It's all a long way from the vision in the illustration I did for The Observer Sport Monthly a couple of weeks ago (subtle link!), which showed a fantasy final between Brazil and England, with Owen scoring the winning goal in Berlin. I wanted to publish the drawing here, but hoped to do so under better circumstances!
I was sent a brief which asked for a 'Roy of the Rovers' comic strip-style picture, as described above, and also a mock-up picture of the kind of thing they wanted - with Theo Walcott in the background, and Roberto Carlos failing to defend against Owen's winning strike. I thought the scissor-kick was quite unOwen-like, yet I had to show his face clearly and the goal was to be in front of him, so sketched out a few ideas.
I picked out the sketches that I liked best and amalgamated them on the computer to produce a layout guide at the correct size. My quick and free-flowing sketches are nearly always more lively than the finished product!
Next I worked up the pencil stage and sent it to the editor, who approved it.
The editor liked the inked and coloured version overall, but wanted me to work more on Owen's face (likenesses are not my strong point, but I can do it if I slow down a bit) and to make it look more 'Roy of the Rovers', so there were a couple of versions at this stage (including thickening up some lines and brightening the colours). A good editor can always get better work out of you. You'll also see I have drawn it further out round the edges. This was in case more lettering or other elements were to be added, so I had room to make the drawing bigger or smaller within the frame if need be.
It was thought that a classic 'Roy of the Rovers' look was not coming across. My view is that it wouldn't because I still had to draw the players in modern kit, whereas part of the old football comics look is the 1970's hair-do's and short shorts! I had the idea of utilising Photoshop to make it look like an ageing comic, scanning in some grubby comic page edges, halftoning it and fading the colours (especially the yellow). This did the trick.
This drawing was to be the cover, but towards the end of the deadline they got an exclusive Ronaldhino photo (the main feature being an interview with him), so my drawing was moved to the inside. I had an hour to re-lay it out, so felt it was rather rushed, but overall, I was happy with the job, despite the fact that the newsprint effect was lost somewhat by now actually being printed on newsprint rather than the glossy cover paper.
Note: I haven't included the inset drawing I also had to do of the present England team hoisting the World Cup trophy, based on the famous 1966 Wembley photo.
For a bit of World Cup fun - if you remember the 1998 tournament - see Len Twaddle's True World Cup Diary.
And onto slightly older work... on more than one ocassion I've had some of my theatre poster artwork splashed on a banner and strung across the London Road in East Grinstead. Ellie took this photo at the weekend of Stage-Struck's 'Spend Spend Spend' banner outside the Chequer Mead Theatre, which features the logo and silhouette figures I designed. You can see the actual poster here.
The title to this entry is from a fabulous song by the Blue Oyster Cult, by the way.
With artwork it is a little more complicated. I put a lot of time and effort into what I do, and the person who I'm working for has paid money so they can use the work (though I usually retain copyright). When someone else takes it without asking, it's bad form. It's not always done with malicious intent. Some people are genuinely unaware that just because the artwork is out there - on the internet, on a poster, in a book - it can be used, for free. The work's been done, someone's possibly been paid, now it's public property. Well, that's not so, I'm afraid.
Making the discovery gives me a couple of feelings. I feel bad that someone thinks my work can just be used for free, without any credit or remuneration. I also feel slightly flattered that they think it's good enough to use. I don't call in the lawyers or rant and rave and have a go at the person or company, when discovered. I usually write a pleasant email drawing their attention to the fact that they have done something that is not morally correct, and that I feel just as bad having to point this out as they probably do about hearing it. And I don't feel good doing it, but then again, I can't let it pass either.
There's a couple of examples below. My Oliver logo (in black and white) was used on what is actually a nice colourful poster. It's been flipped and Oliver has been given a little peaked cap, but it is my logo. Mine was designed in the late nineties, well before the recent Oliver film which has also used a similar 3-person silhouette (but quite different). I'm less worried about the more amateur copy of my Sweeny Todd poster, partly because they've gone to the trouble of redrawing it (and no, that isn't normally a viable excuse!), and partly because it was for a very small amateur production (I didn't write to them about that one).
Artists and writers don't always just 'knock these things out', which is often assumed. I have a talent for drawing, but I still work my soul out at the drawing table, and that talent is the result of years of sitting in front of a piece of paper and practising and practising. The original Sweeny poster I actually drew and painted twice, as the original was sold at auction to help fund the show. I was then asked for another to put in the lobby - it was never actually used for publicity purposes in the end! I spent many hours on them. The Oliver logo may look pretty simple, and it is, but it had a huge number of rough sketches going back and forth before the client was happy.
Next up is something a bit different for me, in the form of some animation sequences as chapter headings for a video.