Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Interview Time. Rubyred

Rubyred (or more correctly Roger) is another member of the collaboration behemoth that is Game of Kings, so when the chance came to interview one of my favourite koi covered artists, I jumped at it.

Thanks for this Roger, could you start by telling us a little about yourself ?

A bit about me, well, I’ve been a graphic designer for over fifteen years. I started out in design working on consumer hobby magazines. For the last ten years I’ve worked for the same company, and we publish trade magazines and organise a number of trade exhibitions. I’m responsible for the design and branding of all the projects.

I studied graphic design and illustration on the same course as James (quigonjim), in fact we shared a flat with my girlfriend (now wife) during our final year. I haven’t seen him for a few years but got in contact again through RedBubble!

As you hinted at in the question, I have an interest in tattoo design (particularly Japanese) and currently have an arm sized project underway.

Most importantly of all though, I’m dad to two beautiful young girls.

Which artists influence or inspire you?

My background is more graphic design than illustration, so I tend to be inspired by designers. Classic names from the field of graphic design like Neville Brody, David Carson and Ian Swift.
To be honest, I’ve never been a follower of fantasy art or the comic book genres, so some of the references that fellow GoK members were mentioning were new to me. It was an interesting journey to see who inspired my fellow members.

I appreciate most forms of design and illustration and like to think that I’ve absorbed a lot of influences over the years, especially in the last year with the wide range of talent on shown on RedBubble.

You’ve been a member of Redbubble now for over a year, as well as being a host of “A Tshirt Revolution, how did you get involved with Game of Kings?

I got to know Simon’s work during the London Calling competition and we built up a rapport during the long ride to Simon’s eventual success. He came a’knocking one day with the idea of a multi artist collaboration. I jumped at the chance to be involved and when I saw who else he had snared, I found myself in the company of some of my most favourite artists on the site – daunting to say the least!

What’s been your experience being part of the project to date, and how do think it will be received?

Having said I was daunted by the collection of artists around me, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Simon explained the project and gave his initial vision (since then it has grown into something potentially huge) and divided up the characters from the board. Happy with my two allocated pieces, I attacked my sketchbook with some ideas.

One of the best things about this project has been the development of all the pieces. From the very early stages, Simon encouraged everyone to use the WIP (work in progress) forum within the group - initial sketches were posted and comments and advice flowed freely. This process really helped me with my two pieces, and they have taken quite a different direction from my original sketches. Danny jumped on board fairly early on and it was his early thoughts and writing that helped me solidify my characters.

We are hoping to display the WIP process in some form, something that I would love to see because I think it is one of the real gems to come from the collaboration and will give a real sense of journey to the project. If everyone gets to see some of the behind the scenes work that is going on I think it will add another really interesting dimension and I hope people will enjoy seeing the process some of the artists have gone through - I’m sure they will, as much as I have being privileged to be able to watch things unfold.

How much have you enjoyed creating your characters – have they been fun/interesting/tricky for any reason?

As I said earlier, my characters have changed quite significantly from early sketches. I had to step up my game to keep up with the quality of the others in the group, and I’m sure the overall standard of the work produced is a direct result of the support and collaboration of everyone involved. At times I felt a little out of my depth because I haven’t got the background interest in fantasy/comic book genres that some of the other artists have. But that is one of the key elements of this project, Simon selected people who already have their own distinctive style and it’s these differences that would add flavour to the collaboration. The idea of the Black side all coming from Simon and his distinctive style up against an artistic white army made up of conflicting yet complimentary techniques, really works and I think the end results are testament to the initial idea.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’d like to thank Simon for giving me the chance to be part of this project, and working with the others has been the highlight of my time here on RedBubble. I’d like to think that this project will open the door to other collaborations on the site and if anybody gets the chance to work with a similar group of talented artists, grab it and hold on, you’ll be in for one hell of a ride!
Interview: CathieT

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Let the games begin....

What's it all about? The Game of Kings starts very soon and to get an idea of the narrative behind the artwork check out the introduction for some clues to this exciting concept.

Let the games begin....

It was somewhere but nowhere, it was neither up, down, forwards nor back.

It was there.

The place just existed.

It was the Hollywood version of the after life or maybe heaven in appearance.

