Tail Jar

Jasper St Aubyn West

NEW-T STUFF

I've finally had a small break from other work to get the ol' shoppe reorganised. Couple of new designs up now and a few more to follow over the next week or so. A handful of the older designs are still on sale (until Sunday 10th of September 2017) so check it out if you're looking for something to spice up your t-shirt collection...

There's also some groovy travel mug/keep cup (?) dudes available... Did you know take away coffee cups are the second-largest contributor to landfill/waste? (after plastic drink bottles).

These stylish travel mugs will keep your coffee hot or your tasty banana smoothie chilled. 

Coffee = Good. Take-away cups with plastic linings that are single use, don't biodegrade and will smother the planet in microplastics for eternity = Bad.

Right - shameless commercial plug/environmental PSA done!

Be rad to each other. 

(* I am aware that the lid of these groovy thermo travel mugs is also made out of plastic but the idea is you'll use it more than once right?)  

 

The Design Conference 2017

Ricky Marks and I once again had the pleasure/privilege of putting together the main title sequence for The Design Conference by Analogue Digital Agency in Brisbane last month.  

It's a world class event packed with insanely talented and inspirational national and international speakers... I was also lucky enough to host a breakout workshop for the legends at Wacom, showing off some of their incredible new devices and talking about my process. 

This year we had key artwork designed by the brilliant Jonathan Calugi (a design conference alumni) so Ricky and I took inspiration from these designs and animated variety of Calugi characters/patterns that were then projected onto walls/surfaces in and around the Brisbane Powerhouse and Greaser Bar (locations of the event & after parties). Those projections were then filmed and pieced together to form the sequence. A huge thank you/shout out to the guys that helped out with the shoot: Tobias Broughton & Brendan Watterson.

Now that I'm back, I'm putting some serious work into a pretty huge and very exciting animation project (which I'm itching to start talking about soon...) as well as trying to spend as much time on the end of a paintbrush as possible.

On the days that I'm in the studio I'm trying to maintain the discipline of starting 15/20mins earlier in the morning and busting out a quick - straight to ink, stream of consciousness illustration just to get the day started right and warm up the drawing hand... It's nice to get started with something purely creative and without any restrictions.

On top of that I'm hoping to get back to some overdue commissions, some commissioned covers and an upcoming mural project... Oh, and an illustrated storybook I've had on the back burner for way too long. So should be enough to keep busy for the next little while!

I'm also going to try and utilise this blog a bit more and get some content up more regularly...

Anyway - be rad to each other - cheers!

Breaking in a new sketchbook

I've got a bit of a problem when it comes to buying sketchbooks. You might even call it an addiction. I carry one with me pretty much everywhere (and I do use them) but it also takes very little effort to convince the tiny accountant that lives in my brain to release some of our food budget for another shiny new Moleskine, Leuchtturm 1917 or hand made, finely bound oddity, "Look, this one has storyboard frames... We pretty much have to buy it!"

At this stage I literally have an entire shelf in my studio storage cupboard filled with them.

But it makes me a little sad to think of them huddling in the dark at the back of the cupboard hoping that someday, someone will free them from their purgatory, take them out into the wild, scratch marks onto their pale, papery innards and use them as they were intended!

So I'm making a commitment to try and stop myself buying new ones and work my way through the pile I already have... (Which by my rough calculations, if I were to use about two pages a day should last me until June 16th 2033).

So in light of this decree, when I sat down to crack open a beautiful new, pocket sized Moleskine for 2017 I decided to shoot this little clip demonstrating my process for "breaking" a new sketchbook in.  

It doesn't always go down exactly like this, sometimes I blindfold myself and try to draw a portrait of Jeff Goldblum on a random page... Sometimes I try and set just a little bit of it on fire... The point is to rough it up a little, deliberately soil its perfect pages with some terrible art and make it feel lived in right from day one.

Why? Like the video says... "Sketchbooks are for sketching, don't be precious, just draw more".

There can be a big temptation to try and make every page of your beautiful new book a masterpiece, which is a great aspiration but in my experience (and I know many others) it can become completely debilitating. Personally I came to the conclusion that a full sketchbook that I've really put through its paces is far more valuable to me than a pristine one with a handful of polished pieces in it. Remember, you don't have to show anyone...

Your portfolio is the place for polished pieces, your sketchbook should be a solo ticket to a land of absolute freedom.

And here's an idea for you, if you really want to be able to show someone a book of your awesome sketches. Cherry pick the best pages from your pile of well loved (and hopefully full) sketchbooks. Scan them and print a book of your favourites... 

Anyway food for thought. Go pay some attention to your sketchbook.

EVERYDAY CHALLENGES... SOME THOUGHTS ON THE SUBJECT.

So I've recently finished another month of making a new piece of art and posting it every single day... And, now that it's over I figured I'd jot down a few thoughts on how it went and these kind of challenges in general.

