New Illustration conference – Interpretation

August 28th, 2014 by Special Projects

Interpretation is the theme of the latest VaroomLab symposium on illustration, this year held in partnership with Arts University Bournemouth.

18-19 September 2014


Interpretation will explore ways in which illustrators, interpret, re-interpret and misinterpret information through illustration practice. Illustrators, students and academics are very welcome.

This event aims to celebrate and investigate the potential exciting creative strategies and possibilities for practitioners to move minds, challenge norms and influence the ways in which we the see the world and connect with it.

The symposium is held 18-19 September 2014. Guest speakers are animator Cyriak and illustrator Marcus Oakely , and speakers include Chris Campe, Joel Lardner & Paul Roberts, Paul Burgess, Mireille Fauchon & Four Corners books, Andrew Kulman, Gary Embury and Thomas Barwick- more details here You can register for tickets here and special offer accomodation can be sourced here.

Tickets for Interpretation are now on sale, priced as follows:

£35 Students

£90 Standard Ticket

£50 VaroomLab Members (Limited availability)



Collector’s Edition – book review

August 28th, 2014 by Special Projects

Innovative Packaging and Graphics by Stuart Tolley

Thames & Hudson ISSN 9780500517574

Review by Cher Pratley

Front Cover Close-up

Collector’s Edition is an informal visual survey that compiles examples of 180 innovative graphic and product designs created for special collectors, limited or deluxe editions across a range of industries.

Written by Stuart Tolley, the founder and director of Transmission, a creative agency and editorial consultancy, Collector’s Edition is intended for an audience with an interest in collectables, packaging or graphic design who are looking for inspiration from some of the most celebrated works across music, book and magazine design.

Collector’s Edition is a beautifully bound and constructed book, with a methodic grid layout and quality photographs displayed on gloss paper with simple black and grey text to complement the wide variety of highly visual work. The front cover design is nicely emulated throughout the book with personalised boarders crafted for each section, continuing to add a consistent design aesthetic throughout.

Topic Introduction Page

Organised into four sections – Boxed, Multiples, Hand and Extras – it features a broad range of formats and genres across current and past products and designs with each example individually photographed and accompanied by a brief product description, a reference system for the reader to identify the format, materials and finish used in the design, plus credits for the client, record label, publisher and designer behind the work.

Each section begins with an interview with a leading creative, then delves deeper in to the creative process behind the featured project and give insight in to the artists’ and designers’ creative concepts and practices. This book aims to highlight the link between the creator of the item to the collectors and intended audiences who buy these limited editions items, as much as it is about the beautiful design and production of them.

Flaming Skull Interview

As mentioned, this is a rather informal exploration of packaging and graphic design. The first sentence of the introduction states that it does not want to be misinterpreted as ‘anti-digital’, which I would not go as far to say that it is, but in my opinion it does have a slight inclination towards more traditional methods of design and product production, as can be noticed in the slightly romanticised view of the ‘pre digital era’. However, this topic is broached in the interviews, with many of the interviewees seeming to be rather unswayed by the developments within digital design, merchandising and production. There is more precedence given to the creative possibilities that print offers, but it is agreed that the future of design and packaging is most exciting with both technologies coexisting to create ‘mould-breaking formats’.

The in depth interviews give a detailed look in to the processes, inspiration and ideas behind the creation of the featured products. Some of these ideas have hidden meanings that would possibly be missed without previous background knowledge of the product, artist or brand. Collector’s Edition lifts the lid on some of these double meanings. For example, Stanley Donwood, best known for his work with Radiohead, created a collector’s edition for a special ‘newspaper’ for The King of Limbs, Radiohead’s eighth studio album. The idea behind the design was that the music would outlive the packaging, in-fact the very point of the packaging was that it would degrade and relay a message, “It mirrors our own decay, the way we become more wrinkly. It’s a collector’s edition you cant collect.” It is this type of hidden message, process and outcome that makes the Collector’s Edition such an interesting read.

