I am absolutely delighted to be part of an exciting project dedicated to the original Doctor Who exhibition in Blackpool, which ran from 1974 to 1985 – which was the year I visited, as an awestruck seven-year-old.
Collated and edited by John Collier, Blackpool Remembered will be a free digital publication, documenting the evolution of the exhibition through fan memories and photographs, alongside detailed recollections from some of the people who made it happen.
Contributors include Julie Jones, Bob Richardson, Mike Tucker and Neil Cole to name just a few, plus a wonderful foreword from Steve Cambden.
I have illustrated and designed the front cover (below) plus completed several interior illustrations. In addition, I have rewritten and expanded my own recollections of the exhibition, which originally appeared in my 2011 publication, Who, Where & When.
If you’re a fan of classic Doctor Who and if you ever went to the first and most iconic incarnation of the exhibition, then stay tuned, as this will be for you! For further updates, head over to Twitter and follow @BlackpoolRemembered7485
Blackpool Remembered will be available to download as a PDF in August.
I also have another exciting Doctor Who-related project in the works, which I look forward to sharing in the near future. Needless to say I will soon be adding a Doctor Who section to the gallery pages here!
It is now over a month since the release of Chiaroscuro, and in that time, Here and Now and Berlin Stratum have had radio airplay, and Comfort Zone is included on the recent free compilation album, A Journey to a Time or Place.
However back to the album itself, here is a brief insight into my thoughts and inspirations behind each track.
BerlinStratum Everywhere you look in Berlin, there are layers of history, and you can feel that in the atmosphere of the city. But there’s also a modernism and sense of progression. I wanted to capture these contrasting moods in the music. There’s also the city’s musical heritage – my particular interest being Bowie’s time there in the late 70s. This all came together in a nostalgic and melancholic, yet dynamic track.
Comfort Zone After a reflective opening track, I wanted something more upbeat and optimistic. I entered a musical comfort zone… played my favourite chords, and fired up my favourite classic 80s/90s synth – the Korg M1.
Silver Screen More nostalgia from a time gone by… inspired by images of 1940s and 50s cinemas and the golden age of the big screen – monochromatic romanticism. The saxophone really brings the track to life and was a big departure from my usual style. This development would shape the rest of the album.
Afterimage The first of three more abstract pieces. The title came first. I love the haunting description of “an image that continues to appear in the eyes after a period of exposure to the original image.”
Here and Now The rockiest track on the album was partly inspired by one of my favourite albums, Bryan Ferry’s, Mamouna (1994). I really wanted to channel a similar mood and sound of the instrumentation as a kind of homage to Ferry’s masterwork. You’ll hear more Korg M1 and late night atmosphere.
Nightowls A track that transports you straight into one of Edward Hopper’s various night paintings, the album closes with a saxophone-led solitary piece. This was actually one of the first pieces I composed for the project, and I knew right away that it would be the final track.
I’m pleased to announce the release of Chiaroscuro; a new instrumental album inspired by city life and the layers of time. Nighttime atmospheres blend with nostalgic, melancholic tones forming a dreamlike musical world in which to escape.
“The world of chiaroscuro is one of contrast – between light and darkness, of transition between one realm and another. Colours blend, textures merge, and it is the difference itself which gives meaning to the whole.
Change is the essence of life, and contrast is the basis of understanding what it all means. This album takes us through an appreciation of how we can make sense of the differences that flow through our existence, against a background of the cities in which we live. They have their darker and brighter sides, and we need to grasp the relationship between them within ourselves.
Light and shade are part of the same process – one has no meaning without the other. We need both in order to make sense of the artwork that is our life.”
The track list for Chiaroscuro is as follows:
Berlin Stratum Silver Screen Afterimage Aberration There and Then Neon Twilight Evanescent Here and Now Nightowls
The full album download comes with a bonus PDF booklet containing a specially-written introduction by Richard Hayes plus a selection of my own photography juxtaposed with archive images that all represent the theme of Chiaroscuro.
