would be engaged with the friendly characters and bright colours, whilst adults can appreciate them as works of art and be intrigued by the history present in each piece. This public art has brightened middle Meadow walk and transformed a boring grey wall into engaging story- telling canvas.