Friday, 31 October 2008

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Maral Sassouni Interview: Part 3 - Influences

(Above: Portraits of Russian celebrities - by Irina Troitskaya)

In our third part this week, international illustrator Maral Sassouni talks through some of her favourite artists and illustrators.

Oh, where to begin? This is such a tough question to answer, it made my brain short-circuit! But I've managed to narrow it down to a few hundred :)!
To start with, a few things which I've seen around town recently and are fresh in my mind. Raoul Dufy (whose retrospective is currently at the Musée d'Art Moderne here) -- so joyful! And also Kveta Pacovská, the wonderful Czech children's book illustrator -- is showing in a small gallery in the 19e. Magical!

(Above: Poster for Vertigo, 1958 by Saul Bass)

So, my illustrator's pantheon would not be complete without :
(Above: Jazz nad Odra 74, Polish Poster by Jan Sawka)

Next: I love poster artists of all varieties:

the French post-war "affichistes" (the greatest of which has to be Raymond Savignac), Abram Games from England, Cuban poster artists, and especially Polish poster artists (Jan Sawka, Roman Cieslewicz, Stasys Eidrigevicius..). And Eastern European and Russian illustrators in general -- both past and present.
(Above: Le Figaro by Raymond Savignac)

That includes people like the wonderful Irina Troitskaya , Victoria Semykina, Vitali Konstantinov, Veronika Kalacheva, Julia Grigorieva. I don't know what they're putting in the water over there....

There's an immense amount of talent in France too -- Rebecca Dautremer, Antoine et Manuel, Loustal, Dupuy-Berberian, Frederic Clément -- I admire them all.

I admire different artists for different reasons. I especially admire those with a vivid world-view. The "colorists":

(Above: Image for Paris Magazine by Christopher Corr)

Christopher Corr (for his vibrant palette and his travel pieces, which truly convey the heat noise and pleasurable confusion of being in a new place for the first time).
Simon Wild (a recent discovery), Fernanda Cohen and Calef Brown.

(Above: Pinata Carnival by Fernanda Cohen)

On the other hand, I'm a huge fan of the sinister and droll Edward Gorey (who uses no color at all. So there you go...)

(Above: An image by Edward Gorey)

Then there's the reportage or sketchbook artists -- those who observe and draw on location and travel the 4 corners of the globe. Like:
Paul Hogarth, Matthew Cook, and Titouan Lamazou. And other kinds of sketchers -- like Mattias Adolfsson (who is just mad), and Andrea Joseph.

(Above: Buttons from Andrea Joseph's sketchbooks)

(Above: Big Burden by Calef Brown)

And finally, ART -- just a little drop from my ocean:
Paul Klee, Byzantine icons, Matisse cut paper compositions, Joseph Cornell's shadow boxes, illuminated manuscripts, Hokusai, Edward Hopper, David Hockney, Ingres, Giorgio Morandi...

There you go... raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens....

Thank you again Maral! There are loads of artists mentioned I will make sure to research more! Particularly enjoyed discovering the work of Mattias Adolfsson, and looking through the brilliant Polish posters as well. There's so many amazing illustrators out there, thank you for sharing some of them.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Maral Sassouni Interview: Part 2

Here is the second part of our interview with illustrator Maral Sassouni!

(Above image: Sailing Class (part of a Guide to Waterside Events, Bay Area) - Diablo Magazine Below: Flying for the Holidays - Microsoft)

I use watercolour (winsor & newton) and india ink (sometimes with a brush, usually with a dip pen. A fine-tip crow quill sometimes). Gouache, too. And collage once in a blue moon -- I have a copious collection of paper ephemera picked up over a life time in many countries, all of which cries out to be used...

On a related note: I love to try out new materials whenever I can. I love being able to learn a new skill, and I LOVE the freedom of being a beginner... this makes it a source of inspiration, feeding in to the things I actually know how to do. Mosaics, quilts, DIY...

