Spreading yourself too thin…

February 23, 2011

Being full of ambition and having a passion for everything creative is all very well, and i am sure that it might put me in a good light with some people who might find it impressive or refreshing. It might even encourage others or give a kick up the arse to colleagues who have spent too many years sitting on their laurels doing just enough to get through. But. When is wanting to do too much counter productive? This is a question that i have to ask myself, for someone who is like a dog playing with a toy and getting bored with it and wanting to play with something else…

Not that my career follows this analogy, but certainly my private work and hobbies does, from playing music in a band to photography to illustration, to fine art, to video making to learning HTML/CSS to build websites for small companies.

All of which are in the same vein of design/creativity but each require a lifetimes worth of learning to be the best of the bunch, as the old saying goes, “Jack of all trades master of none.” This is to some extent true and i am aware that I might not be the best at whatever i am switching between creative outlets, but I think its important to have tried and tested as much as possible before i say i want to do this for the rest of my life and put all my effort in to something. I guess it all boils down to wanting to create something, anything, whether it be a nice picture, a striking logo or a well designed and built website.

Some people are able to just straight away find out what they are best at, for my girlfriend its music, writing it, performing it and being involved in it. For Aaron Miller its straight up illustrations, this guys knows what he’s good at and so far he seems to be carving a very promising career for himself doing it. Another example is the talented Tom Skyrme, a good friend of mine who has been writing music since an early age and has developed his style over the years and now writes/produces music for adverts which takes creating music to an almost mechanical and methodical approach, yet he still learns to play Jazz guitar, does photography on an old Russian camera, Dj’s electronic music and never seems to be spreading himself too thinly so to speak… My question is this… Is this because a person has already carved themselves a career or already got a firm grasp of one discipline before moving on to learning another or just that they are better than me?!

Not that I am bad at whatever things i turn my hand too, and i spend a lot of energy and not to mention money but i think i just should spend more time on something before i move on to the next activity. But its hard to when you have a project you get hyped about like taking pictures of a band, then you think “Hang on i could do some filming for them too”… Then I get chatting to someone down the pub one evening who needs a website doing, and all of a sudden i’m doing that, then I get a booking for a Wedding at the end of the year. Now does this mean i am spread too thin or just a busy person who is working on a bunch of creative projects. and its not because i will do them all half arsed, just that i love the fact that i CAN work across a range of mediums and calling on skills that i have developed throughout my life.

More than anything spreading myself across a range of projects means that i get to meet a huge range of people, and am thought of as more than just someone that can design business cards and letterheads. Talking to people who sit neatly in a box tends to mean they find it hard to ink outside of the box, whereas i  love to think how my skills might work in other areas of industry, photography for web designers or print work for web designers as a JV on business. Making short videos for people who have small businesses that might not have thought how that could increase brand awareness or coming up with a marketing strategy for the release of a new album for an artist, Thinking the whole process, from my print knowledge for Packaging and promotional materials, to shooting promo videos, making youtube virals, portrait shots, making flash web banners to go on Myspace. This is not something that is unheard of but i can’t imagine being anything other than this… working on a huge range of projects and improving a range of skills..

Because if this is being a “Jack of all trades and a master of none”, then thats alright with me! It might just take me longer to get there than everyone else.. But i know that I’ll get there!


Definately Down but not Out!

March 8, 2010


Man, what a crazy few months it has been for me! plenty of stuff going on just some of it not really what i wanted to be doing!

This New(ish) day job i started nearly a year ago now, seems to be replacing the last one i had, with even bigger lows!. Now i truly am starting to feel like i am rubbish!… This must change! So in a effort to do so I am working on freelance stuff. I have some interesting little projects in the Mix and now got myself a nice little set up with a print house!

It’s frustrating when you see how easy everyone else makes it look so easy!

Still this is a quik one to let you know i am still alive and that I am still adding to this. Hopefully when i get the stable site up… I will add more often! I have put some New images on flickr. these are from last summer, as its getting to that time everyone can feel Summer is approaching its only fair to remind yourself WHY I love england and Summertime so much!

Looking around at new Garms for that summer vibe i see my good friend Josh Franceschi from Downbutnotoutproductions.com has released some Dope new Tees from his new “Spoken Word” pack.