Everything was white and a swirling mist seemed to obscure anything within three metres of eyesight.
Within this scene sat three ancients on identical thrones.
They were dressed in white robes with flowing hair beard and moustaches that seemed all to morph into each other to become one shiny mane obscuring their faces.
The only striking physical feature was their diamond pink eyes.
Their chairs were high backed that extended above their heads and had wide armrests.
The ever-present mist obscured the ancient’s feet.
As if to distinguish between them each held a different item in their hands.

read the whole story here.....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Meet the Game of King's artists - Quigonjim Interview

James Grey or Quigonjim as he Red Bubble profile states has been described by “Game of Kings” creator Simon Sherry as one of the most criminally neglected artists on Red bubble. Group member Danny says he is the fastest communicator of ideas that he has ever worked with. The speed that he can produce and the quality is just amazing.
Jim as he is best known as in the group has amazed his collaborators with stunning art and quirky images that go beyond his brief. Jim (along with Glen Smith) regularly come up with faux viral marketing ideas that are hilarious as well as effective. Jim is also responsible for the development of the current logo and is a driving force when it comes to keeping the standard high with his enthusiasm and drive and through this has become a respected and popular member.
We recently cornered Jim long enough to find what makes this man tick?

Can we have a few words about your good self?

Father, husband, illustrator, designer, painter, rocker, reader and motor sport fan!

Is that not a enough? I’ll expand on that a tad shall I…

First and foremost, I’m married with one, beautiful, five year old daughter, a border collie, an ancient cat, three bonkers rabbits and two goldfish. We live in a village in the Sussex countryside, fifteen minutes walk from the coast, with a stunning view of the River Ouse valley.

At school, I decided that a career in the creative world was the path for me. I always enjoyed drawing and painting as a child and I seemed to do well in creative subjects. So in 1990, at Thanet College in Kent, I was lucky enough to be able to take three A-Levels: Graphic Design, Fine Art and Textile & Surface Design. While there I was taught by Mike Trim who worked on various Gerry Anderson projects and painted Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds album cover, and Russ Nicholson who spent his time illustrating the Fighting Fantasy role-play books and contributing to White Dwarf magazine. Those two in particular had a massive influence on me and I have been forever grateful ever since. From there I did a Foundation Course at Kent Institute of Art & Design (KIAD) Canterbury, which lead onto Northbrook College, East Sussex, in 1994,to take an HND in Graphic Design & Illustration and from there into the big wide world.

I’ve been a freelance illustrator/comic artist/cartoonist and sometime graphic designer, website designer, portrait painter, nursery mural artist and sign writer for the last fifteen years… Yup, I’m a Jack of all trades really.

The thing I fear most is the “white rectangle of doom” and silence. I can’t work without a heavy rock cd blaring out from somewhere in the house, I’m particularly partial to a starter of Progressive Metal with a twist of cheesy ‘80’s AOR spinkled over the top and for dessert a large bowl of Power Metal and a nice cup of Hanz Zimmer to wash it all down with. Sunday’s are my day off, where I’m either feet up beer in hand watching the Superbikes, MotoGP or F1 on the box, or actually at a Superbike meet.

Currently I specialise in Superbike and MotoGP art, which I sell a fair few prints of, mainly through my website, and my eBay shop.

Clients include:
Aon Insurance, Caravan Magazine, Paramount Care Homes Ltd, AccentUK Comics, Underfire Comics, Quellheart Publishing, Zel Pubs, and A La Mode Entertainment to name a few. And of course many, many private commissions for portraits, caricatures, custom leather jacket paintings, tattoo designs, nursery murals and one off design jobs for logo designs including stationary and headed paper, wedding invitations and brochures and what not.

Commercially: Drew Struzan, Richard Amsel and Bob Peak (movie poster artists), Roger Dean, Brian Froud, Dave McKean, Cam Kennedy (2000ad), Mike McMahon (2000ad), J. Scott Campbell (Danger Girl), Adam Hughes (Ghost & Cat Woman) and Jim Fitzpatrick to name but a few.
Historically: Alphonse Mucha, Gustav Klimt, Arthur Rackham, Norman Rockwell… the list goes on.
Have I said too much now???

Nope, but I bet a few people are reading this and going “In one lifetime?”
It’s now very obvious the “Game of Kings” is very lucky to have you aboard
So that leads to the question how did you get involved with the project?

Well, I’ve been a RedBubbler for a while now and I was aware of all the other artists and designers on board the Game of Kings express and many of us had left each other comments on their creative works on numerous occasions, one of which was Simon Sherry… or Dr. Sherry as I’ve come to call him .
He Bubblemailed me one day, asking whether I would like to hitch a ride on his rollercoaster of wonder and delight. Already being aware of his wonderful Killbots and Fulldeck series’ he did, it was a no brainer to grab that ticket and jump aboard.

