Rum is my favourite party drink and I was very happy to receive a bottle of Kraken as a Christmas present. Apart from being a fantastic companion to chilly nights and bad TV, I’ve been getting so much from just looking at the bottle design.
A ‘Kraken’ is of course a legendary sea beast, a giant squid famous for terrorising pirate ships. Catching them in its tangle of tentacles before pulling them down to the murky depths.
It is captured on my bottle doing just that. The illustration style is reminiscent of Victorian etchings. Inky cross-hatching that sinks into the parchment label. The etched look seems to be consistently popular today, with talented artists like Dan Hillier updating it to create weird and wonderful works (see below). There’s something so pleasing about this style of illustration that seems to instantly fire up the imagination and hint at the curious.
The shape of the bottle is unusual and according to the Kraken wikipedia page, is styled after traditional Victorian rum bottles. These featured two, hoop handles allowing the bottles to be hung and help prevent breakages.
The colour palette is simple and bold. The velvety black of the illustration contrasts against the cream of the label and both flatter the rich brown of the spirit. Little accents of silver around the logo mark add shine. A tiny, etched, silver kraken guards the bottle top, sealing the doom of any sailor (or casual drinker) that dares to try a measure.
Dan Hillier Illustration shown without permission of the artist. All other photographs are my own, Kraken video borrowed from Youtube.
There’s been a super lovely crop of illustrated festival posters this Summer. Featuring bright colours, strange little characters and odd machines. They seem to have a bit of a ‘Where’s Wally?’ vibe to them, which does makes sense as it can often feel that way trying to find your friends at a festival! This type of illustration seems to be particularly popular for music and gig art at the moment and it’s really nice to see more of it about! Bestival, Wildlife and Music Wins festival posters shown above.
I’ve played some really great games on my phone recently. I haven’t had a Playstation of my own for some years but I’m finding that puzzle and adventure apps are just right for enjoying on a smaller device. In the same way that you can’t put a good book down, I find myself sneaking in a breakfast gaming session, tapping away on the tube and trying (and failing) not to play in bed.
A recent stand out for me is Simogo’s Year Walk ; an atmospheric game set in the snowy Swedish woods. In times of old, man would walk deep into the woods in the hope of catching a glimpse of his future. It was a perilous activity and many who ventured never returned. As the story unravels, you encounter strange, dark beasts of the forest taken straight from Swedish folklore. You must solve the puzzles they set out for you, searching for clues and performing clever interactions to impress them.
The art style is beautiful. It somehow manages to be both cute and creepy at the same time. It is Illustratively rich, the textures adding just the right amount of detail. The gentle shift of focus and blurring/sharpening of foreground and background objects seem to add to the feeling of unease.
The interface is super minimal, which seems to me to be a mark of a well designed experience. I would rather focus on story and game art than an ugly button or unnecessary menus. If you do download it, be sure to grab the companion app which has a few secrets of its own!
I’ve been a big fan of Eric Ravilious the multi talented illustrator, designer, war artist and painter since first seeing his watercolours of the South Coast in the Eastbourne Towner gallery. Having grown up by the sussex countryside and beaches, I really felt that he was able to capture something of the spirit of the place. The rolling hills, the ancient, timeless feel of the land. But it wasn’t until recently, seeing his retrospective at the Dulwhich picture gallery and finally treating myself to ‘High Street’ his study of the different shops of his time, that I realised he’s one of my favourite illustrators and a big source of inspiration to me.
His style is very distinctive, he creates texture and colour, building them up in layers. He is selective with his line work, using it to draw your attention, embellish and highlight important parts of the image. In ‘High Street’ Ravilious creates one lithograph for each shop and the architectural historian J M Richards writes an accompanying description, who works there, what they sell etc. As the book was first published in 1938 there is quite an unusual selection of stores, a theatrical prop shop, a submarine store, a taxidermists. It’s very hard to pick a favourite but I think my current is the the illustration of the ‘Public House’ (above).
All images taken from ‘High Street’ without permission, Illustrations by Eric Ravilious.
Remember how she told you to save every receipt you were ever handed? Or perhaps she convinced you a bowl haircut was the height of cool? Maybe she persuaded you to marry Ted, trusty reliable Ted who one afternoon stole your collection of Faberge eggs before running off with a milk maid?.…Okay, so the last two didn’t actually happen, but the point is Mothers like giving advice but they are not ALWAYS right. A fact observed by Lucy Mitchell a Brighton Poet, Writer, Tie maker and also my latest client.
Lucy approached me to illustrate a logo for a blog she is in the process of creating. A place where people could share the strange and often mis-guided advice that their mothers had passed onto them. Lucy already had an idea for the logo, a tattoo style composition featuring the withered hands of an old lady clutching a fag and a banner bearing the title. With this as a starting point I began sketching. Researching traditional sailor style tattoos and gathering lots of reference photos of hands.
Initially I tried painting the logo, then working back into it with coloured pencils, all on one sheet of paper. A working method I use quite often. But we found that this wasn’t quite punchy enough. I began to experiment with painting different bits of paper, sketching the shapes I needed onto tracing paper, then transferring the the trace over and finally cutting the segments I needed to make the logo, before working back into them. This introduced a soft, 3D feel to the project that seemed to give it the lift it needed.
I produced a ‘flat’ scanned version of these segments but was also keen to photograph the final piece to show up the shadows and hand crafted, layered way in which it was put together. We’re both very happy with the result and Lucy is looking into using Mother Was Wrong as a wider brand to house her different creative ventures.