Radiohead Interview

Many of the concepts and processes taken to develop the initial ideas for the products follow very open briefs, which allows for substantial creative freedom. This is usually due to relationships between the people involved or through an artist’s reputation. I would not say that these briefs are the model for newly graduated or aspiring artists and designers looking to research their current industry, or at least if they do so, that it is done with a certain degree of understanding.

The Collector’s Edition has a slightly traditionalist feel to it, but this is clearly a view widely shared across this current generation, and one that will surely continue to grow with the increasing interest in vinyl records, Polaroid cameras and luxury collector’s products. In my opinion the Collector’s Edition is not a direct view in to the current market of packaging and design but it is a celebration that provokes an interest in the innovative design of packaging and graphics. Hopefully, this book will be the inspiration for many more such projects to come.

As the title indicates, this book is a collector’s edition of collectors editions, it is a visual gallery of some of the finest works within the industry.

Fuel Interview Spred

Ahoy! Drawn Chorus Collective

August 28th, 2014 by Special Projects

Espacio Gallery, London, E2 7DG

28 August – 2 September 2014


To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the disappearance of the USS Wasp in the Bermuda Triangle, the Drawn Chorus Collective is setting sail with their illustrative imaginings of all the mysteries and wonders of the deep. AHOY! is an immersive, collaborative exhibition between collective illustrators and guest artists. It also marks the launch of their first graphic novel anthology, “Tales From the Deep”.


Drawn Chorus is a group of illustrators working together to create zines, crafts and shows. Between the 20 + roster of illustrators, the Drawn Chorus have been shortlisted for the prestigious AOI awards, annual Folio Society competition, Macmillan Children’s Book Prize, 3×3 Magazine show and Threadneedle Prize.

Scottish Independence – illustrated

August 27th, 2014 by Special Projects


Reportage illustrator, Alex Nicholson, has captured the views of many Scots on the topic of independence from the UK. The drawings were made in Edinburgh, August 2014, where he spent a week interviewing people about the upcoming referendum.


Alex’s intention is to offer some insight into the wide variety of opinions, while also putting faces to the opinions expressed. See more on Alex website



Clare Mackie for Country Life

August 18th, 2014 by Special Projects

7th – 12th September

At Lyon & Turnbull, 33 Broughton Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3RR

Sunday 7th September (12noon to 4pm)

Monday 8th to Friday 12th September (10am to 5pm)

PV Monday 8th September from 6pm


This exhibition is a selection of 150 favourite original watercolours from Country Life magazine painted over the past 11 years.

The Real Draw – Contemporary Illustration exhibition

August 6th, 2014 by Special Projects

5 September 2014 – 11 October 2014 – Open evening 4 September 2014  7.30pm – 9pm

Marburae Gallery, Athey Street, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 6QU

Monday – Saturday  9.30am – 5.00pm Admission Free


Chris Moore

20 top illustrators from across the UK are coming to Cheshire for ‘The Real Draw’. From the classic draftsmanship of book illustration to the modern digital form of illustration that is sweeping popular culture, the show has a complete cross section of illustration as an art -form.

Direct references to the origins of Illustration can be found in Talya Baldwins delicate animal depictions that would delight any book publisher. Artists such as Steph Coathupe and Carl Hoare reference the golden age of illustration (1880 – 1914) when illustration was used for public posters and notices.

AOI member, Chris Moore, who has produced illustrations for ‘Jaws’, Stephen King’s book covers and is renowned for his science fiction artwork, is showing work.

Laura Frame

Laura Frame

Interpretation guest speakers

August 5th, 2014 by Special Projects

The VaroomLab Interpretation illustration conference 18-19 September at Arts University Bournemouth is hosting a great array of speakers covering a fascinating variety of topics. The Varoom website asked the presenters a couple of questions about illustration, the event and what they’ll be doing. Click on their names to see what illustrator Marcus Oakley, and animator Cyriak will be presenting and what they’re expecting from the event.