Downbutnotoutproductions.com newest design

check em’ out and maybe pick one up here the clour ways are really nice and Vibrant and the Design is really taking that happy College vibe that Johnny Cupcakes gives. Really nice and seeing as this range is only their second it looks like it could be really interesting to see this brand develpo in the coming months!

Anyways Go check out my flickr when u get a chance!

Interview with Drew Millward by the stable london

August 19, 2009

As I have mentioned before I love finding new artists, designers, styles and Illustrators. I can spend hours trawling through the realms of Myspace and forums and come across very few that are mind-blowingly right up my street. Drew Millward is one of those people that i found on my voyage through the digital realms and wow!, I am so glad that i have found him. I new that i had to ask this guy some questions about him and his work! His style is akin to the likes of the amazing 123Klan, with its clean lines and bubble like characters yet it doesn’t end there, He owns Birdwar records with his buddy and plays drums in a band called White Fang. As it says on his myspace page he uses pens, pencils and Ink…..And Doesn’t know what a vector is. ladies and gents….I bring you Drew Millward.

Big Business

Big Business

T.S.L – Your style has a very organic hand-drawn feel which at times can be very detailed and intricate akin to other designers such as “The 5683” and “Dan Mumford“. Has it always been this way or is this a result of development and influence?

DM – I suppose that the intricacy and detail is a by product of working, and constantly drawing. I think I started off with a very simple style, and certainly nowhere close to what I do now. I guess it’s a matter of picking up influences, and becoming more comfortable in your own abilities to try things. Certainly that’s how it was for me anyway. I’ve always been much more drawn to things with a real handmade aesthetic, and I’ve never really wanted to stray away from that side of things, but just push my own ability.
T.S.L – What artists and/or sources do you draw your inspiration from?

D.M – It’s a tricky one to answer. I tend to draw inspiration from lots of different places. Japanese prints, Goya, Bosch, Where’s Wally?, Edward Gorey, Maurice Sendak…. I could list stuff all day.
I suppose I’m interested in the craft of illustration. I’m interested in single framed narrative and the juxtaposition of themes.
That all sounds like art school balls, but it’s true.

T.S.L – What are your plans for you and your career for the future?

DM – I really have no plans. I just hope I’m not discovered as the fraud I sometimes feel like, and continue to be able to make work.

T.S.L – Some designers tend to use a lot of repetition in their work almost like a graphical toolkit or a signature, How do you feel about this when you see it in a body of work and what kind of message do you think it gives about that designer?

DM – I think it’s great. To have a style and visual reference points is a nice touch to be able to tie a body of work together. I suppose it’s another aspect of developing a style and incorporating themes into your work.
T.S.L – Sometimes when I have been working on a particularly uninteresting or uninspiring job or doing paperwork for a few days or weeks, and then have a job thrown on my desk which is needed yesterday which needs to be creative and interesting and different, I find it hard to change gear and get my “creative hat” on. What do you think is the best way to get back in to the mindset of open-minded creative thinking, even when you have a tight deadline looming?

DM – It’s really difficult. I dismissed the idea of keeping sketch books for a long time, but it really is a pretty valuable resource. Having a stock of sketches and thoughts to look back through is a pretty good way to spark off ideas when you are in a corner time-wise.
I tend to keep cuttings of stuff I’ve seen or have a folder on the computer of images I’ve collected. Like I say, inspiration can come from anywhere. Read a book, listen to music, walk away from it for a while… whatever works really.

T.S.L – Do you ever get a mental designers block?, If so how to you get over it?

DM – Yup. It just comes and goes at will. I try to keep a few plates spinning at once. If I have a few projects on the go, that is pretty helpful. Something scanned in, something at sketching stages, painting something…. If you get bored of one, you can go and do something else, while not wasting time doing nothing.

T.S.L – Every designer has their own way of working and their own creative process, can you give an insight in to your methods and rituals?

DM – Pencil->Pen->Pixel->Screen Print.
I start with a sketch that would make no sense to anyone but me. I usually trace over it a few times and add in more detail each time until I’m happy with how it looks. I’ll then ink the final image. From there I’ll scan it in, and either color each separate layer in Photoshop, or using additional layers of tracing paper…. Depending on how I want it to look. Everything is then layered and assembled in Photoshop. Separated for printing, or saved for whatever purpose it is intended.