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I have a penchant for assignments concerned with BOOKS -- that would be illustrations for book reviews or book covers (Also ex libris /bookplates or children's books...haven't done one yet, though!). You get to delve more into narrative and metaphor, or you can do a portrait of the author or protagonists...or any combination of the above. It's always a rich vein to mine.
(Above: Harvesting stars - childrens book project, unpublished)

Also, when a project resonates with things in your own life, that's good too. It allows you as an illustrator to pour more of your personal insight into the images.

But, paradoxically, I like those assignments about subjects I know nothing about too. I get to learn something new! And that initial ZING of fascination can give the image an extra energy...
I will post the next part of the interview on Wednesday, where we hear about some of the diverse artists that inspired Maral's work!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Illustrator of the Week No 12: Maral Sassouni - PART 1

Quite a special Illustrator of the Week this week, as Maral Sassouni has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about her work. I will be posting her responses over the course of the week so stay tuned for a brilliant insight into the life of a successful illustrator. I love her sketches drawn in and around Paris, shown here.

Maral was born in the US, and has spent time in a wide variety of places including L.A., New York, Amsterdam, an English village and a Greek island. She now lives and works in Paris. Her clients include the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft, The New York Times and various other publications.

In our first post Maral explains how she remains inspired from week to week.

(Top image: Location sketch, rue St. Dominique and Eiffel Tower. Below: New girl in Paris - collage, gouache, ink. Below: Paris: Location sketch — Ile de la Cité - pen & ink)

Daily life inspires me -- every day things that you might easily overlook. The unexpected within the ordinary. No matter how long you live in a place you will always come across things that are surprising or even startling.

Here in Paris I do a lot of walking (I must walk 4-5 miles a day just to get my errands done!). The brisk pace is exhilarating and kaleidoscopic, and the visual culture is very rich here. So, no end of things to look at and admire:
posters in the metro, architecture from many centuries (from medieval to modern), people-watching from a cafe or a park bench, shop window displays which are taken to an art-form here, sculpture in the streets, postcard stands and bouquinistes, gallery windows on my way to the market, packaging (still seems exotic to me...). Wholesale hats! Taxidermy!! Old men on wobbly bicycles! It's all here...

I like to slow down the pace and go on "photo strolls" at least once a week -- when I have no errands. Going out with the intention of taking photos causes me to become much more attentive. If you are on foot, and in an attentive frame of mind, you will see wonders wherever you are. I saw a family of raccoons walking in single file one night in Hollywood. Purple jacaranda blossoms fallen on a lawn, colors vibrating like in an impressionist painting. An impromptu juggling lesson in the New York subway.

Art supply shops -- I find these to be re-energizing. Something about buying new materials (especially materials that are new to me) whets my appetite to make things... (In fact supply shops of all kinds will do the trick: glass tiles, buttons, hardware... )

When I am running really low on inspiration, I find it sometimes helps to take a class. I took an art history course at the Louvre, which was fabulous beyond words! This year it was a toss-up between beginning Italian and gospel singing. But both fell through, unfortunately...

(Above: Los Angeles: Location sketch, view of rooftops over Hollywood Hills - gouache, ink)

I like it when the weather becomes dramatic and atmospheric. Growing up at the beach in California I didn't have that and was not used to it when I first arrived in Europe. I work better on rainy days! (I should move to England, right?). So when the clouds throw a tantrum, I have a smile on my face and my hot pink umbrella at the ready. (Its not true, however, that we didn't have seasons in S. California -- they're just different from everywhere else. We have: fire season, earthquake season, riot season and Santa Ana wind season)

- Thanks Maral! In tomorrow's post we will hear what Maral's favourite projects are to date!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Postcard Show: Call for Submissions

I currently volunteer at the Surface Gallery here in Nottingham, which is in the process of moving locations, to a brilliant new space near Sneinton Market. Our first show will be a postcard show, and we are looking for submissions (below is an image from the Postcard Show 2007).