How do you personally think it is going and do you think it has potential?

Oh, wow. This project has masses of potential. I’m stunned into silence every time I check on the other guys work in progress, the quality and quantity of work, idea’s and WIP’s are amazing. And the different styles and techniques being used and abused is a wonderful site to behold.
Dr. Sherry has been lucky enough to get a fantastic team of available artists, illustrators and designers together along with some incredibly well thought out and executed narrative from Danny
If this all goes flat and down the plughole come launch time, I’ll be very, very surprised. I can’t wait to see and read Joe public’s response to The Game of Kings.

Do you want to flog some other projects you are involved in?

Ooh, why not …

Firstly there’s my previous comic art, for AccentUK Comics, most of which has now managed to get onto the Diamond distribution list, meaning it’ll be available worldwide now. These are three anthologies entitled “Zombies” (2007), “Robots” (2008) and “Western” (2009), available from all good comic shops or can be ordered through Diamond or the AccentUK website.

Then there is “Rock Night” from Underfire Comics, which was a blast to do. It was, as GOK is, a collaboration of ten comic artists and writers, all thrown in a mixing bowl and baked into a cracking tale about what you would do if tomorrow was going to be the last day of life as we know it. Armageddon to you and me!
Unerfire Comics

Lastly, this summer should see the release of my latest book “The Pubs of Hastings and St Leonards: 1800 – 2000” written by David Russell.
Over 100 illustrations have been done for this book and I can’t wait to see it in my sticky mits: )
Some of the illustrations from the book can be seen on my website or here on Redbubble.

Web site


Friday, June 12, 2009

A sneak preview into the mind behind the secret society of GoK

Cathie T has broken through the veil of secrecy to uncover some tantalising titbits about the upcoming release of the Game Of Kings collaboration by scoring an interview with head conspirator Simon Sherry.

As you may have noticed, there’s a new collaboration happening on Redbubble.

Having been on the ‘bubble for a couple of years now, I sometimes feel I have become somewhat used to extraordinary art and design, but having now had a sneak peek at this collab, I have been absolutely blown away!

It’s called Game of Kings, and I asked its creator, Simon Sherry (winner of the London Calling/Demo challenge) a few questions about how it came about and what we can expect to see in the upcoming months.

Where did the idea come from?

Now there’s a good question. The whole idea stemmed from another series that I’ve been developing called ‘Full Deck’, which revolves around a standard 4-suit deck of playing cards and plays on themes linked to each particular suit (spades as death, diamonds as decadence, hearts as a twisted play on Alice in Wonderland, and Clubs as a riff on an apocalyptic suburban battleground). After finally making my way through the royalty for each suit, I thought to myself that it would be fun to try my hand at a different game. While the idea of a cosmos-spanning-surreal-science-fantasy play on Connect 4 sounded like fun, I though that the best battleground was the classic Game of Kings itself, chess.

After having some grand dreams about doing the whole thing myself, I quickly decided that it’d be more fun (and a lot less work!) to see if anybody else would like to play. A few bubblemails later I managed to not only get my wish list of dream collaborators, but eight of the most distinctive illustrators and designers that you’ll find around these parts.

Why did you pick the people involved?

For several reasons, not the least of which being how much I wanted to work with them on some sort of project down the line. To say that I’ve been spoilt here would be an understatement, as I’ve pretty much conned the people I’ve most wanted to work with on the Bubble.

If there’s one common quality that I think they all share, it would be the unique style and flair that each brings to their work. It’s not a stretch to say that guys like Scott Robinson, No Frills Art, and TBO, for instance, all have a style that is readily recognisable as their own, and I loved the idea of seeing what would happen if we could get them to work as a team on a particular project.

One thing that really excites me about the result so far is that while each person’s contribution is readily recognizable, the combined result is really unified in its presentation and approach. That and the fervour with which these guys have attacked the project have pushed everyone to produce some top-shelf work.

Was it hard to recruit people?

You know, it was actually one of the easiest parts of the whole project. I was probably lucky in that I approached some of these guys not long after the London Calling tee challenge, so I’d already established a bit of a relationship with them, particularly Scott, Rubyred and Sjem, who’d all been an incredible source of encouragement throughout the whole competition.

