Did you know that Fred Gambino doesn’t just illustrate book covers? His flexible approach and adaptable style has led to him working for the games industry. He created these images for games developer Codemasters, for F1 Race Stars.
Fred Gambino: Codemasters Game Designs for F1 Race Stars
Euan Cook: Crazy Classics Shakespeare For Teens
French publisher Editions Didier commissioned Euan Cook to illustrate two titles for their Crazy Classics: Paper Planes Teens series. Macbeth and the Creature from Hell and Romeo and Juliet in Las Vegas are humorous texts adapted from Shakespeare’s well known plays. We’ve just received the advance copies and had to show you a few of Euan’s brilliant illustrations which capture the characters and landscapes superbly. We’ve also updated his portfolio so don’t forget to check out more of his latest work.
Neal Layton: Mammoth Academy TV Series in Development
We’re very excited to spread the news that Neal Layton’s Mammoth Academy series is being developed into a children’s TV series. Montreal based Sardine Productions, in partnership with Ontario’s public educational media organisation TVO, plan to produce 52, eleven minute programmes for pre-schoolers.
Neal’s fiction series, published by Hodder, is about Woolly mammoths Oscar and Arabella, along with their many friends, who embark on an exciting adventures at school. The Mammoth Academy is a place where learning means mucking about and getting your paws, trunk, woolly hair and tail into the thick of things and deliciously dirty! Neal has written and illustrated four books in the series to date.
Patricia Ellingson, TVO’s Creative Head of Children & Parent’s Media says “Mammoth is full of whimsy, heart and ‘makes you think.’ Every story encourages the audience to wonder, question and investigate the world around them.”
Just Published: Thomas Flintham’s illustrations for The Last Wild
Thomas Flintham was commissioned by Quercus Fiction to illustrate this adventure novel about an extraordinary boy called Kester, who’s life is transformed by a flock of excited pigeons who are talking to him, he realizes his life will never be the same again. The pigeons fly Kester to a wild place where the last creatures in the land have survived. A wise stag needs Kester’s help, and together they must embark on a great journey. Thomas brought the characters to life for the cover design and created their world on the black and white interior map and used his stylish hand rendered type for the title and blurb.
May 2013 Calendar: Adam Stower: Naughty Kitty!
John Howe: Postcards From the Edge of the World
Regular readers of our blog will know that John Howe has been immersed in all things Middle Earth in New Zealand for four years. We keep up-to-date with his news via email and his marvellous ‘Chronicles’ blog but as the post production on The Hobbit increases intensity, his posts have been more sporadic in recent times. However, we’ve recently been treated to what life is like for John: “working in a fantasy universe in a country which is already quite fantastical to many people, perched as it is on the lower rim of the Antipodes…”
“With such fabulous landscapes, it’s hard to even keep a sense of self; the tendency is to disappear into the cloud and mist, so to speak, or to be swept away by the wind (which can happen here physically as well as metaphorically, and one is often left hanging on to handholds with both body and spirit).
I also seem to spend a lot of time wandering along the edges of things. Here at the edge of the world, it seems there are edges everywhere, where all you can do is hold on to your hat and peer out (in a few cases, trying to hold onto my lunch as well in particularly bumpy helicopter rides}. I find myself clinging to a lot of rocks watching waves crash at my feet – and on my feet, which usually entails a long slog in damp jeans back to my vehicle, which is invariably parked miles away (and usually uphill). I climb a lot of slopes and scramble up tree trunks, and haven’t dropped my camera. Yet.”
Read more from John Howe’s ‘Chronicles’.
New Arena Illustrator: Alejandro Colucci
We are very proud to introduce a new Arena illustrator, Alejandro Colucci. He is an award-winning artist who is comfortable illustrating fantasy, crime, horror, historic fiction and science fiction publications across the globe. His illustrations have adorned the covers of many bestselling writers including H.G. Wells, Ursula K. Le Guin, J.G. Ballard, Anne Rice, William Gibson, Mario Puzo and Patricia Cornwell to name just a few.
Alejandro works in a variety of techniques both traditional and digital and is influenced by artists such as Gustave Dore, Frank Frazetta, comic artist Alberto Breccia and photographer, Jan Saudek. His artwork engages the viewer to give an emotional response to his subjects.
Here are a few new images by Alejandro hot off the press, but to see more have a look at his online portfolio.
