Monday, November 5, 2012

WIRED — J.K Rowling

Recently I was super fortunate to get a second commission from WIRED US this year. I love working with those guys. This time they asked for my take on J.K Rowling, famed author of the Harry Potter Series, who was this year publishing a book aimed at a "mature" audience.
My initial scamps varied between the concept of Rowling's departure from Potter, to a satircal view that she'd missed the mark and ended up with a far more "senior" crowd.

The art director at WIRED favoured the latter of these ideas, and with a more vibrant and restrictive palette, I set about creating the longest queue I've ever (and most likely will ever) portrayed.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks (2012)

Last night I had the great pleasure in seeing one of my favourite musicians, Stephen Malkmus, with his band The Jicks. They played at the Corner Hotel, in support of their album from last year, Mirror Traffic.
 If you're familiar with my obsession with this band, you may recall my tale of stalking (in the friendliest way possible) his former band, Pavement, or my attempts to get Malkmus to sign my artwork in the past. Well, some of you may be pleased to know my obsession with tradition wasn't ignored this time around, and despite a fairly packed month, I managed to whip together a bit of 'practice' work in the form of a fake 80s college football movie poster, dedicated to the band. Pre-show, I was thrilled to meet Stephen, Jake, Mike and Joanna and ask them kindly to sign my copy.

I'm sure I was way more stoked then they were, but frankly I'd like to think they were still pretty chuffed. Malkmus told me he was looking forward to showing this one to his kid, bless.

 And, as something else, here's my favourite track off the album. No One Is (As I Are be).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Rolling Stone — Pink/Green Day

When I first made the decision to pursue illustration as a past-time, one of the clients I dreamt of (in a somewhat incredulous manner) was Rolling Stone, in particular, illustrating the artist for the feature review spot. I'd first discovered the spot back in 2002, with Tomer Hanuka's ridiculously awesome take on Sleater-Kinney's One Beat. Since then, I've watched the spot evolve and change over the following 10 years to play host to multitude of talented artists and illustrators, each providing their take on seemingly seminal monthly releases.
So, back in August, I was called up by my agency to let me know that Rolling Stone Australia were interested in commissioning me to illustrate the feature review, my jaw dropped. Sure, it wasn't the US version of the magazine, but nonetheless, after regaining my breath and developing a train of thought, I accepted the commission with delight.
The spot in my folio that won it for them was the Pink Illustration I'd done for Music Australia Guide back in 2009. They liked my take on her then, and were keen for me to see what I could do on her latest album, the Truth about Love.

My initial selection of ideas tried to play on a variety of love iconography. Cupid's arrow, heart tattoos, swearing on a bible and heart candy. The idea that stood out the most to their art director, was Pink standing on front of a mechanical heart. "Let's go with that".

Deadline looming, I took to it quickly and tightly, first roughing it out and then recreating a set of pretty tight pencils.

After updating the art director on my progress on the piece, I received a call from the agency to let me know that they'd shelved the job. The writer who was reviewing the album wasn't going to get his copy in on time, so they'd have to find a replacement piece. My heart sunk, disappointed with the wasted opportunity, however I received a subsequent call several hours later to let me know that they were still very keen to work with me and that the replacement subject would be none other than Green Day.

I laughed to myself, thinking of Frank Stockton's take on the very same artist back in 2009 for Rolling stone, paranoid that my work wouldn't have a scratch on his, and also being very wary not to create something to remnant of his work. 

I turned around a rough set of ideas to them that afternoon, the stand out being a weathered band in the corner of the boxing ring. With an even tighter deadline looming, and a trip to Sydney on the horizon, I quickly turnaround a refined draft, which fortunately they loved.

While the outcome felt slightly rushed and a little bit tainted with disappointment, it's still an immense sense of pride for me to have worked with a magazine that played an integral part in my youth.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fishtank (2012)

A couple of months ago I got my hands on a copy of Taschen's stunningly gigantic book, Richard Neutra: Complete Works. The mid-century modernist architect's work had been on my radar since it was first brought to my attention by those talented kids at House Industries. As a quasi-tribute to the brutally mannered craftsman of the modernist generation, (and with a stern nod to a different kind of master, Hitchcock), I made reference to one of his many masterpieces in this piece, I've simply called Fishtank, a piece dedicated to the peace and frenzy of isolation.

Monday, October 3, 2011

'Round Midnight.

Today marks the 13th anniversary of the passing of my father, Mark Shield. A typically solemn but reflective day, I've more pride than sorrow and today/tonight I pay homage to the cheeky wine and spirits journalist who departed way too soon for me to truly appreciate his irreverance, wit and accept-no-pompous-bullshit outlook.
"Wines are like buses: there's another good one along any minute, so why drink the same wine twice?"
The typist who drank (a nickname established by my brother Al), would've turned 65 this year and should he have taken better care of his health. He would've also become a grandfather. But like the t-shirt he was laid to rest in said, Shit Happens.
"If guts were printer's ink, you wouldn't have enough to make a full-stop. I Quit".
I'm fortunate for the term I did have with him and I'm perpetually reminded by my own short-fuse, fascination for the printed word and amongst many other things, propensity for a drink, that his legacy lives on within myself and the world around me. If I could have anything close to the impact he had in his time, I'd die proudly. But for now I'm going to have a quiet drink, listen to Miles Davis and treasure life's shortness and fragility.

Monday, July 25, 2011

I'm just remembering

Like her, hate her or simply don't care for her, it can't be denied that it was an tragic and stupid waste of an extremely gifted life. R.I.P. Amy Winehouse. This one was for Music Australia Guide, August 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I still feel like nothing next to you

Autumn Breakdown

Autumn (or Fall, for your people on the further northern reaches of the planet) is an unquestionably beautiful time of the year. The summer heat has subsided and the leaves turn their umber to crimson hues, cascade everywhere and childhood nostalgia is cheekily relived as they get crunched underfoot.

Polar to this notion, autumn also represents a descent into cooler weather, with darker evenings falling earlier and with that (for me at least) an impending sense of struggle as the tougher (colder) months of the year are steadily approaching. This year where I live, Autumn practically ceased one day and a cold snap awoke me to remind me what it was like to not feel my fingers again, and shiver with a brush in my hand.

Seasons are a gentle if not stern affirmation that time stops for no-one and, as we watch our lives evolve and unfold its all too easy at the let-go of summer's hug to start questioning just what has to change to avoid the next winter feeling like the previously dark and cold one. Familiarity and retrospection breeds complacency, that's a no brainer, and after a recent late-night conversation with a close friend, it started to dawn on me that we're living within an era plagued by complacency, where perhaps the unprescribed pressure to have it 'all figured out' in what can be an extremely fickle and unstable environment, isn't necessarily doing anyone a world of good. Our obsession with success (and quite often affluence) bestowed up us by ourselves, the media, our families and contemporaries is only feeding a greater sense of status anxiety (thanks Alain DeBotton) and while I believe it's important to have a sense of something to strive for, it's all to easy to feel a tad daunted and directionless by our own lack of patience when things still feel the same.

While change can breed new levels of achievement and ambition, the weighing up of change can bring with it all sorts of anxieties. Autumn Breakdown is dedicated to anyone that's found themselves in their own space, unnerved at a sense of self-derailment. The only advice I can offer is to not overthink it and take the time to enjoy the smaller picture more often. If you spend your whole life thinking about what's next, you're never going to enjoy now. Of all people I'm no expert in this strategy, but I do know that trying to second-guess everything is an utter waste of time.