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It’s been eight months in production but I’m pleased to announce that Are We There Yet?, A Day Trip to Banky’s Dismaland and Other Stories, a photographic-documentary book I designed for photographer Barry Cawston is now at the press with copies expected in three weeks. While I’ve worked on many large books before as an author for Thames and Hudson my role is usually as an art director, selecting images and suggesting rough layouts as I work with their freelance designers and in-house teams, in this instance my role was to create the whole 240 page book from concept to layout in collaboration with Barry Cawston. With a huge number of revisions and re-edits we have strived to get the flow of images, captions and texts just right – fingers crossed the results are looking great.

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The idea of the book was to celebrate last summer’s Dismaland project held in Weston-Super-Mare and to contrast it with images taken in its environs during that time. In the words of the copy on the back of the book – ” Photographer Barry Cawston documented Banksy’s Dismaland fifteen times by day and night. Each time he went he also captured daily life in Weston-Super-Mare – scenes which echoed the art in Dismaland. In an interview for Juxtapoz magazine (Oct 2015) Banksy said that his Bemusement Park was “Scrappy, incoherent and self-obsessed”, adding “So maybe we’re halfway there.” One year on, Cawston’s photographs sum up Banksy’s sentiments entirely and ask us, as a society, ‘Are we there yet?.’

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It was a real pleasure to work on this project firstly as I thought Dismaland was a brilliant event which I was lucky enough to contribute to, secondly I have always had a soft spot for Weston and finally Barry’s photographs were fantastic, capturing something of the social and political zeitgeist as well as daily life. This is also the third book/catalogue I have designed for Barry since Influx in 2012 and Exposed in 2014.

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Since the topic of the book was one I am strongly interested in, particularly in ideas about using art for social change, Barry gave me the opportunity to write an introductory essay to the book. Further contributors included Kath Cockshaw (Hopperprojects) who contributed an essay and was also involved in the concept and production of the book as well as too many other jobs involved to mention. To buy a copy of the book in either soft or hardback format visit www.hopperprojects.com/shop/

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This summer I had the great opportunity to work with new client With One Voice. With One Voice is an Arts & Homelessness capacity building and exchange programme that follows the Olympic trail, including the Arts & Homelessness sector as part of the Official Olympic Culture programme. It first happened in London 2012, with a major event at the Royal Opera House, and after 2 years of exchanging programmes, projects culminated in Rio in late July. 

For the Rio phase of the project I was commissioned to create a logo and brand assets that had a more Brazilian flavour to them, and of course, for it to be in Portuguese. With the new slogan; Uma só voz, Rio 2016, Ocupação em Arte e População de Rua. As part of the commission I had to design T-shirts (see above), vinyl banners, social media banners, flyers, programme and an illustrated map of Rio with the locations of events.

My visual starting point for the logo was to have an element of the hand-made, since Brazilian art and design is famous for using hand-crafted methods and improvising with materials. I then decided to use masking tape to create the loud-hailer icon in Uma só voz logo pairing it with the Arca font produced by Brazilian font designers Pintassilgo prints. I used the same methods to create a range of graphic icons to show different elements of the arts project, such as music, theatre and dance. I had such fun making the icons that I decided to make an animation with them that the client could then use to promote the event on social media.

For the photographic treatment I made created collages of images that reflected the Rio’s famous mosaic stairway – the Escadaria Selaron in Rio’s old town.

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It has long been an ambition to visit Edinburgh and despite visiting Scotland many times, finally this year I made it to this wonderful city in festival season. All thanks to my on-going art consultancy work for Wahaca. For this site it was a pleasure to work with American artist Max Rippon, someone whose art I have admired and previously published in my Street Sketchbook Journeys book and also commissioned to design it’s book jacket.