I am pleased to present a brand new track and video – Berlin Stratum.
This instrumental piece was inspired by my stay in Berlin last year and evokes the atmosphere, history, architecture and music of the city. It is a track tinged with melancholy and nostalgia, but also one of progression.
Berlin Stratum is the first track on my upcoming album, Chiaroscuro. More details soon…
(Yes, that is a photo of David Bowie, framed in the window of the iconic Hansa studios, where he recorded the Heroes album.)
I’m pleased to announce a new, free digital publication, The Art of a Changed World – a detailed retrospective of the cover art I have produced with writer Alice Sabo, since 2014.
The Art of a Changed World brings together all my concept art, final cover illustrations and designs for Alice’s thirteen books to date – spanning science fiction, fantasy and thriller genres. It contains the stories behind each cover, as well as insights into the creative process alongside contributions from Alice, plus a wonderful foreword by Richard Hayes.
This project celebrates creative collaboration in the world of independent publishing – whether you are an aspiring or established writer, artist, publisher, fan or reader, I hope you enjoy The Art of a Changed World.
Click the button below or the image above to download in PDF format.
Novacon is the UK’s longest-established science fiction convention. It started in 1971 as the Birmingham Science Fiction Group’s annual meetup, then expanded and moved around over the years, eventually finding its spiritual home in Nottingham. Novacon is a little different to your bigger conventions; there are no costumes or that sort of thing, and has a stronger emphasis on the literary side of SF&F, but all aspects of fandom are covered – film, television and comics, etc. As you might expect, there’s a rolling programme of panel discussions, science talks, art talks and a whole range of other things alongside book launches, author readings and of course, the busy dealer’s room, fantastic art show and art auction. Every year offers something different and a Guest of Honour whose presence, interests and work form a central point to many of the discussions.
This year’s Guest of Honour was Mike Carey – perhaps now best known as author of The Girl With All the Gifts. Needless to say, the film and book were regular talking points, as were Carey’s Felix Castor series and his work in the graphic novel industry. In fact, the discussions around comics and graphic novels was refreshing and really interesting for me, as a one-time wannabe comic artist! Mike also gave us several engaging readings from his forthcoming novel, The Book of Koli.
I have been going to Novacon since 2012 and have met a wide range of amazing people – many have become good friends and others I’ve gone on to collaborate with on cover art. During Sunday’s closing ceremony, Mike Carey described Novacon as “warm hearted”, and I couldn’t have put it better. The bulk of the membership is made up by many familiar, returning faces. It is an easygoing and welcoming convention and refreshing to be able to casually chat with renowned authors or artists without any sense of celebrity or ego. This year, Christopher Priest attended with his daughter Elizabeth – now also a published writer. It was great to have the time to catch up with him, as I have admired his writing for many years.
The convention drink of choice is Black Sheep ale, which tends to start flowing early on and continues throughout the weekend. It may result in people falling asleep during talks and snoring loudly (the point at which a polite reminder they’ve also paid for a bed wouldn’t be a bad thing). But loud nasal interference aside, it is always nice to have the flexibility that the con offers; some folk attend all the talks, some are more selective, while others simply seem to go purely for the social side of things and set up camp in the bar, catching up with old friends and making new ones.
While the crowd ought to (and deserves to) be a little larger, what I do like about this convention is its size, as you can find the time and space for proper conversation; and if you want to find somebody again, you can – unlike at bigger events such as Eastercon where everything is so packed and frantic, and simply trying to track somebody down or have a conversation in more than passing is quite difficult.