The thing that impresses me the most about Drew Millwards’ work is that its so heavily styled and yet very accessible, it fits in with clothing, posters and flyers, as art, as CD artwork as Vinyl toys, stickers and i could even imagine some of these charming characters and beasts is animations or TV shows! who knows. His style sums up everything i aspire to be as an artist/designer. With a traditional approach of pen and ink and a discipline that is not driven by having the newest software of the latest craze, no it is from, like any illustrator/designer comes from lots of mis-spent youth and years of practice and doodling on anything that stayed put for long enough. Which is how skills are developed and a raw talent and a NEED to draw and create is is nurchered.

Should you wish to use Drews services drop him a line! He is a really great guy from what i can tell and thank him for his time, after all I am probably one of many people that bother him on a daily basis. You give me inspiration and a drive to be better…….Going on some of the stuff i am doing….Oh boy do i have a long was to go!

www.drewmillward.com –  www.myspace.com/drewmillward –  www.facebook.com/drewmillward

Work In Progress Inspired by Tank Girl

June 19, 2009

Been messing about on some down time and doing sketches of things, been really feeling the Tattoo vibe at the moment and a while backsaw a tattoo with the old dagger through it and wanted to do something similar, I normally use strokes in illustrator for outlines but this time i thought i’d try using the pathfinder tool and layer up the grads and colours to get a bit more of a non-uniform feel. I love the Tank girl style artwork.

Tank Girl Artwork

Tank Girl Artwork

Tank Girl is a fantastic british talent, responsible for Amazing artworks like the Gorillaz, Tank girl (Obv.), working with publications like the face.

Check him out well worth a ganders!

With this drawing i just spent a little bit of time playing around.Not really gona use it for anything just thought i’d put something up for the time being, and have a little bit of a chat.

Initial sketch

Initial sketch

Moving on from that sketch brought it in to Illustraotr and traced it out and added some nice like scratch marks and grads to give it that comic book feel.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Next i wanted to do some classic Tattoo style additions so i went ahead and drew a couple of roses. The tricky part for me was to remember that the key is in the detail but not to get too lost in it!

The petals are built up and layered upon each other meaning that grads and more detail can be added once the overall shape has been formed. Still need to work on the stems and water/blood drips and get some nice shading in the petals themselves. Again, you can see that i have simply used a stroke here, which gives it a really clean and uniform appearance. Not sure if i am going to change this or not yet but i need to have a play about when i get some more free time… Who knows i might even make it a tattoo for myself one day… This is nothing amazing i know!, but i am hoping that little by little i will learn and become better!..Ta

Another simple addition

Another simple addition

Post….Everything!…Draw Everything…..Sleep!

June 18, 2009

What a busy 10 days it’s been!

Since my last post i have been to see Brighton Uni’s end of year show, Seen my girlfriend silence a stag do mid-swing, been to Paris to see the sights and smells and got back in to the ryhtmn of work after having a nice week off! I’m on my laptop at the moment and haven’t gotten around to getting all the pictures i took on to this yet!. Something i will try and do this weekend!…Busy weekend ahead of Music, Drinking and some relaxing if i can get some time!

Every designer/creative should own this book

Every designer/creative should own this book

Last time also i posted I mentioned a book called “A technique for producing ideas“, alot smaller than i orginally had expected but by no means lacking in content. It covered the thinking behind the book is that it reiterates and drives home the process for how to generate ideas and think about a project whether it be design, business, music or a text the process is globally useable and based on 5 simple steps:

1) Gather materials – bother Mentally and physically. whether it is materials about the product, surrounding the product, Understand the product, how it works, what seperates it from others, what seperates its consumers from others, understand the market and also gather materials that you may use not only for the product, campaign or brief you are working on but for future products,campaigns and briefs build a book of tricks and scrap books that you can use for reference and inspiration or as a trigger for the future.

2) Explore and tear it apart in great detail what you have gathered – Look at these articles, notes or facts in as many different ways as you can think of. Look at other writings like Veblen’s theory of the leisure classes. Anything to break apart and explore what you have collected to see some relationship or way of fulfilling the brief…..In otherwords EAT, SLEEP and BREATHE it!