Marcus Oakley

London based illustrator and artist, Marcus Oakley is originally from a village in Norfolk. He is inspired by many things, including music such as the Beach Boys but also by the countryside and the animals that inhabit it.



Brighton based animator Cyriak uses photoshop and after effects for most of his animations. He has worked on a wide range of commercial projects from TV advertising to music videos.


Summer Exhibitions 2014 Continued…

August 1st, 2014 by Special Projects
 Rae Smith, Cavalry Charge II, Pencil and charcoal on paper, 240 x 550mm, War Horse, written by Michael Morpurgo, published by Egmont Publishing, 2013

Rae Smith, Cavalry Charge II, Pencil and charcoal on paper, 240 x 550mm, War Horse, written by Michael Morpurgo, published by Egmont Publishing, 2013


Illustrationcupboard Gallery commemorates the centenary of World War I with a unique exhibition celebrating the dramatisation of Michael Morpurgo’s book War Horse. First published in 1982, this wartime tale has become an international phenomenon.

Featuring theatre designer Rae Smith whose original theatre, costume and scenic artwork were displayed on stage at the National Theatre and artist Victor Ambrus who was commissioned to produce the front cover of the first edition of War Horse in 1982 and will be showing artwork especially produced for this anniversary are among a few to be exhibited. Lastly, Olivia Lomenech Gill, whose previous collaboration with Michael Morpurgo on Where My Wellies Take Me has been short-listed for the Kate Greenaway Award 2014 and will be showing a selection of her War Horse inspired artwork

The Twits illustrated by Quentin Blake

The Twits illustrated by Quentin Blake

House Of Illustration

The House Of Illustrations doors are now permanently open to their inaugural exhibition Quentin Blake: Inside Stories which can be visited Tuesdays through Sundays until 2nd November and will feature original works from 9 of his books. Including titles such as, Roald Dahl’s The Twits and Danny the Champion of the World as well as his own Clown and The Boy in The Dress by David Walliams. Other authors include John Yeoman, Russell Hoban and Michael Rosen with the corresponding illustrations.

There is also the opportunity of a personal and informed insight in to the work of Quentin Blake come along on a Friday Lunchtime for a 20 minutes gallery tour of his current exhibition, free with the exhibition entry.

Quentin Blake & Friends

National Trust


The exhibition runs from 19th July – 14th September 2014 at Mottisfont, near Romsey, Hampshire, SO51 0LP

Visitors to Mottisfont will be able to see for the first time 21 new drawings by Quentin Blake for the hit West End production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, full of his usual wit and sharp-eyed observations.

The other artists in the Mottisfont exhibition comprise John Burningham, Emma Chichester Clark,
Rebecca Cobb, Paul Cox, Michael Foreman, Amanda Hall, Oliver Jeffers, Helen Oxenbury and Jane Pinkney.

Eduardo Garcia Benito (1891-1981)  Notre artillerie lourde... Allied flags fly on the forts of the Dardanelles  Woodcut with hand colouring through stencils. Publisher: Tolmer & Co. 1915. Given by Sophie Gurney 1994

Eduardo Garcia Benito (1891-1981) Notre artillerie lourde... Allied flags fly on the forts of the Dardanelles Woodcut with hand colouring through stencils. Publisher: Tolmer & Co. 1915. Given by Sophie Gurney 1994

The Fitzwilliam Museum

The first seven months of World War I will be dramatically illustrated at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge through 36 colour lithographs and woodcuts from the print series La Grande Guerre which will be on display until 28th September 2014 with free entry.

The prints will be shown in chronological order, so that visitors to the gallery can experience a retelling of events from the perspective of France, from the taking of the first flag during the Battle of Saint-Blaise La Roche (14 Aug 1914) to the Fall of Przemyśl (22 March 1915).

rob lowe 400

Beach London Gallery

Stupid Nature by artist Rob Lowe also known as Supermundane, will be exhibiting at Beach London Gallery from 8th August – 31st August 2014.