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Years later the time was right to work with Max again, to showcase his unique style of typographical abstraction. Having spent many years travelling, particularly in Latin America, Max has painted countless murals and graffiti pieces around the world, finding influence in local culture and vernacular signage. As luck would have it he had recently just visited Oaxaca and taken thousands of photographs or local graphic ephemera which provided a reference point for his work at Wahaca Edinburgh.

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While real street signs are Max’s inspiration this imagery is then filtered through his painterly approach, fractured and reconstructed, cut up and collaged. Colours are changed, typography deconstructed so that each piece of the painting become its an abstract piece in its own right. Although the results are strikingly contemporary he uses very traditional sign painting techniques learned from the trade – such as sketching out with chalk and creating pounce patterns with charcoal.

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As previously WahacaTV made a nice film which sees Max in action and explaining his work here…

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It’s been a busy summer for my art consultancy work with Wahaca, first to report, from early August is the new site in Chichester. For some time I’ve wanted to work with Italian artist Gola Hundun and this space seemed like the perfect place for his style of work. Based in Barcelona, Gola has played a big part of the local street art and mural painting culture, often collaborating with many artists. While his own practice focuses on the themes of flora and fauna given a magical treatment. As well as his stunning and often large scale murals he has recently been focusing on sculptural and land art work – working with natural materials and combining art with horticulture.

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Gola produced some fantastic work using a quetzalcoatl motif and bold use of gold to create a shimmering sun background. He also was great company – I even got to help with a little part of the painting. We made a film where Gola explains his work and in particular this piece.

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I’ve just launched a Mexican Art website store to showcase prints by some fantastic artists from Mexico City, Monterrey and Oaxaca. These young, up-and-coming artists often use traditional techniques such as wood cuts, lithography, etching and ceramics in contemporary ways. 

This links with art consultancy work my wife Olivia Manco and I have been doing with Wahaca and DF/Mexico. See previous post.

It started out as a request from customers at DF/Mexico wanting to know where the art on the walls was coming from and if they could buy it – so we made a site to focus just on the Mexican Art. It’s a work in progress, which I will continue to add to – please give it a visit. Thanks T

Website designed and built by myself using WordPress. http://mexicanart.co.uk/

See below for some samples of the art we are showcasing.

Mazatl - El Principo

Mazatl – El Principo

Uriel Marin - Vengo de la Tierra y a Ella Regresare

Uriel Marin – Vengo de la Tierra y a Ella Regresare

Daniel Acosta - Eukarya X

Daniel Acosta – Eukarya X

Wahaca Brighton - artwork by Mazatl

Catching up on my blogging news it was a pleasure earlier in the year to be able to work with the super talented Mexican artist Mazatl for the creation of artworks at the new Wahaca site in Brighton. Mazatl is a painter and printmaker who lives in Mexico City where he takes part in several collectives seeking social / political / environmental justice. His work predominantly features animals in a symbolic way to depict struggle and the indomitable spirit.

Mazatl painting an Axoltl

For Wahaca in Brighton he focused on a fascinating creature – the Axoltl or Mexican Salamander – whose native habitation is Mexico City, although none are reported to be living in the wild. As part of the project we made a film for Wahaca TV in which the artist explains more about the installations in his own words…

As a printmaker his style is characterised by strong use of detailed black and white designs through relief prints. On the street his work is influenced by the prints but introducing limited colour palettes. With the Brighton site we had the opportunity to display some of Mazatl’s original prints in the private dining room.

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As part of my curation work for the dining room I was also able to showcase original artworks from other Mexican artists such as Buytronick who produced an amazing quadriptych stencil piece over four panels of old street signs for us while we also commissioned another famous stencil artist, Acamonchi from Tijuana – to produce hand-screenprinted posters which we used a wallpaper background for an entire wall. It was great to include these artists as well, since Buytronick and Mazatl are both part of the same painting crew – APC and Acamonchi was one of the artists I featured in my first book Stencil Graffiti.