3) STEP AWAY FROM THE PROJECT – Sounds simple enough to do, but apparently this is the kind of ” now leave to simmer on a low heat” part to the recipe. Do anything that inspires you. Listen to music, read, go to the cinema, sleep on it even (linking to step four)

4) Ideas will come to you from out of nowhere – (apparently)…Providing you have done your part for the previous stages, ideas or idea shall come to you some way or how. in the shower, before you fall asleep, as you just wake up anything. And there you have your seedling idea.

5) To complete the process – Show the world your idea and put it in an open forum for discussion and exploration. your idea might be OK but with this stage it becomes polished, you are able to look at it in the cold light of day and with fresh eyes take comments from others and possibly improve and develop your idea further.

This is my interpretation of the book, and believe me it was not easy to read it on a beach in brighton or on a busy commuter train home but go and check it out. I will be looking forwards to trying this method out on a project that is not on a restricted timeline, as i think that the process might take me time to get to grips with and become second nature, to do without thinking about what it is that i am doing. Some people can produce nice aesthetically pleasing work, but it has no soul, no depth no concept. This is exactly why i am trying to gather my knowledge and my materials, both physically and mentally (WAYHAY!! i am already doing step 1 without realising it).

The next part of my journey to becoming a better designer or a creative thinker is to use my brain not just for thinkin about long processes but also to trin it to think of things without even thinking about them or what i am doing. Like doodling almost!. This is where another book I bought comes in to play called

For streching and inspiring your creative imagination

For streching and inspiring your creative imagination

Recharge your design batteries” written by Jon O’Reilly and Tony Linkson this book has “creative challenges to stetch you imagination“. Little things that take 5 minutes to do, anything from drawing a monster a day to collecting things of inspiration. This is something i have been thinking about doing before i saw this book and i believe that a great way to do this would be to play games like pictionary or Hangman. Something that makes you use your head without going to deep in to it! yet helps your develop key skills every designer in my opinion should have, which is to be able to quickly sketch out ideas that people can easily recognise and understand or visualise. Stickmen are not good enough!

A great way to develop quick thinking and drawing skills

A great way to develop quick thinking and drawing skills

Brighton Bound!!!!!!!

June 8, 2009

After one of the hardest weeks i have had, and going out on the lash with work celebrating some really fantastic news, I went at it hammer and tong and truly felt rough the following morning. With that said I managed to man up and crack on with some work and crash out a load of outdoor campaigns for one of the new companies Hogarth has been working in conjuction with.

With this new work comes a fear that I will never be able to get any of my personal ideas and designs further. However After a nice relaxing day with a fryup and beers on the beach watchin breakdancing and the seagulls mollest innocent parties, I got to catch up with a good friend of mine and up and coming musical Talent and one of the most inspiring people i have ever met www.skyrmish.com, Gives me the drive to push things forwards!, after all if your not winning your only losing! Discussing current ideas and theories and aspirations give me the drive to carry on trying to win!

Also Have got another book to my ever growing collection, called “A technique for producing ideas” written my the amazing James webb Young back in the 1940’s yet it is still as relevant now as it was back then with forwords from William Bernbach the “B” in the creative advertising agency “DDB” and the chairman of DDB Keith Reinhard. Its a very short pocket book but has a very simple aim, How to develop creative ideas. It has given me insight and direction into philosophy and what kind of people are creatives and or Idea people and who isn’t. Only half way through so i’ll let you know what my full opinions on the book is, and maybe it might even give me some ideas on how to produce ideas for my designs. Something i heard from a friend today was a neat way of giving myself briefs to work with or projects to work on was to find something that i really liked and try and improve on it. for instance a piece of short animation was the project in discussion and the sound design was not up to scratch, so why not improve upon in and use that as a starting point. Something I personally had not thought of doing, I guess because the thought of rebranding Hoover or coming up with an idea for a new Mazda campaign is just too overwhelming for me to even make a start on it, Hence probably why i am doing so much peripheral reading to try and gain inspiration and confidence to tackle daunting projects and briefs!

Tomorrow brings a new day and going to see what My friend has produced for his end of year show and gain perspective of what is out there and where I need to be at. Anyways, off to relax and watch my girlfriend sing and play piano tonight, I’ll be back for more pointlessness soon….When i have somethign more to talk about!.

Another Book to Push me further

May 12, 2009
Just bought this book from Magma books LDN

Just bought this book from Magma books LDN

So I’ve just bought this book from Magma books in London, I have been reading a tonne of books from magma and found all of them very interesting…..I’ll let you know