On one hand I think there were a few fun pieces came out of the process but on the other it was actually a really hard month to get through. Work stuff got really busy, there was a bit of travel in the mix, I got sick for a few days... And life in general was fairly action packed.

It was tough finding the time to fit in a piece some days...  

Which is to be expected. In fact its kind of the point of a challenge like this. The whole idea is to try and force yourself to sit down and get something done every day, no matter what else you've got going on.

There can be/are some real benefits from doing this. Practice in general is always good and by making the challenge public you have a little more accountability and therefore (hopefully) motivation to see it through to the end.

And you end up with 30 or so shiny new pieces at the end of the month...

To really make the most of it though, I'd suggest trying to create a consistent "body of work". I didn't do that this time and overall it made the process more difficult creatively and ultimately less satisfying.

I had a general theme (Halloween/horror) but I think it pays to be even more specific than that. I did some pieces as photo/sketch mash-ups, some pen and ink, some canvas/board paintings, some quick animations... I even scribbled on a chunk of wood. It was all over the place.

The basic rules of Inktober are great, I'd recommend sticking with one medium (i.e. Pen and Ink or watercolour or a specific set of digital tools or software package) as well as having a solid theme.

Try to imagine the pieces as part of a series or exhibition... 

While there's certainly nothing wrong with a mix of mediums and styles if that's what you want to do. Personally, when I've been consistent with theme, style and medium in everyday challenges the past. I've ended up with a collection of work that I've felt was more valuable as a whole.  

Give it a shot sometime.

All the pieces I did during October 2016 are dated/numbered over on my Instagram if you're interested.

Cheers.

CRIXEO ARTICLE, SHOCKTOBER 2016 & STORE UPDATE

Slippery Bill's Funeral home...

Slippery Bill's Funeral home...

October has kicked off with a Bang! Bucks parties, Birthdays, artwork hanging in Boutique Beer Bars... That and all things halloween... I think it might be my favourite month of the year. 

It has been a tough start to another month of everydays, I haven't fallen behind yet but it's been an incredibly busy few weeks. You can follow along over on Instagram if you're interested.

The ships surgeon, blamed his unsteady hand on the waves...

The ships surgeon, blamed his unsteady hand on the waves...

The good folks at Crixeo recently published an article on monsterous artwork and included me in it which was awful nice of them. You can check it out HERE.

And there's some new apparel designs and prints up on my webstore. Check them out and let me know what you think!

I've also been working on a few new time lapse process videos, people have asked that I do some longer format pieces with commentary... I guess if I can think of anything interesting to say or value to add to the sea of tutorial content out there I might consider it. I do find other peoples process stuff interesting so I might explore what I could offer in that arena, let me know if there's something in particular you might want to see? 

Cheers! 

FITTING IN SOME INKING

I've made the commitment to doing another month of everydays. A slight variant on the Inktober phenomenon. The plan is to do a monster, horror or Halloween themed piece everyday for the month of October... (Shocktober?) and post them up on Instagram. 

I'm not going to do every piece as traditional inks on paper but on the days that I have enough time I'll be trying to fit in a few ink/watercolour pieces for my "Classic Monsters" series (& also try to remember to film the process). The series is my take on some classic monster themes, the above being an "Alien Parasite" titled: "Muse".

It's not easy... I find I inevitably start to run out of enthusiasm (or ideas) at some point in the process but it can be a really rewarding challenge. Jake Parker (the guy responsible for Inktober) makes some really good points about what can happen when you stretch your creativity and the interesting connections/ideas that can come out of having to dig a little deeper to come up with something everyday.

I'd strongly recommend giving it a try sometime. Wish me luck. 

BUSY, BUSY, BUSY...

I've really been off the grid lately - working my way through some big projects. Some stuff I'm really getting excited about and hope to share soon... And some stuff that's just straight up hard work.

It can't be peaches, cream and gravy all the time... Sometimes the hard stuff helps you really appreciate the rad stuff. Y'dig?

These malformed emojis were a nice little break/warm up scribble...

TIME-LAPSE!

I've started putting together a few super quick time-lapse, process videos. Thought I'd throw a couple up here! I've got a couple of longer/more detailed ones in the works as well so tune back in or go subscribe to the Tail Jar YouTube if you're interested - Cheers.

THE DESIGN CONFERENCE 2016 - TITLE SEQUENCE

The title sequence I animated with Ricky Marks for this years Design Conference by Analogue Digital Agency held in Brisbane last month is now up on Vimeo. Great fun working with Spenceroni's bright and energetic design elements, perfect soundtrack by Jarrad Lee Jackson (World Wild) and a bloody brilliant event with some incredible speakers... Good times all round.

MAY

What an epic little month May has been. I just got back from an awesome trip up to Brisbane for The Design Conference by Analogue Digital Agency. I animated the opening titles this year with my mate Ricky Marks and design elements/art direction by the great Spenceroni (who's aesthetic covered across the entire event this year).

