Lenticular workshop


Yesterday was my first workshop day at the House of Illustration. For this time the workshop was leaded by two illustration students at Kingston University. As I came earlier I had time to chat with them and learned that they were new to this kind of workshops. They were asked by one of their tutors at university to do this as so they could gain some experience. Also we talked about our courses and looked at each other’s works and after our chat we started to prepared the space and materials for the workshop. We were expecting 16 people, 6 adults and 10 children. The workshop was about making a lenticular collage: one way was going to show the past and the other the future.


We prepared the lenticular papers by folding A3 sheets into eight long strips so that people would have more time to do the collage. After that we filled the tables with colour papers, magazines, sizers, pencils and glue. When the materials and the room was ready it was time for me to go upstairs to receive the people and bring them down. A moment later everyone was sitting in the place to choose and started working in their past and their future. And here came one of the most beautiful moments in which the flow of concentration felt as if each one was in their own world and at the same time very much united to the rest by a sense of peace and wellbeing. The room full of mainly children and some adults…. silence in the air. This connection to the spirit is what I most love of arts, sometimes I even think that I love it more than the piece of art coming out of this state. This is what I really pursuit by doing arts. When people started finishing their works conversations started slowly between people that they didn’t know before each other: what would you prefer; to go to the space or under the sea in a submarine

The results were beautiful. More than what I expected. People slowly left in peace and love and Joey, Holy and me with another volunteer left the room tidy and ready for the next time.




House of Illustration

House of I.

I started my placement last Thursday. It was a very cold February day and I wasn’t sure how long it will take me from my house to the House of Illustration, so I arrived 25 minutes before my starting time at 9.30 am.!! The temperature was 0 degrees and I was wondering around and getting familiar with Kings Cross. As a Southern European as was dressed with layers and layers, yet I could feel the cold passing through all my clothes and thoughts. The question came back; the same question I have every winter since my arrival in the UK eight years ago: will I live here for good? And them the same answer: this is the loveliest place to be ever in summer… although I can believe it when I’m going through the winter.

Finally, someone opened the door at 9.25, But they weren’t expecting me! The visitor manager, Holly Burrows, who asked me to come, forgot to let know the rest of the team that I was coming on this day. Fortunately, after checking with Holly they told me that it was good for them to have one more helper. Next week I will be assisting in three workshops but for this Thursday I worked as a vigilant and it was actually quite interesting. When being quiet in a corner for hours surrounded just by the exhibition’s works you can learn more than what you think. We should never underestimate the power time plus observation. Time, that precious thing we seem to lack so much, time to look at things, time to really understand the kind of people interested in illustration and to hear their comments about what they see, time to see how this place works in detail.


The actual collective exhibition is filled up with wonderful drawings, storyboards, posters, illustrations and wonderful graphic novels books… and now I can look at all this and read this books within the many hours I will have to spend here today! At the end of my first day at the House of Illustration I felt completely drank of one of the things I most like in the world: illustration.

At the moment the House of Illustration is hosting an exhibition of the work of pioneering female comics artists. Exploring the world of comics through original artwork by 100 women comic creators working across genres and generations – from the 1800s to the present day; from observational comedy to surreal fantasy, challenging biography to subversive dissent. On display is original artwork from graphic novels, comics and zines – many seen in public for the first time. It will feature work from acclaimed titles such as Nina Bunjevac’s Fatherland and Isabel Greenberg’s Encyclopedia of Early Earth as well as self-published sensations like Nadine Redlich’s Ambient Comics and many more. Some of the images in this exhibition are dealing in a masterly way way with very difficult issues such as abuse, grieve, isolation, rape… in a straight forward way to meet the viewer with this traumas, much better than explained with words.

Also theirs is an exhibition of the artist David Lemm: Mapping King’s Cross: a multi-disciplinary exploration of the changing King’s Cross landscape by our Illustrator in Residence. The first two hours of my day I was at the entrance of David Lemm’s exhibition. Here you can see a set of 24 square wooden boards with collages representing maps of Kings Cross with his observations and experiences in the area.  Among the different visitors to this room I was very interested in a group of students with a tutor talking about phytogeography. The tutor was talking about a known personage that predicted 20 years ago by channelling energies that Kings Cross area was going to be a playground for imagination and this is the reason for Saint Martin’s University and the House of Illustration ended placed in this area. I was very interested in this conversation, yet I couldn’t get the name of this personage and because of my “invisible” role as a vigilant I couldn’t ask. I will, anyway, research about it.