Here is the info you will need:


Call for Submissions

Surface Gallery is calling for artists of any background and standing to submit works for the Annual Postcard show taking place from 6th – 20th December 2008

Work can be of any medium, content, or purpose and all works entered will be exhibited. Previous submitted works have included a wide variety of drawing, painting, photography, mixed-media and sculpture
The one specification is that work must fit within the dimensions of a standard 6" x 4" postcard (depth not specified, as long as it will fit safely in the gallery). All submitted work must be accompanied with a completed application form.

For further details and an application form, please contact: or download from

Deadline for submissions: 4th December 2008

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Jon Burgerman on Blue Peter!

One of my favourite local artists Jon Burgerman was featured on Blue Peter last week, he drew one of his brilliant doodles and coloured it in live on the show. He did a good job! I first saw his work when he did a doodle mural outside the Quad building in Derby when it was being built, and now his work keeps popping up all over the place. See more on his website here.


Saturday, 18 October 2008

The Big Draw!

This month the Campaign for Drawing (which sounds a better campaign than most..) aims to get everyone drawing by organising events at various locations around the country, as part of the Big Draw.. here in Nottingham the Hand and Heart Gallery has an exhibition of cartoonist's work showing til October 25th which I must get myself along to.. and Tuesday's Drawing Club has a comics theme too!

More info:

Film Night
Sunday 19th October, 8pm

showing “Crumb”, the David Lynch produced Terry Zwiggoff directed delving into the lives of eccentric, visionary, odd-ball cartoonist Robert Crumb and his family.

Drawing Club / Comics Jam
Tuesday 21st October, 7pm

get together to make up weird and fun stories. panel after panel of ridiculous twists and turns. no rules. draw anything you like. This event is part of ‘The Big Draw’ national campaign to get people drawing.


Thursday, 16 October 2008

Illustrator of the Week No 11: Manuel Larino

A pretty cool illustrator here. Currently living in Madrid, Larino's work has been featured in numerous magazines, books and exhibitions world wide.

The top image was created to promote school libraries and all the services within them. Below it is an image to illustrate an article on author Haruki Murakami, in Paste Magazine. I like his comic-book style of drawing. Also on his site you get to see his pencil drawings before he adds colour in Photoshop. Before is a self-promotional piece illustrating Beck's Guero album.


Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Drawing Club no.2

Another fun drawing club last night at the Hand & Heart. Here's what I did.. oh and I managed to add some colour to the Russian doll :-)


Monday, 6 October 2008

Competition: What are you Like?

I saw details of this competition on the What Katies Does blog. You make illustrations of your favourite things and then submit them to the judges at the House of Illustration (including childhood favourite Quentin Blake!)

Contributors include Quentin Blake, Andrew Marr, Brian Eno, David Adjaye, David Shrigley, Donald Urquhart, Eric Clapton, Jack Penate, Lauren Child to name a few...

Here are the details:

Step One: Make your own ‘What Are You Like?’ artwork

Describe yourself with images of your 8 favourite things from this list:

  1. favourite animal
  2. book
  3. clothes
  4. comfort
  5. food
  6. pastime
  7. place
  8. possession
  9. music
  10. shoes
  11. weather
  12. pet aversion (the thing you most love to hate!)

You can make your artwork in any medium – e.g. drawing, painting, collage, sculpture – as long as it results in a still image that can be loaded onto Flickr. More info here.

I might give it a go if I can get motivated! The winners get displayed in the Dulwich Picture gallery.


Saturday, 4 October 2008

Make: Gingerbread Biscuits!

Last week I made some yummy biscuits following Delia's recipe. The ones with the orange smarties were best.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Paper Cutting Part 3!

Another brilliant example of cut-out paper being used recently was Julien Vallée 's piece for the New York Times magazine. See his video here.

He also created this pitch for MTV which is pretty cool, and below is a cover he designed for Print magazine. And bottom is an image created for Elle Magazine.

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