I mainly attend Novacon to be a part of the art show. It is always an honour to be able to exhibit my work alongside renowned space and science fiction artist, David A. Hardy (who has been at every Novacon since 1973!). The art show brings in a vast range of styles and genres, from new artists to well-known names. The art room – or in this year’s case, rooms – are brimming with science fiction, space and fantasy art and illustration in all media, plus various other arts and crafts, such as jewellery, needlework and even knitwear! Serena and John always work tirelessly to make sure their artists are looked after, and we can never thank them enough! Most of the art on show comes with a bid sheet for any potential buyers, and the pieces with bids are entered into the art auction on the Sunday.
The dealers’ room mainly comprises booksellers and independent publishers, such as PS Publishing, NewCon Press and Elsewhen Press – all of whom are putting out some of the most exciting and original titles in science and speculative fiction, fantasy and horror.
It’s not all about science fiction though – Novacon doesn’t forget the science bit! Although this year, there was no British Interplanetary Society presence, David A. Hardy gave us a whirlwind visual tour of the planets, via his excellent presentation To the Stars – On A Paintbrush!, and as always, there were two science talks. I missed the first, but astrophysicist, Dr Rachael Livermore gave an excellent insight on the Sunday morning into Dark Matter – a fascinating and fun way to start the day (even though I tend to find science talks first thing in the morning a little too much for my convention brain!).
I took part in the panel which followed – a great discussion on working with artists, alongside Mike Carey, Manga expert Zoe Burgess and Peter Buck of Elsewhen Press – all chaired by Patrick McMurray. I have obviously attended enough Novacons now to have progressed from audience member to panel participant!
Novacon for me is also about those great connections. Two such examples are Elsewhen Press, whom I met during my first Novacon, and have since illustrated several of their book covers; and a couple of conventions later, I met Helen Claire Gould, who after seeing my art display, invited me to produce the cover art for her début novel, Floodtide – it was great to see Helen back at Novacon this year, promoting the book as well as her more recent titles.
The Sunday afternoon sadly comes around so quickly, and it doesn’t feel like a few minutes have past since installing the art show on the Friday, when the time comes to reluctantly disassemble it. However, with not one, but four Guests of Honour booked for next year – Novacon’s big five-o – it will certainly be an event to look forward to.
After all, what more could you want, but to share a hotel with several hundred likeminded people?
For this year’s Novacon (report to follow…), I was invited to provide the cover art to the traditional convention chapbook that each attendee receives in their welcome pack. This year’s Guest of Honour was Mike Carey, author of The Girl With All the Gifts and the Felix Castor series (among others!).
This year’s chapbook – limited to just 250 copies – contains two short stories; All That’s Red Earth and Second Wing. Both stories are featured in The Complete Short Stories of Mike Carey, from PS Publishing. However, this was an opportunity to illustrate one of them, and All That’s Red Earth was the selected, as it is the story that ultimately spawned Mike’s forthcoming novel, The Book of Koli.
I usually ask writers or publishers for a synopsis and chapter or excerpt, as I rarely have the time to read a full manuscript prior to illustrating a book cover. However, this being a short story was ideal, as I could read the whole thing. Mike was particularly keen on one of the scenes towards the end, where the story’s protagonist Tari, summons a snowstorm by magic. We also agreed it would also work well as an image to provide an overall feel for the story.
Mono draft sketch:
One of the many enjoyable things about this cover for me was that it was a little different to what I’ve done before, and I also wanted to reflect that in the colour scheme. While the scene needed the onset of a blizzard, too much snow wouldn’t work, and I really wanted to capture the colours of a wintry sunset. The character of Tari is an unusual one, which took a couple of revisions to get right – such is the joy of working digitally!
It was a real pleasure to be able to give All That’s Red Earth its own cover art – and here it is.
The science fiction gallery page has been updated with the addition of two brand new pieces of artwork, Simulacrum and Into Battle.
These two pieces plus many others will be part of my display in the art show at next month’s Novacon – the UK’s longest-running science fiction convention. This year’s Guest of Honour is writer Mike Carey, perhaps best known for The Girl With All the Gifts. If you’re going, do drop by the art room and say hello!
Finally, here are two promotional videos for Mutate: