Twentieth Century Maps

An illustration of a lost robot attempting to look at a paper map

My grandpa passed away last year, and though it wasn’t Covid-19 that got him, one of the nth-order-effects of the pandemic is that I’ve had loads of time to explore my grandparents’ legacy. They were fervent travellers, and I recently discovered a box of old tourist maps from some of the places they visited across their lives.

Tourist maps may not seem like such an interesting artefact today, but some of these were just plain lovely. Products of a pre-computer design era, and before they became cheaply-printed vehicles for advertising, they’re just nice to look at.

While I’m sure a 45-year-old map of bus routes in Rome isn’t going to have a functional purpose any more, they’re still such attractive images that I’ve decided to share them with the wider internet under a liberal usage license. I think some of these images have the potential to be used in artwork in interesting ways, which is part of the reason I’ve digitised them myself, in arbitrarily high resolution.

How high-res they are largely depends on how big the physical map was – for the bigger maps I photographed them in pieces, then did a quick stitching of them in my ancient version of Photoshop. Some of the seams aren’t perfect, but that’s not really why the images are there.

Two crops from some of the old maps I found

Surprisingly, this isn’t anywhere near all of the maps in the collection I found, but I just picked out the ones I thought were the prettiest. I particularly like one of the maps of Venice, a surprisingly-cheerful and hand-drawn map of Manhattan, and how much Washington DC looks like a Sim City map.

I hope whoever finds them makes something interesting with them – hopefully something better than opportunists selling overpriced prints of them on Etsy, because that would make me sad. Make something cool, internet!

Twentieth century maps in high resolution

25 Years of Hospital Art

I’ve never really thought of Hospital as the establishment, but having been a going concern for a quarter of a decade now, it suddenly seems pretty well-settled in the musical landscape. For one of the many facets of this anniversary, Hospital organised a virtual art exhibition with our old friends at Art Vinyl, makers of nifty ‘Play and Display’ record cover frames.

Animation of moving through the 25 Years of Hospital Art virtual exhibition

The virtual nature obviously makes it pandemic-friendly (I still haven’t got my second vaccine yet!), so after a couple of false starts and venue changes, Chris at Hospital and the Art Vinyl guys got set up in Defected Records’ basement event space.

Chris and I had to pick fifty covers, which seems like a lot, but was pretty difficult considering Hospital’s catalogue is closer to 450 now, and that doesn’t even include the not-quite-100 on Med School as well. We filtered it down to albums that came out on vinyl only, and began whittling down to our favourites from there.

There’s more than just the record covers in the exhibition though – there are a selection of some of the original pieces of art I made for the covers dotted around, as well as many other bonus features. And! Chris and I also wrote a little commentary about some of our particular favourites in the exhibition.

I’ve been designing covers for Hospital for about fifteen years now, and I’m not sure if I’m proud or terrified when looking at this exhibition!

On the subject of how I make record covers for Hospital…

I also recently revisited the footage of making a pair of EPs for Logistics, from just before the pandemic-era. I’ve edited them into a nice new ‘How did this happen?’ video, which talks through the inspiration, and how I made the artwork. Check it out below!

And check out the 25 Years of Hospital Art exhibition!

Empathy For The Grass

Timelapse of Wimbledon's Centre Court in 2021

I love watching Wimbledon – it’s full of so many weird traditions that make it pleasingly out-of-step with today’s capitalism-motivated world. There’s so much I don’t understand about it though – like why they play this competition on a surface that ends up completely wrecked by the end of the tournament, just in time for the most important matches.

I took a screenshot of the first serve of every set played on Centre Court this year, at least as best as I could manage, then used Photoshop to auto-align all the frames and export them as this gif. It’s funny to see what becomes of it each year, only to be regrown and re-manicured, ready to be wrecked again next year. Life is a funny thing!

The first and last points played on Wimbledon Centre Court in 2021

Asta Goes Intercontinental

Plush Asta from Alley Cat Rally holding Canadian and USA flags

Alley Cat Rally is now broadly available in all English-speaking territories in the WORLD! This Tuesday, 6th July, marked its publication in USA and Canada, and it was also published at some point in the past month in Australia and New Zealand too, so along with its April release here in the UK, that covers it all pretty well.