At the moment they also have The Book Illustration Competition Longlist 2016. entrants have been asked to illustrate Michael Morpurgo’s classic War Horse.There are many very strong illustrations from all around the world. The winner will be announced on 25 February 2016.


bric-a-brac people

Another great brief: make two posters about our Local Universe using a printing method. There’s always a sense of being lost when a new brief gets in. Lots of decisions to make: finding a theme and its reasons; what, where, why… once you make a resolution about what you want to illustrate then it comes the research, the choices of mediums, colours, style… and in all of this process you might be changing your ideas many times, because that is what happens when I start working. In this fashion I ended doing about 15 posters in Photoshop out of some drawings. Yet I wasn’t getting it completely right until I actually went to print. We had an introduction to the riso printer some time ago, yet I had never used it and it was only through the process of making my poster that I really understood how it works, how the colours mixed in the printing process and how I should be bringing the files to make the most of this machine. This was my first choice to do.

Brick Lane Bric-a-brac woman

The purple had to be changed for red. It came was very interesting in the first test. It looked like dust.


And this is how it ended after changing the intensity of the back ground in Photoshop:


After doing only one copy in the good paper the machine stopped working and I had to leave with this copy. Emily managed to repair it but now it was time for my colleagues to use the machine. I gave them my good paper and I hoped I can come soon to use it soon. I had remaining some not finished posters which I think I will be able to do something with them. They are awaiting in a draw.


And this is one of the posters I wanted to work on at the beginning of the project. Just is not ideal for the riso printer:

Poster 2

Sarah Colhorn and Rachel Gannon


Sarah Colhorn

I see Sarah coming and going in my day to day at uni. I never had any personal contact with her except for when she comes to our studio letting us know about general things happening at university that could concern us. I see her entering and leaving constantly the tutors room; that forbidden place for us where a group of teachers keep track of our work and make decisions about our studies… and the worse: they judge our work! This makes me think of a post-modernist Mercury; that figure from the Greek mythology with winds on his heels in charge of bringing messages from the Gods to the mortals in Earth. And as Mercury does she enjoys interacting with other people. Her small and slender figure, long neck, short hair, big smile, bright eyes would make you think of a fragile person. But once I saw today’s Sarah’s presentation I understood that her strength, her willing power goes beyond any expectation.

She comes from a very different place to London and loves and feels divided between the two places. For her been in a contrasted life seems to be very inspiring. This and other strong statements such as “you just don’t do one thing, there’s a lot to think about” or “do the real thing, why doing it in Photoshop when you can do it with your hands” can only shows this strong personality.

One of the advices she gave us is that we need to tell the client what they need. Usually this seems to be different to what they come asking for as it was the case of Betty Jackson in which Sarah re-did her request.

She has a long list of places where she has done commissions for, including the V&A. Yet Sarah is more than a graphic designer, she is a tailor and a fabric designer too. She also played in a band in her youth! And once again Sarah is divided in two: She is working at university and she is a mother… which is such a big thing!!!


Rachel Gannon


Rachel is one of our new tutors and a new illustration leader at university. Yesterday was the first day I saw and learn about her and her work. I was beautifully surprised that she was going to be one of my tutors. I loved her work and more when she told us about her way of working. One of the first images she put into the screen was an illustration for the Guardian newspaper. As Rachel explained working for a newspaper can be very stressful. Usually you receive in morning a text and you have a couple of hours to send a draft, when approved you have to do it really quick because by twelve pm next day needs to be printed. On top of that you have to summarise and interpret someone’s else idea, often a complex idea and always thinking about the text around the illustration. She added to this that in real life we will be running simultaneously different projects and this is the reason for university to give us different things at the same time.

For Rachel is very important to have her work in real life. She is interested in working her practice with context and not to be just by herself doing some drawing in her room.

She has work for many different clients. One of them is the Tate in Liverpool. Also Rachel works for the “Documentary and Reportage Illustration”. We saw some work about “Dreamland, Cairo, Research” and the architecture of the UK borders. The mediums for the UK borders are pencil and gouache. When working in digital she doesn’t like Illustrator and would only use Photoshop. I was glad to hear about someone else, apart from me, who doesn’t like Illustrator.

In the afternoon we had a class with her and we learned how to do an animation with Photoshop. I told her that this year I am happy that I’m doing more illustration that the previous years and she said something like “let’s have a very intense last month’s illustration time” and that, I felt, melted my heart!


Secret 7

Dream 3

For this project I had chosen the song Dream 3 from Max Richter. This song without lyrics is very evocative. It leaves you suspended in air and drives you to an awake dream state. I tried to reflect this with the drawing for the cover of this track: a purple sky, insect winds, a possible faded sun…. just three different components to allow a jump from the ordinary to subconscious fantasy.