Archive for August, 2016

Upstairs Downstairs

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

A new solo exhibition by AOI Member Sonny Ross

Venue: 10 Tariff Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M1 2FF
Opening 14th September. Free entry.


Sustainable Graphic Design Principles & Practices – book review

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

By Peter Claver Fine

Published by Bloomsbury Academic ISBN 9780857850638

Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster



This book will be useful for students of design, academics and practitioners of graphic design. It explores how we can use personal agency to help us to pursue answers to the complex problems facing designers today. The author forensically covers the history of the discipline and links this to its geo-political impact citing the sexist, imperialist and colonialist roots of the status quo. He presents credible alternatives to the status quo but he is no Jeremiah and sincerely believes that the solutions can be found within our individual and collective practices. Using a range of detailed Case Studies of student projects and examples from pioneers of design thinking (Victor Papanek, Buckminster Fuller, Naomi Klein et al) he asserts that we can and must change things.



The cover illustrates the power of graphic design to take three ideas and synthesize them into a new concept. It expresses the subject matter well and is not as off putting as some clichéd ‘green’ images can be. The book is landscape and softbound, this makes handling difficult (I dropped it on a number of occasions). The line length of the two-column pages I found tiring to read at times. The design and layout could have been sharper. In some cases the organization of the main text information meant to relate to a specific case study is found several pages after them. If this had been avoided the flow of the book would be more legible. I’m sure that the layout and use of materials for this book is meant to align with the very principles mentioned within its pages but maybe this is a compromise too far. It was printed and bound in China.


Ideological Stance

Peter Cleaver Fine is on a mission but he is no puritan or evangelist. Instead he offers the explanations for the current state of print and screen-based design and links this to the technological past and the economic realities of efficient mass production. No wringing of hands here but instead he provides practical and empowering solutions by asking the design student to ‘rewire’ their thinking and self-belief. He points out that mass consumption and marketing are not tools of the graphic designer but are the very things that they should set out to combat.



The book shows how working with students is one of the best ways to initiate new agendas in educational practice/process as well as stimulating enquiring minds. The provocations in Chapter 1 ‘Green, Greener, Greenest: Twenty-One Key Factors for analyzing Green Claims’ is an excellent way to begin the process. The purpose is not simply to set students sustainable projects that remain in the classroom and are forgotten after graduation; instead they must become an integral part of their personal and professional approach to graphic design and their future activities.


This book can be used to introduce design students to the arguments and philosophies surrounding this pressing subject. The practical solutions (Case Studies) support the challenge of spreading sustainable design ideas and outcomes to a wider audience. The book places the graphic designer at the heart of the changes that are necessary. Peter Claver Fine advocates that personal agency is the primary position to adopt when students engage with social design, design thinking and the practice of sustainable graphic design.

You may also be interested in these book reviews

Collector’s Edition – Innovative Packaging and Graphics

Paper Engineering for Designers

World Illustration Awards – more feedback!

Friday, August 26th, 2016


Our flagship exhibition, on until 29 August at Somerset House in London, is still receiving great feedback from visitors who can leave their thoughts on post notes at the show.

Comments are coming from visitors from all over the world, many in the form of drawings.

AOI World Illustration Awards Exhibition 2016 in partnership with Directory of Illustration

1 – 29 August 2016 Daily 10.00-18.00 (last admission 17.15)

Embankment Galleries, South Wing

Free admission


The First Time – An exhibition by Edson Lovatto

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Venue: Look Mum No Hands! 49 Old Street – London EC1V 9HX

Until September 1st 2016. Free entry.

Mon – Fri 07:30 – 22:00

Sat – 08:30 – 22:00

Sun – 09:00 – 22:00


“The First Time” is, as the name suggests, the first solo exhibition in London of Lovatto, an Italian-Brazilian artist. Graduated in Journalism, the 33 year-old artist has been drawing since his childhood and in 2007 he turned his passion into his profession. Since then, he has contributed to different publications, including renowned magazines, such as GQ and RollingStone, newspapers and websites, beyond the fashion textile industry.

For this exhibition, he created 12 unique digital prints which reflect his relation with urban art, both from all his life spent in São Paulo and the idea he had about London before he moved to the city in April of this year. A biker lover and an amateur cyclist he uses the exhibition to create his own world.

Does your pet help you get through the day?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

The upcoming health and well-being issue of AOI’s Varoom magazine is asking members to get in touch with Derek at the AOI if your pet helps with your general well-being (or more), as we’re doing a piece on illustrators and their pets.