Simon Bartram: A Retrospective
If you thought that Simon Bartram, creator of Bob, Man on the Moon, only illustrated children’s books then think again… Here’s a picture of one of his grittier artworks depicting the North East. The Football Supporters, along with other seminal artworks spanning his career, will be on show at Simon’s forthcoming exhibition, The Art of Simon Bartram, which runs from 24th April to 12th May at the Illustration Cupboard.
For those of you who would like to meet Simon, there is also a Family Day on Saturday 27th April from 2.30pm.
Christopher Gibbs: Agatha Christie Audiobook Covers
Christopher Gibbs illustrated the cover of Agatha Christie’s Death in the Clouds for BBC Audio back in 2003 when cassette tapes were still in use! Since then, he’s illustrated 43 more Christie titles for the popular BBC full-cast dramatisations. When Chris was first commissioned he was given a very specific brief which was about 25 pages long. Each cover had to fit three formats (CD, cassette and inserts) and whilst they wanted to update the look of the franchise, there was some imagery which couldn’t be used including any visual reference to Christie’s amateur sleuths, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Chris says:
“It was a real honour for me to work on these titles, as they are so ingrained in our minds from years of adaptations in various media. I was also aware of the huge fanbase for Agatha Christie, so it was challenging to come up with so many covers bearing in mind the restrictions placed upon what kind of imagery could be used, while also keeping to a ‘brand’ feel.”
We thought it was about time we delve into the Arena Archives and show you some of our favourite illustrations from the series.
Alex T Smith Sketchbooks
I am addicted to drawing.
I am addicted to drawing…. There, I said it. Mind you, it’s hardly a secret – you only needed to look at me to realise that. At any given moment I can be found with pencils poking out of all my pockets and my tongue poking out of my mouth as I draw FURIOUSLY in a sketchbook clamped in my hands. (FYI: Sticking your tongue out as you draw is Essential.)
I can’t ever remember a time when I haven’t drawn or kept some sort of a sketchbook. My first memory is sitting at the dining table, legs swinging under the chair, drawing a big, fat, wobbly circle with sticks coming out of it at all angles. It was a portrait of my teddy bear and I was Very Pleased With It Indeed. I was 25*… Ha! No, I was about two years old and that was it- I just drew and drew and drew.
I suppose I got into the habit of keeping a proper sketchbook at about 14/15 when I took Art and Design for GCSE. I had some very inspiring teachers who would often show us their books, and it was great to see all the preliminary sketches they’d made for their work and how they put ideas together.
One teacher, Mrs Goodwin, was quite the globetrotter and would come back after most holidays with lots of sketchbooks filled with photos and sketches and doodles and souvenirs. They were a treat to look at and really showed me the importance and pleasure in capturing little moments. There’s something special about sketching a scene or a person that a camera can’t quite capture.
I’m always in awe of artists who produce the most beautifully observed life drawing in sketchbooks. I enjoyed life drawing classes at university, but found that attempting to do something similar in my sketchbooks was too stressful and time consuming. So I just always draw in the way that comes most naturally to me.
My sketchbooks are a place for me to play around with ideas or images that have either floated into my mind or have been inspired by something I’ve seen. Although I’m literally ALWAYS drawing, I very rarely draw people or scenes whilst they are playing out in front of me. Instead, I like to observe it all and I use my eyes as a camera to take in lots of details. Then later on I’ll remember what I’ve seen and try to get it down on paper. Doing this, I think, encourages me to look harder at things and really focus in on the most important aspects of whatever has attracted my attention – the gestures, the clues clothing gives about a character, the key points of the scene etc. Then I get these things down on paper, and whilst it might not be a realistic impression of what I’ve seen, it creates a visual shorthand that I find much more useful than a piece of life drawing.
So there you have it. I’m addicted to drawing and to my sketchbooks and I’m not afraid who knows it. It’s certainly not something I’d give up without a fight. A drawing duel, obviously. Pencils and paper at dawn!!
*I’d just like to apologise for this dreadful, dreadful joke.
Extra sketchbook facts:
I like to draw in A5/A6 Moleskine sketchbooks or just their plain paper journals. I use these pencils for all of my work – sketchbook and final artwork. I draw loose lines with a light coloured pencils crayon first to get the shape of a picture, then draw over it in pencil adding all the details. I have one main sketchbook running at a time, but most of my coats have a small, slim sketchbook in a pocket just in case I leave the main one at home.