The only person to come in later was Danny, seemingly keen to get his teeth stuck into some narrative and character development work with us. He’s gone on to be a lynchpin, providing another layer of inspiration to all involved, with his contribution to the story behind the cast of characters we’ve built.

Are there any standout characters we should be looking out for?

Well, two of my personal faves are the White Bishops – there’s a lot of back-story within the White army that has sprung from these two designs in particular, and it’s a credit to Rubyred and Quigonjim that they came up with such a perfectly matched pair.

One of the ‘rules’ established early on by the group was that the pawns are reflective of the ‘royalty’ piece they stand in front of at the beginning of the game. The White King’s Pawn is a particularly cool character, and a nice nod to a few things, particularly Frankenstein’s monster and famous American comic book icon Jack Kirby. Scott Robinson is behind both him and the King himself, and they look awesome indeed.

Outside of that, you can expect to see creatures ranging from the resurrected spirits of long-dead heroes, titans of rock and brick, mallet-wielding hybrids of prehistoric pachyderms and eldritch gods, golems of metal and muck, and warrior queens of terrible grace and beauty. And that’s not covering half the board (or those that lie beyond it, as Danny’s prequel episode illustrates beautifully).

How did it grow?

The whole project started with my desire to collaborate with at least one of the guys I’ve managed to wrangle into the project. I knew early on in the piece that the best way to get people interested is to come to them with a plan (even if it’s a sketchy one) – a concept that would hopefully get them excited enough in the project to hop on board.

What became apparent when I started ‘recruiting’ was that while people were interested, they weren’t quite as nuts as I was, and I wasn’t sure that they’d have the energy to pump out an entire set of 16 designs for the project. This, in my mind, has actually played to one of the strengths of the project, as the main ‘theme’ I had in mind was using the chess theme as a means of setting up a collaborative conflict, where the ‘game’ would stem from the participants desire to see how far they could push everyone else involved.

Another thing that I really wanted to riff on was the various juxtapositions that would stem both thematically (the form and nature of the armies and the ‘cast’ of pieces and technically (the stylistic clash/synergy of having several artists trying to produce a unified project while coming from a variety of different personal angles).

Throwing the juxtaposition of an ‘army of one’ in the form of my half of the board versus the co-operative making up the other side also adds a

nice layer to the project. Out of this has come a lot of character and narrative work driven by Danny that adds an extra layer of internal tension to the ‘White army’ – as opposed to the more uniform and unified approach of my own ‘black army’.

What is the overall goal of the group and what can we expect?
Initially, the plan was to develop a series of t-shirt designs around the theme of a chessboard as a kind of ‘cosmic’ battleground.

To put it another way, I’ve always imagined this as a prog-metal concept album sans music (although…). It was No Frills who suggested bringing Danny on board. Since then the plan has expanded to include some collaborative artworks along with a written narrative and character descriptions, hopefully culminating in a book chronicling not just the ‘world’ and the characters, but the process and history of the project itself.

There’s a lot of different dynamics at play, not just between the participants, but also the work that we’re producing – you could say that there’s a level of game play in the process itself, where each of us has been doing our best to push our collaborators that much harder, occasionally pulling something out of the bag to make the rest of us rethink and redirect our own work.

Outside of that, we have an abundance of ideas, as to which of those make it beyond the planning stage, will depend in part on the project’s reception and our own desire to keep playing in this particular sandbox. One thing I’m certain of is that this won’t be the last project you’ll see from this particular collective…

Thanks Simon, this whole thing sounds gargantuan both in concept and execution and I’m waiting with bated breath for the opening gambit!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Has it all got out of hand?

This clipping was found in one of the local tabloid gossip sections recently.

This is a better quality shot we snipped out of one of the recent glossy Women’s magazines.

Of course Miss Hilton being the trend setter she is has inspired those that need to be noticed to go to some rather extreme lengths as shown here.

But anybody who is within smelling distance of the streets will know miss Hilton and her cronies are way behind the pack.
As shown here graffiti and stencil work had been appearing in and on public places ranging from Hobart to John O Groats for some time now and had sparked quite a following.

It managed to penetrate into all layers of society.
We weren’t quite sure what the parish priest of St James was thinking when he commissioned this and the Arch Diose have demanded an explanation.

So get used to this sort to these thing happening around here as the wait for the release of The Game of Kings approaches.

We do think some people need to show some restraint though.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Early drafts and works in progress

These are some of the very early sketches used by the team of artists on the way to creating the Game of Kings