Please send a few words on what effect your pet has on you, and if there is any relationship between that and your artwork (also a link to your site) to [email protected]

Many thanks


Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Conference on Contemporary Character Design and Art

November 4th, 2016

Parsons School of Design, The Auditorium, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall, The New School,66 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10011, USA


Pictoplasma returns to New York City with a dense program of inspiring artist talks, state of the art animation screenings and lively panel discussions to celebrate the next generation of character design and art. The conference invites artists, producers, animators, illustrators, character designers and all creatively curious, to network and exchange strategies for tomorrow’s visual culture.

Speakers include graphic artist and illustration master-mind Jean Jullien (FR), whose iconic ’Peace for Paris’ symbol became an instant global meme; children’s book author and illustrator You Jung Byun (US), known for her detailed narrative and commissioned work inhabited by strange beasts and lost children; everyone’s favorite gif-wunderkind Julian Glander (US), creator of bubblegum-colored digital illustration, indie games and interactive artwork, all subsumed under the catchword ‘digital toys’; animator, writer, and producer Ben Bocquelet (FR), creator of the famed animation series ‘The Amazing World of Gumball‘; Martina Paukova (SK), illustrator with an incredibly fast-paced career, whose jam-packed images in a trademark palette and Memphis-inspired patterns mirror our mundane lives in the digital age; and Jaime Álvarez, renown for his 3D rendered Mr. Kat (PE) universe, fusing pre-Columbian with contemporary kawaii aesthetics.


Part of New York’s Illustration Week, the conference is co-hosted by Parsons School of Design and organized by Pictoplasma, the Berlin based annual Uber-Festival for Contemporary Character Design and Art. Prior to the conference’s 5th return to NYC, the Pictoplasma Academy will be hosting a week-long intense Character Design Development course in Mexico City.

Online registration for the conference is available at 260US$ incl. all taxes – for those acting fast, a limited amount of Early Bird tickets are on offer for 180US$.

More information here

Safari Festival 2016

Friday, August 19th, 2016

Safari Festival – New waves in contemporary comics and arts.

Venue: Protein Studios, 31 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EY.

Saturday 27th of August, 11am-6pm. Free entry.



Safari Festival is a celebration of the new wave of alternative and art comics from the UK and beyond. Taking place over one Saturday at the end of August, the festival is an opportunity for a curated group of cartoonists and publishers to exhibit and sell their artwork, prints and, primarily, comics, and for attendees to experience the best of UK comics’ avant-garde. The artists exhibiting have been selected for their innovative, fearless, diverse approaches to making comics; approaches to cartooning that Safari intends to champion.


Fox & Goldfish – book review

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

Written and Illustrated by Nils Pieters

Published by Book Island

ISBN 978-0-9941282-1-8

Hardback released July 2016

Review by Allie Oldfield

cover copy

Bereavement is always a tough issue to tackle in children’s books, but Fox & Goldfish by Nils Pieters manages to be a refreshing and expressive take on the often avoided subject. The story centre’s on a Fox and his relationship with his dying friend Goldfish and his quest to show Goldfish the wonders of the world before he departs his fish bowl for good.

forest spread copy

My first impression of this book is how vivid it is, Pieters’ illustrations have a child-like quality to them that contrasts the sad theme wonderfully. The illustrations are full of happy scenes of Fox taking his friend on various outings, from motorcycling through the Grand Canyon to skiing in the Alps; the book contains hardly any words but it ends up working well with the scenic spreads that say enough on their own. Thick coloured pencil is scribbled across painted landscapes, forests are swathed in emerald green, Mount Fuji leaps out in cerulean blue. Peiters isn’t afraid of putting raw colour on a page and it certainly makes an impact. This boldness ties in nicely with Fox’s mission to help create an unforgettable trip for himself and his friend, and helps teach children that holding onto great memories is an important part of getting through a loss.

Fuji spread copy

I had the opportunity of showing this book to a class of 8-9 year old’s and their reaction was positive. At the start of reading they knew the pair were travelling the world together and enjoyed the bright illustrations. But by the end they understood that Goldfish was dying and were upset but accepting. They commented on how Fox was so loving to think of Goldfish and what he would need to see before he died, but also how Fox had made memories to remember him by. Overall Fox & Goldfish is an uplifting tale on loss which children will enjoy for it’s rich colours and heartening themes of friendship and remembrance.

swing spread

The Curiositree: Natural World – book review

Friday, August 12th, 2016

Written by Amanda Wood & Mike Jolley

Illustrated by Owen Davey

Published by Wide Eyed Editions (Quarto) ISBN 978-1-84780-751-9

Review by Rachel Morris


What sort of museum visitor are you? Do you work your way from the front door, methodically following the arrows and examining each exhibit in turn? Does flitting between different areas as something new catches your eye appeal to you? Or are you more of a have-a-quick-whizz-around-and-head-to-the-gift-shop sort of person?