Always an inspiring event, this year was a real mind melter. All of the speakers did an excellent job and each one gave me something to think about/take away from the experience. Rounding out with a talk by one of my all-time personal favourites, Todd Francis. What a legend...

I didn't get anywhere as much drawing in as I had hoped during the trip but I did manage to swap out the designs on my apparel store. This batch draws heavily from my monster series but there is also a brand new Grumpy Banana piece almost finished which will hopefully go up on the weekend so keep an eye out...

*Update: I also forgot to mention, Lost At E Minor put up a nice little interview I did with them a few days back. Check it out HERE if you're interested!

Vector Sketching in Adobe Illustrator Draw

I've got some client work on at the moment that requires highly detailed line art at a pretty large scale (the pieces are being printed BIG). This kind of illustration I would usually do on paper with pen and ink but I really wanted the line work to be nice and crisp when it's blown up so rather than go the other obvious route and draw it up in Illustrator (or in Photoshop at a ridiculously high resolution) I thought I'd see how Adobe Illustrator Draw would handle the thousands of strokes required in a piece like this. 

So I bashed out this weird skull piece yesterday as a test...

(Hot tip for people wanting to draw on the iPad Pro - get yourself a matte screen protector! It helps reduce the slippery nature of drawing with plastic on glass)

(Hot tip for people wanting to draw on the iPad Pro - get yourself a matte screen protector! It helps reduce the slippery nature of drawing with plastic on glass)

Now, a lot of emphasis has been placed on the fact that I've been using an iPad Pro lately for my monster scribbles and I'm reluctant to be known as "the guy who always uses an iPad". That being said it's a new tool for me and when I invest in a new tool I like to properly explore it's potential... 

So I thought I'd share some of my thoughts about the iPad Pro as an illustration/digital art tool over a couple of lazy blog posts, this being the first.

I love the clever bastards that make this app. I've loved the app itself since the first version back when it was called Adobe Ideas and the new features now like shapes/rulers and the ability to just "send" your piece straight to Illustrator on your main machine is incredible.

To jam it in a nutshell this thing is a smooth, fast and elegantly simple way to draw vector illustrations. I've used it a fair bit over the last few years and there are some awesome artists out there doing some pretty complex and beautiful things with it. With the accuracy and sensitivity of the Apple Pencil now in the mix I was curious to see how it would go with a heavy dose of cross hatching and detailing.

(As you can see, there's a heck of a lot of points going on in there...)

(As you can see, there's a heck of a lot of points going on in there...)

Essentially it handled it like a pro (pun sort of intended). I experienced virtually no lag as the layers increased and the detail went in, I could pinch and zoom around fluidly and scribble as fast as I would using a pen on paper.

It really is quite incredible considering how much information is there. With live vector shapes created for every mark made with the pencil. My fairly beastly workstation was struggling a little with the file once I transferred it to Illustrator so whatever wizardry is going on with the combo of Adobe's code and the iPad Pro's hardware it seems to be working damn well.

The app does have its limitations, it has quite a small toolset and none of the usual vector editing features found in a full desktop app but if you use it for what is says it does on the tin (drawing). You're aware of it's limitations and you partner it up with it's big brother Illustrator for any bezier tweaking or final refining then you've got yourself a very handy tool in a very portable package...  

Which really is the big appeal for me when it comes to the iPad Pro in general. I think it sits perfectly on the scale in terms of screen real estate and portability. The fact that I can take this thing with me when I'm traveling or commuting and smash out a complete digital piece whenever the inspiration hits me is a game changer.

Apps like Adobe Illustrator Draw or Procreate (there are a couple of others I'll get to in another post) are damn good and can absolutely produce professional, useable results... 

I dig it.

Hectic

Well, it's been a pretty crazy few weeks. A bit of travel, a lot of work and these little monster sketches seem to have exploded all over the internet like a photo of a Kardashian rump.

There's been a stack of articles and posts popping up about them from all kinds of places and a pretty overwhelming wave of followers and support on the social networks... I haven't been able to make my way through all of the emails and comments yet so I apologise if you've made contact and I seem like an aloof rude guy because I haven't replied. It's been a little hectic : ) 

There's also been a whole heap of you wonderful humans asking about prints or something you can stick on your wall. After weighing up all the options and sorting out some logistical challenges I do in fact have something in the works now and will let everyone know as soon as they are available! Thanks for your patience.

In the meantime, if you want to look as cool as these guys the stylish apparel above and below is still available in my store

Cheers!

Daily scribbles wrap up

Alright. That was fun while it lasted!

I’ve been squeezing out a quick photo/cartoon scribble every day for a month - Mad March?

I might re-visit the project and do another month at some point in the future... But for now I'm getting back to a few larger projects I've been working towards for a while.