Buytronick & Acamonchi

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I am excited to finally have a printed copy of my new book Make Your Mark. It’s been a long time in the making and I’m really pleased to see the final finish. The cover features artwork by the fantastic Gustavo Ortiz and the equally talented 44flavours created the typography for it.

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I was encouraged to write this book from my role as an educator – I teach Illustration part-time at Plymouth College of Art, where we try to nurture students to develop a personal and original visual approach to their work. Whether you are a student or a practicing artist, ‘making your mark’ is a central and guiding principal in the arts, it is the impression or feeling an artist leaves upon the viewer conveyed through an artwork. It is the passion to create and to express oneself, to bring forward messages and to explore and challenge ideas. Make your Mark is therefore intended to take this central idea as inspiration, firstly in terms of how an artist can develop their ‘voice’ as an artist as well as the practical application in the process of creation, through drawing, painting and various craft methods.

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The book is divided into three chapters – Drawing, Painting and Making – focusing on these basic skills and how artists are taking them in new directions, while also working across disciplines.

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It was a great pleasure to feature artists I had long admired but hadn’t previously found the right vehicle to showcase them before. Artists such as Gustavo Ortiz, Joao Ruas, Raymond Lemstra and Mark Francis Williams had been long term favourites of mine so I glad to create a book where this wide-range of approaches could coexist.

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I have long been an advocate and fan of street art and graffiti for many decades so there is a natural focus for me in this area so this book also gave me the stage to show some great artists that have been coming to International attention in this field in recent years such as Ernest Zacharevic, Franco Fasoli and Pastel to name a few. The book will be available at all good book stores from April 4th 2016.

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Recently I’ve had the great opportunity to work as an art consultant for DF Mexico, which is the young sister company to my clients Wahaca. The ethos behind it is similarly to promote Mexican street food but with a informal diner-style experience – taking some influence from North American/Tex Mex cuisine and food associated with DF Mexico – aka the federal district of Mexico City.

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As part of their mission DF Mexico are keen to make ties with and promote cultural projects in Mexico City in particular with young artists. In partnership with my wife Olivia Connelly we suggested prints and originals to display by up and coming Mexican artists such as Sanez, Saner, Smithe, Uriel Marin, Neuzz, Daniel Acosta, Daniel Berman, Kwamo and Dr Alderete to name a few… These form the beginnings of a permanent collection.

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For our collection we also approached Le Super Demon (who I had worked with at Wahaca Manchester) to produce a special series of 6 paintings on wood inspired by traditional Mexican Loteria cards. Since then we commissioned artists La Piztola to create four original pieces – painted on re-purposed floorboard some of which are now on show at the original DF Mexico at the Truman Brewery.

We are currently looking to expand the collection and are talking to up and coming Mexican artists about new pieces for 2016.

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Late last year I was very lucky to work with the fantastic street art duo Lapiztola on a number of projects. Rosario Martinez and Roberto Vega are two hugely talented artists and graphic designers who created the Lapiztola Collective in 2006 initially in response to political events in Oaxaca, Mexico. Primarily using stencils their works is highly politically charged, and has highlighted issues like the disappearance of school children, the cult of drug lords, and the use of genetically modified corn. Their work has a great balance of charm, humour and integrity and so it a was a pleasure to commission them and learn about their work while I supported and managed their programme.

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Firstly the duo travelled to Liverpool to create a number of murals for the Wahaca’s latest restaurant. Wahaca produced a short film which explains a little more about the themes in the work.

Next step on the tour Wahaca invited Lapiztola to take part in their Day of the Dead Festival held at London’s Tobacco Dock. The 2015 fiesta was a celebration of Mexican culture and also supported the charity Periodistas de a Pie, which works to defend the rights of journalists and protect freedom of expression in Mexico.

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Lapiztola took Periodistas de a Pie as their inspiration to create two murals that took the theme of freedom of speech as well as another on the Day of the Dead as their pièce de résistance. I hope we get to work together again soon.

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