Whatever your style this book will probably suit you. It’s a ‘choose your own adventure’ treasure trove of beautifully presented information. And if you’re the third sort of museum visitor, you will be pleased to know that the dust jacket unfolds to reveal a bonus visual feast of a wall poster.


The colour-coded arrow markers on the edge of each page direct you to charts on related topics, so you may decide to dive in towards the back of the book and find that ‘All Kinds of Nests’ leads you the ‘Life in the Honeybee Hive’ which, in turn takes you to the ‘Interesting Insects’ chart. The charts themselves (some landscape, some portrait, some across the double page spread) are colour-coded according to subject matter. This, combined with the three different coloured ribbons to mark your pages, makes you the master of your own journey through the book. I imagine the planning of this book involved the kind of wall of Post-its linked with bits of string that you see in crime films.


The charts inside the book (there are more than 65 of them) made up of cut-aways, diagrams and illustrated scenes are frankly beautiful. More than that, when coupled with the concise and fact-packed writing style and clear, logical book design, there’s a real flow to this book. The amount of information contained could make it dense and difficult to navigate but the way it’s presented makes it easy to take in.


I asked Owen Davey, AOI member and the illustrator of this mammoth book, a few things about the project; starting with an insight into how long it took.

OD: “The process of illustrating the book took a little over the year. And yes it was a huge task. There were ups and downs in it. I’ve never worked on something so massive before and I had to contend with the occasional drop in confidence or enthusiasm, but mostly it was great. From start to finish it was about taking it one page at a time and trying not to get intimidated by the sheer scale of the workload.”

How did the working relationship with the authors work?

“This book mainly worked like a series of editorials, strangely. Mike and Amanda would come up with the content together, send through a suggested page layout and recommend what animals or scenes might be in certain spaces. Sometimes I altered this because I had an idea of how the illustration could fit in a different direction or something, but mostly I then just got sketching. The hardest part was the fact that you couldn’t simplify anything that much because it more often than not appeared in the book later on so would need to look similar.”


How involved in things like paper choice and the over all design did you get?

“As much as I wanted really, but to be honest I didn’t get that involved with that stuff very much because I’ve worked with Mike and Amanda several times when they were at Templar and I was doing my picture books with them, so both sides already knew what the other side liked and we were on the same page pretty much with everything.”

Do you have a favourite spread or element in the book and is there any part that was a particular challenge?

“Not sure which is my favourite page. There are a few I suppose but I reckon the Journey of a River spread (below) encapsulates the vibe of the book really well and I like how that one turned out visually. The most challenging pages were always the scenes. Trying to get everything fairly accurate but working together and still trying to use my sense of stylisation and simplification was all a bit of a juggling act on those pieces.”


There is an elegance and rhythm to the illustrations in Natural World that reminded me of Charley Harper’s work. Where did you look for your inspiration on this project?

“Yeah I love the work of Charley Harper. A long time ago I was inspired by his approach of trying to simplify stuff down to geometry. That’s how I create my work. I think in shapes. Then it’s just about sketching an animal from various references until you find the right way to convey the awesomeness of each animal with a fine balance of accuracy and artistic license. That’s often one of my favourite things to play with in illustration.”


Each spread; the colours (slightly muted by the off-white, matt paper) and the over all aesthetic harks back to much coveted, mid-century wall charts. If ever you find yourself face-to-face with anything in the book, from a Shrike to a Leaf Mantis, the illustrations could be used as a field-guide for identification, but they are also pared back and downright stylish in their own right in their simplification.

There are surprises on every page, so I won’t spoil them for you here. Dive in and you will find out which creature is the only one, apart from a bird, to have zygodactylous feet, which cacti can live for 150 years, and which creature holds the record for the longest insect migration.

It’s perfect for the “passionately curious”; which is how Albert Einstein described himself in the quote that opens the Editor’s Note at the start of this book. Over all, Natural World is a triumph in the way the visual and written content have been brought together.

You may be interested in this book review:

Drawing People – The Human Figure in Contemporary Art

World Illustration Awards – great feedback

Friday, August 12th, 2016

CommentPostIts_1_550The AOI’s flagship exhibition is receiving great feedback from visitors who can leave their thoughts on post notes at the show.


Comments are coming from visitors from all over the world, many in the form of drawings. The exhibition is on until 29 August at Somerset House in London.

AOI World Illustration Awards Exhibition 2016 in partnership with Directory of Illustration

1 – 29 August 2016 Daily 10.00-18.00 (last admission 17.15)

Embankment Galleries, South Wing

Free admission