Stupid Nature continues to showcase Rob Lowes interest in pure line, optical effects and colour but with less acute precision, allowing the lines to drip and wobble. When speaking of his exhibition, Rob Lowe states:

“I think of stupid nature as meaning instinct or the unlearned. It seems more and more that the need for proof is used as a way of undermining hard-to-define natural responses. These drawings feel very natural – I have an automatic emotional response to them which is difficult to explain. Stupid Nature just seems to fit perfectly as an overall title – it alters the context in which the pieces are viewed.”

Topolski Studio’s ‘The Chronicle Residency Programme’

July 28th, 2014 by Special Projects

Following the success of the pilot scheme last year, Topolski studio and Reportager are running the 2nd Chronicle Residency Programme.

Over the next few months Illustration graduates, Ed Burn, Luisa Crosbie, Pat Macdonald, Jack Miller, Jack Wheatley and Georgia Wilson will be drawing in and around London culminating in a printed Chronicle and exhibition at the Topolski Studio on the South bank on 3rd October 2014


Sixty years since Topolski launched his Chronicles, Topolski Studio’s Chronicle for the Twenty-First Century and accompanying reportage drawings of London will be exhibited alongside Feliks Topolski’s original Chronicles and drawings, contrasting what Topolski recorded 50 and 60 years ago with what the young artists’ record today.

Alumni from the first residency programme will also be exhibiting. Matt Booker, Laura Fitton, Josh Morris, Alex Nicholson, Chloë Parke and Louis Vinet, will be showing work one year on from their participation in the Programme.

Andrea Marie, the education officer at Topolski Studio, Gary Embury editor of, and other master class artists, including Lucinda Rogers, Anne Howeson, Julia Midgley and Chloe Regan will be working with the residents towards producing the hand-printed Chronicle, a broadsheet of reportage drawing, chronicling contemporary issues of the Twenty-First Century.


The residents were led on a Dérive last week by Gary Embury, starting from Topolski’s studio on the Southbank over the bridge, through Charing Cross, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, China Town, and eventually drawing back towards the Southbank. They then recorded through drawing the 70th birthday celebrations of renowned poet David Constantine as part of the South Bank Centre’s Poetry International event at the Royal festival hall.

As part of the Dérive, a Drawing Peloton was formed in homage to the Tour de France, winding its way through Trafalgar Square. Residents formed a moving reportage crocodile whereby each resident used the artists back in front to rest their sketchbook whilst walking and drawing the surroundings. The lead artist dictated the route, peeling off the front to join the rear when necessary. Drafting was encouraged and no accidents were reported, although many tourists were bemused by the spectacle.

Gary Embury


Varoom 26 out now

July 23rd, 2014 by Special Projects


‘Style’ – the ‘look’ that washes up in our daily digital newsletters, the ‘must-have’ for clients, the big question that haunts illustration. Varoom puts on its deerstalker, grabs its pipe and goes in search of ‘Style’.


Youth culture’s original ‘style bible’ of the 1980s and 1990s is tracked down by Lawrence Zeegen, who shows how illustration gave The Face magazine its visual compass.

Regular contributor, Marian Bantjes, delivers a moody, atmospheric take on Style, and columnist Paul Davis, with tongue firmly in cheek, proposes that as we all have an inherent style, ‘National Personal Total Stylish-Self Day’ should be declared.


Antonio Lopez, who’s style is regarded as the most influential within fashion illustration of the late 20th Century is recognised for his political act of being among the very first to introduce people of colour in to his work. And how Tom of Finland’s representations of gay men are regarded as precursors of the 1960s pride movements.


As fashions in advertising and marketing communications change faster than ever, Varoom asks three agencies about how clients view ‘Style’, and explore how attitudes to ‘Style’ have changed. Arena, Gas, and Illustration Ltd give us an overview of the marketplace, with some eclectic examples.

Varoom 26 is available here as a single issue or on subscription