I’ve still got no idea how well it is doing, but I have been entered into what for me is a crazy new world, of the odd complement on social media. It’s been a few months of lovely surprises, videos from parent-friends, and generally nice people, which is incredibly gratifying.

I have made a couple more ACR-related videos in the past couple of months too.

Flying Eye managed to connect me with doing a window-painting job at a local bookshop to me, in Tring, which is just a little further out in the Chiltern Hills from where I live. I ended up doing it on a miserably rainy day, but with a bit of help, I put all the alley cats up in the window. It turned out pretty good!

I also made a video I titled ‘How did this happen?’, talking through the conception and making-of the book.

Here’s to people actually buying a thing I made, and to me dreaming up Asta and the alley cats’ next adventure!

Alley Cat Rally mini projects

The release of my book is creeping closer! It’s less than a month before Alley Cat Rally is published in the UK, and over the past few weeks I have been nervously trying to think of things I can do to promote the book myself.

I’ve started by making a mini-site that gives a good overview of the book, the characters, and the places you can preorder it, alongside some other fun graphics and odds-and-ends.

That’s table stakes though, so I’ve done a couple more interesting projects that I’ve also made videos about.

The first mini-project is the ballad of the little washer. I’ve had this on my shelves for years, but a desire to open it up and add some ballast to it became a mission to connect it to the internet, programming it so it will spin whenever anyone visits the short link I set up to preorder the book:

The second project is a bit less technical, but only slightly: I made a plush version of Asta, the star of the book. She wears a great pair of goggles in Alley Cat Rally, so I had to figure out how to make them, and ended up rigging up my own vacuum-forming setup, on a home kitchen scale:

I am pleased with both of these projects, and also with the videos themselves! I think I am slowly getting more natural at using my voice, which I’m hoping will come in handy as I try to join my publisher in promoting the book!

Two Loops

A slightly different project for Hospital Records has gone live! The label needed some artwork for two looping videos to use for 24/7 live streams, so they brought the project to me. I was gifted with a tonne of creative freedom for the videos, so I put a bit of effort into them both. Hospital then brought in motion graphics maestro Adobe Toby to bring the two projects to life.

Hospitality Bangers Cityscape

Hospital Liquid Machinery

The first one is Drum & Bass Non-Stop Bangers, a 24/7 stream of the more club-oriented music from the Hospital catalogue. I drew up a huge urban cityscape for this project featuring notable venues from Hospitality’s rich history – from the early days of Herbal and Heaven, right up to the tents of Hospitality In The Park, as well as a few other easter eggs.

The second is Drum & Bass Non-Stop Liquid, which digs into the label’s more musical side. This artwork was well into my wheelhouse – pictures of all kinds of ridiculous machines – medical, musical, and pointlessly domestic, and all strung together in a completely nonsensical way. Classic Hospital, and fits the mono illustration style I’ve been employing on several label-focussed projects over the past couple of years.

The live streams have been a success for Hospital so far, which is particularly good to know in an era when the live club event business has been decimated by our pandemic. I’m glad I put the time in, and glad that Toby did too, as the videos feel so alive now!

I made a book!

First photo of Alley Cat Rally

I can’t wait to write more about this in the coming months, but I’m really excited to announce that I made a real, honest-to-goodness book, and it is being published internationally this spring!

‘Alley Cat Rally’ is a children’s picture book about a cat who makes a racing car out of her washing machine, and makes some friends in the process. It’s being published by Flying Eye books, and is available to pre-order now: Preorder link for the UK (releases April 2021), Preorder link for USA (releases July 2021).

If anyone has been dedicated enough to follow the depths of my work, you may have seen some earlier iterations of this in their various forms, and that might give an idea of how long this has been in the process (many years!). I’m really looking forward to receiving my own finished copies of this, and for seeing it on sale in real shops too!

 
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